W is for what, when and who?
Well done, you’ve reached the end of the coaching process. Hopefully you’ve “t-GROWN” (groan….) Hopefully you’ve found the right healthy “topic“, you’ve made a S.M.A.R.T. “Goal“, you’ve checked “Reality” around it and boosted your motivation, and you’ve explored and appraised your “Options“:
Now, it’s time to write your action plan. Your action plan has got to be as S.M.A.R.T. as anything else. If you’ve been engaging and thinking about change seriously, you will now know there is no point saying “I wish I could lose weight”. Well “W” is not for “wish”. Stop wishing, start doing!
So, what are you going to do? From your options appraisal you should now have a clear idea of WHAT the realistic next step towards your GOAL is. You should have a clear idea of how you are going to progress. For me, when my initial goal was weight loss, the “what” was
- use myfitnesspal daily to log my food (& workouts)
- eat “real” nutrient dense food, prepared in advance to avoid snacking/temptation (and not get “caught out” with calorie count)
- exercise for 30 minutes every morning before breakfast
- make sure two of those workouts are strength.
As I went forwards the “what” got even more specific as the exercise was “follow livestrong, stronger” programme for 8 weeks. I found that having the tightest, most specific plan with no need to be making decisions and choices – removing my “freedom” to make those bad choices I had been making! – worked. By spending Sunday prepping my meals and knowing every morning Nicky Holender would pop up in my inbox with a workout for me relieved any pressure. It also helped me say “no” in social situations where I might have been tempted to eat/drink “empty” calories.
So what will you do next?
And when are you going to do it? It’s all very well having an action plan, but you have to actually put it into action! Procrastinating, or going off half-cocked will not work. You have to start when you know you can do it. Fix a date, schedule in your workouts, schedule in your meal-prep day, schedule everything. Remove the possibility of making bad choices by giving yourself no choice.
When are you getting started?
Finally, some evidence about how and why we keep going – we need our friends. We need our “accountability buddy”. WHO is going to keep you accountable to the task in hand? WHO will you tell about your goal, WHO will you share your action plan with and WHO will hector you if you don’t get on with it?
This works particularly well if you and your buddy have the same goals. When the superbad-multitasker and I were training for our first triathlon we had a Wednesday brick together or a Friday run. Being accountable to the other person for 1 – showing up and 2 – not being crap made us run faster, cycle harder and improve.
If you don’t have the same goals, just a friend who wants the best “you” for you can still help. Wonderwoman is losing weight and getting active planning a half marathon next year with myfitnesspal and I am training for the quadrathlon (my garmin links to MFP). We can both cheer each other on via the site, and nag each other if we don’t see enough activity!
So who is your accountability buddy? As Nicky Holender puts when he’s beasting you “who loves ya enough to let you hate them?”