Monday, February 25, 2013

Twenty One Days

Apparently it has been determined that 21 is the magic number. That is to say, it takes 21 days to form a new habit or quit an old one for that matter. If you can make it through those first 21 days, it'll be smooth sailing moving onwards.

To be completely honest, I'm not sure how much credence I give to this 21 theory. I think it makes a certain amount of sense, and I'm sure it's backed by science that demonstrates how the wiring in our brain takes precisely this amount of time to rewire itself to a new habit, but there's gotta be more to it than just 21 days, because I am positive that there are multitudes of people that have quit smoking for a month and then gone back to their old habits, and just as many that have embraced a diet for several weeks only to return to their pre-diet eating habits.  So there's got to be more to the establishment of  a new habit or the breaking of an old one than just the passage of time. Is it a matter of willpower? Perhaps it's genetics? Maybe it's about the level of support the person has from family and friends. Or maybe it has to do with how much the person actually wants to change. Maybe the factors of success vary for every person.

The 21 day theory has been looming large in my life as of late, as I embarked on a 3week elimination diet, as discussed in my last post. As it turns out, today is Day 21. The end is in sight, but according to the 21 day theory I should be ready to embrace all the diet changes I've made for the past three weeks and shed the old chocolate-and-cheese loving ways of days gone by. 

The reality, however, is a bit more complicated. You see, on the one hand, I have been feeling great and my cravings for sugar and dairy have diminished significantly. I've lost 7 pounds (for someone who has maintained the same weight for pretty much the entire past year, this is pretty significant), my digestive system seems to be working better, and I am pretty proud of not poisoning my body with sugar and other nasty stuff.

On the other hand, it is tough work not eating a tonne of the most common food ingredients or drinking social beverages with friends. (As an aside, I provided both amusement and embarrassment for friends recently when I snuck a can of Zevia - a stevia-sweetened pop - into a sports bar and poured it into my empty water glass).   Eating at home is easy, but having such a limited diet really limits one's social engagements.

So I am left uncertain of what tomorrow will bring.  Actually, that's not entirely accurate. I know lunch will involve the opportunity to eat a black-bean brownie (the nutrition students at UPEI put on lunches that the public can attend and tomorrow's lunch is a celiac-friendly one).  And did I mention that I have a few cupcakes leftover in the fridge from National Cupcake Day (fundraiser for the Humane Society)?  The temptations to return to old ways are great.  Still, being 7 lbs lighter and having awesome bowel movements is persuasive.  Not to mention all the other good stuff that's likely going on inside my body that I am unaware of. 

Tell you what, check back here in another 21 days and I'll let you know where I am!


Rob said...

Try adding more fat to your diet S - also I suspect that your gut flora has been off for a very long time - a course of pro bionics and more fermented food.

For some a compromised gut flora might take a long time to heal

Shannon Courtney said...

Rob, I have been taking lots of fat in, including supplement of Omega-3s. I definitely need to take pro-biotics/a digestive aid. This is one area where I failed at my elmination diet, as I didn't incorporate that into the regimen.

I am embarrassed to say that while I love most foods, I am really not a fan of most fermented foods...except tempeh, which I can't seem to find here.

Raeanne said...

I'm sure you're doing great Shan! Let me know if there is anything I can bring you from O-town. I know the supplement market and tempeh is much more available here. :)

Shannon Courtney said...

Rae, when are you coming to PEI? We should chat before then! I'd definitely like to stock up on some things that can't be bought here!