What I Have Learned -or- 21 Days to a New Habit is a Crock

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For the past year — that would be one year — my primary goal has been nutrition. When I started, I didn’t think it would take a year. I thought it would take 21 days: 21 days to quit eating fast food and 21 days to prepare healthy meals at home.

It didn’t quite work out that way. A more accurate description:

  • One year to quit eating fast food and prepare healthy meals at home.
  • One year to get into the habit of consistently keeping the kitchen and dining area clean as I was much less likely to cook the next meal if the kitchen was dirty.
  • One year to get into the habit of keeping the pantry stocked as I was much more likely to make bad food choices when I was hungry and there was nothing nutritious on hand.
  • One year to get into the habit of planning my family’s meals.
  • One year to read and educate myself about nutrition (that’s still ongoing actually) as our basic knowledge of nutrition as Americans is severely lacking.
  • One year to learn how to buck the system as our entire culture — in which ourselves, our friends, and our extended families are completely immersed — is a well-oiled machine geared towards quick and unhealthy food.

One year to change my lifestyle.

I had been reading about raw vegan food for the past year, but it wasn’t until two months ago that Matt and I started eating more raw vegan food. Twenty-one days to eating healthy, mostly raw vegan food? No.

For the past two months, my entire routine has been turned upside down as I learned how to prepare new food and how to fit this radically new way of eating into my household’s routine, culture, and lifestyle. All maintenance duties, with the exception of paying bills, were put on hold because we were making such an extreme change. Our routines were completely discombobulated. Matt and I had to stay laser-focused on our new way of preparing and eating food as chaos reigned around us.

Now, two months later, as eating more raw food feels normal and routine to us and it slips easily into our day, I have spent the last week bringing the house back under control. The backyard is still insane from lack of maintenance. It took two months for our new habit of eating raw to settle.

Perhaps you can make something like “make my bed in the morning” or “brush my teeth after lunch” stick in 21 days. But, as I discovered, a lifestyle change takes concerted effort over a long period of time. And it requires a determined persistence to continue whenever you have setbacks, which you will by the way. You will always have “failures” along the road to long-term goals, and you always have to get right back in there after you have caught your breath.

It took a year, which included many moments of discouragement and weariness, but my family is finally eating healthy. It was so worth the requisite time and persistence.

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