Accountability is a pain in the ass, but at the end of the day, you are the person most responsible for your accountability. There is no other person in this world that can make you do anything. Even if a person had a gun to your head or dangled your child over a cliff, you still have to make the choice. That is why accountability is so hard.
At any time, you can choose to say no or say yes to the things you need. You can choose to do what you need to do to be successful or choose not to do those things. Sure, you may have to suffer the consequences, but you still have the choice and can choose to do the opposite of what will help you succeed.
That is why regrets exist.
In my time training people, people have literally told me they said: “fuck it.” That was their reason for not doing the things they needed to do to be successful. The fact that these people admitted that is both exasperating and refreshing at the same time. Let me explain.
The “fuck it” statement is exasperating because these persons decided their goals were not as important as doing something else. Some of these people will then complain about lack of success or go into a “woe is me” mind state. We see the success these people can have if they try, but the instances of “fuck it” get in the way.
On the other hand, the statement is refreshing because at least they were honest. Many people make excuses, such:
“But it wasn’t my fault”
“I had not control over the situation”
“It couldn’t be prevented”
“I don’t have the time”
We have all made and heard excuses like these before. Sometimes they are legitimate reasons, other times they are not. When someone else makes one of these statements and you know they are making excuses, you likely roll your eyes or otherwise dismiss their attempts to deflect responsibility. But do you do the same things when you are making excuses? Maybe it is time you do.
Sometimes things in life are beyond control. Personal and professional problems arise and this is a part of life. But at times you know you make excuses. You know you have the time, you know you can control the situation, etc. If you always say a situation is outside of your control, you can never take responsibility and change the situation. Take control of the situation. You will feel better when you do and life improves as a result.
When people do not make excuses, we respect the honesty. That said, it does not change the fact that these people are not doing what they need to do to be successful.
You are in control.
At the end of the day, you are responsible for your successes or failures. People can help you or hold you back, but you can make the choices to work through any situation to find the success you seek. This applies to work, school, relationships, and, of course, health and fitness.
Here are some ways to reach your goals that are also ways to help hold yourself accountable.
Set a goal
If you are reading this, you have a goal for health and fitness. Think about what that goal is. Ask yourself right now “what do I want to achieve physically?” You might come up with one goal or multiple goals. That is fine.
If you have trouble visualizing your goals, speak them out loud. Take some time to really think about what you want to achieve, looking at problem areas, such as health, fitness, or physique, to determine what you want to work. Articulate these things aloud to yourself.
You might consider enlisting a friend or loved one. Now, we understand this might seem silly or even embarrassing, but it can help. You want to pick someone supportive but honest. You do not want someone who will not support you setting goals, who will say it is stupid to do so or try to hold you back, but you also don’t want someone who is a yes man and will not provide you quality feedback.
Write it down
Write that goal down. If you have multiple goals, write them all down. If you have multiple goals, put them in order of importance. Next to each goal, place a number noting it as more or less important. For example, if you have three goals, a number one should go next to the most important one, a number to next to the second most important one, and a number three next to the least important one. Now rewrite the list in order from most important to least important.
Keep it in sight
Place that list of goals in a place where you will see them. You might keep it in your purse or wallet. You might put it on the fridge or bulletin board. You might keep it as a digital sticky note or on your digital reminder. It does not matter where you keep it if you can see it on a regular basis.
It is really that simple
Setting a goal really is that simple. Think about what you want, write it down, and keep it in plain sight.
Motivation is the problem
In most instances, barring some aggravating circumstance, if a person is not successful at something it is due to a lack of motivation. You must be motivated and prioritize your goals as well as the plan to reach the same. You might ask “how do I do this?” That depends on your situation.
No two people face the same life circumstances. Even if similarities occur between situations, significant differences are always present. You must look at your particular situation to determine how to fit it in. For example, imagine that you can achieve your best results working out five days per week, but your schedule only allows for three days—then you can only workout three days. It would be ideal to work out for five, but your training frequency is partially dictated by your schedule.
At the same time, imagine your schedule permits working out five days per week, but your body can only recover from three days per week. In this case, you should only workout for three days per week until your body can handle more, and then increase frequency, if other situational factors such as schedule permit.
Prioritize your goals
Look at your goal list. Make sure it is well developed, meaning it lists all your primary goals, lists them in order of importance, and provides enough detail about each goal.
Think about when you can fit things in. For example, can you fit workouts in during the morning, afternoon, or evening; do you have 30 minutes to make meals each day, can you meal prep for the week on Sunday, does it make sense to do all your grocery shopping on one day or spread it through the week, etc.
If needed, talk to a doctor. While I would love to tell you to jump head first into a new nutrition and exercise program, you may need to visit a doctor. If you are obese, have underlying health conditions, or some other aggravating factor, it is a good idea to have a doctor check you out, determine if any issues are present, and have the doctor provide recommendations or restrictions. This will help you, a trainer, or a nutritionist select the best course of action.
Talk to a fitness professional and/or access online resources-even if you do not have the money for a trainer, nutritionist, or another fitness professional, talk to one. An individual session is not expensive and many professionals will provide you with a free consult. The goal here is to talk to the fitness professional about your goals, what the doctor said, and any other issues you face, while also providing you an opportunity to ask questions and get real answers.
Whether on your own or with the ongoing support of a doctor and/or fitness professional, create a plan for exercise and nutrition that focus on your goals. Be sure to put thought into it and create a plan that focuses on now and the future. Create a detailed plan at least three months in duration, with an outline for 12 months. The specifics will vary and should be based on your situation. No cookie-cutter plans.
Now put in the work. Adjust as needed over time. Do not make excuses. Do not give up.
There is no such thing as magic
There are no magic programs, no quick fixes, or easy workarounds. You have to follow the ideas included above. Even if there was a magic program, if you do not follow it, it will not work. You must have a plan, follow that plan, put in the work, and give the process time.
The process takes time
The process takes time. Depending on how robust your goals are, the time it takes you to reach your initial goal may vary. If you want to lose 20 pounds the process should be shorter than if you need to lose 100.
Be prepared to put time into the process both to reach your initial goal and then to either maintain your success or move toward another goal. I encourage everyone to initially dedicate 6-12 months to reach any goal. This timeline applies whether you work with us, another professional, go the process alone, or take another route. This has nothing to do with paying for a trainer, but rather with knowing what it takes to reach goals.
Your goals require effort
Nothing worth doing is easy and your health and fitness goals are no exception. Whether gaining or losing 20 pounds or 100, or seeking improvements in fitness, effort will be required on the path to success.
Remember that you get out what you put in. This might seem cliched or commonsensical, but people often do not put in the necessary effort. In the context of this blog, we use effort as a way to talk about the amount of energy you put into working out and nutrition. The body is an adaptive machine, but in order for to elicit change, you must give the body proper stimuli.
For example, if you can run but always walk during cardio, the time it takes you to reach your cardio goal will be longer than if you had put in more effort. Conversely, if you want to lose weight, but are not willing to watch what you eat, then you will likely never reach your weight loss goals.
Success demands commitment
Time and effort, or perhaps I should say effort over time, take commitment. You must be dedicated to the process over time, putting in the required effort. If you show effort for only a short time, then your commitment wanes or you give up, you will either have a hard time reaching your goals or never reach your goals.
Your commitment—that is, your motivation and discipline to do the things you need to do to progress—will make or break your success. If you want to reach your goals, you will be disciplined. If you do not, you will not.
Now, I understand that with time, focus can wane as can motivation, and setbacks can happen. It is at these times that digging deep and finding motivation becomes even more important.
Setbacks happen so deal with them the best you can
Everyone experiences setbacks in life, whether at work, in relationships, in their health and fitness pursuits, or in some other area. Setbacks are just that, setbacks, they are not the end of the road. If you have a setback, you must deal with it appropriately. Take control of the situation as best you can, find a way to resolve an outstanding issue, and move forward.
The way you deal with a setback varies based on the type of setback. There is no universal way to deal with all setbacks; you have to look at the situation to determine the best way to move forward. That said, there is always a way to move forward.
The most important thing to remember is that only you can make it happen. Other people can only help. I help all my clients when they experience setbacks, but they have to be willing to listen and act; otherwise, my advice is pointless.
Clearly, you cannot do everything yourself. Some setbacks require the help of other individuals and access to resources. However, you can find these individuals and resources. By doing so, you take control of the situation. This does not mean the process will be easy, but you can make it happen.
Visualize the End Goal
Each person’s motivation is different. Maybe you want to improve your health for your kids, so you keep a picture of them with you each time you work out. Maybe you want to prepare for a marathon, so you have the flyer with the race date pinned next to your bed, so you see it each time you wake up and go to bed. These are motivating factors, and the act of keeping the picture or flyer in view is a form of visualization.
One way to be successful is to visualize your end goal. If your goal is to lose weight, visual what you will look like or how it will feel when you see the scale reach your goal number. If you want to build strength, imagine completing the lift or lifts you are targeting and imagine what that will feel like.
Regardless of the goal, find a way to visualize it as a means to keep you motivated. You may only need your mind, but a visual aid may help. Find what works for you.
Keep your eyes on the prize. I can offer inspiration quotes, tip, tricks, and so called hacks, but in the end, none of these things matter if you are not motivated.
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.