Accountability. Cue the Debbie Downer music…
You are accountable at work to your boss, your teammates and deadlines. You are held accountable by your child’s teachers to ensure they get to school, do their homework and behave. Your friends, neighbors and others expect you to make good on your commitments. And in most cases – we deliver on those promises, commitments and obligations. Mostly because we’re decent people who stay true to our word, but also because some is watching or expecting something from us, and many times there’s a reward or recognition that is attached (a promotion, successful children, happy friends and family). However, when it comes to our own health, wellness, weight loss, nutrition and exercise, we don’t hold OURSELVES accountable. We will find reasons, events, excuses, and other nonsense to fill up the time and put our health on the back burner. Yes, nonsense!
I’m not a big believer in the “New Year New You” mantra because I don’t think anyone should wait for a new year to make positive lifestyle changes. However, if you look at the New Year’s resolution statistics, only about 8% of people stick to or achieve their resolutions. That sucks. We are literally big, fat failures when it comes to committing to our own health and wellness.
Why? One giant contributing factor is accountability. If you’ve come to the point in your life where you want to make a healthy change – you know WHY you should do it. So, our failure to stick to a plan isn’t about knowledge or information — I mean seriously, we are literally surrounded with information online, on tv and at the watercooler. And, if we put aside injury, lack of access and other unavoidable barriers…our inclination to give up really comes down to no one is watching and we aren’t accountable. If someone isn’t checking in with us or following our progress, we’re more likely to sit on the couch and have that second bowl of ice cream.
Accountability and weight-loss results have been proven in many studies. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal is a great example of it’s power. http://www.wsj.com/articles/an-orthopedic-surgeon-stays-disciplined-via-sweaty-selfies-1483790403
But I’m of the belief that it is much broader than just weight-loss. Getting comfortable with being accountable to yourself and putting yourself first, benefits you in so many other ways. Your mental health will improve, your confidence will build, your ability to say NO and prioritize the positive things in your life will become second nature.
So, maybe you’re not ready for sweaty selfies and putting it all out there to stay accountable to the world. Following are a few of the strategies that work for me, tools that can help track your goals, and tips for engaging those around you to help.
- Speak up! Once you know what you want to do…lose weight, exercise consistently, eat better foods, speak up. Tell your spouse, kids, BFF, the mailman. Tell them specifically what you are trying to accomplish. Say it out loud, post it on your computer screen or refrigerator or your forehead for all I care…but be very clear that you are on a mission. Talk about it enough and you will begin to live it. I promise.
- Get a Buddy. You are exponentially more accountable when someone is waiting on you at the gym or for a walk around the neighborhood. Take it one step further and get someone to do meal planning and prep with you. Make a date every Sunday afternoon to plan meals, prep a few dishes, etc. It’s socializing too! Which is always a motivating factor for me. Note – sometimes family members and best friends aren’t always the best accountability partners. They may not be ready to join you on your journey or perhaps they don’t think they need to change habits or improve their health. Look for co-workers, neighbors, fellow parents from your kid’s school who have said out loud “I want/need to make a change.” The bonus…you may gain a great friend.
- Track it. Anything worth doing is worth tracking. I’m a type A personality and very motivated by results and, well, winning. Even if it’s just winning a little self-competition I have going on in my head. Track food intake. Doesn’t have to be every calorie and macro if you’re not ready for that. Simply start by writing down what you ate at each meal and how you feel. Write down what exercise you did and again, how you felt. It will help you determine what’s working and what’s not. I recommend weighing in weekly if weightloss is your goal. Don’t do it daily…so much contributes to weight fluctuation. Keeping a diary of your healthy living journey is so helpful too when you’ve taken a step back or gotten off track. You can go back to times when you were feeling good and start those habits again. It also keeps you from getting stuck in a rut. My favorite apps for tracking food and fitness – MyFitnessPal, LoseIt and 21 Day Fix Tracker.
- Find your Tribe. Say what you want about social media but it has opened up so many doors for finding support for anything you want to improve in your life. Find an online accountability group or one that meets in person. Spending time with like-minded people on a similar mission does amazing things for your results. They will not only hold you accountable but you will learn from their experiences and find new resources and strategies to stay on track. Looking for a good one to join on Facebook? Join me and my fit-minded, healthy-living peeps at https://www.facebook.com/groups/RoadWarriorFitClub/
So those are my tips. I’ve used these over and over for 7 years to keep off over 20 lbs. Want more help? Need someone to keep you accountable, help you choose the right workout and check in with you to see how you’re doing but not in that judgy, holier-than-thou way some coaches can be? Hit me up — firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve been doing this for a while and know how difficult it can be when you’re busy, stressed and feel pulled in a million directions.
Until next time…Eat clean, move more and enjoy the journey!