Finding the motivation to get up and go to the gym has always been hard for me. The one thing I wish I figured out a lot sooner is the power of accountability when it comes to motivation and weight loss – especially when it comes to avoiding those otherwise inevitable holiday pounds.
Between festive baking, catered holiday parties, and family dinners with all the fixings – you’re bound to indulge and eat the goodies. So, you’ll definitely need to work it off.
Staying fit during the holidays is a huge challenge, though. Classpass doesn’t work. Telling yourself you’ll go to the gym this evening won’t work, either. You could make plans with yourself to hit the gym, but are you accountable to yourself? Or, will you cancel those plans because nobody’s around to crack down on you? You can’t tell yourself you’ll attend a workout class, either. There are so many people who attend those group fitness classes, nobody will notice if you don’t show. Convenient, isn’t it?
Not to mention, a lack of willpower and an absence of self-motivation seems to be extremely common among millennials.
What you need in order to succeed is some solid external accountability. You need someone to answer to, someone who keeps track of you, and someone who motivates you. You need a plan you won’t be able to duck out of.
A personal trainer, for example, is someone you will be accountable to. This is someone you won’t cancel on. Unlike a group fitness class, when you book a one-on-one session with your trainer, you can’t exactly get away with pulling a no-show.
I never realized that skipping the gym was due to a lack of accountability to myself. My personal trainer at Steve Nash hit the nail on the head when he explained that when accountability is found in an external source, the subject becomes significantly more accountable to the fitness plan. Here are 5 reasons why external accountability is the one thing you need to ward off winter weight gain:
1. There has to be someone who doesn’t let you get away with bad eating habits
My trainer made me realize that I was lacking accountability not just when it came to fitness, but also when it came to my eating habits. I’m single and my roommate is always traveling, so I can sit and eat without anyone judging me, commenting on it or telling me to put down the chips. What’s worse, is that after a binge I would make plans with myself to go to the gym and of course, cancel on myself. A really great friend, or a really great personal trainer, will check in with you and give you tips for overcoming bad eating habits.
Some of us can’t buy a box of cookies or a bag of chips and have it last a week or longer, treating ourselves to one small portion every once in a while. For some of us, there’s only ever a ‘one-day’ box of cookies, because we don’t have the control to stop. Sometimes, people eat and eat as though it’s an out-of-body experience, even though they don’t actually want to eat bad foods at all – what they want is to eat healthy and watch their weight. These struggles could very well be a sign of a food addiction, and without being accountable to someone, that food addiction will endure. Food stimulates the brain’s reward center, which is why some people binge on large quantities of food even when they’re not hungry. It’s common to binge when you’re feeling depressed or stressed, because food arouses feel-good dopamine. But, you know what releases feel-good endorphins? Exercise.
2. A source of external accountability guarantees you’ll exercise more often
If you really want to ensure that you’ll exercise, don’t plan gym dates with yourself or with close friends or family members. You know that close friends and family members will forgive you if you cancel on them, so your best bet is to plan a gym date with a co-worker or an acquaintance – someone who you probably wouldn’t cancel on because you want to make a good impression.
The absolute best person to be accountable to and plan a gym date with is actually a personal trainer. When you develop a great relationship with your trainer, you won’t want to let them down. You’ll want to get results, work hard, and share the before-and-after journey with them. Your trainer is fully in it with you, and that’s a rare relationship to obtain.
3. External accountability in the form of time and money can help you stick to your goals, too
If you want to eat healthier this holiday season, go grocery shopping. Spend a significant amount of money on healthy food. Then, spend a bunch of your valuable free-time meal prepping so that all of your healthy meals are ready to eat. The fact that you’ve spend a bunch of time and money preparing healthy meals will deter you from going out and buying take-out from that calorie-rich pasta bar.
Just like how you’ll still pay for your early-morning personal training session if you decide to sleep in, you’ll similarly waste all that money (and time) if you don’t eat your meal-prep creations.
4. You need people who check in on you, because you need to answer to someone to stay on track
You need people in your life who care enough to check in on you. A good personal trainer will ask you about your eating and fitness habits in between sessions, as a way of keeping track of you and keeping you accountable. In fact, you should fire your personal trainer if they aren’t holding you accountable like this.
Great friends will check in on you to see how your progress is going if they know you have weight-loss goals. Even better friends will actually come over and watch a movie with you on a rainy Thursday night, because they know you’ll be less likely to binge on a bunch of junk-food if you’re with someone. (Most people tend to binge when they’re alone, so the more social you are the better.)
You might even be lucky enough to find a friend willing to go on the exact same diet as you, at the same time, so that you have a “we’re in it together” mentality.
Even my Slendertone wearable ab-toning belt keeps me accountable. Laying on the couch watching Netflix for 30 minutes with the toning belt on is the equivalent of doing 200 sit-ups, and the app actually beeps at me and reminds me to do this every night. That way, when I’m being lazy and watching Netflix, I’m at least being reminded to do some form of exercise simultaneously.
I like to call this #NetflixAndTone – the new Netflix and Chill – which is obviously the only way I can watch movies yet still work towards looking fantastic in sexy lingerie or a bikini.
5. You can find motivation by being accountable to an end goal
Another great source of external accountability is a pre-planned tropical vacation for which you want to be beach-body ready, or a special upcoming event that you want to look your best for.
A great way to stay motivated by being accountable to a specific goal is to have your personal trainer measure you every two weeks. Just knowing that he’ll be getting out that measuring tape to supervise your progress is enough to make you want to watch what you eat so that you don’t feel embarrassed when the numbers haven’t changed.
Find something or someone to be accountable to, and your healthy habits and fitness goals will have a much higher shot at being achieved. Feel free to ask me for advice or tweet me your progress and I’ll tweet you mine!