To keep up a fitness habit, accountability is key — here’s how to tap into this motivation builder.
There are many reasons that hiring a personal trainer or coach can help you stay on track, but it’s not only their level of expertise that can make a difference. A big part of that relationship is accountability.
When you don’t want to disappoint your trainer — or yourself — by putting off your workouts, or by giving only lackluster effort when you do exercise, it can be a huge part of staying motivated. Sometimes, you just need a slight nudge to get you from couch to fitness, and accountability is part of that. But you don’t need a trainer to get to that point.
“Often, having a bit of beneficial external pressure to stay on track can be an advantage when you’re creating a healthy habit,” according to fitness expert Larysa DiDio. “You can harness that natural tendency toward wanting others to cheer you on, and the best part is that it doesn’t take much to make that work for you.”
Here are DiDio’s five favorite strategies to build more accountability into your fitness routine:
1. Find a Partner
Having a friend, family member, or spouse who’s willing to check in with you can be a boon, because you know that text or call is coming. Ideally, it would be best to work out with that person, too, because then you can be an accountability partner for them. But even if that’s not the case, you can use that connection to motivate yourself.
2. Make a Schedule
Once you know how often you want to work out, write it down and put that in a place where you’ll see it often. Maybe that’s on the fridge, for example. Or you can create appointment reminders in your phone. When you’ve finished the workout, you can check it off your list or cross out that day on your calendar. That will feel great when you look at the whole page and see the days you’ve crossed out.
3. Take Classes
Motivating yourself to work out alone, at home, can be tough unless you’re already in a workout groove, says DiDio. That’s why classes can help, because they’re held at specific times and you need to show up. That doesn’t mean you need to leave home, though! SilverSneakers LIVE online classes give you that in-person environment, along with accountability to your virtual trainer.
4. Sign Up for an Event
You don’t need to conquer a marathon (unless that’s what you want) to get more accountability through events. Look for a fun walk in your area that’s coming up in a few months, particularly any that are part of a charity that resonates for you. For example, that might be a walk that raises money for cancer research, or helping animal shelters, or ending homelessness.
Once you have your event picked out, set smaller milestones that lead up to that day. These milestones could be a combination of things. For example, you may want to set a weekly target of walking three miles and doing two 20-minute strength-training sessions. If you’ve signed up for a charity event, you may even want to consider doing some fundraising at the same time. That will create a huge amount of accountability, but also make you excited and motivated for the event.
5. Reward Yourself
Although accountability often includes other people, it’s also important to feel accountable to yourself. Instead of coming from a place of discouragement if you skip a workout, make it positive instead by creating little rewards for your wins. Choose healthy options that can fuel your fitness, like getting a smoothie, buying a new water bottle or yoga mat, or booking a massage. Whenever you see an item that you want — like a subscription to a fitness magazine or some workout clothes — put it into your “reward bucket” so you need to earn them. That will boost accountability and help you feel more motivated, too.
“Accountability isn’t negative, where you feel disappointed in yourself if you don’t exercise,” says DiDio. “Instead, it should feel like another source of positive energy that gets you closer to your goals and keeps you going strong.”
Try this today: Tell one person your workout schedule for the next week and ask them to check in with you when that week is done.
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