Motivation and accountability. We hear these two loaded words thrown around regularly about the first of every year. It’s easy to just say it and expect everyone to agree. People who don’t want to be judged poorly will nod. And then they’ll go about their regular routine anyway.
This year I decided to be proactive, though. I wanted to get myself in shape, but I had been having trouble finding the right trigger, spark, fire, prompt, stimulus … or motivation, perhaps? The final kindling came when I realized I had gained 10 pounds in the last two years.
Step 1: Recognize
I’ve always managed to maintain my weight within about a four-pound range, so 10 pounds was a rude awakening for me. And I knew that if I didn’t do something fast, that number would keep on climbing.
Plus, my clothes were no longer fitting the way I liked them to. Even though I was buying new clothes in the same size I have for years, they just weren’t going on as easily as they should.
I feel a bit sad that something so vain helped me recognize this final motivation, but there you have it. Perhaps the last grain of social anxiety from my youth can be put to good use here. I’ve heard stress can be channeled into positive goals anyway.
Step 2: Begin
The past year was a tough one for me both personally and professionally. But it also ended with some real accomplishments on both levels as well. I took a part-time job that came with full benefits, and I had been able to drop a couple unpredictable freelance clients as a result.
I also renovated my house and began overcoming a lifelong phobia while realizing hidden aspects of my identity. Life continues to be a challenge, but I see warm bright sunshine ahead.
These successes gave me an idea on how to realize my health goals: I started an exercise challenge Facebook group and invited everyone I knew. Membership included people who’ve known me since we were children to people I met just a few months ago.
The objective of the group was to support each other in our own exercise goals, and the only requirement was for everyone to know at least one person already in the group. Starting out, that was me, but others joined at friends’ invitations.
Step 3: Share
My personal challenge was to get 30 minutes of exercise every day in January. Other people focused on walking every day or running a few times a week. Many friends were doing the 30-day Move Yoga Journey via YouTube’s Yoga with Adriene.
Each day, we posted whatever physical movement we had accomplished and then supported others’ posts as well. People from all over North America checked in at least once a day to motivate and recognize each other’s struggles and achievements.
We also got to know each other through photos: one person filmed herself ice skating in her backyard, er, rink; others posted bike ride photos along the beach; and still others offered glimpses of hills, swamps, and deserts.
We shared music playlists, soup recipes, healthy eating habits, and even added dry January and a sleep challenge to the mix.
Step 4: Persevere
At present the group has over 50 members with a core group of about 12–15 posting regularly. Many others are lurkers taking encouragement from the positive posts and comments from frequent conversationalists.
As far as my challenge goes, I managed to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day in January. I and others marveled at the simple magic of motivation and accountability.
Motivation came from the confidence others had in us to persevere. And accountability came from our own commitment to avoid letting down the group.
And when someone fell and missed a challenge goal, we all lifted them back up with “you got this!” and “we’re here for you!” Covid and other winter illnesses made a couple of appearances, but the recovered came back with determination accompanied with love and support in the group.
A Commitment to Continue
As the group continues into its second month, we all have expressed a commitment to continue the challenge and keep moving. More members join each week and are welcomed with heartfelt congratulations for setting a goal for good health. Motivation and accountability persevere.
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