Saturday, November 24, 2012
Do you have an accountability partner? Someone that you report back, regularly, about your weight loss journey, and how it is going? Or, someone who, if you fail to report back regularly, will come and ask you about it?
Here are some stories of accountability:
a. Although I didn't "officially" have a solitary accountability partner, one of the SparkTeams that I was a part of functioned as an accountability team for me. Many of us posted our daily calorie counts, daily exercise and daily weights in our forums. Some of you have SparkTeams that offer regular "challenges" that also function to provide accountability.
I truly believe that choosing to be accountable to someone is one of the important strategies to succeeding at weight loss.
b. Last January, an acquaintance from church, after watching me, over the course of a year, successfully lose 60 pounds, asked me to help her to lose weight. She said that she had tried, for years, to lose weight, and just couldn't. She had a goal to lose 50 pounds.
She made it real easy for me. We got together, once, for about 2 hours. We talked about what she'd tried in the past, what she was currently doing, etc. It turned out that she had an incredible amount of knowledge about nutrition, and was already doing a lot of the right things. But, she was stuck. I gave her some suggestions that seemed to get her out of her plateau, and we created her own program, with her choosing strategies that would work for her.
She lost her 50 pounds a few months back, actually considerably more quickly, even, than I had lost my weight. Other than our initial vist, the only thing that I did was to check in with her occasionally in church, and ask her about what she was doing, what was working, etc. It seems awesomely amazing to me that she credits me with her weight loss. She did ALL the work!
But, having someone that was regularly encouraging her and checking up on her made a big difference in her ability to succeed.
c. My sister, age 49, Type I diabetic for almost 40 years, asked me to be her "weight loss coach". I agreed, but quickly changed my job title to accountability partner. I wanted us to be partners, and to help her to choose her own strategies that would work for her, and that would fit her health challenges, her personality, etc.
This one has been a little bit more challenging. First of all, although I grew up with her diabetes during my childhood, and I know a fair bit about it (actually, my brother has it too!), it is certainly not an area of expertise for me. The way her body metabolizes both sugars and fats, and the way changes in food choices and calories affects blood sugars and how she needs to regulate her insulin have put up some barriers.
Secondly, her level of commitment waxes and wanes. Although there are some strategies that she commits whole-heartedly to, there are other strategies that were easy for me to do on a daily basis that she still seems to be bucking and can easily find excuses for.
But, we're still plugging away, and are approaching things a little differently, in terms of strategy. I believe that, if Plan A doesn't work, there are still 25 other letters.
d. A few weeks ago, I was attending a community meeting in a group called Circles of Hope, which pairs Circle "Leaders" with community allies, who will help them to meet their goals to get out of poverty, and to achieve other things in their lives. One circle "Leader" (who probably weighs about 300 pounds) shared that one of her additional goals is to lose weight. After the meeting, I told her that, 2 years ago, I was in a size 22. As I now wear a size 6, she was fairly surprised, and asked how I lost the weight. I told her that I'd be wiling to talk with her about it sometime, when we both had time to sit down, and spend an hour or two in conversation, and, if she knows that she not only wants to "be thin", but, she also wants to "lose weight". (In my mind, there is a big difference in wanting to "be", and, in being willing to "do" the action that "being" requires.)
We've talked several times since then, sometimes, sort of at length. She's in the middle of some other challenges right now. But, after they get resolved, she will likely be motivated for us to begin.
She also really encouraged me to begin a "class" at Circles of Hope. She says that, probably 50% of the Circle Leaders have weight loss as a goal. I didn't commit myself to anything. But, I gave her permission, when she was insistent, to talk with others, only on a one-on-one basis, about their interest in a "class". If there seems to be significant interest, I might consider pursing something like that after the New Year. If not, that's OK too. I'm not looking for that opportunity.
e. On Tuesday this week, a friend that I've known for many years approached me and asked me to be her accountability partner. She already has a "spiritual mentor", who has lost and maintained significant weight, and, she'd been expecting her to help with that. But, her spiritual mentor has set some boundaries, and is agreeing only to encourage her, spiritually, in that endeavor, but is not willing to commit to engaging in regular conversations about numbers (scale, tape measure, online calculators, etc), dietary choices, exercise strategies,etc. I suspect that her mentor will be a big help in the motivation department, though. And, maybe we can form somewhat of a team for this friend.
An aside note. Back about 5, or more, years ago, when my clothing wasn't fitting and I was so discouraged, this same friend offered to spend an afternoon clothing-shopping with me. She'd battled weight loss for much of her life, and she was just so gentle, even in the way she moved me from the size 14's to the Plus size rack (which, prior to that, I hadn't been willing to admit to myself that I needed.)
So, who do you choose to be accountable to? It could be a SparkTeam. It could be just one or two Spark-ers who you've become "online friends" with. It could be a relative or a real-life friend. It could be someone who is currently also working at weight loss. It could be someone who successfully lost weight in the past. It could be someone who has successfully accomplished goals that have nothing to do with weight loss.
But, if you don't have someone, find someone. Find someone who won't sabotage your weight loss goals. (Sometimes, other "losers-to-be" might do that, if they are not succeeding.)