“Accountability is the glue that bonds commitment to results” – Will Craig
Back in 2007 I had a business coach and one day in passing he said “Accountability makes things happen faster”. I reflected on this and realised he was right. To take it one step further, accountability is often the difference between making something happen, and it not happening at all.
I spend most of my time working with lovely people who are intelligent and successful, and when it comes to you exercise and nutrition, they know what they should be doing and they aren’t doing it. Education isn’t always the issue.
Jordan Peterson has a best-selling book called “12 Rules for Life”. One of his rules is to “treat yourself like you are someone you are responsible for”. People treat their children, and often their pets better than they treat themselves. You might let yourself down but you will always have too much integrity to let someone else down. This is how a good coaching or mentoring relationship works, and this is where the power of accountability lies.
I have a financial advisor, business mentor and life coach. I don’t have these people because I don’t know what to do. I know what to do, it’s just that sometimes I don’t do it and the accountability makes me do it, or sometimes I get confused and I want to ensure that I make the right decisions and stay on track so it’s great having these people in my life. The process of writing this book has been enormous, and it’s something I have wanted to do for years, so I paid the publisher and editor, agreed on a timeline, met the deadlines, and you’re looking at the end result.
When it comes to health and fitness, you really don’t have to do it alone. There are so many people out there who can help if you need nutrition assistance, help being consistent and staying on track with exercise. With most of my clients we do measurements each week, and at that point it isn’t about what nutrition plan they are following, it’s about knowing you will have your measurements taken every Friday that ensures you make the right food and exercise choices throughout the rest of the week.
Many people place their exercise in their weekly schedule last. It doesn’t work so well that way. Place exercise in your diary first and everything else will fit around it. You might think you should get everything else in your personal and professional life done first before you exercise, but the personal and professional To-Do list never ends, so get your exercise in and watch how you magically get everything else done anyway.
On the topic of accountability, some people need a cuddle and some people need a kick up the butt? One of my long-term clients is an elderly Chinese lady and she says there is the carrot and the stick. The carrot is the goal that we strive towards. The stick is what you get when your behaviour is not in line with your goals. 95% of the time support and encouragement works better than being form or getting angry with someone. Exercise should be a bright part of your day and a positive part of your life. We are all doing our best, and sometimes just making it to the gym is the very best a person can do some weeks without having to worry about setting records when they get there, and without adding more stress to your week by grilling people about what they ate, or what they didn’t eat.
Like any good relationship, a trainer/client partnership works well when it is based on trust, respect, and open communication. The trainer is supposed to provide the motivation, however the trainer needs to be motivated too. A trainer’s motivation matches the clients desire. If it is clear the client isn’t doing their part it is hard for a trainer to care long term. Sometimes I say to people “Don’t make me do this just for the money”. There has to be a deeper reason and a feeling of fulfilment associated with constant ongoing progress.
A fitness industry survey once revealed that if people join a gym and receive no level of support, they are likely to be in the same shape, or worse condition after 6 months. There were three reasons for this:
- Lack of exercise frequency
- Lack of education and accountability
- A lack of intensity in their training
The best thing about hiring a health professional to walk alongside you on your health and fitness journey is that these 3 issues are resolved immediately! In my experience the difference the likelihood of success increased 100-fold when you have the assistance of a trainer or coach. A fitness professional can wear many hats such as nutritionist, exercise programmer, trainer, friend, disciplinarian, and counsellor. A trainer is the ultimate cheerleader and supporter in the pursuit of peak health. There will be ups and downs and you don’t have to be perfect. I see lots of food diaries with pizza, red wine, cheese and crackers, and chocolate, and you can still lose weight if you can eat these things and still remain in a calorie deficit. That’s where morning fasting can be the ultimate compensation strategy.
If you do something that’s not perfect you are not a failure. It starts again with the next meal and the next training session. Our aim is to create momentum and be exercising well and eating well daily, most of the time. Our aim is to create a trend of improvement over the next 3 to 6 months. It won’t be linear. You will lose weight some weeks, then stay the same, then lose, then hold steady, every now and then it will increase, then you will have a big loss, then a small loss, then another hold….and over time when you have been consistent with your exercise and nutrition while losing an average of 300 grams per week, before you know it you have lost 10kg after 8 months and you look and feel better than you have in 20 years!
The concept of accountability does not only apply to health and fitness. Many times over the years there has been an extremely fine line between health coaching and life coaching, and in the goal setting process my clients have committed to broader goals such as leaving jobs they dislike, moving on from unfulfilling relationships, and even saving money. Having someone that cares and sticks with you on the path to a better life greatly increases the chances of seeing you evolve as a person. Sometimes it can be tough, especially at the start, but as the quote by author and spiritual teacher robin Sharma says, “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end”.