Have you found yourself resolved to foster healthy habits in the morning, but by the time evening rolls around, it has disappeared? What are your roadblocks? Going out to eat? Unexpected guests? Started a project, and time got away from you? Becoming overwhelmed, or you didn’t feel like it later in the day? The secret is to find motivation and have a plan you can stick to for the long term. So, where to start? What is stopping you?
I have a few thoughts to help you become more accountable to what you are trying to accomplish.
What is important enough you will want to stick with it and follow through? Evaluate your priorities and determine what is most important and why you want to do it. For example, if you are looking to lose weight – Is it because you want to look better? Feel better or something else?
If you want to be healthier – Is it because you are trying to prevent future problems or solve current health issues? Do you want to feel better and stronger? My point is if you don’t buy into the result or big picture, you won’t find the motivation to accomplish the wanted result.
As silly as this may seem, a mission statement is vital because you decide what’s important to you, why you are doing it, and agree to move forward. When thinking about a mission statement, try to keep it simple. Don’t make it complicated, so it will be hard to remember or obtain. Think basic plan and work from there. For example, a sample mission statement could be as little as “I will walk five days a week and build up to going ten miles a week.”
Mini goals are great to keep us excited about what we are doing, and it also helps us change habits. You can control how many and how often you have mini goals. For example, you may decide as part of your weight control or healthy eating plan, you will delete one item from your menu in the next month. You may have a mini goal of adding stretching to the end of your workouts. Or one mini goal may be to drink a certain amount of water daily. When you have these mini goals, you see differences in your life and feel good about being in control.
A list can be helpful. It could be something you hang on your bathroom mirror to see each morning, a phone app, or an actual to-do list on your calendar. Don’t overload your list with items you know you cannot handle. Some people find it works well to have a list of things to accomplish each week and, at the end of the week, reflect on what happened.
For example, say you want to read an article once a week on strength training techniques. Or perhaps you decide each week you will try a new recipe that is healthy for you. Go back to your mission statement and mini goals to see if they align with the big picture of what you want to accomplish.
How often do we hear the benefits of multitasking? I am here today to tell you to stop and think single-tasking!
Why? I bet you do too much at once, and, instead of something getting done, everything is in process. There is something also called slow multitasking. This is having multiple task going on, but you are working on one thing at a time. If you want to give up sugar, exercise, or give up caffeine then start with one and get it done before moving to the next. I often tell my fitness clients I’m excited they showed up. If they can’t do every movement or need to alternate something, it’s okay. We can build as we go. The last thing I want is for someone to feel uncomfortable, then stop and quit. Remember single-tasking!
We all have things we do well and many not so well. For example, you may have the self-discipline to work out regularly but can’t give up the evening dish of ice cream. Knowing what needs to be done and owning up to what you do are two very different things. Make a mental note of where you are strong and where you have weaknesses. Then work on what you can do to make your strengths even more of an asset and decrease the weaknesses, or at least recognize them and chip away at how they affect your life. If getting to the gym is hard to do in the morning, but you are better in the afternoons, then plan it. If you have a weakness for certain foods, don’t have it in the house or plan how you can indulge and when.
When possible, work with others who have similar goals. It will make your journey more fun, and by sharing ideas, it will motivate you to stay on course. When I began my journey, I met with a group that went to the same gym classes at lunchtime and had similar goals. We all became friends and did outings outside the gym. Our lunchtime workouts were like recess for us in the middle of our day, and it gave us an incentive to go.
Creating partnerships doesn’t mean becoming a martyr. So often, we put ourselves last on the list of needs. We take care of everyone else, and if there is time left over, we then give to ourselves. Reassess your priorities and learn how important it is to have self-care. Work on adjustments you can do to make sure you are getting the attention you need to be the best person you can be.
When you go on a journey for change, you can enlist the help of trusted friends to help you stay on track. Consider who to bring into your circle. To begin, you need someone that is neutral. You need to be clear about what feedback you are looking for and about your expectations. Look for someone you can talk to about difficulties you are having and what you want to accomplish. It may be a person you can just report to on whether you are on track. It’s up to you, but often you will be more self-accountable knowing someone knows your goals. I work with several people on goal setting, and having a neutral party makes it easier for them to listen to feedback and suggestions.
My favorite part of self-accountability is reaping the rewards. You can set the type and amount of rewards you need. For example – small rewards could be a special dessert you enjoy when out at dinner. A big reward may be a shopping trip or special spa day. You decide what will motivate you.
Remember, there is no cheating in accountability. It’s your life, and you must live with yourself. If you can take little steps, change will come. It takes patience and perseverance. Have faith you can change and become the person you want to be. The rewards of altering your attitude can reap a happier and healthier life. Be persistent and keep moving in the positive direction. Little positive steps daily lead to big change.
Going it alone when trying to make permanent lifestyle changes can be tough. That’s why we at Prime Women developed PLATE, a weight management program for women over 50. A key component of the program is you are placed in a group forum of ten women of a similar age and weight loss goals. We know accountability has shown to be the single biggest factor in weight loss success. If you are looking to lose weight and keep it off, consider becoming a member of PLATE. Learn more here.
“It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.” ― Molière