One of the biggest determining factors of success lies in accountability. Accountability is defined as the state of being accountable, liable or answerable. It means that somehow, someway you are presenting expectations of yourself to some other entity.
Some of us don’t need an outside source of accountability, but for the majority of us with health and fitness goals, accountability can be anything from an added bonus to a vital necessity in reaching those goals. Below are 7 tips to help you and those around you to help you stay accountable.
1. Tell your friends and family
Telling your friends and family about your goals can help tremendously. Tell them about your dietary guidelines and be specific about the foods you have to avoid or have in moderation. This way they know not to offer you certain things that you shouldn’t have but may have trouble resisting. They can also refrain from inviting you to restaurants, events or outings where finding food that is within your guidelines will be difficult. Conversely, if you are with one or more of your friends and are looking to go eat together, they’ll have better suggestions of places where you can eat. For example, I follow a paleolithic diet which includes the abstaining of grains, starch, legumes and dairy, so my friends know that we can go to Chipotle and I can order a Burrito Bowl with no rice, beans or cheese and extra lettuce and veggies. They know that we can go to Carl’s Jr and order a Low Carb Six Dollar Burger without ketchup or mayonnaise. They also know that at most sit-down resturants many entrees consist of a meat, a serving of vegetables and a serving of a starch like potatoes or rice and that all I would have to do is simply ask for double veggies in place of the starch.
2.Post your “before” pictures on Facebook
Suit up in some shorts if you are a man or a bikini or shorts and sports bra if you’re a woman and take a picture of yourself. Post the picture on facebook and announce that you are starting a fitness regimen. Announce your goal date and state that the next picture they see will be of a much different looking you in far better shape. Feel free to be as specific as you like. You can include your goal weight, you can talk about what you want to do with certain areas (bigger biceps, no more arm jiggle, no more love handles). It really doesn’t matter how bad you think you look because when you reach your goal and post a picture of yourself, the before picture will be the old you and a thing of the past. And the next time you’re tempted to succumb to your food cravings or miss a workout, you’ll know that if you do, you’ll risk never having an “after” picture that you can be proud of.
3. Find a workout partner
Having a workout partner will hold you accountable to a set workout schedule for many reasons. You know that someone else’s goals rely on you being there with them. You know that if you don’t show up, at least one other person will know that you’re skipping on your workouts. If things come up, you won’t be able to push your workout to a later time which will increase the likelihood of not going at all. This means that you’ll be forced to work whatever unexpected things life might throw at you around your workout schedule and not the other way around. Be sure that your partner is reliable as well. Before committing, tell them about your goals and the specific reasons you need a partner and make sure they’re on the same page as you.
4. Set up a contest with your coworkers
I’ve found that one of the best motivators for anything is competition between your coworkers. Propose to them that you want to set up a 6, 8, or 12 week fat loss challenge. If you want to sweeten the deal, have everyone chip in a set amount of money to enter the contest and whomever wins keeps all the money as a prize. The best way to set it up is as follows; Take starting pictures of everyone including yourself, in as little clothing as they’re willing to be photographed in. Ideally this would be shorts for men and a sports bra and shorts or two piece bathing suit for women. Also bring in a scale and get everyone’s starting weight using the same scale. Doing this before or after the pictures is optimal because the less clothing they are weighed in, the closer the scale will be to showing their true weight. On the final day, photograph and weigh everyone again in the same attire they were in on day one. Divide each person’s total weight lost by their starting weight. This will be their percentage of body weight lost. Whoever has lost the highest percentage is the winner and not only gets the pot of money but also bragging rights!
5. Find an outdoor activity meet up group online
Online meet up groups can help tremendously with accountability. Similar to having a workout partner, it holds you to a certain time and date. And as you start to get deeper in your community, people will start to expect to see you and if you’re like me, not wanting you fellow group members to think you’re lazy or have fallen off the wagon can be another tool for accountability. Do a simple Google search for “fitness meet ups” and you’ll see that there are tons of group that specialize in virtually every type of physical activity from hiking, biking, yoga, dancing, martial arts, weightlifting and even paintball.
6. Create a website or blog where you can document your journey and record your workouts and meals
If I’m recording my meals and workouts in a public forum like a blog or a website, I’m going to try extra hard not to skip any workouts or record any bad meals because whoever is watching will know that you’ve been slacking. Many of today’s popular and high-traffic fitness blogs and started out exactly like this. Starting one is very easy and doesn’t require any money. We use WordPress and it works great, but feel free to do a google search for “free blog” and sign up for whichever one you like best. Once you’re up and running start by having an about section where you give a brief intro about yourself then describe the journey you are about to partake in. Describe your goal and include your goal date. Tell the reader that you’ll be updating your progress regularly via pictures and measurements. Most people will be very eager to visit your blog and see your progress. Start by taking pictures of yourself as I’ve described in example 4. Then get yourself a tape measure and get the circumference of your upper arms, upper thighs, hips and waist. And last but not least, weigh yourself. For your very first blog entry, post your pictures and give your measurements and weight. Do this every two to three weeks. Between these progress posts, make a post every day at the end of the day that describes your workout. Feel free to go into detail as much as you’d like e.g. weight and repetitions of strength work, duration of endurance work, etc. You can even film some of your workouts and include the footage. Also in your daly posts, report what you ate for that day. I would take it a step further and take a post a picture of every meal. On days that you’re not working out feel free to make miscellaneous posts of anything fitness related. You can post a your favorite recipe, discuss any changes in your workout programming, review a healthy restaurant you visited, etc. Just be sure to post at least something every day. It can take as little as 5 minutes and it will really be worth your time. Also be sure to turn on the ability for readers to add comments to your posts. As far as bringing traffic to your blog, post links to every new blog on facebook and ask your friends to hit the “share” button. Also look into search engine optimization. Also make friends with other health/fitness bloggers and routinely share each others’ posts. You’ll have a cult-like following in no time!
7. Hire a personal trainer
I might be a little biased but this is the ultimate form of accountability! Similar to having a workout partner, your workout time with your trainer pre-set. Even if something comes up and your trainer is able to reschedule for a later day or time, he or she will still make sure that you get all of your workouts in eventually. Most of clients of trainers have two sessions per week and both the trainer and the client will admit that there’s more to reaching the client’s goal than showing up to those two sessions. That includes the client working out at least one other time on their own and adhering to their prescribed diet. As far as diet, what I like to do is have all of my clients take camera phone pictures of all of their meals and send them to me. If I don’t receive at least 3 pictures a day, they’ll know that I’ll know that they are either skipping meals or eating something they DON’T want me to see! For their 3rd or 4th workout on their own, I usually give them a weekly workout that can be scored either by time completed or work completed. What I mean is that I might give them a circuit of 3 exercises and tell them to complete a certain number of rounds for time. Or might give them a similar circuit and ask them to perform as many rounds as they can in a certain number of time. After each workout, they report to me their score via text or email. If I don’t hear from them, it’s assumed that they missed their workouts.