You know how last week I wrote a post saying I’d been really tired lately? And it sounded like it was just a really long, lame excuse for not keeping up with my blogging? Well on Tuesday night I went to bed at 8:30 pm, and I didn’t even feel bad about it.
For the record, I am not a go to bed early person. If a year ago you’d told me that a year from then I would have either run a half marathon in just over two hours or gone to bed at 8:30 pm once, I would have picked the half marathon. Seriously.
But anyway. Fitness goals.
You hear a lot of talk out there about fitness accountability, and for good reason. It’s pretty easy to be like, “you know what, self? I’m not feeling that five mile run today. Let’s skip it.” And your self will be like, “I was thinking the exact same thing! I’ve got some serious couching to do today.” But it’s a lot harder to call up a friend and be like, “you know what, friend? I’m not feeling those plans we made to exercise together. I’m just not gonna show up.”
The problem with this is that I strongly prefer running on my own; it’s my me time. And I know I’m not the only one who prefers exercising all by their one-some. So the good news is that exercise with friends is not the only way to hold yourself accountable!
Force Accountability, Preferably in a Variety of Ways
When I first moved to Charleston I was not doing a very good job keeping up with my training plan. I was in a new city, I didn’t know the area, I’d gone from having literally nothing to do all day other than go for a run to having to actually go to work for 8-9 hours a day, and I had other, competing priorities (like getting my apartment unpacked) that kept winning out. Most of the time I was still able to get in one or two runs a week, but that wasn’t enough.
Fortunately, I had anticipated that problem and planned ahead. About three weeks into my time here I had a realization: I was running a ten mile race in two weeks and all of my attempts to run that distance thus far had ended horribly with me dehydrated and nearly fainting. Uh oh. The sheer panic of not being able to finish that race (because I was going to finish the dang thing if I paid for it) propelled me forward into switching up my training plan for something a bit less time-consuming and actually sticking with it.
And then, once that race was over, my half marathon was looming just about a month away and I was determined to both finish that race and at least meet my goal of keeping a consistent ten minute mile (check and double check). So I kept going because I knew for sure that I was not going to be able to handle a 13.1 mile run if I wasn’t training for it. And that’s how I got back into my schedule.
Now, not everyone is a runner, biker, or swimmer and can motivate themselves with a race like I did. But if you can find some sort of competition that will force you to keep your butt in shape for fear of horrible failure, that’s a really great way to hold yourself accountable for keeping said butt in shape.
But what if that’s not an option?
Well, just because you aren’t working out with another person, doesn’t mean another person can’t help you to be accountable. When I very first started going to the gym regularly back in January, my boyfriend (who was about 400 miles away) noticed my lack of motivation and decided to kick it up a notch. So we made a bet. He was in the middle of a 100 push-up program, and I was training for a 10K, so we decided that his goal was to get to 50 push-ups in a row and my goal was to run four miles straight without having to stop and walk. Whoever reached their goal first would win.
I’m pretty competitive, so winning alone may have been enough, but the real secret to this one was that he picked a prize for winning that I did not want to have to pay. Within two weeks I had gone from nearly dying trying to run two miles to stubbornly finishing a close to five mile run because my phone died less than halfway into it and I wanted to be absolutely certain that I’d made it those whole four. So that’s another possibility.
But those are still far from the only two options. There are apps and websites out there that force you to pay money to people who do meet their goals if you don’t follow through on yours. There are also websites which will reward you for healthy behavior without the punishment, if the carrot is enough for you without the stick. Even just telling another human being about what your plans are may help you to stick to them, since there’s someone else who knows that you’re failing on your good intentions.
In short, there are a whole bunch of different options for holding yourself accountable for your fitness. It’s a really good idea that you pick at least one, if not more, for those days when your motivation just isn’t quite enough to get you up and moving.