6 Easy Ways to Hold Yourself Accountable While Dieting
Do you struggle with sticking to a healthy living goal, like eating more veggies or exercising times per week, or losing the last stubborn 15 pounds?
You are not alone.
Setting goals is easy, but sticking to them is not, so in this post I will share six easy ways to hold yourself accountable.
I'm going to specifically talk about accountability and weight loss, because this is an area so many women struggle with, but the principles of accountability hold true for ANY goal. Accountability helps when training for a 5k, remodeling your kitchen, or getting your Christmas shopping done before Christmas Eve.
For more on goal setting, see How to Set Health and Fitness Goals.
What is accountability?
Accountability is all about holding yourself responsible to achieve a goal or do a "thing." Webster's Dictionary says accountability is: "an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions."
It is you taking responsibility for your own successes, and/or failures. And accountability is really, really important when facing a tough goal, like weight loss.
Why does accountability help with weight loss?
It's sooooo easy to say "I'm going on a diet," or "I'm going to eat healthier and exercise more to lose weight," but making statements sure don't lead to results, do they? Not without a magic wand anyway. I'd be down with waving a wand, sprinkling some fairy dust, and commanding my body to shrink and fit into my skinny jeans, if it were that easy.
Declaring a goal and starting a diet sure doesn't guarantee success.
Accountability means taking ownership of your goal. Like writing down "I want to lose 5 pounds this month." Accountability also means tracking data to see if you are likely to hit that goal, by doing things like getting on the scale every week.
You see, accountability (and data) gives you power. Power over your own weight loss goals and power over your future.
Accountability helps you follow through with the commitment you made to yourself.
Accountability also stops little problems from becoming big ones. (Ever decided you were so over weighing yourself and hopped on the scale six months later to find you've gained 30 pounds?)
6 easy ways to hold yourself accountable while dieting:
1 - Start with a great attitude (and do whatever it takes to stay motivated).
I always talk about starting with your attitude and this is KEY to any goal! You need to really feel, deep inside you, that your weight loss goal is important, and understand why you are taking steps to make healthy changes in your life.
It's not enough to think about attitude just at the beginning of a goal. Part of accountability to yourself is maintaining that positive edge. And, if you're a person who tends to fail a lot and gets discouraged easily (like me, lol!), you need to work on your attitude every single day.
Motivation is pretty easy when you set a goal because you're excited! Here's what you can do to keep that motivation high:
Journal daily, about your weight loss journey, or life in general. Getting your thoughts on paper helps clear your mind of excess "stuff" and helps you see important life lessons.
Keep a gratitude journal (see THIS ARTICLE for more on gratitude and free printable gratitude pages)
Read (or listen to) something positive every day. It could be a podcast, a blog post, or a book. Find something that relates either to your specific goal, or good health, or any type of personal development or self-improvement.
Write down an inspirational quote. Google is your friend! Pinterest as well. (Here are some of my favorite quotes on Pinterest.) Just search "motivational weight loss quotes" or "diet inspiration" or whatever.
List a non-scale victory every day. This is a small, positive change that has nothing at all to do with the scale. It might be that your jeans are fitting looser, you didn't eat donuts at the office, or you logged your food. I do this in the Journal section of my fitness planner.
Meditate daily. Or pray, if that's your thing. If you have trouble meditating - I couldn't meditate despite trying for YEARS - try the Calm app. It has short, guided meditations. There are both free and paid options of the app.
2 - Make your weight loss journey a priority.
You don't have to be obsessive about it, but when you are in serious weight loss mode you do need to make yourself, and your healthy eating, a priority. Mostly this means carving out time to do the things you need to do to achieve your goals, like eating right and working out.
Easy ways to make your weight loss journey a priority:
Plan your exercise in advance. You've heard it a zillion times, but treat your workouts like you would a doctor's appointment.
Add ways to be more active throughout your day. Did you know that often a 30 minute exercise session is not enough to move the scale? But you can easily add more movement throughout your day. Try taking a walk before lunch, getting up every hour and stretching your legs, park farther away from your destinations, put on music and dance while making dinner, march in place during commercials, etc.
Schedule time to plan your day, log your food, and review your day. Create routines in the morning and the evening to check in with yourself. (Learn more about morning routines HERE.)
Plan your meals a week or two at a time. The only way you will have healthy food on hand is with planning. Check out these articles for help with meal planning: Meal Planning Posts. If you really struggle in this area, you might want to consider a meal service like HelloFresh which delivers fresh ingredients and simple recipes right to your door. You can get learn more and get 30% off your first box right here: HelloFresh
Set phone alarms for, well, everything! "I forgot" is a huge excuse, right? We generally have our phones 24/7. Set alarms to workout, plan your meals, stop eating for the night, check in with your accountability buddy, journal, or do any of the steps I've discussed above and will below.
3 - Track healthy habits and your progress.
Oh wow "tracking stuff" - sounds like torture, right? Wrong. Looking at data in your weight loss journey is extremely helpful, and it can be fun too!
Here are some weight loss data points you can track:
Keep a food log, either writing down what you eat and/or tracking calories, macros or containers, if you do a program like the 21 Day Fix.
Your weight. Hop on the scale religiously. Weekly, if not daily.
Track your workouts minutes or steps and miles walked.
Journal about your experiences and lessons learned every single day.
Take progress photos for yourself and, if it's your thing, social media.
Your water intake.
Servings of fruits and veggies.
How many meals you ate at home.
If you strength train, you can track your weights for things like shoulder press, deadlifts, etc.
How many miles you run or your pace.
How many days you exercised each week.
Times you resisted eating between meals.
Pro Tip: Use a Diet Journal or Fitness Planner to track your stats.
Using a fitness journal is a fun way to track lots of data and hold yourself accountable in multiple ways. I have a printable fitness journal I use to track my food, water, calories and workouts. I look at that damn thing every single day because it keeps me, well, accountable. I may not like what I see, but at least I know if I am either moving toward my weight loss goal, or toward the big girl clothing store. Check out the Diet and Fitness Planner.
4 - Get a weight loss buddy, use social media, or be accountable to yourself.
Do you have a friend who wants to lose weight too? Recruit her as your weight loss buddy! You can hold each other accountable through texts, phone calls, or video chat. And, if she lives close, you can meet in person for coffee, a healthy meal, strategizing, or even a workout!
Posting to social media is also a way to hold yourself accountable. It's not my thing, but if you love posting pics of your food and sweaty selfies, have at it!
I like holding myselfaccountable. Diet buddies are awesome, but I find posting on social media way too time consuming. I hate selfies, number one, and number two my food photos never look appetizing. Do you really want to see my "steel cut oats/egg/Parmesan gruel"? I think not. Plus the fact that when I'm on IG or FB, I get sidetracked by funny animal videos and sh*t.
I use my fitness planner to hold myself accountable. I start off every morning in there, making a plan for my day. I think about potential obstacles I have coming up, like a party or dinner at a restaurant, and I think of ways to overcome those road block. I log my meals, my exercise, and then I journal at the end of the day. It's easy peasy, no one has to see my sweaty face, and it works.
5 - Review your progress and tweak your plan if necessary.
Remember the data we talked about in #3? It's important to review your stats regularly and make changes or tweaks to your plan.
I like to do a weekly review on Sunday. Here are some of the things I look at:
my water intake
my food quality
my food quantity (because you can overeat healthy food too!)
my exercise effort
my daily steps
I also look back over the week (in particular the journaling I do each night) to see if there were any lessons that stuck out to me. Things like "shoot for a one pound weight loss goal every week because it is doable without much effort."
I use the Weekly Review in my Fitness Planner, but you can do a review on paper or in your head.
It's important to use the data you track, and insights about it, to tweak your plan going forward.
When I realized I could lose one pound per week without disrupting my life too much, I stopped obsessively counting calories and macros. Instead, I just logged my food in my planner. It simplified my life and I'm still making progress toward my goals.
6 - Don't stop believing!
Now I'm going to have Journey's song stuck in my head but, like I said in #1, your attitude is CRITICAL You may be a person who is super motivated and that's amazing. I also hate you, btw.
But if you are like me, you may have negative voices in your head that constantly say super mean things like "you're a failure," "you're ugly," "you'll never get your eating under control," etc. Can you relate?
These voices of negativity are toxic and need to be battled every single day.
The tips I listed in #1 will help you maintain motivation. Consider making many of those a part of your daily routine. Also, when you have a negative thought, stop it in its tracks and speak the truth.
When you think "I am so out of shape, I am worthless," say to yourself "I am working out regularly and I will improve. I am more fit than I was yesterday and tomorrow I will be more fit than today."
How to implement these tips to rock your weight loss goal:
Holding yourself accountable, either publicly or privately, is a great tool to achieve your weight loss goals.
Now you have six fun and easy ways to hold yourself accountable. What do you do with this information? Use it, weight loss goddess!
Either grab my printable fitness planner or a notebook and set a weight loss goal. Make it realistic, like "I will lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks." Write that goal down.
Write down 2 ways you will get and keep an amazingly positive attitude (see tip #1). Write those two actions down and actually schedule them on your calendar. A phone alarm is a great way to remember to meditate daily or write in a gratitude journal. LINK
Either in the fitness journal, or your notebook, create a page to record your weight every single week so you can see if you are on track to reach your goal.
Also in your notebook, track your food and your exercise daily. At a minimum. I track other things (like some of the data listed in #3), but food and workouts are the foundation.
Every week review your progress. Did you lose any weight? How as the quality of your food been? Are you eating enough? Too much? Are you working out for 30 minutes at least 3 times per week? (Make an appointment on your calendar for your weekly review.)
Make any changes to your plan based on your review.
Rinse and repeat.
I hope you found these six tips and action plan helpful! If you're interested in the fitness planner I use, just click on the image below to learn more.