Imagine you are having a conversation with someone – your child or a friend, who has perhaps got themselves into trouble, or they are upset or angry about a situation. You listen to how they blame everyone and everything for the situation they are in. But, you can see clearly that the reason they are in the predicament they are in is because of their own actions, not because of anything that anyone else has done.
This happens regularly when I am dealing with my kids, they blame everyone and everything for their own mistakes, and my job as a parent is to encourage them to take responsibility for their actions and be accountable to the decisions that led them there. If I can teach them this, they will grow up to be well rounded human beings who can accept and apologise when they have made mistakes, and work to rectify their wrong doings.
I think you will agree, there is nothing more frustrating than dealing with someone like this, who doesn’t take responsibility for themselves, and doesn’t hold themselves accountable – and it can be even more frustrating when that person is a grown up! I am sure we will have all come across them.
Believe it or not, we see this lots when we talk to people who want to make changes to their lifestyle. And this doesn’t make these people bad people it’s just sometimes we aren’t willing to accept that we are the reason we got to the position we are in – it’s not our genes, it’s not our slow metabolism, it’s not because of our bad knees, it’s not because we are too busy and we don’t have time, it’s because of the actions that we took. Our job is to show these people that they can make changes but they have to take control, and be accountable.
Accountability is a simple word that means: “the fact of being responsible for what you do and able to give a satisfactory reason for it, or the degree to which this happens”. In this sense, accountability is not actually something that we hold ourselves to, or have done to us, but rather more, it is a word reflecting our personal choices, how those choices contribute to a chosen outcome, and how willing we are to make the right choices.
A few weeks ago at one of our groups we were discussing the reasons why some people don’t track their food, given that it is probably the one single thing that will almost guarantee success. And the more reasons people gave, the more they all realised when they said them out loud, that it wasn’t a reason it was just an excuse. Even to the point where the following day I received messages to say, ‘After saying it out loud I realised I just needed to stop with the excuses and start doing it’.
When they examined their ‘reasons’ they realised they weren’t making the right choices to contribute effectively to their ‘chosen outcome’. And if they wanted to achieve that particular chosen outcome, they needed to make the right choices!
This article isn’t meant to convince you to start tracking, it’s to encourage you to start being accountable to yourselves if things aren’t going the way you want them to. We are all in charge of our own destiny in this life. There are things we can’t control, but there is a great deal we can, particularly the food and drink that we put in our mouths and the way we treat our bodies. This is 100% within our control, and we must be accountable to ourselves for that.
There are lots of tools that we can use to improve our accountability levels, and we are going to discuss them here. You might have some other tools that you use to increase your accountability, let us know what they are in the comments section.
The scales can be key to your accountability and your success.
We have conversations with so many people who find the scales really stressful, and we get it. When it doesn’t show you what you want to see, it is so upsetting. I dodged the scales for years, because I simply didn’t want to know how much I weighed. I knew it would be bad, and I didn’t want to upset myself. I didn’t even have them in the house. I was a weights and measures inspector, inspecting big manufacturing plants with their big industrial capacity scales and testing weighbridges, yet I wouldn’t even walk across a weighbridge when I was out on inspection, because I didn’t want to see and I didn’t want anyone else to see the number on the display.
But in all honesty, it’s not the scales fault, the scales are just giving us a number. The scales just show us the result of our lifestyle and make us face facts. If that number isn’t going down, or in my case back then, is most certainly going up, it is because we have eaten too much and not moved enough, and the reason we don’t want to see it, is because we don’t want to face reality. Because ultimately I didn’t want to face up to the predicament that I was in. If I did that, I knew I would have to make some changes. I would have to eat less. I would have to eat differently. I would have to put some effort in. And that prospect made me feel very uncomfortable.
I often wonder if I would have kept such a tight reign on my weight if it hadn’t been for Be Strong. Of course I love being a part of the Be Strong community, leading and inspiring others, which all helps to keep my healthy lifestyle on track, but the fact of the matter is, I keep control of my weight by standing on the weighing scales at least once a week. If I see that weight increasing, I know that it is time to take action, reign it in, and cut back for a while. The scales hold me accountable to the past weeks actions. If I don’t like what they say I have to do something different to change that number next week.
Whilst there is huge resistance to tracking food, for lots of reasons – it’s boring, it takes too long, I just can’t be bothered, I forget – all tracking really does is hold us accountable to our choices and our calorie intake. It tells us which foods we shouldn’t eat (and that’s the real reason we don’t do it), but instead of looking at this in the negative, let’s look at it in the positive. Tracking also tells us what foods we love, and can enjoy within our calories. It tells us that we can have a whole punnet of strawberries instead of 2 measly digestive biscuits, it tells us that we can have 3 deliciously sweet juicy peaches, or one single solitary pot of chocolate pudding. It gives us choices. It tells us that we can have a full English on a weekend morning if we want, but we have to pull it back across the week to be able to enjoy it and still hit our goals. And that in itself makes it all the more appealing, because that weekend morning breakfast is then a real treat.
Tracking is not a negative thing it is a positive thing! It gives you control, choice and most importantly a massively increased chance of success. For more on tracking read our article ‘To track or not to track‘
Setting yourself a good routine takes time, but is most definitely making you accountable to your goals. If you carry on doing the same thing over and over, when you have had little or no success before, your chances of success are very slim. However if you make some changes, get organised, and develop new routines and habits, your chances increase.
If is often said the way to form new routines, is to attach them to an existing routine. So if you want to increase your water intake, attach the time you drink water to something you already do a few times a day. Make it a conscious thought that every time you are going to do that thing, you will also have a glass of water.
You might need a reminder to do something – use the tools you have readily available to you – calendar reminders, screen savers, notifications on phones and watches, apps.
You might want to use a chalkboard in your kitchen or write in your diary to remind you of your goals and your schedule.
When changing your routine, don’t make massive changes, just introduce or change one thing at a time. You are more likely to make the new routine stick and also more likely to stick at it long term.
Plan ahead and make sure you are ready for whatever you need to do in the following week – kit is washed, shopping is done, keep an eye on your kitchen stock levels so that you don’t run out of the healthy stuff, meals are planned and maybe even prepped, childcare is organised. Running a home and a family can be like a military operation, and to keep things running smoothly, we need to plan and be organised, this is no different.
Own your goals
Owning your goal is accountability in a nut shell. Its about taking full responsibility for the why, what, where, when and how!
This means more than just deciding on your goal yourself, this is working out why you want to do it. If you don’t have a compelling reason to do whatever it is you want to do, then you will quit when the going gets tough. And it will get tough! See our article on ‘What’s your why‘ to help you work out your reason for doing this.
It then means setting out how YOU are going to achieve this. Because only YOU can! Your goals and plans should be SMART (specific – measurable – achievable – realistic and time bound), so that you know exactly what you are going to do, when you are going to do it, and what result it should give you. Only when you know your reasons for your goals, the specifics of your goals, and a proper structured plan, do you truly own your goals.
For help with setting a SMART goal and developing a SMART plan, check out our article, ‘Perfect planning‘.
Having a friend with a similar goal, to help you stay on track, and do this with, can be a real help. But this person must not be the person that will throw you off track. It can’t be the person that you will go ‘Oh sod it!’ with and throw the plan out the window when the opportunity for a night out comes along, or when you both fancy a take away, or you really want to jib on that exercise session. We all have a friend that we love, but we know we get up to no good when we are with them – and those friends most definitely have a place in our lives, because they make life fun. But they are also the people who will distract you from your goals. So these people are not ideally placed for being our accountability buddy.
Pick the buddy, who will keep you on track and keep you motivated. Pick the person that you won’t want to let down, because they want it too, they need you to be there for them, just as much as you need them. If you can’t find someone who is doing it too, pick a friend or family member who isn’t frightened of telling you how it is, pulling you up on your misgivings and reminding you to be accountable to yourself and your goals. This is the right sort of accountability buddy, who will help you to get to where you want to be.
Losing weight, changing our lifestyles, or getting fitter is brutal. It means acknowledging where we are, which can be a harsh reality in some cases, taking a deep breath, pulling up our big girl or boy pants and being accountable for the current situation and what action we need to take in the future. It means being brave. Being brave, by accepting and acknowledging that the way we are living our lives is not good for us and something is going to have to change. We know this because our clothes are too tight. We know this because we get out of breath easily. We know this because it’s becoming a struggle to cut our toenails. We know this because the GP is telling us our cholesterol is increasing, and we are pre-diabetes. So be brave and be accountable to all these things, be accountable to your choices, be accountable to your goals, and work hard to make some changes.
Ask yourself if you are being truly accountable to the goals that you have set for yourself. If not, what changes can you make, to improve that? Then be brave and make some changes, because if you don’t change anything you do, nothing will ever change for you.