Raise your hand if you’ve ever set a health or fitness resolution.
Now raise your hand if you’ve ever struggled with achieving your health or fitness resolution.
I doubt you actually raised your hand (I wouldn’t), but I know you’re thinking about goals you’ve set in the past that fizzled out after a few weeks of attempts. Reaching our goals is hard. But that’s not a bad thing. The best goals push us forward and show us who we can be.
I have several of my own health goals for this year, so I’ve been studying ways to stay focused. I’ve learned that the process is the same for almost any type of goal. It’s about accountability and letting our values and personality drive our efforts.
Here are 21 ways to stay accountable to your health and fitness goals!
Establish Your Goals
1. Set Specific, Achievable Goals
How can you hold yourself accountable to a goal if you haven’t defined it? It would be like shooting an arrow with no target. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based (i.e. S.M.A.R.T. goals).
2. Know Your “Why”
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How will your life be different once you achieve your goals?
- How will you feel if you don’t make progress?
- What do you value in life?
When you understand why you want to reach your goals and how they fit within your values you’ll have powerful motivation to complete them.
3. Break Your Goals into Bite-Sized Pieces
Big goals are great, but it’s easy to feel like you’re not making any progress. Break each goal into milestones, and then break those down into weekly tasks or daily habits. When you have steps to focus on each day/week/month, you’ll know you’re moving closer to your goals.
4. Write Down Your Goals Officially
Writing down your goals is like signing a contract with yourself. State your resolutions and lay out your plan for accomplishing them. Include your motivations, timeline, and milestones.
5. Post Your Goals Where You Can See Them Frequently
Out of sight is often out of mind, so post your goals in a few places around your house or on your phone. I use reminder apps to send me a notification daily. I also love posting index cards to my bulletin board in my office. Another idea is to write your goals in your journal every day to keep them fresh in your mind.
6. Share Your Goals
It’s been shown that people feel more accountable to their goals when they share their intentions with friends and family. Discuss your goals with loved ones and ask them to support you. Social media has similar abilities, so why not share your resolutions in a Facebook or Twitter post?
7. Create a Schedule and Set Timers
Create a meal plan, add workouts to your calendar, and set reminders to alert you of your plans. We get so caught up in our current lives and distractions that it can seem impossible to add anything else to our plates. You can make it all work if you stick to your plans and trust your timers.
8. Help Your Future Self (Plan Ahead)
Be your own accountability partner by doing as much preparation and planning in advance as you can. Lay out your workout clothes the night before, prep healthy meals, fill the fridge with fresh, filtered water, and do anything else you can to make life easier for your “future self”.
9. Fill Your Inbox/News Feed with Inspiration
Follow some of your favorite health and fitness pages on Facebook or Twitter. Subscribe to daily tips or meal ideas straight to your inbox. When you surround yourself with support for your goals you’ll get inspiration even when you’re distracting yourself with a social media break.
10. Educate Yourself on Your Goals
Take the time to learn more about your health and fitness goals, whether that means studying nutrition via an online course or watching videos on proper weightlifting form. The more you understand the benefits of what you are trying to achieve, the more committed you will be.
11. Sign Up for a Competition
Competitions are great because they give you specific goals and a deadline. Races are fun for runners (or soon-to-be-runners), but you can also consider weightlifting competitions, tournaments, or even friendly weight loss competitions.
12. Support a Cause
If you’d like to help others while helping yourself, why not sign up for a charity run? You can also volunteer time for projects that involve physical activity, such as Habitat for Humanity.
13. Join a Health or Fitness Challenge
Many health bloggers host free mini-challenges throughout the year. I’ve seen some focused on drinking more water, improving mindfulness, better meal planning, and battling cravings. You can also search Pinterest for 30-day fitness challenges, such as a 30-Day Abs Challenge.
14. Create Your Own Rewards Program
For each of your milestones, determine a reward you will earn for achieving it. It can be as small as a new article of clothing or as large as a weekend getaway. Make them personal and relevant to your goals so you’ll know you’re working towards them.
15. Create Contingency Plans
You know those excuses and distractions that constantly get in the way of your good intentions? Get in front of them by creating contingency plans for your obstacles. Example: If you know you’ll skip your workout when you hit snooze a few too many times, find a 10 minute workout you can keep on reserve.
Track Your Progress
16. Use a Fitness App or Habit Tracker to Log Your Progress
One of the biggest struggles is feeling like you’re not getting any closer to your goals. Tracking your progress, even in small intervals, will prove to you that your methods are working. I love the My Fitness Pal app for measuring my progress and keeping track of my nutrition. I also use paper habit trackers to check goals off my list daily. Here are a few great apps and tools:
17. Keep a Journal
Journals serve two great purposes when it comes to goals: you can write down your goals daily (some recommend twice per day) and you can reflect on how you feel throughout your journey. Write about your progress, your struggles, your victories, and your emotions each day.
18. Schedule Check-Ins With Yourself
It’s helpful to reevaluate your goals and methods every now and then to ensure you’re still on the track you want to be on. Schedule sessions once a quarter, or even once per month. Ask yourself what’s working and what isn’t, and make adjustments to your plans as necessary.
Build a Support System
19. Work with a Friend
Combining fitness with social time is typically a win-win. Find a friend who will be your “accountability buddy” (preferably one who has similar goals). Plan activities together and share tips and ideas. Check in with each other regularly to share your victories.
20. Work with a Trainer/Coach
Depending on your situation, you can choose from a personal trainer at your local gym or a virtual health and fitness coach. Do your research before signing on with someone, and be sure they understand your current state and long-term goals.
21. Join a Support Group
Thanks to Facebook Groups, you can easily find a group that will fit your needs no matter where you are located. If you’re following a specific diet or fitness plan, there are specialized groups and sometimes local chapters. Wellness communities work to inspire members and offer assistance overcoming obstacles and answering questions.
The best way to stay accountable to your goals is to choose a combination of these strategies that aligns with your personality and needs. Remember, you get a chance every second to make a decision that will move you closer to your goals!
Which strategies will you choose this year?