The Importance Of Accountability In Weight Loss
Accountability in Weight Loss
Almost right out of the womb, we are taught the role of consequences. The
baby learns at a very young age, if I direct my hand in a certain way, the
mobile will move. As we move through the toddler stages, the role of
consequences become a central part of our life. The 3 year old is told,
if you behave, you will get a trip to the toy store. As a central part of
our learning and action, we learn by action vs. consequence. If you study
hard, you'll get an A on an exam. When you write a paper, there is a
teacher to comment and edit and help you develop essential skills for your
next paper. How does this all relate to accountability and weight loss?
Accountability is very similar to consequence. Just like you have to
answer to your teacher, or your mom, or your friends to get the desired
outcome, accountability in weight loss works the same way. If you have to
answer to someone, you'll take the appropriate action, the right choices
to help you lose weight.
Accountability is one of the most important factors in losing weight, or changing any behavior. When you have to report to someone else, when you feel a level of pressure, it tends to change how you think and act. One of the reasons the weekly Weight Watchers Meeting is so effective, is that it forces you to weigh in once a week. It forces you to be accountable to yourself. PEERtrainer is also a very effective accountability mechanism. You feel accountable to your group and network, and the daily logging forces you to be accountable to yourself. In many ways it is more powerful than a Weight Watchers meeting because you do it every day.
Different Kinds Of Accountability
The simple act of writing down everything you eat is a powerful form of accountability. Being in an active PEERtrainer group where everyone looks at each other's logs is an added lever. You'll find that logging alone is quite effective. You need to take this seriously- every day, every bite. Write it down. In weight loss as with many things in life, each step isn't all that difficult, but consistently doing it every day is - consistency is key. Logging helps with that.
The Role of Peer and Group Support In Weight Loss Accountability
When you are ready to begin to lose weight in earnest, group and peer support are the most highly proven methods for success. It is one thing to learn how to lose weight and eat more healthy, it is another thing to put this into practice on a consistent basis. Friends and family are of limited use because there is only so much burden they can bear. Getting the support of an anonymous group of people each day can make the critical difference. Self-monitoring is the other method, backed by volumes of research, that is highly correlated with weight loss success. You keep a log of your food, exercise, goals and thoughts. When you do this each day it keeps you accountable to yourself, and brings this aspect of your life to the top of your mental agenda. When you are writing each day, you are thinking about the things you write about. This begins to change how you think and facilitates better decision making. When you make better decisions, and have a broad support network, you are very likely to lose weight for the long term. When you do both these things, the odds of success increase dramatically.
A free, online resource that facilities both social support and self-monitoring in an easy to use (and anonymous format) is PEERtrainer. You sign up, start or join small groups and teams. You log your food each day, and the others in your group see your log and provide support, motivation and accountability each day. It is like a virtual support group available on the internet whenever you need it. It is highly effective and has been featured in The New York Times, Fitness Magazine, Women's World, Business Week, ABC News, CNET, Fast Company...
Diets That Work
You have heard over and over that diets don't work. The traditional American idea of dieting is "portion control" or reducing your caloric intake. These approaches fail because you are only reducing portions of unhealthy and fatty foods. There are new diet approaches out there that seek to fundamentally change what you eat. These diets slash the amounts of saturated fats and sugar that you eat and radically increase the amount of plant-based foods. The Fat Smash Diet (by Dr Ian Smith) is one such popular approach, and Eat to Live by Dr Joel Fuhrman is another. These approaches are not about lowering carbs, or getting more protein or counting Weight Watcher points. They about fundamentally restructuring your eating habits. When you reorder your diet to eliminate processed foods, slash dairy and meat consumption and increase your intake of fruit, vegetables, beans, rice- you will lose weight and reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and a host of other diseases. Improper nutrition is at the root of most diseases. Animal based foods contain cholesterol and boost the levels in your body. Plants do not contain any, and help reduce levels in your body. As blood cholesterol levels decrease, cancers of the liver, rectum, colon, male lung, female lung, breast, childhood leukemia, adult leukemia, childhood brain, stomach and esophagus levels will decrease. The more you reduce meat, dairy and processed foods in your diets, the healthier you will be.