Shannon asked: “Do you have any quick tips to help with accountability and working out at home? I have great intentions to get healthier. I’ve cleaned up my eating habits and am taking my vitamins… now, I have to be consistent at working out. I’ll work out for a week and end up taking an entire week off. Then I start to engage in negative thoughts. Yuck. Accountability was easy when I had a gym membership because I didn’t want to be out that money! But we just moved so I don’t have the cash to spare. Thoughts?”
I thought Shannon’s question would be a wonderful one to address on the blog because there are SO many ways to create a sense of accountability without spending money. Sure, paying for a gym membership or signing up for a race is a major motivator – but that costs money, and fitness can be free. I bet you all have some awesome suggestions for creating accountability without spending a dime. Here are my thoughts – I’m excited to hear yours, too.
Accountability Trick #1: Create a star chart or a blank training plan.
For the last four or five years, I’m followed a training plan to prepare for a race about 80% of the time. Since I’m on a racing hiatus because of pregnancy, I needed a way to motivate myself without having a race deadline – hence, the blank training plan. This concept – similar to the star chart used to motivated kindergarteners – could work for anyone, for any goal.
For my chart, I listed four blank spots for each week. My goal was to fill up at least three of the spots (the fourth was a bonus). The blank spots worked well for me because I wasn’t sure what kind of workouts I would feel up to on a week-to-week basis and allowed me to be flexible, but you can always plan out your weekly workouts and check them off as you go, like a traditional training plan. My list is on the fridge so it’s visible by everyone who comes into my house – and it’s created an excellent sense of accountability. I’ve definitely worked out on the last day of the week JUST so I can complete my chart!
Accountability Trick #2: Do the (money-less) piggy bank.
Another way to create accountability is to motivate yourself with the promise of a reward. Now, people hear ‘reward’ and think ‘gotta spend cash,’ but there are non-monetary rewards, too. Some of my favorites: at-home manicure and pedicure; a massage from your spouse; permission to do nothing for an entire Sunday; a bubble bath with candles, a glass of wine, and your favorite book. You get the idea!
The way the money-less piggy bank works is as follows: set a realistic workout goal for a set time period – say, 12 workouts in a 30 day time span. Write your goal and your planned reward on a piece of paper and tape it to a jar or cup. Every time you exercise, drop a penny, button, or other token into the ‘piggy bank.’ When you’ve hit your goal, cash in your prize!
Accountability Trick #3: Find a virtual workout buddy / utilize social media.
And last, but not least, if you’re looking for accountability, hop on the phone, email, or the Internet. My BFF Lauren and I trained together for the Disney Marathon ‘virtually’ – she was in Philly and I was in Orlando. We’d email each other updates and check in to ensure the other was doing their long runs. You can also find accountability with strangers via sites like Spark People or The Daily Mile. (As a side note, here are some other websites for runners that I love.) Lastly, if you’re really feeling unmotivated, Tweet or Facebook a plea for support – ask your buddies to follow up with you later to see if you got your sweat on.
What advice do you have for Shannon? How do you create accountability without spending cash?