On Maintaining Accountability

As summer marches steadily on towards fall you may be slacking off on your healthier behaviors, especially as summer tends to be filled with lazy days, BBQ’s and family events (usually accompanied by foods that are not on your list for recommended healthy choices). So, how do we make sure our motivation and drive to stay strong and don’t fizzle out with the sparklers? Over the years I wave developed my own set of personal tools that help me stay on track (for the most part), even when faced with the most tempting of situations.

Be vocal: Tell people about your plans to get fit, become healthier, lose weight, or lower your blood pressure (or any health related goal you are working towards). Not only will this create a reminder of your desired end point, but also of your hard work up to this point in time. Talking to friends and family may also create a system of support that you may not have counted on- you may find that a close friend or relative wants to join you in reaching your goals or that they have similar goals themselves. This does not mean you have to throw a pity party – “Oh, I am so fat, I don’t need that pie” or “Woe is me, if only my cholesterol weren’t so high and I could eat like you”… Being vocal can be as simple as telling your best friend or family member that you are working to get your weight/cholesterol down to a healthier range (which is why you skipped the dessert line at the family reunion).

Make (or find) a plan: Making a plan is sometimes more easily said than done; it sounds great- I can customize my plan to fit my needs, I can make it work for my schedule, I can include only exercises I like, etc.- but once you finally sit down design your plan you may feel overwhelmed. The good news is, there are plans all over the place at minimal, even no cost to you! Body Building.com has really good beginner training plans that are all inclusive (resistance training, cardiovascular training and nutrition all in one) such as the 7-day beginner Trainer as well as more extensive training plans such as The busy mom fitness plan. Other great ways to maintain motivation and accountability include- hiring a personal trainer, finding a friend who is already healthy to work with you, start taking group exercise classes or even purchase the home DVD’s if you enjoy working out in the privacy of your own home. The Daily HIIT is a website offering new workout videos each day that you can follow along with in your own home with minimal equipment. Another similar website is BeFit, who offer a new workout video every week day (including well known videos such as Jillian Michaels from the Biggest Loser) so that you do not have to purchase them.

Be Social: Join an online fitness network such as My fitness pal, bodybuilding.com, Lose it, Fitocracy or many others. These networks let you meet and socialize with other people who share similar goals and even struggle with similar issues, making it easy to find support and advice. Another option is to get involved with group events around your area (in the case of Birmingham, AL there is free group fitness at Railroad Park, The wandering yoga cooperative, Local running and walking groups, etc.). If you want to be successful in reaching your personal fitness goals, surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals is a great first step!

Track your progress: Self regulation (tracking your progress) is a scientifically proven way to work towards goals and maintain progress once you reach them! Whether you are just starting out, or trying to maintain all your hard work, tracking is a great way to stay accountable and mindful of your behaviors and actions. I use My Fitness Pal to track my nutrition and fitness, but there are many other ways to track your fitness goals including Lose it, Calorie King, Map my Run, Map my Walk, bodybuilding.com, super tracker by My Plate, Every Move, Fitocracy and Tic Trac. Give them a try and see what works best for you! Not a tech god/goddess? Paper and pen work just fine too! It is also helpful to write down how you feel before and after eating or working out, especially if you are hitting a roadblock and need some motivation- getting your feelings out on paper can be a great way to rejuvenate your motivation levels!

Recognize (and celebrate) success: sometimes it is easier to see behavior change (changing your diet, exercise habits, weight loss goals, etc.) as being black and white/all or none but this type of thinking can be devastating to your fitness and wellness goals. If you only allow yourself to be happy once you lose those 10 pounds, or once you are only eating healthy meals; you are setting yourself up for frustration. You have to be willing to celebrate the little things- making it to the gym (despite being stressed out from work), cooking a healthy meal for your family, or bypassing the cookie aisle in the grocery store! These are all successes worth celebrating even if it is only by telling yourself “You are awesome, you know that?!”
I have used all (and still use most) of these techniques throughout my own journey to overall health, wellness and happiness and wanted to share them with all of you! Learning to live and maintain and healthy lifestyle is not always easy and no one should have to take that journey alone! Contact me if you have questions about starting your journey to better health, I am always listening!

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