The Wonderful Results of Keeping Track of Our Health

Have you ever noticed how much our responsibility and our discipline increases when we have someone to share our activities with?  It’s proven!

Researchers’ report that our commitment level more than doubles when we have “Accountability Partners” keeping us accountable.  It makes sense that we do much better – even when it’s for things we enjoy!

A perfect example is my Wednesday afternoon board game group.  We all do our best to follow our commitments and be there for each other.  In fact, we start calling our members around 10 minutes before we’re supposed to start – just to make sure they’re on their way!

So let’s admit it…  For most of us, exercise is something that would be a lot more enjoyable, and certainly we’d probably be much more consistent when we have accountability partners.

Did you know that many of us may already have that “accountability partner” and we’re carrying that partner in our pockets or purses?  Yes – we do!  And there are other “accountability partners” called “wearables” – you know, those fitness bracelets we see people wearing.

Back to the ones we’re carrying in our pockets and handbags…  They’re our smart phones!  There are literally hundreds and hundreds of “apps” (programs we run on our smartphones) to help us stay motivated and to achieve better fitness and health.  They’re set up to keep track of measurements, such as the number of steps we take in a day, the total distance we’ve walked, our body weight, caloric intake and nutritional information, and much more information.  What differs is how each app displays our data, and how it keeps us motivated.

So today, we have 6 recommendations to help you stay on track with your health.

Recommendation #1 is to start with an achievable goal.  We always say that if it’s believable, then it’s achievable.  As an example, a few months ago I started swimming laps.  On my first day, I said to myself “just see what you can do without over-exerting yourself.”  I swam 4 separate 50-yard intervals in 30 minutes.  200 yards.

So I started swimming 3 times a week, and that became my baseline to build upon.  Here it is several months later, and I’m swimming 8 separate 150-yard intervals in 60 minutes, and I’ve upped my frequency to 5 times a week – quite an improvement.  From 200 yards to 1,200 yards 5 times a week.

I use my smart phone app to record and track my results, and it’s also tremendously motivating to see my progress!  And that keeps me motivated.  Now I will admit, there’s something else that keeps me motivated, and that’s the group of people I see at the lap pool.  We all encourage each other to achieve our goals!

Recommendation #2 is to create something that will keep us motivated and give us positive feedback.  I called a few friends and asked them to join my “4,000 steps-a-day challenge.”  So now we all have a healthy group competition, and since we’re using the same app, we’re sharing our results with each other!

In this case, we’re all gaining 2 forms of feedback from the challenge – first, we’re gaining more and more steps each week, and second, all of us are seeing our clothing getting looser and looser – we’re losing weight!

The better our results, the more motivated we are to keep going!

Recommendation #3 is probably obvious – we are doing a much better job understanding what we eat and drink.  I’ll admit it – counting calories can be an inconvenience.  That’s where these apps really help out. 

I made a commitment to myself to record everything I ate and drank for a week!  Are you thinking I was shocked at the end of the week?!  You bet I was!  After having it all in front of me on the app, it was easy to see where some of my choices weren’t very healthy, and I knew exactly what I’d need to cut back on.

This one recommendation has made a tremendous impact on my health, and while I don’t keep detailed records each week – I might do it for 1 week every 6 to 8 weeks, I’m getting great results.  Bottom line – I’m choosing healthier options!

Recommendation #4 – “Externalization.”  Behavioral scientists have overwhelmingly proven that when we share our goals with our respected colleagues, friends and family, we are much more likely to achieve our goals!  Well no wonder – we don’t want to be “marked absent” now, do we?  No!

Just for an idea, I’ve taken my externalization one step further (forgive the pun) – I put together a walking group, and we all walk together 5 days a week.  That way we’ve not only externalized our goals, but we’re holding each other accountable by being there with each other – a double win!  Plus – we seem to have some enjoyable discussions!

Recommendation #6 is something we understand – that healthy habits take time to lock in and take hold.  That’s why these health apps and wrist bands help us stay accountable.

And let’s face it – it took us years to get out of our former healthy state, so it’s probably unreasonable to expect for our old habits to magically disappear.  The best advice I can give is to BE PATIENT.

Finally, a bonus recommendation:  Share your data with your doctors.  If there’s one thing our doctors LOVE to hear, it’s that we’re taking measures to be our best and healthiest!  So just get an app or a fitness bracelet, and KEEP MOVING – one step at a time!

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