There are many tools and techniques that people use to help them make life changes, especially when improving diet, increasing physical activity, and losing weight. The trick is to find the one that fits best for you. Just because one technique worked fabulously for your friend or coworker does not mean that you will find it as helpful. Different types of accountability will be effective for different personalities. Your personal motivation for life change will also impact what will work best for you.
Apps – Smartphone applications often work well for the busy, on the go individual. Apps can be informative, provide data tracking, and/or hold you accountable through reminders. If your phone is never far from you, a good app may be the easiest type of accountability for you to integrate.
Gear and Gadgets – There are a lot of options for the techy person who enjoys gadgets and toys. These often appeal to people who enjoy technology and value quality. The opportunity to use these gadgets or toys is the motivation to increase physical activity. Some gear worth considering includes Jawbone UP, a pedometer, a fancy bike, or a BodyBugg.
Social Media – Blogging can provide accountability for the person who wants to document the journey and also seeks encouragement and advice. Comments and the blogosphere allows bloggers to feel less alone in their endeavors as they connect and learn from others. Blogging can take a variety of formats ranging from self-examination to simple tracking and documentation.
Self-exploratory journaling, whether online or not, can be most helpful for those who want to figure out and overcome the personal characteristics and issues that can become roadblocks to change. Updating Twitter, Facebook, or Foursquare with information about exercise or what you are eating can be another means to receive encouragement and feedback from others about what you are doing. Foursquare gives the additional motivation of defending mayorship of your gym or keeping that Gym Rat badge.
Partner – If you are motivated by responsibility to others or prefer one on one interactions to large groups, a workout or accountability partner may be right for you. Many find it easier to roll out of bed for a morning walk or jog if a friend or neighbor is waiting than if you and the alarm clock will be the only ones who know he many times you hit snooze.
Classes – The social butterfly that gets energy from being around a lot of people will likely prefer the gym or group classes. Classes work great for people who like things decided or work from their calendar much of the time. If you prefer to be spontaneous, solo workouts may be the best fit for you. Classes also present an opportunity to be challenged or learn new skills.
Gym – Joining a gym can allow for a balance of being around a variety of people with being able to set your own schedule and pace. You can meet new people at a gym, but you can also work independently despite being surrounded by others. Unlike scheduled classes, most gyms have a flexible schedule which can be helpful for the more spontaneous or those who have a hectic or ever-changing schedule.
Financial – For some, money is the highest motivator. It is one of the reasons the Biggest Loser works, and many groups have created their own “Biggest Loser” groups competing for a pot of money. StickK is an online program that allows you to put your money where your mouth is, betting on yourself that you will succeed or risk donating the money to an anti-charity not of your choice.
Big rewards – Promising yourself a trip or shopping spree after reaching a major goal may seem like financial motivation, but appeals more to those who need things to look forward to. Such rewards can also feel very pampering. These work best for those who look at the big picture when making decisions.
Inspirational Stories – Are you most likely to make goal-oriented choices after watching The Biggest Loser, Oprah, or Dr. Phil? Some people find the most motivation in inspiration, hearing how others have been successful and how their lives have changed. Such stories can make you feel less alone, give hope for results, and give you new ideas. Research can feel overly-technical to some who find a personal story enough proof of results needed.
Coach/Trainer – Hiring a personal trainer or coach combines being motivated by money and responsibility to others. It is also a sign of someone who either likes to learn or enjoys benefiting from the technical knowledge of others. The busy professional may be most likely to seek out a professional coach. Paying someone to help you meet your goals puts your money where your mouth is. If you like to work to deadlines, scheduled appointments and knowing you will be asked about your progress may provide the motivation you need to do individual work as well.
What has been most helpful to you? What makes it so motivating to you?
December 2nd, 2011