You want to be a fit person, right? That's why I'm sharing my own habits for keeping fit and staying healthy in the ongoing Habits of Fit People series.
Here's one that works for me: telling other people about my goals. This is a technique that I've used for years (and still use today) when I'm not feeling motivated to exercise. So how should you do it—and why does it make a difference?
Long before Chris Downie started SparkPeople, he started with a personal goal: to exercise for at least 10 minutes every single day for as many days in a row as possible. Making his goal "public" helped him stick with it. Every morning that he exercised, he posted a number on the door to his office: "1" for the first day, 30 after the first month, etc. Soon he reached 100 days, 365 days, and ultimately more than 700 days of exercise. People noticed. They asked him what the numbers on his door meant. They encouraged him and congratulated him as the numbers got higher and higher. They told him how he inspired them, and one co-worker even started her own workout streak, complete with numbers posted on her door, too! Just imagine if Chris never posted those numbers for others to see; if he had kept his goal (and progress) to himself, would he have stuck with it that goal for two years, if he knew that no one was watching?
There's something to be said about sharing your goals, whatever they may be, with others. Just like writing down your goals makes them "real" and gives them power, sharing your goals with other people means, "Wow, I'm really going to do this!" Your goal becomes official! When you keep your fitness goals to yourself, it's easy to change your plans or back out. After all, no one would ever know. And that is exactly why you should share your fitness goals with others: accountability. When your goals are made public, there's a chance that someone is going to follow-up with you and ask how things are going. That alone is usually enough to spur you into action because you want to save face and not look like a failure.
Of course, you should want to reach your goals for yourself, and in an ideal we'd all be intrinsically motivated and not worry what other people think. But if telling others for the sake of accountability is what you need to do in order to commit to your exercise program, so be it! It's a small step, a simple technique that you can use to your advantage for as long as you need it. In fact, would you be surprised that even I, Coach Nicole, still use this technique today? Believe it or not, I don't always feel motivated to work out or reach for new, more challenging fitness goals. (Gasp!) So what do I do? I set my fitness goals, then I tell others about them—for nothing more than accountability.
Anyone who is my SparkFriend sees my status updates on SparkPeople. When I share my workout plans for that day or a new fitness goal I've set, the reason is kind of selfish. I'm sharing for accountability so that I'll stick with it. I do the same thing on my personal Facebook page. I share info about the races I'm training for, my workout plans and even my progress toward these goals. Sharing, to me, is what makes a fitness goal real. It takes it from a vague idea in your head that you might do, and means you're fully committed! You know it; and now everyone else knows it, too.
Don't believe me? Start using this technique yourself. Share your goals —no matter how small—with your SparkFriends, on the SparkPeople message boards, on your Facebook page. Write a new blog post about them. Tell your co-worker about your plans to train for that 5K this spring. Update your best friend with your progress. Or, like Chris, put a sticky note on your wall or door. Each person that asks you about it will be one more reason for you to stick with your plan, and that can only lead to good things—and a habit of fitness!
Do you share your fitness goals with others? Do you agree that sharing your plans is a good way to stay accountable to your exercise program? Share your fitness goal(s) below right now!
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