I’ve been planning on writing this post for ages – in fact I can’t believe I haven’t got round to it earlier!
And I guess this is particularly relevant at this time of year as well with some of you preparing for comps and some of you potentially struggling with new years resolutions or even struggling with post comp weight regain.
The questions are how do you know you’re on track? How do you stay on track? What do you do to keep yourself accountable?
Accountability is something that I believe is incredibly important to me achieving my goals – although I have to ability to stay rigidly focused on a particular outcome for a long period of time with no accountability except to myself – Kilimanjaro for example was a year long odyssey.
Generally I find it very easy to stay focused once I have made a decision, by the time I hit stage this year it will have been 2 long years of staying focused on that goal through whatever has been thrown at me – that’s a long time in anyone’s book, but every now and then I do wobble – its human nature. Of course I’ve had my fair share of wobbles in the last year or so and its in those moments when being held accountable becomes so important – it never hurts to have that extra something/someone else to hold you to a higher standard, to keep you responsible for your own actions and point out your bullshit for what it is.
So what do I do to keep myself accountable?
Well, when I was having my ‘annus horribilis’ in 2011 and I was struggling with lack of goals and motivation, the way I kept on track with my fitness was to hire a personal trainer – I couldn’t afford a trainer really, but I was so determined not to go backwards in my fitness having worked so hard to regain it, that a trainer became essential to that goal. At the time I needed someone who would call me out or pull me up and not let me get away with weak excuses – and it kept me on track for the few months that I was wobbling for. Soon enough I didn’t need that ‘big brother’ approach, because new goals appeared which set motivation and focus back into overdrive…and we know how that ended! J
With training at the moment although my motivation is sky high and I have no trouble at all getting to the gym, I purposefully cycle 10km out of my way every day to train at Richmond.
Several reasons – get a bit of extra work into my legs to keep them nice and hard, it’s a good gym and of course Aiden is there, which means I might get a sneaky spot for an extra heavy set if he’s between clients, but most importantly I won’t be able get away with a slack session or poor form. Even when its not a scheduled session, I know he has eyes in the back of his head, and he can see round corners…as I found out when doing some of my rehab sloppily! I only need to be barked at from across the gym once to learn that, but should I happen to forget that lesson then I’m sure I would be called to count very quickly again!
Right now, I don’t need the ‘big brother’ approach…but the possibility of it being activated certainly keeps me on my toes.
My diet has been really good all year – not perfect, but on the whole I’m very pleased with how I’ve kept myself in excellent condition even when I wasn’t able to train.
How did I do this?
I log my diet (almost) daily in calorieking – I know that sounds a bit anal, but its become habit so its not a big deal, and besides I actually find it quite fascinating – keeps my inner geek happy watching my macro splits change, working out whether I should up my daily calories, deciding if I should throw in a high fat or high carb day and whether that naughty cake has blown my daily limits.
I’ve also just given Aiden the login details…
I don’t need to have him be able to check out my diet, I’ve got nothing to hide, its full disclosure – good, bad and ugly. I even log my total monster blow out Friday breakfasts. J
Sure I could log anything I wanted to make it appear perfect – but whats the point? He trusts me and the only person I would be cheating is myself. I don’t know if/when he’ll check up on me, there’s that unknown factor – but in general he won’t find anything to complain about and who knows, with an objective perspective, he might spot something that I’m doing/not doing that could be beneficial – it’s a possibility. And since he’s got a hell of a lot more experience than me at muscle building nutrition, if he does have something to say, you can be sure I’ll be paying attention.
What else do I do? dexa scans – every 8 weeks. I decided I don’t want to blow out too much in order to avoid having to diet for half a year – I wanted to stay within 10% of comp weight, but then with muscle atrophy and now muscle gain my lean body mass has fluctuated quite significantly. Dexa scans tell me far more than a set of unreliable scales ever can and in general I think I’ve just about managed this. I have another dexa in 2 weeks, and I was at 18.5% body fat at the last one, so although I haven’t been deliberately trying to lose fat, I think I have leaned up a little whilst getting heavier on the scales – I’m hoping this is a good sign and it would be nice if I was sitting at around 17.5% this time. We’ll see – but I’ll use the results to decide what I do next with my diet, and the one after that I’ll use to gauge when I should start comp prep (can’t believe I’m already talking about comp prep!!! Yikes! The next 7 months is going to FLY!)
Training diary! Yes, I even keep one of these now. I didn’t use to, but since I’ve started I can really see the value and again it has now become habit. Every week I try and make progress – if I did 5 reps at a particular weight, the following week I try to do 10 -12 reps at that weight or if I didn’t get to failure at a particular weight, I up the weight at the next workout. On days when I’m not training with Aiden, this book has become my brain – if it’s written down in black or blue then it is how it is. It doesn’t lie and if I don’t match up to it at the next workout then I know I’ve been slack. And being slack is a missed opportunity to make progress. The book is my judge, jury and accuser! So I know if I‘m guilty!
So I measure, gauge, log, assess, question and tweak everything – constantly. Its how I measure progress, its how I know if I’m on track.
Now I’m not suggesting that you need to do any of this – it might all sound like a lot of hard work and that’s fine, it works for me.
But I bring you back to the original questions…if you’re not getting the results you want, you might want to check in and ask yourself
Are you being accountable?