Making the decision to get fit is only the beginning. It’s also the only easy part. Once you’ve made the choice, you’ve got to decide exactly what you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it, how much and for how long. That’s not so bad either, what’s really difficult is actually getting out there and doing it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sworn up and down, forwards and backwards, from today to forever that I’d ride my bicycle every day. Or lift weights while watching television. Or start aerobics classes. Or take up running.

Despite my lofty promises, I’ve only actually stuck with one of these things, the running. What made running different for me than any of those other inexpensive, convenient fitness activities? I decided to run with a few of my girlfriends. Now, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings at 5:30pm there are two people waiting for me to show up and get my jog on. If I don’t show up – they know it, and they call me on it. The result is that I’m running three times a week, rain or shine, whether I feel like it or not.

That’s the power of accountability.

Now we didn’t formalize our relationship as an “Accountability Partnership,” but that’s what we are, in fact. We all consider each other responsible for showing up and doing the work, and as such, we all actually do it.

Basically, an accountability partner is someone who knows your goals and will expect you to live up to them. It can be anyone: a spouse, co-worker, friend or relative. They have to know what you are planning and that you are serious about it. It makes all the difference in the world, I promise!

So here’s how to set up your own accountability partnership:

  1. Set your goals. Before you start talking to other people, have a really firm grasp on what you want to accomplish. My goal for running is that I want to be able to run 5 kilometers within three months. Your goals do not have to be the same as the person you partner with, but if the goals are similar, so much the better!
  2. Consider who to ask. There are different schools of thought on who an appropriate accountability partner is. Some people like to work with friends or people they know well, and other prefer to connect with someone new – a stranger who can be objective and impersonal. It’s up to you – whatever you are the most comfortable with.
  3. Sit down and set goals. Once you have your partner, you need to take some time and really understand what you each want, and what you expect from each other. If there are misunderstandings about this is can lead to trouble. Work out what happens when you fail to meet an obligation, or when you reach a goal.
  4. Get going! The very best time to start getting fit and working towards your goals is right now.
  5. Track your progress. You can do this by any means you like. One method I thought was fantastic is outlined in this post about Calculating Body Fat Percentages over on Fitness Breakout. Other options include kilometers run, reps repeated or weight lifted – track your progress each week – watching your improvement will be very inspiring.

Stop making excuses! It can be easy to break promises to yourself, but get an accountability partner and just see if they let you get away with it! Good Luck!

Do you have an accountability partner? How has it worked for you? Let us know in the comments!

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