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When people think of warming up, the first thing that pops into most minds is either jumping on a bike for 5 minutes or doing some light stretching to get the muscle feeling good before pumping some iron.  The ironic thing about this is both of these aren’t true warm-ups. When I first sit down with...

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6 strategies to improve your accountability

Posted by | Posted in Mental Health | Posted on 17-04-2009

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Life can be crazy.  Sometimes, things that are necessary, but we don’t like to do, get pushed to the back burner, and one of those that’s common for most people is exercise.  You know the benefits of it, and maybe you even want to exercise, but when faced with the choice between sweating it out for 30 minutes to an hour vs. hanging out with friends, reality is that many will choose friends.

Why are we accountable to keeping appointments with friends but not ourselves?  I think some of it has to do with the fact that if we say no to a friend, we fear we may come across as a non-committed friend.  If we say no to ourselves, no one knows but us, so what’s the big deal?  Right?  Well, obviously, it is a big deal to never exercise, but it’s very easy to justify skipping out on it since no one has to know whether you workout at home, in a gym, or at work.  Do you exercise?  Do I exercise?  See, now I got you thinking.  Don’t worry, I do exercise, but that’s my point.  Exercise doesn’t have to be a public event for you and because of that, the only one you’re accountable to is yourself.

How do we change that?

Well, for starters, hiring a trainer is a great way to stay accountable.  If you do that, now you’ve taken the accountability and shifted it from inside yourself to someone else.  Now, you’re accountable to another person … and none of us like to let someone else down.  Ourselves … it’s easy to let ourselves down, but we never dare do it to someone else.  Do you agree?  A trainer can be seen as a coach.  What does a coach do.  A coach makes sure you show up to practice.  A coach pushes you more than you will push yourself.  A coach gives you feedback to make you better.  A coach is necessary for anything if you want to excel at it.  A better business, a star in sports, an amazing performer in the arts, everyone needs a coach to be the best they can be at what they’re striving for.

What if you can’t afford a trainer?  How about a workout buddy?  You want to choose a workout buddy that shares your passion/seriousness for exercise and better health.  If you try and workout with someone because they’re your close friend but could care less about their health, then that most likely is going to bomb for you.  A workout partner who is committed will help you stay accountable to getting out of bed in the morning and meeting for exercise.  You’ll be able to feed off of each other’s energy and stay motivated to get fit.

Journaling is another way to stay accountable.  Studies show that those who journal their fitness progress are more likely to stick with it.  Writing down what you did for the day and how it went creates a sense of accountability to a piece of paper.  So journaling, not a bad idea if you don’t have any friends.

Another one that has worked for my clients is the old picture or old piece of clothing.  For those that are visual learners, having that old photo of what you used to look like next to your computer can really inspire you to make a change.  Or hanging the old pair of pants or dress next to the bedroom door can motivate you to try and fit back into them.  These things can be seen as your trophy.  Your reward for finishing the competition that’s going on inside your head doesn’t have to be a gold-plated trophy.  It can be a pair of pants or looking like an old photo.

Checklists are another great tool.  Plan out what you want to do for the week.  Maybe you’re plan is to workout 3 days per week, eat five meals everyday, drink 10 glasses of water per day, and stretch 3 times per week.  Write all that out for everyday you plan to accomplish it.  Once the day is over, check off everything you did.  At the end of the week, tally the checkmarks and see if you hit your goals.  If not, start again the next week and shoot for more realistic goals that will push you to succeed and achieve.

Something that works for me is registering for a race.  If I’m registered to run a marathon, now I’m really accountable to training because if I don’t, I’m going to have the worst race of my life as I struggle to make it 26.2 miles without being in shape.  It doesn’t have to be a marathon.  If you enjoy running, maybe it’s a 5K.  If you don’t enjoy running, maybe it’s a Biggest Loser-type competition at work.  Entering some sort of contest is a great way to keep you consistent because the inevitable day of competition/”moment of truth” is looming around the corner, and if you’re not ready for it, it’s going to come up and bite you.

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