Like many others, one of my New Year’s Resolutions this year is to exercise. I’m not focused so much on losing weight, I’m more focused on losing inches, getting tone, and looking and feeling good.
In the past I’ve set this goal before only to fail miserably when I’d go weeks without exercising and began considering Cheetos as a food group. I didn’t have a set plan as to how or when I’d exercise.
This year I’m doing something different. Not only do I have a regular workout schedule (an hour in the morning six days out of the week), I also have a relatively easy regimen. I have a plan and it allows me to ease into exercise after having been a couch potato for a while now.
The plan is great and all, but for me it’s not enough to keep me going.
Dealing with distractions
You see, I love entertainment. I love stories. I can’t get enough of television shows and films. I have a long list of movies and TV shows I want to watch. I am a pop culture geek. If I had the choice between watching Battlestar Galactica or exercising I’d lean towards the former.
You may think I’m crazy and that BSG is just some nerdy sci-fi show, but it is a damn good drama. I just saw the miniseries not too long ago, got hooked, and now I’m on season 2. I want to watch the entire series before the end of the year.
So to keep myself accountable and to hit two goals with one stone, I decided to watch BSG only while I exercise. I don’t allow myself to watch BSG unless I’m exercising. [I like to pretend my exercising is preparing me for a potential future Cylon attack.] So far routine has been very effective for me, so much in fact that if I’m just sitting while watching anything else that’s not BSG I feel guilty for not exercising.
We’ve asked you before what your goals are for 2010 and even helped you be aware of obstacles that might return to prevent you from those goals. This week I ask: How do you keep yourself accountable to your goals? What are some methods you use to keep yourself on track to achieve the goals you set for yourself?
Lis Carpenter says
The way I keep myself accountable is by involving more people in my projects. Some projects have to be completed alone and for those I just chat about with what I’m doing with friends, and sometimes I even ask them to check in with me in a couple of hours or days to see where I’m at. I created a system to keep myself on track; it’s outlined in the free book I give to subscribers on my blog.
Lex Mosgrove says
Awesome idea! Thank you much! I gotta try that, too, although with Stargate Atlantis…
Funny you mention it… I got the idea for forcing myself to exercise while watching BSG after my boyfriend forced himself to exercise while watching episodes of Stargate Atlantis. His exercise routine pretty much ended when we finished watching the entire series around the holiday season during which my guilt for being sedentary accumulated. :]
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma says
You are in good company. Fitness guru Jillian Michaels admits that she only lets herself watch Gray’s Anatomy while working out.
Personally, I find having the tv on to be a distraction, I start paying attention to the tv and stop working out. My poker buddies know better than to have the tv on while we play. Sure I loose more, but if it takes me 10 minutes to bet on the flop, the game isn’t that much fun.
I told myself I would do yoga three times a week (AND even blogged about it as a comment on another PF bloggers’ blog) and have not done that! So I’m planning to kick it down a notch and just take baby steps.
Baby steps are good. Helps prevent ego bruising.
Speaking of which, planning to go do some yoga now. =)
Tell everyone what your goals are, write it down. Helps with the accountability.
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma says
Want to exercise more? Cancel your cable and internet service. I spent two years where my only access to the outside world was broadcast TV and a telephone. It was part of a soul-searching exercise that wound up being VERY expensive. But it destroyed any distractions I had to hitting the track and walking 5 miles every day. In that period, I lost 80lbs.
Man that is an extreme method for being motivated to exercise! I have to admit though that there have been extended periods in my life where I’ve been deprived of such luxuries. I went without a cell phone for six months, without cable for many years, and without internet for a few months. I’ve also been without a couple of these things at the same time. When push comes to shove I can definitely live without these things if I need to, although living without Internet would be the most difficult.
But in those times where I didn’t have one or more of those things, it didn’t make me want to exercise more. Instead it made me feel disconnected and extremely lonely (esp. w/o phone & internet).
I’m curious, what soul-searching exercise did you do that was so costly?
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma says
Living without the internet was extremely difficult but I got by. It was also the most critical thing to give up, because I spend more time online than watching tv and talking on the phone combined…by a factor of 5.
Not having that connectivity didn’t make me want to exercise in any direct manner. But I had three options, read (which I did a lot of), stare at the wall, or exercise. So I went outside a lot. I really enjoy the outdoors and don’t do as much outdoor activity as I should (especially during a Colorado winter). But without distractions to entertain me, I was a lot more motivated.
The reason it was so costly was because I only had a minimum wage, part time job at this time (earned $100/week), but I had racked up $20k of credit card debt during this time, and those are expensive minimum payments. I ate up my entire savings during that time.
The exercise itself was basically to find out who I was. I had tied my identity to my career for so long that when I realized that I really wasn’t up to it, I felt completely lost. And my then-girlfriend picked that time to break up with me. I spent the first month on auto-pilot, the second as a hermit, and then decided that I needed to discover myself.
Bytta@151 Days Off says
Finally!! Another person who is openly addicted to Battlestar Galactica! I’ve watched all of the episodes including the movie-length features. Love it! Can’t get enough of it! If they’re going to form a BSG Anonymous group, I’m definitely going to be in there.
Well, let me see, I’ve missed 6 gym sessions I’m supposed to have this month. So, that one is a blow. But my financial goal is up-to-date since I’m tracking it down with the Excel financial blueprint. Every time I think about blowing some money, I would remind myself of the round the world trip we (my husband and I) plan for next year. Guilt and goal! 🙂
Oh yes, I’m also in the Samurai Alexa Challenge. It’s a great exercise to keep myself accountable on my blog and continue to have it updated. Being active in the community keeps me motivated.
Yay BSG! Although I feel late to the party because I only started watching BSG after it was on the air, and after the Caprica pilot had been released. But better late than never. :]
Speaking of which, it’s not too late for the gym sessions is it? Anywho, that round the world trip sounds amazing. Definitely worth the financial discipline!
Financial Samurai says
I’ve created accountability with my site by creating the Samurai Alexa Challenge. A 6 month challenge for all bloggers to try and reach a certain Alexa Benchmark rank.
With a group of us in the challenge, and on paper for all to see, I had better not slack off, especially if I’m the one who created the challenge! lol I feel the pressure to lead by example.
If anybody wants to join, let me know here: http://www.financialsamurai.com/2010/01/20/creating-powerful-friends-the-alexa-ranking-challenge/
Daniel-san has created a list for us.
Wow that Samurai Alexa Challenge of yours is craaaazy! Best of luck!
Ben J Barra says
Inspired by Leo’s post on sticking to your resolutions (http://bit.ly/5E8URe), I’ve started tracking my progress publicly with daily updates on my blog, facebook, and Twitter.
As Meg mentioned, the support you get from friends, family, and fans is an awesome motivator. You no longer feel like you’re just doing it for yourself. You don’t want to let them down. Make your goals and the tracking of them as public as possible.
As far as fitness goals are concerned, you’ll find it a heck of a lot easier to stick with it if you do something you actually enjoy. You obviously have a thing for BSG, so I think your limitation of only allowing yourself to watch while working out is awesome.
The thought of lifting weights or hopping on a treadmill/elliptical makes me cringe. Instead I choose to practice yoga, play basketball, and sand volleyball in the summers. Its all about doing what lights your fire.
Thanks for the link recommendation Ben!
I can sympathize with you on the working out thing. Personally, I just LOVE dancing. I used to be on a Salsa dance troupe and before that I did hip-hop and ballet for a few years. Running, jogging, working out in a gym, or using any kind of equipment up until recently has been foreign to me. My boyfriend likes getting his exercise using these methods (even doing intervals), so it’s impossible for us to be workout partners. To each his own, I guess. :]
I think your blog is an awesome example of tracking your goal online. Day 28 and counting! I look forward to seeing your progress!
Ben J Barra says
Thanks Dariane. If you do decide to try out Leo’s method I can’t stress enough how essential his “trigger mechanism” has been for me.
Over the past four weeks I’ve developed what could almost be considered a compulsion to meditate after I shower, regardless of the time of day.
Tony Ruiz says
Hey Dariane. One way I keep myself acceptable is I ask myself “what did I do today that got me one step closer to my goal?” I’m telling you ask yourself that question everyday before you go to sleep and you will make sure you did something to get your closer to your goal. That is something I do and found very helpful.
I love that you mention that question! I used to have an index card above my desk that read “Is what I’m doing right now in this very moment moving me measurably closer to my goal?” I think your question has far less pressure attached to it than mine. :p Thanks for sharing!
Ben Aldern says
I love the idea of restricting BSG to the gym. If that’s not motivational, I don’t know what is!
Three things have helped me quite a bit. First, I schedule my sleep. 11:30pm to 5:30am every day, no matter what. It keeps me rested enough and gives me way more time than when I used to work until I fell asleep. Second, I do something fun at the gym. When I’m doing cardio I generally watch Formula 1 onboard videos and really pay attention to how the pros drive or I read a book or listen to podcasts. Third, I have a reason for working out instead of a goal: I need to be fitter than I am when we start testing the race car this year. I don’t have a specific fitness goal, I just make sure I go to the gym every day and work as hard as I can for the time I have. The sky’s the limit!
Getting enough sleep was one of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of this year, and so far I’ve been failing. It is so excruciatingly difficult to discipline my sleep schedule, so major kudos to you for getting rest.
I think you touched upon something important: having a bigger reason for doing something. It sucks when you do things just because it’s ‘something to do.’ When there’s a bigger drive, the work is all the more fulfilling.
This is something I’m really struggling with right now. I think it stems from a lack of focus. I have sooo many goals–all at once–that it makes it hard for me to get any one goal finished. I am going to take some time this weekend to prioritize and plan. I’ve been saying I’m going to eat healthier and start working out for…oh, about 15 years. Maybe I will finally do it. 🙂
I’m totally with you with the whole having too many goals thing. I remember at one point in my life I managed to get all my goals written down on paper and even organized into ‘categories.’ I felt so good after I wrote everything down that it energized me into believing I could actually do it all. The amount of goals eventually got so overwhelming that I didn’t achieve anything on that list.
How did your prioritizing go this weekend? Considering baby steps? :]
Hahahaha, really funny! My sport activity will be sailing my tiny boat, cant be watching Heroes on that 🙁
Great post Dariane. Personally I keep a notebook with me almost everywhere I go (not a word doc, or a sticky notes application on my computer). It is filled with all of my “to-dos” for everyday and as soon as I finish a task I cross it off. Whatever doesnt get crossed of is easy to check because I can just flip a few pages back to see what tasks have been completed and what hasn’t. There is a sense of accomplishment I get from seeing pages and pages filled with crossed off things to do, after a week of getting everything done I feel like THE MAN. There is nothing new or special about this method but sometimes we need to go to the old school, looking forward to reading other people’s methods of madness.
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma says
I also keep a notebook with a to-do list. For me it isn’t about the sense of accomplishment, although you do get that when the check marks start to pile up! My problem is that I’m somewhat absent-minded (great quote I heard the other day – “I figured I’d start with being absent-minded and move on to becoming a professor”). If I don’t write it down, I will forget to do it. And usually remember just as I’m settling into bed, or 5 minutes after it’s too late. So I write it down. Writing seems to physically help remembering it in the first place and having it stare me in the face also helps!
That’s a great idea Jabari! I’ve had hits and misses with my to-do lists. Sometimes I write them and it helps me clear my mind. Sometimes I go through whole lists in one day. Other times it takes me a week or longer to get through a list. I haven’t found a good system yet, but yours sounds great!
Well, cheetos are a food group… I enjoy them, but I like fritos more. 😉
For accountability, the best thing I’ve ever found is a blog. When I used to write my own finance blog (couple of years ago) it was crazy how people would cheer you on when you decided you wanted to do something and share. In that environment, I formed a good savings habit/ethic that still serves me well, even when my goals are publicized. (The finance community would be appalled at my spending since I stopped — my cars have a lot “invested” in them.)
Just having people who will hold you to things and will listen to updates and offer advice is great. Why do it alone when you don’t have to?
I had friends back home whose parents worked at a Frito Lay plant, so believe me, I understand the love for Fritos. And Cheetos.
Thanks for sharing Meg! I must work on my transparency. :p
Adventure-Some Matthew says
One of my goals this year is to exercise more (specifically, run or bike ride 3 times a week). I have a partner who I go with; we might not do the same things, but we both go to the gym at the same time, so we still make each other go.
I’ve been thinking about starting a Google Docs spreadsheet with 3 columns, one for each week. Then when I complete a day, I can put a big red check mark (or something) to fill in the space. Those columns of completion will be a great motivator not to skip a day.
To make it even stronger, I’m going to put a link from my blog, and invite others to join me. Even if I’m there by myself, others will be able to see what I do, which will be following Meg’s advice to make it public.
Your method reminds me of a method I read about before called a Habit List (http://www.productivity501.com/habit-list/308/). I think having a partner to workout with is extremely helpful in keeping each other accountable. Let me know how the public spreadsheet works out; I might have to try it!