Accountability is an area that I have only “discovered” recently. Of course I’ve heard of accountability, but I’ve never applied it to weight loss.
There are varying levels and ways to be accountable.
- A weight-loss group
- An accountability partner
- Doctor supervision
There’s a reason why Weight Watchers works. To be in a group, to have supportive people listen, to get ideas of what to eat, to track what you’re eating, all these things make it easier to achieve your goals. If you’re like me though, you can’t afford to join an official weight loss program or have meals shipped to your home. Plus, if your goal is to live a natural lifestyle, many of these options will not work.
I’m a member of several weight loss groups on my personal Facebook account. Many of the people in them are people I know personally. We share our successes, encourage each other through difficulties, share tips and recipes, and most importantly let each other know we’re not alone. You can ask your friends if they know of any local groups, or you can start one of your own.
One thing I joined recently is a weight loss challenge. The program that I am doing is here and is 8 weeks long. We have a person that we send our weight-loss and weekly point data to and she organizes and shares it with the group. We all paid $5 to join in, and the pot is split between the person who lost the most weight and who earned the most points. Points are earned by eating fruits and vegetables, drinking water, daily accountability with a team-mate, exercising and other behaviors. This program works great no matter where you’re starting or whatever program you’re using to lose weight. I highly recommend it.
Choose an accountability partner. If you’re like me, you don’t want to broadcast your weight to everyone. But it’s important to let someone know where you’re starting. To have someone you can talk to on a rough day, someone who will encourage you to keep going, to be excited with you over milestones, and to get you going when you need a kick in the pants. It can be your spouse, a close friend, a family member, or even some person you’ve never met in a group you’re in.
Be accountable to yourself through journaling. You need to track your input and your output. I use MyFitnessPal, though there are several other free or paid options out there. Even writing down everything you eat in a notebook is worth it. I find myself craving junk food, but don’t want to have it written down for me to see later. It’s a lot easier to choose an apple over other options when you see what an impact it makes on your chosen daily goal. Also, you may not even realize how much you eat on a regular basis until you see it in black and white.
The beauty of using an online database like MyFitnessPal is that it’s customizable and has a large database. You decide a goal of weekly weight-loss and how much you want to exercise. There’s no manually calculating calories, you just search for what you ate and it manages the data for you. On days you exercise, it gives you a larger amount of calories.
You can choose 5 items other than calories to track on MyFitnessPal: I track fat, protein, carbs, sodium and fiber. You can change the percentages of what you are “allowed”. I prefer to have more of my calories come from fat and protein than carbohydrates, so I adjusted that setting. You also can adjust it for your activity level. Since I’m a nursing mother, I set myself as “highly active” since my body needs to be producing several hundred calories a day for my son. This also works great if you’re pregnant as you can set it to maintain or even gain weight. This is great since you want to ensure you’re not gaining weight too quickly and are eating a balanced diet.
When to get a doctor involved: If you have an underlying medical condition, you should always check with your doctor first. If you’re pregnant and want to maintain or even lose weight, check with your doctor or midwife. If you have a desire or need to lose more than 1-2 lbs a week, use doctor supervision. If at any time you don’t feel well, get hurt, are unsure if it’s a good idea, or are not seeing any success after a few weeks of making positive changes, you should check in with your doctor. There may be an underlying medical issue, you may be pushing too hard, there may be an imbalance. In my opinion, better safe than sorry.
One thing I did find was that my mainstream family practitioner thought my diet of real, whole foods and cutting out all processed and refined foods was odd and restrictive. Most doctors are not trained nutritionists, and even most mainstream nutritionists think that low-fat, fat-free, and sugar-free items are a good idea. I’ll get into this more in a later post. Finding a good holistic doctor or chiropractor to support and guide you may be a good place to start. Many midwives are also trained in a whole foods, natural diet.