Monday, May 21, 2012

Holding Yourself Accountable

I don’t normally share too much about my personal life on this blog, but I find it relevant to share with you that I am studying to become certified in both Personal Training and Lifestyle & Weight Management.  Up to this point the material has been mostly a review of muscles and physiology, but there was one interesting chapter on “Exercise Adherence and Behavior Change”.  Figuring out why some people find success, while others continually fail, is very interesting to me (perhaps because I have personally fit into both categories).  

In evaluating what I have read, and what I have experienced, it appears that one of the most important determinants of success is the belief that you can, and will, succeed.  You need to truly feel that you can lose weight, run two miles without stopping, drink water instead of soda, lower your blood pressure, stop ordering take-out five nights a week, exercise 30 minutes each day, or whatever else it is you are working to achieve.  My hope is that this blog helps you to believe in the possibility of change and success.  If I can do it, you can too.  After all, I was no high school track star (more like president of the French club who only ran when forced to in gym class), and now I can easily run a 10K and enjoy doing it.

In addition to believing in yourself, your success is also determined by how well you hold yourself accountable to your goals.  It is easy to say “I am going to lose weight” one week, and then go out for pizza the next week.  In order to increase your accountability, you should make goals that are specific and measurable.  Once you have your goal, it is important to set up a self-monitoring system.  If your goal is to exercise five days a week for at least 30 minutes, put up a calendar in your home and cross-out the days that you meet your goal.  This will give you, and your family, an honest view of how well you are adhering to your goal.  The desire to not let anyone down will serve as motivation for you to keep working towards your goal.  This is the concept that makes programs like “The Biggest Loser” so successful.  The contestants are being held accountable to their goals by frequently monitoring their progress/weight loss.

Here are some examples of self-monitoring systems that I have used:

-I use an application on my phone called “My Tracks” that records how far and fast I run.  I use this to make sure that I am continually trying to improve, and not running slower one month than I was the last.  I like it because the competitive side of me is always working to beat my last time.  The app has a lot of features that I find useful, but a simple sports watch can accomplish the same thing.  I also use this method for walking and hiking.

-I use a website called livestrong.com to log all of my exercise activity for the week.  It keeps track of what I did, how long I did it, the distance I traveled and how many calories I burned in the process.   From the website I can monitor my activity for the month of May, and then compare it to my activity from last May. It is very motivating to watch my progress, and also to see when I am slipping.  There are hundreds of websites/apps that do the same thing.  Pick one that is easy for you to use.  If you don’t like the electronic way, I’m confident a paper journal would have the same effect.

-I also use livestrong.com (it used to be called thedailyplate.com) to monitor my calorie intake.  It is easy to eat a couple of cookies throughout the day, but it is really hard to admit it to yourself by physically writing it down and looking at the numbers.  Strict calorie counting is not for everyone, but a simple food journal can help hold you accountable for that large order of fries that you ate on the way home from work.

-I keep track of my weight on a graph of weight vs. time.  It is very rewarding to see the downward trend of my weight.  The graph also keeps me aware by visually displaying spikes in the graph when I have gained weight.

There are endless possibilities for self-monitoring systems. Different systems will work better for different people. No matter what system you choose, the most important part is being honest in your records.  If you aren't, you are only hurting your chances of success.

Remember, if I can do it, so can you.  I look forward to hearing your success stories!

1 comment:

  1. I've been reading through the last few posts on your blog and it's all really wonderful information, and so encouraging! Congratulations on a well done blog and for your sustained weight loss! I've always been pretty small, but my pants are getting snug, and I just know that my body has so much more potential than where it is right now. I was clicking around, trying to find some motivation for working out and eating well and I found this blog, and I'm so glad! It's just what I needed, keep up the good work!

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