“One hundred.” “One hundred what? Douchebag…”
100 days is required to change any behavior in your life, overcoming your mind and body’s homeostatic tendencies, to create lasting and meaningful change.
According to the Set Point Theory, your body (and I believe your mind) has a prescribed set of conditions that it is used to (known as ‘homeostasis’) and that it fights to maintain, because it has grown accustomed to working in those conditions.; it therefore has a rehearsed set of reactions to any given stimulus. Essentially, your body is the worker who has discovered the least amount of work he has to do to keep his job.
Now, this can be good or bad, based on what your current set point is, and where you would like it to be. For instance, let’s say you’ve been active, exercising, and eating healthy for the last 4 years, but you want to go to Cancun for spring break to binge drink and crush all-inclusive buffets. You may put on 5 to 10 pounds while you’re treating your body like an amusement park, but when you get back, you will drop that weight within weeks (if not days), once you return to your normal lifestyle (set point goood!) Conversely, you work a desk job, crack a beer or glass of wine each night after work to unwind, and you play video games or like to curl up and read a steamy romance novella on the weekend as a hobby. Not surprisingly, you are like 70% of the population, and carry an extra 20-30 pounds of fat. But damnit, this is the year; and not only is this the year, but the time is NOW. So you start eating better and working out, and by God, after 1 month you’ve lost 7 pounds! Frickin’ great! Right? So you continue on, but this week you didn’t lose anything, next week you are UP half a pound (wtf?), the following week you lose nothing again. F-it! I QUIT! And so it goes…
The painful reality is that most people quit because they think that what they are doing has stopped working, and that they have “plateaud”. What actually occurs is that their body is fighting to find ways to get those 7 pounds back; maybe their metabolism has slowed (though FYI it never actually levels off), or maybe they feel more hunger, etc. It is at this time, where the body has seemed to level off, that it is the most critical to continue onward. It is at this time that your body is adapting to these new changes and challenges that you have thrown at it (the worker got a promotion!), and is overcoming itself to physiologically adapt its systems to a new body. If over this fragile time you revert back to your old ways, you are sure to lose what you have gained (or gained what you have lost).
Where I propose to extend the Set Point Theory is to the psyche. The mind controls the body, and therefore to change our self, we have to change our ways, and effectively change our minds. Most of eating is habitual or reactionary (“I’m an emotional eater”). We take cues from our environment, which tell us when we should eat, and what we should eat. For example, when we wake up in the morning, our tendency is to want to eat. How often were we told growing up that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”? And so we ate. And what did we eat? What do most people reach for? Carbs! And not just carbs, but sugary carbs! After all, we just fasted for 10-12 hours. We are still groggy and are accustomed to that instant energy boost that sugar and coffee offers, and so we start to crave it; and not just crave it, but NEED it (“I’m a zombie without my morning coffee(s)”). This is the essence of addiction. Most rehabilitation programs are three months (100) days long. During this time participants not only break habits, but they get their minds right. They learn to recognize negative thoughts and triggers and to block those thoughts. And they learn to implement coping mechanisms that aren’t associated with their original crutch. The same methods should be practiced within your own life if you are truly striving for meaningful change. I’m going to coin the term now so no one more clever than me jumps the gun. I’m going to call this the Mindset Point Theory (you heard it here first folks).
Now, this doesn’t mean that once those 100 days have passed you can go back to being a gluttonous sloth. Even the most successful rehab participants are in grave danger of relapse. What it does mean is that your body has achieved a new set point. So now if you go away on a two week bender to Cancun and gain 10 pounds, all is not lost, as long as you jump back into your new way of life, upon your return. Where people get derailed is when they gain those 10 pounds and say, “here we go again”, because they expect to go back to their old set-point. This is where having a strong mind, that was built over those 100 days, will have your back, and tell you, ‘that was the old me, THIS is the new me’. And the new you knows the answer to the title of this article:
100 what? 100 days to change your life…douchebag.