Hey guys! How is everything in your world? Mine has been a little bit crazy with exploring Hungary and Romania while trying to handle business remotely, but I’ve been managing to keep somewhat on track with diet and went to the only decent gym in Marosvásárhely (in Transylvania) for some resistance training (weight lifting). Woot! How are you doing with cleaning up your diet and working out? Today I want to expand a little on what I talked about in my last blog about getting started down the road to success! In this picture I’m halfway across the world, (7) hours ahead of my normal time zone, everyone speaking only in Hungarian or Romanian, extremely limited options (a single “gym” in the entire city), and fueled with non-optimal food (lots of cold cuts and cheeses)… And still forcing a workout. No matter where you are, or what you’re doing – there is absolutely no excuse for not getting at least a few workouts in a week. Even if you have non-optimal situations. Check out the view from this little hole in the wall gym in Transylvania. Overlooking the valley. And yes, that’s Borsec water, lol. I’m so Transylvanian.
Last time, (http://naterich.com/lets-get-started/) I shared some steps for getting started on your personal transformation, specifically, cleaning up your eating and incorporating exercise into your life. How is it going? Have you emptied all of the junk food from your house? Are you moving your body more than before? Hopefully you’ve made solid efforts towards these fundamental changes. Now, I want to talk to you about something super important, the superglue, if you will, to sticking to your goals: Being Accountable.
Sure, when you first get started on a new plan for personal improvement, you’re revved up. You’re psyched. Ready to go! Conquering the world?! CHECK! In the first few days of your “new life” it’s a breeze to walk past the office donuts, and you’re all about getting to the gym, but give it a week or so and you may have already found that your motivation starts to lose some oomph. Work gets crazy, you feel overtired or sore, or you start telling yourself “I was so good last week, surely I deserve a cinnamon bun,” and “poof” goes all your hard work. Enter our friend, Accountability.
To keep moving forward successfully, and to ramp up your progress over time, you must incorporate checks and balances to keep you on track for the long haul. Here’s how:
Track it. All of it. Food and exercise. BE METICULOUS!
Eating When it comes to food, it’s critical to keep a written or digital record because some people honestly do not grasp what they are eating, and most of us munch on something unconsciously throughout the day if we aren’t keeping a close eye on things. I know I can find myself picking at food while I’m prepping for dinner or lunch the next day; maybe you do the same when you’re packing lunch for your kids. I can’t tell you how many people say to me “Oh, I barely ate anything today,” but then overlook the three coffees with extra cream and sugar that they downed (which can add up to more than 600 calories, BTW). It all counts guys—and when you write it down or track it, you have a clear tangible view of what is going into your body. It gives you much more of a black and white, clear cut view of what you are eating. Over time a food diary will give you a history that can inform and motivate your future eating choices. I still look back at food I recorded two years ago. I was at my leanest, single digit body fat for the first time, and I find it to be a useful reminder of how I want to eat, especially when I get off track.
Exercise. It’s also important to track your exercise, but as more of a “feel good” addition to your daily record keeping. You don’t need to get obsessed with burning a certain number of calories each day, or how long you spend at the gym, but it is important to keep note of your consistency. And don’t start thinking that you can eat whatever you want just because you burn off a certain number of calories. It doesn’t work like that. Track it for the fun of it, to see your progress, and for future reference. The very act of tracking your exercise becomes a reward. It’s like a mini competition with yourself. It seems minor, but you’ll actually begin to look forward to writing down, or keying in your finished exercise each day. I like to look back at how many days I exercised at the end of each week. On the flip side, it can also remind me of when it is time to take a day off!
How to track your eating and exercise. How you choose to do your tracking doesn’t really matter. It’s definitely a personal choice. If you’re a pen and paper sort of person, go for it. There are food and exercise diaries you can buy, and if that motivates you, by all means that’s great, but a cheap spiral notebook works just as well. Just make sure you date each day and write down every single morsel that passes your lips, and all exercise you complete. You can also write down your daily intake and activity on a big calendar, or the one on your computer. On that note, if you are a techy sort of person, you can make a spreadsheet or keep a journal online. There are also plenty of great apps that let you track your activity on your smart phone. I recommend using an application that you can access and edit from both your computer and smartphone. I have personally used MyFitnessPal as a smartphone app, which is free. It allows you to search for all types of foods and even enter your own recipes for easy tracking. Also, a lot of people are getting into Fitbits, I even have one (I can’t say I’ve used it yet, but it’s sitting there waiting to be used, lol). I know people who love them.
It doesn’t really matter how you do it – just that you do it. Every day.
Pay for it. This isn’t a requirement, but if you have some money to put toward a trainer, do it. It can really pump up your level of commitment and motivation. If you pay someone to help you with your exercise you create a literal obligation (and a monetary one) that will make you want to keep your appointment, and not waste your money. There is a level of accountability that is not about you, but to someone else. Most trainers will charge you if you cancel last minute. You won’t want to lose money, and besides, you’ll be less likely to cancel, or even be late because it’s just rude. One warning: I’ve had trainers in the past whom, for some reason, were easy to cancel on. I’ve also had trainers who frequently canceled on me. This is not okay. If you find yourself in this situation, you must get out of it immediately. Also, most women I know like to do classes like Barre or Power Pump or even like my sister’s “CLASS PASS” for $79 per month allows her to try unlimited classes all over the city! Super cheap, but if you book a class and cancel within 12 hours, you have to pay an additional $20. I know she finds this VERY motivating. She books classes at the beginning of the week when she is well-rested and motivated, and then when it’s 7:30 pm and she has to rush to get to class straight from work after 12+ hours at the hospital SHE DOES IT, because she has to, lol, or she loses $20 each time!
Get Cheerleaders. Whether or not you decide to have a paid cheerleader (a personal trainer), you’ll definitely want to let friends, loved ones and family know about the changes you are making. One rule: leave out anyone who is not a positive influence in your life. If you have a family member or a friend who sabotages your healthy choices in any way, cut them from your cheering section. That said, it’s great to make a deal to check in with friends who are trying to improve their health as well. You can agree to check in via text or by email for a daily or weekly progress report. You can also use the buddy system to help keep you on track if you’re thinking of skipping your workout, or having a cheat meal. Also, if you use some applications, like MyFitnessPal, you can have other people follow you or become friends with you. It’s helpful to have support where you can see each other’s progress, check each other’s diet, etc.
Commit to yourself. Do this on paper. Write out your goals and why you want to reach them, then date and sign it. Now, hang this self-contract somewhere you can see on a daily basis. One of the first lessons I had to learn was that, above all else, I have to be accountable to MYSELF. This is hardcore life advice. Knowing that I had multiple meetings with my trainer each week, writing down my food and exercise, and having others on my team who were cheering me on gave me a great starting place with being responsible, but learning to not let myself down was the most critical factor. It’s always easiest to blow yourself off. Most of us would have a harder time letting a stranger down. At the end of the day, you have to have your own back. So take a few minutes and write down why you are doing this? Why does it matter so much to you? Then say out loud to yourself, what it is that you WILL do, and then go do it. I know you can.
This picture was taken last week while in Transylvania, Romania visiting a friend’s home and garden yesterday. This place is like a real life fairy tale. His garden is perfectly manicured and cared for. He has everything… Roses, blackberries, onions, garlic, pears, peaches, tomatoes, etc. There is a covered part of the garden that has a 150 year old kiln/oven that he bakes homemade bread in. They have fresh “mountain butter” which isn’t pasteurized or anything. Just natural homemade butter. The house looks like a Disney movie. Rounded windows, huge spiral staircases with solid stone exterior made with granite slab steps and a marble center pylon. The garden overlooks an enormous view of green rolling Transylvanian hills. You see little farmhouses, farms, and mills in the background. I seriously feel like I’m in a movie, lol. More pictures and info to come in an upcoming blog!
Remember—I want to hear from you! You can leave comments here, and you can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ by clicking the icons at the bottom of the page. Please help to spread the word by liking and sharing my blogs, so you can be a part of helping others.
I know this is hard. But I did it, and I believe you can do it too.