January 15 – This blog is my accountability place

“We cannot swing up a rope that is attached only to our own belt.” – William Ernest Hocking

When I lost over 120 pounds in less than 2 years, people noticed. Nearly every day someone would stop and ask me about it. The most frequent question was “How are you doing it?” My answer was to tell them “Weight Watchers, and walking”. Those two things, aside from their alliterative appeal, also described what constituted most of the work associated with the weight loss. I measured, tracked and limited my food, and I increased my exercise.

Accurate as those two aspects of the weight loss are, they miss out on one of the other keys to my success. I built up a strong network of support. It started with, and was always centered around my wife. Without her I couldn’t have sustained success. She helped me make good food choices while out, and helped craft a healthy food plan in the house. Amazing as she was and is, she wasn’t the only place I found support.

I started this blog, I published my progress on Facebook and other social media, I joined online weight loss groups, and I gathered people in my life who were into my healthy habits. That network of support was essential to my success. When I lost weight, and hit my goals, they were there to celebrate with me. When I gained weight, or missed out on workouts, they were there to encourage me.

Honestly, though, all that cheerleading isn’t the full story, nor even the most important aspect. The most important aspect in all of it was accountability.

The other day I wrote about a work team I was on in the early 2000s. I wrote then about how, when I was feeling angry at work, we all went out to lunch. While on that same team, several of us decided we wanted to lose some weight. About 3 of us became diet buddies for a time. For a variety of reasons, it never really got anywhere, but one story sticks in my mind as, likely, the prime reason it failed for me.

We all sat near one another at work. One day I dutifully packed my lunch, and ate it at my desk in full view of the team. Not to be showy, it was just how it worked out that day. Later, in the early afternoon, I was hungry and probably emotional. The others were in meetings, so I went to my car and drove about a mile to Wendy’s. There I had quite a feast of a second lunch. Much later in the day I told one of my diet buddies about it and we had a laugh. Had that been the only time that happened, perhaps the attempt to lose weight would have been more successful. Truth is, it happened all the time, and only rarely did I tell anyone about it. The reason? While it was nice to have them along for the ride, I felt no accountability to them.

When I started this blog and joined online support groups, I did so because I knew that if I didn’t talk publicly about my progress, it would be easy to slip. When I am more accountable to a group of people I am more likely to stay on track. This morning, while writing the following graph

weight-post-correlation

What this graph shows is that there is a direct correlation between how often I write on this blog, and how many pounds I lose in a month. The more active I am at blogging, the more successful I am at staying on plan. The peaks and valleys line up perfectly. Now, blogging isn’t the cause of my success. Were it that easy, I’d just write for a few hours every day and watch the pounds melt away. Rather, the number of blog posts also correlates to my level of commitment. When I am more committed, I write more. When I am complacent, I write less. And the trend of my weight tells that story.

The correlation curve will probably not go on forever. At some point, hopefully, I will reach my goal weight and will be looking to maintain. I will likely still write, so the correlation of posts to weight loss will vanish. But for now, this graph tells me a story.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…The more accountable I hold myself to a public group, the more likely I am to stay on track. This blog is the best measure of that accountability.

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