Having someone to hold you accountable on your fitness journey is just as important as diet, exercise, and mental health. Sometimes we need someone else who can remind us why we started to keep us going towards our goals. There are important qualities you need in an accountability buddy – they have to be open, brutally honest and a little bit flexible. And, as these things tend to go, in order to have a good accountability buddy you have to be one.
For me, that’s my sister Stacey. I’ve known her literally my entire life. We’ve been working together as accountability buddies for years, so each attribute I delve into will be illustrated with an anecdotal story from our relationship.
- Be Open
Humans are complex and my own path to fitness is paved with shitty feelings, shortcomings and insecurities. Understanding why someone is working towards their goals is almost more important than knowing what those goals even are. When you understand motivation you can offer better advice that will resonate with your accountability buddy rather than the generic “you can do it!” That’s why it’s often better that you pick someone close to you whom you care about and have known a long time. Someone you can literally call and say “I just ate an entire medium pizza while crying about Rob. I shouldn’t even bother anymore” and not be afraid that they’ll judge but rather be sure that they are going to understand and talk you off the ledge. (Yes, I actually called her after eating a whole pizza while sad. Don’t act like you’ve never been there!)
- Be Brutally Honest
Your job is to tell someone what they don’t always want to hear. When your friend is justifying skipping the gym for the 4th night in the row to hang out with her new flame, you need to be real and tell her what you’re noticing. Stacey is a Zumba addict. She is a weightlifting addict. Working out is not the problem, eating habits are and I know and understand that (*cough that was point one cough*) When throughout our daily conversations I noticed she had either eaten out or indulged every day for 8 days in a row I knew I had to say something. It was hard and I reworded what I was going to say at least a dozen times because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings or make her feel attacked. After I held my breath and sent the perfect text I was so scared, but for no reason. She responded quickly and was so happy that picked up on a habit she didn’t even realize she was forming and held her accountable… and that’s what it’s all about!
- Be Flexible
One day, Stacey called me because she was just… upset. She is a social worker who works 60 hours a week, with both domestic violence victims and homeless youth and the job is just as emotionally draining as it sounds. She had had a rough week at work and all she wanted in the whole world was to skip the gym, eat pizza and cuddle with her cat, Cash. My two word response was “do it!” because sometimes going to the gym isn’t the best thing you can do for yourself. Don’t get me wrong, it often is the best choice because endorphins are no joke, but your mental health is important, too. The occasion rises when taking a quick break from the gym will in the long run keep you going. If your accountability buddy gives you a reprieve, just take it and enjoy the break. Their outside perspective is what makes them so valuable.
The whole point is to find someone who can help you stay on track while you do the same for them. Without openness, honesty, and flexibility the relationship simply won’t work. So whether you are in the market for someone or have been holding them accountable for years, make sure you two are the best buddies you can be.
Do you have an accountability buddy?