Accountability Buddies — What science says about why it’s necessary to have someone work out or join your journey with you
Eating better and working out more often top the list of New Year’s resolutions for a lot of people. But after a few weeks, the initial excitement about exercising begins to wane and people tend to fall off their newly begun fitness journeys. Getting fit is a project that requires dedication and consistency — and unless you have developed a strong, determined will, it can be difficult to keep your goals on track. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it on your own. Finding an accountability buddy can markedly increase your chances of sticking to a workout plan or fitness journey.
What Is An Accountability Buddy?
As Velma Kelly sang in the musical Chicago, sometimes we simply cannot do it alone. An accountability buddy is a person who you can share your workout experience with, whether it’s just sharing your goals with them or being workout partners. A good accountability buddy will have similar goals, commitments, and fitness levels that will help you both stay consistent and progressing.
A buddy’s role is to help hold you to whatever goals you’ve set for yourself, even when your enthusiasm has worn thin. As human beings, we tend to have a primal need for support and reinforcement when doing laborious tasks. Having an accountability partner can give us the motivation we need to stay the course.
Why Do I Need An Accountability Buddy?
Some of the reasons for having an accountability buddy will increase your chances of not quitting include:
- You’ll see faster results
Having a partner can help keep you on your schedule; if you’re struggling to get started but your partner is ready to go, their positive mood will get you started. An especially eager partner can also spur some friendly competition, spurring you to “up your game” and maybe increase exercise duration and intensity. An accountability buddy can also help you keep an eye on what you’re eating, nudging you away from the hot and fresh doughnuts and toward a healthy balanced meal plan to boost your progress.
- You’ll pick up some new and different methods
One of the biggest fitness killers is boredom. Repetition is necessary to a point, but it doesn’t have to mean monotonous. Your buddy may have a favorite exercise you haven’t tried yet or a more effective technique for doing one you dislike.
- You’ll keep your mind focused — or even refocus it
Again, attitude is key when sticking to a fitness goal. Optimism can rub off on even the deepest cynic and having that kind of bubbly spirit in a partner can not only motivate you for the day but change the way you approach things — and often for the better.
- You’ll have someone to share your victories with
If Lady Gaga can live for the applause, so can you. It’s great to praise yourself when you’ve lost some inches, gained some muscles, or hit a new personal best — but isn’t it much sweeter when you have a cheering section to help celebrate your win? That additional ego boost is like rocket fuel to the spirit and will motivate you to keep improving.
- You’ll have a good time
Let’s face it, exercise isn’t always fun. But having a buddy to either encourage you, commiserate with you or curse that extra-perky Zumba instructor with can help pass the time and get you through to the finish.
How Do I Find The Perfect Buddy?
Now that you know what an accountability buddy can do for you, finding one that works for you is the next step. Your success with a partner will greatly depend on where your social meter sits — on a scale of a social butterfly to hermit with a security blanket, where does your tolerance with interpersonal interaction lie? What setting would you be most comfortable in sharing your space and your objectives? Who is the best person to simultaneously comfort you, cheer you on and kick you in the pants when you’re falling off?
Three effective partnership scenarios will best support and sustain your goals:
- A Fit Pal
The “fit pal” is just that — a friend or colleague you can work out with. The fit pal is someone you can meet up with to take classes together or get together with to work out either as a unit or separately with the fit pal acting as coach and cheerleading. Fit pals can check in with each other to see where they are in their journey, find out if they’re ailing, injured or just down because of their progress (or lack of it), and help them navigate any obstacles as an objective and unbiased party. They often serve the added purpose of being a haven away from other relationships or situations you may need to take time away from.
- A Fit Partner
Sometimes a relationship is the furthest you need to look for inspiration. A spouse or partner is typically someone you’d see every day, so it’s easier to hold to a daily regimen. Assuming this is someone you have great affection for, you have a greater emotional stake in accomplishing your fitness goals because of your deep connection with each other. Also, a fitness date is a great vehicle to spend some quality time together.
- A Fit Gang
Who says you have to have only ONE buddy? Joining a group of friends or an organized club is a great way to get started. Being one of many can offer a sense of anonymity and foster a common bond at the same time, easing the pressure of feeling like an underachiever. Plus, if you have a secret competitive streak, you have a larger sample of folks to try to match your personal best. The best part about a fit gang is that if one person isn’t available when you are, you’re not relegated to a solo workout if you don’t want to be.
Whatever buddy setting you choose, it’s important to choose people who will support you in ways that will keep you focused and motivated. Buddies that keep in touch often, are punctual, driven, reassuring, creative and flexible can be a dynamic force in boosting your progress and maintaining your consistency.
With enough determination, you probably can achieve your fitness goals on your own. But having an accountability buddy not only acts as a safety net in case you need encouragement, but it can add more fun and joy to your life. To borrow from James Taylor, fitness is way more fun when you’ve got a friend!
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