Accountable — an adjective — required to explain actions or decisions to someone; required to be responsible for something, according to Merriam-Webster.
When it comes to health, eating healthy and being physically active sometimes is better than nothing, but being consistent will allow the person to achieve more of the health and fitness goals they have set for themselves. In today’s society it is easy to become busy with work, children, school or other obligations that put being physically active and taking the time to prepare healthy and nutritious meals on the back burner.
We have all seen the memes posted on Facebook and other social media outlets with motivational slogans like “Someone busier than you is working out right now,” “A one-hour workout is only 4 percent of your day,” and “No excuses” to help motivate people to work out. For some people these messages are great motivation to start and keep them going. But, what is available to help those who need a little more motivation and accountability?
In the last decade there has been an explosion of methods a person can use to help with the accountability piece they want or need for both the fitness and nutritional aspects of healthy living:
- Whether using a downloaded app, an internet-based workout, at-home workout DVDs, or joining a gym, schedule the workout into each day. If it is scheduled like any other appointment, it is more likely to make the person plan for it and take action.
- Find a workout buddy. Not only can it make you push yourself more during each workout, but you are accountable to another person.
- Wearable devices like Fitbit, Garmin and more are helping many to track not only the number of steps they take each day, but heartrate, sleep patterns and estimated calorie burn. Many of the devices also have apps that can be downloaded to track daily progress, give reports, and even hold challenges amongst other users.
- Downloaded apps like SparkPeople, MyFitnessPal and BodySpace (by Bodybuilding.com) offer an alternative to writing down what workouts have been done and are free for users with free downloadable apps. SparkPeople and BodySpace allow users to plan their workouts for certain days of the week. SparkPeople and MyFitnessPal also offer food tracking as well.
- Stop focusing on the bigger picture. Breaking big goals into smaller goals is a lot more realistic and can make the big goal easier to achieve. Ideas for big goals are often to lose larger amounts of weight. This can be broken into goals that have nothing to do with weight, like making it to the gym a certain number of times each week and only snacking on veggies.
- Ask your insurance company if they offer discounts or reimbursements for gym memberships. Some have an accountability factor and require the member to work out a certain number of times in a given time period to be eligible for a discount on premiums.
All of these methods to help with accountability can be done alone, but combining two or more together may give a person a better chance at successfully accomplishing their goals. Combining any of these methods with paying a gym membership can also help with accountability. Gyms can give more options for equipment and types of classes. Personal training programs may cost extra money, but they come with the added benefit of being a scheduled workout. If personal training sessions are not your style, ask if they offer any other accountability programs like a points system that can be exchanged for prizes, challenges or a chance to become member of the month.
Just remember, nobody is perfect and there will be times that you allow yourself to skip workouts and eat more than planned. These times are not failures, they are building blocks to learning what works to help you stay accountable.