Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Just Do It...For You

If you’ve ever worked with a personal trainer, then you may have heard the word accountability tossed around a few times. But do you know what it really means, and more importantly, why it’s so essential for achieving your fitness goals?

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines accountability as “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” There are two parts to this definition as it applies to your commitment to working out and to adopting a healthier lifestyle in general. First, your obligation: if you’ve set a goal for yourself---particularly if you’ve hired or are considering hiring a trainer or fitness coach---then it must be important to you, right? If so, then you owe it to yourself to follow through on achieving that goal. Second comes your willingness, and it’s here that a lot of people get tripped up. We decide that we want to lose those 15 pounds, but we aren’t realistic about the time and effort we’ll have to put in to get there. Alternately, the big picture of our fitness goal is often superseded by immediate motivations (or lack thereof), like feeling tired, stressed, or hungry. Bottom line: We know we owe it to ourselves, but we still get in our own way.

What, then, can you do to hold yourself accountable? Well, you first have to identify the factors that might prevent you from getting to your goals. For instance, if you know you’ll do the work if you just go to the gym, you need to be familiar with the reasons why you might skip a session. Maybe if you sit down to watch TV when you get home from work, or if you’re starving when you get home, you won’t go. You then need to have a plan in place to address any obstacle to working out. Put your workout clothes and shoes in a visible area before you leave for work, so that when you get home it’s the first thing you think of. Pack a late-afternoon snack you can eat at the office that will sustain you until after your workout. If your issue is that you don’t push yourself when you work out alone, schedule workouts with a buddy or hire a trainer. These are just some examples; what’s important is that you become aware of any obstacles to your personal motivation, and then eliminate them. Remember, the final part of the definition is “to accept responsibility…for one’s actions.” Accountability means you don’t let excuses get in the way of what you’ve set out to do.

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