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Accountability With Physical Fitness Goals

Leveraging personality and values to accomplish fitness goals

In my case, trying to sustain fitness programs for abstract reasons (“exercise lowers blood pressure, prevents diabetes, slows the aging process…”) or aesthetic reasons (“to fit into skinny jeans again”) had not worked. In coming up with a sensible fitness plan for myself that could effectively overturn years of inconsistent attention to fitness, I had a long "think" about what had worked for me in the past. The fruit of this time spent reflecting was the identification of a handful of experiences that provided critical clues for what could work in my case.

Here are 4 examples -

Over the course of a year, I had sustained a regular exercise habit when my sister Aimee told me that she would climb Half Dome with me if I exercised an average of 4 times per week over a period of 10 months. In the context of this challenge, the goal I set was not a weight loss goal, but rather one that involved building exercise into my daily life. I sustained it because I did not want to let my sister down and fail to honor the faith she placed in me.

During the same year, what also spurred my progress was the astounding generosity of a personal trainer I worked out with 3 times who then agreed to meet up with my husband and me anywhere in the continental US to climb a mountain together if I stayed committed to the goals and plan we set together. (That is a story for another blog to come – I think I’ll title it “My mental pit crew”).

In my first or second winter in Northern California, the experience of waking in darkness, working all day in an office and coming home in darkness was starting to bother me. I decided that night walks to check out people’s Christmas lights was just the thing to lift my spirits. However, I didn’t feel safe walking alone at night. So, I asked my neighbors if anyone would permit me to “borrow their dog” for a couple night walks each week. One of my favorite neighbors allowed me to take their wonderful dog on my walks and I kept to these dates as though they were medical appointments.

In terms of sustaining healthy habits, what had also worked was pregnancy. Despite my fear of gaining an enormous amount of weight while pregnant and “never being able to come back from it,” during each of my pregnancies, I had only gained 18 lbs. and was back to my pre-pregnancy weight within one week of giving birth.

So, from these experiences, I learned that I can sustain a fitness oriented lifestyle under two conditions: I will work towards a functional goal (e.g. to get in shape to climb a mountain) and I will do it to honor people (or precious dogs or future babies) in my life.

If you do a review of what has worked for you in the past, what can you discover about how to set the stage for success with your goals?