You’ve probably heard the saying that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit…
In the 1950’s, Plastic surgeon Dr Maxwell Maltz noticed that patients would take 21 days to get used to their new look or for their phantom limb to disappear. This ultimately led him to look further into it and write a book called ‘Psycho-Cybernetics’, which would go on to sell more than 30 million copies and lead to all sorts of self-help / empowerment programs and books.
Research has also shown that the more complicated or difficult the habit is, the longer it may take, but ‘21’ is usually the magic number.
So when you next set a goal, which could be to go for a run ‘x’ times a week, eat a healthier dinner 6 out of 7 nights a week or to just drink more water everyday, you will need to do this consistently for 21 days to make it a habit. Once it’s a habit, you can enjoy the success and amazing benefits of this new habit!
But what about when we go the other way? We’ve formed a healthy habit but now we’re starting to slip. Let’s look at the disadvantages of not being consistent.
Not training for a few days is unlikely to impact your fitness levels, unless you took those days off due to being sick of course.
After about 2 weeks you may notice a decrease in fitness. After about a year, you’ll likely be back at where you started before you started training. The good news is that it’s generally easier to get back to where you were, rather than starting for the first time.
Similar to fitness, if you take 1-2 weeks off, you won’t notice a decrease in muscle mass, the difference is that this recovery time, especially just a week, can be beneficial for your muscles in terms of recovery!
However, after taking 3-4 weeks off, you may start noticing a loss of muscle mass, but don’t get too upset, after this 1 month break, it won’t take long to get back to where you were.
With muscle loss comes a loss in strength, so similarly to muscle loss after 3-4 weeks, strength will also decline
After exercising or training, your body naturally needs a period of recovery to repair and adapt to the stimulus that was applied, which is usually a couple of days or so depending on the intensity. However after a long period of heavy training, you may start feeling abnormally fatigued, at which point you start entering a zone of ‘over-training’, where you are more susceptible to injury and sickness. This is where a week off can be a really good thing!