If I asked you if eating healthy foods was important, you would say ‘of course,’ right? And if I asked whether exercise is key for health and wellness, you would most likely respond with a yes. So if we know that nutrition plus fitness is the magic formula for living a vibrantly healthy life, why don’t we do it? Why do we prioritize one over the other? Why do we put one on the back burner and only get serious about it when we’ve been slapped in the face by a wake-up call, such as getting winded by one flight of stairs or a high blood-pressure reading?
In my experience working with hundreds of individuals at CrossFit Moncton, the key is accountability. We’re often willing to let ourselves down time after time, but when someone else is counting on us, we show up for them.
We show up for others because we don’t want to disappoint them, but yet we willingly disappoint ourselves over and over. We justify why we can’t follow through on our nutrition plan, we make excuses for why we have to skip the gym today and we follow it up with a promise to try again tomorrow—or better yet, to start fresh on Monday. Meanwhile, we’re subconsciously cataloging every time we didn’t show up for ourselves as just another failure, and over time, we begin to see ourselves as incapable, inept and weak-minded.
Relying on others to hold us accountable is OK—in the short term. When we’re just getting started, we need that assistance. We need that encouragement and support while we develop good habits. At CrossFit Moncton, we have a framework of accountability to help those wanting to get started. We send reminders, we check in, we acknowledge you every time you walk through the door, we high-five, we follow up and we celebrate with you each time you reach a milestone.
Our community of fellow members also helps in this accountability effort. That friend who is normally in class with you notices when you haven’t been there and sends you a friendly text asking how you’re doing. We let you know you aren’t forgotten and we want you here. Now here’s where the truth hurts a little bit: No matter how much work to keep you accountable, it ultimately comes down to you. It’s up to you to consciously choose every day to make progress toward your goals. We will always cheer you on and help you, but if you haven’t bought in to the process, it won’t work in the long term.
So how do we stop letting ourselves down and create a safety net for reaching our goals? Here are 10 tips for holding yourself accountable to your goals:
1. Engage in the community. We want to help you! It is our business! If you don’t engage, you are missing out on a big piece of the magic. Who wouldn’t want a group of like-minded people cheering you on every step of the way?
2. Set reminders on your phone. Schedule your workouts like appointments you can’t miss. Set an alarm for when you need to start prepping your healthy meal so that you don’t look at the clock, realize you have no time and reach for something unhealthy out of convenience.
3. Tell a coach when you’re planning to come to class. By putting your intentions out there, you have created an expectation that you will want to follow through on.
4. Print off a calendar, hang it in a visible spot and cross off the days you hit the gym or stayed true to your nutrition plan so that you can visually see all the marks of your success. It’s satisfying to see your efforts adding up and will reinforce your intentions to keep going!
5. Share your story on social media or another public forum. There’s something to be said for putting it all out there! Even if no one on social media follows up with you on your progress, making a claim publicly will make you more likely to keep your word.
6. Take progress pics. To see our progress, we have to remember where we started. We get used to how we currently look because change is subtle and gradual. By looking back to our starting point and comparing it to where we are now, we can take stock of the progress we have made since day one.
7. Set quarterly goal-setting meetings with an accountability buddy. If you are a member at CrossFit Moncton, we want to schedule these meetings with you every quarter, so reach out to get yours on the calendar! If you aren’t a member here, find a friend who needs accountability, too, and make quarterly dates to review your progress and set goals for the future.
8. Constantly remind yourself of your “why.” A goal is great, but if we don’t know why we want to reach it, it doesn’t mean much. Ask yourself why you want to focus on your fitness and nutrition. How will it impact your life? How will it make you feel? It doesn’t hurt to do some visualization either. Mentally imagine yourself as the person you see yourself as if your goals are met. Once you have a solid “why,” remind yourself of it daily so that you internalize it and keep it close to your heart.
9. Don’t make it all or nothing. “Rome wasn’t built in a day”—we all know that saying, and it’s true! We are on a journey, not a quick trip to the supermarket. There will be ups and downs. There will be plateaus. There will be naysayers and stress and self-doubt. Don’t let those things knock you off your path. Acknowledge them, thank them for teaching you something about yourself and then continue to make forward progress.
10. Reward yourself for reaching micro-goals. Everyone likes a prize, right? Set micro-goals along the path to your BIG goals and reward yourself for hitting those milestones along the way. An example is if someone wants to lose 30 pounds, they can give themselves a little gift for every five-pound loss. Someone who wants to focus on nutrition can reward themselves for each solid week of staying on track or keeping their eating out to below an acceptable minimum for the week. These rewards don’t have to cost money, either—get creative with things you enjoy and treat yourself!
There are many other ways to keep yourself accountable, so find what works for you. Something that worked once might not work forever—switch things up often to stay excited and motivated about your success.