So, you had the very best intentions/resolutions with regard to your health and wellness goals earlier in the year. You may have bought DVDs to practice yoga at home; invested in mason jars for your salads and overnight breakfasts; and cleaned out your pantry to make room for new, healthy food. You became a new member at your local gym and even considered signing up for a food delivery service.
But here we are, almost at the end of the year, and not many of your goals have materialized. Life got in the way, we lament. We got too tired or busy and let a day or two slide. Then, sometimes, we completely fell off the bandwagon. Believe me, I’m dealing with the same challenges. 😉
What went wrong?
The missing linchpin for many of us attempting to consistently reach our health and weight loss goals is accountability. We may have the right information, tools, and goodwill, but let’s be honest: the implementation is the hard part.
Accountability means you take responsibility for your actions; you own them, whether personally to yourself or to someone else. And it’s a crucial key to improving your health and wellness.
Accountability is more about “doing” than just “knowing.” Let’s face it: we already know what we should be doing, but the “doing” doesn’t always happen. The gap between what you planned to do and what really ended up happening can be bridged by factoring in accountability, knowing that someone (who often may be you) is measuring or checking your actions.
What are some options for accountability?
Rethink your priorities
Perhaps some of the goals you set at the beginning of the year have diminished in importance. Perhaps you’ve realized that you really don’t have the time or energy to pursue them. That’s okay; there’s no way that you’ll hold yourself accountable to a practice that is no longer important to you. Write down your top five health and wellness goals in order of importance and agree to hold yourself accountable for those self-established priorities in the new year.
Start an activity journal
Writing down the amount of exercise you do each day can increase your accountability. You can use a calendar or a blank notebook. For each day, you can record:
- When you exercised and for how long;
- The type of exercise performed;
- The distance covered or the number of sets/repetitions completed;
- The level of intensity (easy/moderate/vigorous);
- Potential improvements to be made; and,
- How you felt after completing your workout (to motivate yourself to capture that feeling again).
You get bonus points for logging what and how much you eat every day. Apps like My Fitness Pal can help you stay on top of the nutrition/calories/portions aspects online, if you prefer to do these things electronically, but there are plenty of others.
Use a fitness tracker
A study of fitness habits in postmenopausal women showed that a fitness tracker increased the amount of exercise they did. Two groups of women were advised to walk 10,000 steps each day and get 150 minutes of moderate/vigorous physical activity each week. One group was given a pedometer; the other was given a pedometer plus a fitness tracker. Guess how much more activity the fitness tracker group undertook each week? Thirty eight minutes more! Using a fitness tracker increased activity, whereas the pedometer-only group saw no change.
The conclusion? The tracker increased their accountability, measurement of their activities, and their motivation to be active.
I like using the Garmin Vivofit, but I know there are now a ton of options out there, such as the very popular Fitbit, so find one that meets your needs and budget.
Find an accountability buddy
Having someone who can hold you accountable, both with regard to food and exercise, is an excellent strategy. You can go walking or meet at the gym with a workout buddy, or you can ask someone you trust to follow up with you every few days on your tracked activities. Similarly, find someone with whom you can check in regularly to share how you’re doing food-wise. Make sure they know your “why” and can remind you of it when you need to hear it again. Have them spend a few minutes reviewing your journal/tracker and give you some a loving kick in the rear end from time to time.
Hire a health coach (Pick me!)
I love supporting people who are on a path to better health. I help busy women who are looking for simple ways to lose weight, gain energy, eat smartly, and incorporate self-care. A health coach’s knowledge, expertise, listening ear, tough love and accountability can make the difference between coming to the end of the year without achieving most of your health goals or looking for ways to create even more challenging goals for the upcoming year. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com and we can talk about where you’re currently at and where you want to be in the new year, wellness-wise.
Where to start
You don’t need to exercise like crazy to improve your health and lose weight. You just need to do it regularly. Here are my recommended steps:
- Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
- Start simply, acknowledging where you’re at physically, and do a bit more every day.
- Always remember your “why.”
- If you need accountability, decide whether you’d prefer an activity journal or a fitness tracker, and use it daily. Track your exercise, as well as what you eat and drink.
- If you need an accountability buddy, ask a trusted friend or family member; or contact me in the comments here on the blog or via email. We can have an informal chat on the phone to see how I can support your health goals.
Do you have accountability in your quest to improve your health and wellness? If not, which of the steps discussed above do you need to implement first?