The Word On Wellness - Importance of a Social Network and Accountability
Welcome back to The Word on Wellness! Thank you all so much for the outpouring support that I (Allie) received on my first post. You are the best! Please feel free to leave comments on the blogs with thoughts about the topic or recommendations for future topics you would like me to discuss that would help you with your wellness journey. The more feedback I get from you all, the more successful this page will be!
Today, I would like to discuss the importance of a social network and accountability when on a journey - fitness or other. I think we all ~know~ that having a support system is important and makes sticking to goals easier, but what does that mean? What does that look like? Do you have the right people in your network? Are you truly being held accountable and holding yourself accountable? Do you have someone to celebrate victories with? Somebody to show you tough love when needed? Who motivates you to get up every day and be the best version of yourself? Hopefully we can answer those questions together. I encourage you all to think about who you believe is in your network and what role they play. Below, we will discuss tips and tricks for self accountability and then look at different roles people play in your social network and why having some of each is important for long term success.
The Importance of a Social Network and Accountability
Alright - we all know that being held accountable can be helpful when trying to stick to our goals. I think we have all experienced setting goals that we do not stick to. Think about the last New Year's Resolution you set. How is that going for you? Are you crushing your goal? If so, congrats! You are killing it! If not, why do you think that is? Did you set your goals too high? Or is it possible that you do not have the right people in your corner? When I started my journey, I had my family members and one or two close friends that lived far away. I quickly realized that I needed more. There are many types of people you need in your network to find success. My family and friends at the time were such a great support system, but I realized it was easy for me to cheat at my goals because they were far away. I did not see them often, so I found myself over exaggerating the things I was doing to the point where I was convincing myself that I had done better than I was actually doing. Having people close by makes celebrating small victories easier, makes you think twice about decisions you already know are the wrong decisions and just makes sticking to your goals so much easier!
We know pure willpower is usually not enough to succeed. There needs to be some kind of outside power that motivates you and reminds you why you are trying to change. Your bad habits most likely work on autopilot and are triggered by situations that you are in. For example, if you have a long commute to work and for the past year you have always had an energy drink or a coffee when you are in the car in the morning, you probably get in the car in the morning to go to work and just feel like you should have one! Do you think to yourself “do I really want one?” Or do you just do it because that is your habit? Do you sit down in front of the tv every night and feel like you need a snack? Originally, these actions were intentional - you consciously decided to do these things. But now they are probably automatic to the point where you do not even know you are doing it! Therefore, the key to changing a bad behavior is not some new resolution, but figuring out how to turn off the autopilot and being aware. Having the right social network to help you can be a huge help!
Tips for Success - How to Set Yourself Up for Continued Success
Good news! There are a few tips and tricks I have discovered that helped me break some of my bad habits without needing to involve others. I will say, sharing some of these things with others even further motivated me but doing these things for yourself will be helpful!
1. Make a contract with yourself. Write it down. Sign it. This may sound silly, but physically writing out “I am not going to eat any food past 8:30 PM every night for the next month so that I can get a better night's sleep” can really put some kind of block in your mind. Next time you go to reach for that late night snack, your mind will remember the action of writing it down. I am sure typing something out works just as well, but I have found for me personally that writing things on paper is more helpful. Making your contract SMART is important for long term success. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound. Notice in my example above that I am as specific as I can be. It is an attainable goal considering my current schedule. It is relevant for what I am trying to achieve (better sleep). It is time bound (by 8:30 every night for the next month). All of these factors make the goal easier to stick with. I can easily look back and say “I did accomplish this goal” or “I did not accomplish this goal and this is exactly why. How can I do better” instead of just saying “I am not really sure why I am not sleeping better.” You are able to constantly adjust and work towards your goals!
I suggest writing at the top of your contract something like “I, Allie Mattey, will give my 100% effort towards these goals, understanding that I may not always be perfect. Giving my best effort will make me happier and more successful in the long run. It is up to me to change my future.” This always makes it a little more real for me. Having “the talk” with yourself. You are your greatest enemy, and recognizing that can be important when trying to make changes in your life.
2. Record your progress! This is so important. When you feel like giving up or the “why am I even trying” thought crosses your mind, you can look back at all of the amazing things you are doing! Tangible and intangible! A few ways I have found that work best for me are progress pictures (monthly or so) and journaling. I LOVE making daily journals for myself to track my every move. I have a huge binder of all of my journals that I can look back at. I look for trends of success or failure so that I can celebrate victories or adjust future goals. Without tracking, you can have great success and not realize that you have done a single thing. Journaling shows a lot of “non-scale” victories such as your daily mood or things that are more internal and intangible. These victories are just as important - if not more important - than the physical and tangible successes we have! Recognizing the intangible makes it easier to convince yourself to keep going when it gets hard.
If you are interested in designing a daily journal that is customized to you, I love making journals for others so that they can be set up for success and would be happy to set a time to meet with you and design a journal that you can use to track your specific goals! For an example of something I could help you create, check out the one that I use on a daily basis below! Send me an email at email@example.com to set up a consultation meeting and ask for pricing! Once we have designed a journal that works for you - I will send you a PDF version that is yours to keep and use to set new goals and track them! Consider me part of your accountability network :)
Types of People in your Social Network
There are 4 main types of people or groups that I consider to be important when setting and achieving goals. Each type of person holds you accountable and encourages you in different ways. I suggest you think about who you have in each category. Write them down! Or even tell these people that they serve this purpose in your social network so that they know that you are relying on them for some level of accountability!
1. Exercise Buddy - having somebody to go to the gym with, do those home workouts with or walk on the bike path outside with makes everything easier! Let’s be honest, it is easy to say “I am way too tired to do anything after work today.” Having a friend that is already signed up to go with you to a class or to lift with or go on a run with, whatever it may be, makes it less likely that you will give in to your own excuses! These people also make workouts more fun - less like a chore! The time goes faster and you often do not even realize how hard you worked in the end! A little friendly competition never hurt anybody! But - we need to be careful with who we choose. Choosing the wrong exercise partner can be just as detrimental to success and picking the right one is helpful. You need someone that is ready and on their own journey. They need to be driven to succeed themselves and are consistent! The less likely they are to cancel, the less likely you are to! Think about a time where you wanted to be so excited and happy about something but the person you were with was in a bad mood the whole time. It probably made the experience a lot less exciting for you. Do not fall into this trap when picking an exercise buddy! This friend should be optimistic, energetic and passionate about reaching goals and pushing themselves. You are who you surround yourself with! It does not need to be your lifelong best friend or a family member. It can be someone new that you admire at the gym you go to! Pick people that are on a path that you want to be on! Who is your exercise buddy? If you do not have one, can you think of somebody that would be a good candidate? Reach out to them! Ask them to go to a class with you. Ask them what their schedule is so you can start tagging along. It is likely that they will be so excited that somebody wants to join them and love growing their own “exercise buddy social network!”
2. Family - Or people that truly know you and have for a long time. Since they have known you for your whole life or many many years - they know when you are giving excuses and they know when you can do better. They can comfortably push your limits and call you out on your excuses and you know it is coming from a place of love instead of criticism. They only want the best for you and your health. Having people that want your health to be at the top of its game so that you will spend more time on this earth with them is refreshing and a whole different perspective as to why you are working on change. Also, we all know life gets busy - they are there to remind you of your personal why. Why are you trying to change? They will ground you back to your root.
3. Friends - These are the people you celebrate victories with! You most likely spend a lot of time with this group of people, so you need to make sure you have the right people in your corner! Questions to ask yourself about your friend group: Are they able to take me and my goals seriously? Do they push me to better myself or stay complacent? Are they trustworthy? Can I openly talk about my goals, weight, etc. without fear? Can I have conversations about adjusting goals and how to reach them more effectively? Do they encourage my personal growth? These can be hard questions to step back and ask, but I encourage you to actually read through them and ~really~ reflect. What if I realize my friend group does not support me the way I need them to? Having these conversations with your friends about how they can support you is important for long term success. Again, you are who you surround yourself with. Are you happy with your friend group? There is always space to add more friends that are perfect support systems! Group Exercise is a great place to grow this portion of your network, which we will talk about below!
4. Social Media - This one is a little more intangible but I consider it to be important and a great consistent reminder. You may have seen my posts about my personal progress on my Facebook or Instagram. I do this really for my own good! For one, it is a great way of journaling! But also an opportunity for more “touch points” and visibility of your why or your overarching goal. Each interaction with a post is a reminder of the things I am achieving and gives me a sense of urgency to continue! I want to be clear on this one - this support group is to enhance - NOT substitute - real life relationships! You should not be getting all of your support from this group by any means. But this is a great place to motivate others and find motivation! By posting and sharing goals online, you have more people that will check in with you and hold you accountable from a distance. Even if you barely talk to some of these people, in the back of your head you will work harder towards your goals because you have so many people that you do not want to let down. Sharing successes with such a large group can be infectious! On the flip side, sharing downfalls and failures gives way to opportunities for suggestions on how to set goals differently or to see how others have found success. The more information you can absorb from people that are crushing their goals - the better for you!
So, were you able to write down people in all four parts of your social network? If not, your step one is to find them! Success can not be achieved alone. The more people in your network (again - positive influences - no negative Nancys!) will only help you more! I truly do not think it is possible to have too many empowering and encouraging people in your corner! I would be honored to be in any part of your network! 😊
How Group Exercise can Help You Find Your People
Okay - now for my favorite part! If you read my last blog, you know how I feel about group exercise and how it has dramatically changed my life. If you haven’t read the last blog - I highly recommend it!
Group exercise is the ideal way to find people with similar goals as you! You can walk into a group exercise class and know pretty well that the people in there have goals for themselves and want to better themselves. Why else would they be there? The group atmosphere makes it easy to make friends. People regularly share successes in class that can motivate you. There are countless instructors and Group Ex veterans that you can ask questions to or just discuss your goals with. Often, there will be opportunities to further your wellness outside of the goals you have already set for yourself. These people quickly become the most important people to you and your wellness journey. They welcome you with open arms and will do anything to help you succeed! If you do not have the proper people in your network, I suggest you find a place like Rockstar Wellness in Marietta, Ohio. This is where I really started my wellness journey. Looking back, I have no idea how I could have done what I have without the love, acceptance, motivation and so much more of Rachel, Scott and the whole Rockstar Wellness family. You are all so amazing. If you are not part of our wellness family, come join us! I would be happy to come take a class with you - just let me know the day and time and I will be there!
Write down the people in each of the above categories. Share them. Reflect on them - do you feel you have the social network that best sets you up for success? If not - give yourself one month from today. Actively search for the people you need. Have the conversations you need to have to add them to your network. Only you can change your life. Go do it!