(This is cross-posted at BlogHer.)
A lot of good things can be said about motivation when it comes to sticking to a regular fitness routine. Motivation makes us feel mentally pumped-up; it energizes; it’s about seeing physical results and wanting to go even harder and faster. But motivation is impossible to sustain 24 hours a day, every day. When your alarm goes off before the sun rises and the very last thing you want to do is get out from under the covers? Enter: accountability.
Accountability is what gets you out of bed at 5am for a morning run when you know your friend is waiting for you. It causes you to do things like fill out exercise and nutrition logs, so you can go back and look at your progress and make sure you’re staying on track with your goals.
People are much more likely to stick with something if they hold themselves accountable in some way. For some it can be as simple as making a decision and telling a friend they’re serious about sticking to it — but could that friend please check in once in a while, just to make sure they’re staying on track? Other people need something more structured. Me? I can go both ways, depending on the goal. With certain things, I have no problem sticking to my plan — but with other things I do much better if I have backup.
A good example of something I need to hold myself accountable to is my 101 Things list. (Maybe because it’s a long-term goal, and not something I work on every day or a certain amount of time per week?) I hold myself accountable to completing the things on my list by posting monthly updates, no matter what. When a goal is more short-term and I’m not holding myself accountable, I tend to get into trouble.
Here are 6 ways to hold yourself accountable:
Advantages: It’s convenient and easy to use. It’s also helpful to see changes made over time.
Disadvantage: Having to remember what exercises you did (or what you ate) once you get back to a computer — either that or you have to write it down and then transfer it to the computer later, so you may be duplicating your efforts.
Other electronic options: track your activity using Twitter; commit to posting regular before-and-after photos on your blog; start a new blog that’s specifically set up to track your activity and progress.
2. Use a paper journal
Advantage: You don’t have to go online if you don’t want to.
Disadvantage: There could potentially be a lot of paper to keep track of.
3. Hire a personal trainer
Knowing that someone is going to meet you at a particular time, kick your butt, and you’re paying them to do it? Sounds like a great way to hold yourself accountable!
4. Sign up for a class
How about trying boot camp for 6 weeks, or an 8-week dancing class? A recommendation — if you’re just starting out, try a class that lasts a certain period of time rather than something that goes on indefinitely. If you don’t care for it after the time is up, you can always try something new.
5. Work out with a friend or partner
I don’t currently work out with a friend, but there are certain situations where it’s nice to have company. I had a great time with my sister when I took her to my gym last month when she came for a visit. It would also be fun to have company when I go out to ride my bike.
6. Establish your own fitness rules
The fitness rule I follow is to make sure I work out with weights three days a week (unless I’m out of town). I don’t stay on a strict schedule for the other stuff, but it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll find time for walking, running, and biking throughout a typical week.
What helps you stay on track?