Let me tell you a secret. I have been trying to get fit. You may not have noticed, but I have indeed been trying. So, what does getting fit mean to me? It means setting a goal; being intentional about creating time to exercise; actually exercising regularly; seeing some difference in my level of fitness and my body and feeling better about myself.
One of my close friends has been trying to lose weight. What does losing weight mean to her? It means setting a goal; planning her meals and following the plan; making consistently healthy food choices; exercising regularly; seeing positive change in her weight and feeling better about herself.
“There is no such thing as a ‘self-made’ man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success.” George Matthew Adams
Don’t go it alone! Why are accountability buddies a luxury? Why do they carry power? Because they increase your chances of achieving what you want.
In sensational article entitled “Change or die” (taken from a book by Alan Deutschman) they presented studies conducted with patients who had severe medical conditions that required changes in their lifestyle in order to live. The sad fact was that after only 12 months, 90% of the patients had reverted back to their old lifestyles, virtually guaranteeing an impending death. Faced with the imminent threat of death, an overwhelming majority of people still failed to consistently make more appropriate choices. Fear of death was not motivating. There was a group which had a much higher success rate – almost seven times greater. These patients were involved in peer support sessions, and they had a success rate of nearly 80%. The groups not involved in peer support had a 10% success rate. The groups involved in peer support met on a regular basis and discussed their progress, challenges and achievements. By encouraging one another, they generally stayed on track. Their vision changed from the fear of dying to the joy of living. The learning here is – if you are implementing change, don’t go it alone. Your chances of success are seven times greater if you have peer support.
My friend and I agreed to be accountability buddies. We agreed to involve each other in being intentional about our goals and not to try to do it alone. I researched in to different forms of exercise which would fit round my family commitments, building my life coaching practice, my part time job, my available time and my recommendation from my physio not to take up running! I settled on a free online fitness plan (www.idealfit.com) which gave me a variety of 40 min workouts (inc warm up and cool down) spread over a period of 15 days. Each weekend I text my accountability buddy and let her know which evenings I am aiming to exercise. Firstly, taking the time to look at my week and to plan when I can realistically exercise and secondly, making the commitment to both myself and her, to follow through with my intentions. There are evenings when I feel tired or unmotivated, but having made that commitment, and knowing I am able to text my accountability buddy once I have exercised, really increases my success rate. Sometimes she texts me during the day to encourage me which increases my commitment and ensures I don’t ‘forget’ to exercise as planned! After the first Round of 15 days….which took me about 21 days to achieve… I lost 2.5” from my tummy and I have been amazed how much stronger my body is. I’m now in the middle of Round 4.
And my accountability buddy? She’s lost an impressive 2.11 stone, moving from a size 20 to a size 12. She is continuing to maintain a happy, healthy lifestyle and feels a lot better about herself. She says “Having an accountability buddy keeps me focused when I am experiencing self-doubt. Talking about my goals really helps me to achieve them. I would not have accomplished my weight loss without my accountability buddy – she makes all the difference.”
Breaking old habits and achieving new ones takes hard work and commitment. I recommend to all my clients that they have at least one person who is aware of the goal they are reaching for and the new commitments they are intent on keeping. Don’t try to do it alone. Get yourself an accountability buddy. They are very precious indeed.