Structure and Accountability (S & A)
Post-graduate education in both health psychology and health behavior have taught me that lifestyle changes, especially health-related behavior changes, are challenging at best. It takes effort and commitment to shift our patterns, our habits, our wiring. Putting my education into practice with real folks has shown me that all too often we don’t make changes until crisis hits (often in the form of symptoms, illness, etc.), because we can’t always see the connection between our actions and their consequences. Our level of readiness to change tends to be low until something urgent, intense, or personally meaningful motivates us to do so. This is reason number one of many for implementing S & A into your day to day.
I am a person who is intrinsically motivated to engage in healthy behaviors. And I’m also human. I find myself scratching my head some days, wondering how I didn’t take a break to move my body from her frozen position at my desk or how I managed not to drink water throughout the day. I have abandoned a much-needed movement after work or class for a glass of wine, a choice that perpetuates the stuck state of my nervous system, but arises naturally from ignoring my bodies signals all day long. This is reason number two for implementing S & A into your every day: our chronic stored stress and nervous system dysregulation (the climbing the walls experience we talked about above) directly impacts our ability to make conscious choices about our health.
The very thing we’re seeking to shift (our nervous system) may be sabotaging its own process (below the level of our consciousness, of course). Hence, why so many people feel like they’re “failing” in their attempts at resolutions or diets or any number of lifestyle protocols. It’s not that they’re lacking will power. The nervous system needs to get on board AND there needs to be some structure and accountability.