We are now in March. Two months into 2018. Two months after we made our 'new year's resolutions'. Ten weeks ago, we decided we would never eat a chinese again, or a mars bar, or drink alcohol for 3 months, etc..... Nine weeks ago, a lot of these resolutions were kicked to the kerb. Maybe that is a little blunt and a little harsh, but if you look into it, you might just find it to be true. At least part of it anyway, and with good reason.
The main reason that these 'positive changes' do not stand the test of time is routine. It is simple, straightforward human nature to stick to a routine. So if your routine in 2017 did not involve 6am training then the chances of maintaining training at 6am in 2018 are probably slim. It may last 2 days, 2 weeks, even the entire month of january, but it won't be sustainable in the long run, simply because it isn't part of your normal, day to day routine. Probably a fairly crude example of what I mean, but you get the idea.
But this is where it becomes interesting. If you are held accountable for your actions, the entire landscape changes. For example, if you start a new job and you are required to get up at 5am instead of 7.30am, the chances are, you will get up at 5am every single day because you know that you won't keep the job unless you do. Your employer holds you accountable for this. When you are accountable for your actions, suddenly they become part of your routine, which becomes the norm. After a while, you get up at 5am whether you need to or not. Easy.
So how is this linked to Nutrition? Nutrition, like most of your other day to day things, is habit based, and we know how hard it is to change our habits. Our bodies, as a rule, don't take very well to wholesale changes. A big change can leave us very unsettled, particularly if it is a change we are not overly happy with. Another example. If somebody told you that you had to eat chicken and broccoli for lunch every day for a month instead of sausages and chips, you may initially think 'ok', but after a few days, that is going to turn into living hell, and you are going to stop it. And rightly so.
I have lost count of the amount of people that have said 'I can't get back into routine since the christmas holidays' but the reality is that this is your routine. This is normal. You have simply carried your habits from the end of 2017 forward into the beginning of 2018. It is very difficult to drop all of these habits at once, even when you are being held accountable. It is impossible when you are not accountable.
The first stepping stone (or stumbling block) for making a positive change, is that it has to be positive. You have to want it. You have to see it as something good, something you are happy doing. After all, this is something you will incorporate into your everyday routine. If these boxes are ticked, then its time to work out how you are going to be held accountable for this change. Are you going to record progress? Are you going to tell someone about it so that they can keep an eye on you? Are you going to seek the help of a coach to give you guidance and measure progress? The options are numerous. It all depends on the change you feel you need to make.
And the good news? Positive, sustainable change to an individual's routine can very often have a knock on effect. Good things happen. For example, some good food choices can lead to a more positive mental state. You will want to train. You will want to go out. You will have a greater work ethic. You might even be less grumpy!! And even better - one person making a positive change can easily rub off on others in close proximity. In this case, you have discussion and accountability without even looking for it!
So instead of trying to completely overhaul your routine and doing things your system isn't comfortable with, why not pick something small, make the change, find some way of holding yourself accountable for it and maintain it until it becomes part of the routine you already have. There's no time like the present......