Accountability Partner

An accountability partner is a person who coaches another person in terms of helping the other person keep a commitment

Ever since I won the 6-week challenge where I had to lose 20 pounds in 42 days I’ve been having a hard time staying consistent with my exercise and meals. I knew one of the reasons I could lose 22.4 pounds in those 42 days was because money was on the line. If I didn’t win the challenge I would lose my $497.00 deposit. There was no way I was going to allow that. I was determined and while it was hard –very hard—at times I still was focused on my goal.

So now with no prospect of winning my money back I am left on my own accord. At first I thought I could do it on my own but I am seeing that that this isn’t working. I am failing and it’s quickly showing. 😦
But not anymore. Last week John and I decided to be Accountability Partners. He has seen me struggling. Being unmotivated, unfocused and, to put it simply, drifting away because I have no daily structure or goals.

“A significant predictor of whether people are going to stay on an exercise program is if they have a friend (either an individual or group) who works out with them. Getting people connected to each other is critical.”

We are social animals by nature, and if we promise someone we will meet them at the gym, we feel really guilty if we do not keep our promise. Research shows that having an accountability partner or exercise buddy can be highly effective at ensuring we will actually workout, not just talk about it.

Dr. Robert Cialdini is a well-known social psychologist, who has written a great deal about “social influence” and decision-making. His studies show that

  1. Peer pressure is powerful, especially when the decisions we are making are complex or ambiguous,
  2. The closer we are to the person or group we are comparing ourselves to, the more likely we are to be influenced by them.

“It turns out this peer pressure thing, when you turn up the “accountability” knob, is a motivator for a lot more than losing a few pounds. Compared to mentorship—a more hierarchical relationship—a peer to peer relationship seems to be easier to organize, and it is a more effective tool for making progress towards a goal. Accountability partnerships work when they are a collaboration between two colleagues who like and respect one another—your partner is someone you trust, who will keep you honest and moving on a path you set for yourself.”

Setting up an accountability partnership is simple:

  1. Find someone you trust to be your accountability partner (a different personality from you is good, maybe better).  — My AP will be John.
  2. Talk to them about your goals.  — To be fit, healthy, and lose weight.
  3. Get specific with them about actions you will want to take to meet your goals as well as consequences/rewards for taking or not taking them.  — Hmmm consequences or rewards?  Did we talk about these? 
  4. Set up regular check-in times (this can be a text message, no need to meet every time). — We decided on daily emails.
  5. Revisit goals and strategies every once in a while, to make sure you are on track.

This how we are going to achieve our goals.

  1. I will anchor my day with my workout. Put my gym clothes first thing in the morning and then take a picture to show him I am ready to go.
  2. I will plan to take the 9 am class every day when I am not coming home from work.
  3. I can skip my workout when I am coming home from work at 8 am.
  4. I will follow a meal plan of my choice (mostly low carb).
  5. We will share our food and exercise log every day to keep us accountable and stay on track.
  6. We will be allowed to have a cheat meal once a week. 🙂

Now we just need a name. Any ideas?