Whether it's blogging, doing the right thing, getting a project done, or anything else, it seems like the best way to ensure consistent, organized behavior for me is to create some system of accountability. It's true in both my professional and personal lives. I need deadlines, people to turn things in to, checkpoints, etc. And if those things don't exist on their own, I have to create them in some way.
My most recent application of this knowledge has come in relationship to my own personal health. I have undergone a transformation over the past year. No, it's not one you can see on the outside. I haven't lost 100 pounds, become a competitive bodybuilder, or started running marathons. It's an inward transformation. I'm becoming the person I never thought I could be. I'm willing to take a risk, try something new, do it wrong, practice some more, and try it again. It's ok if I make some physical effort and fail. I'm not afraid of being the slowest, or the weakest. I just don't want to be the one who's only watching. I know all of this "new me" has grown out of the changes I've made to my level of physical activity. And for that reason, I want to make sure I don't let go. I like the new me better than the old one.
(Sidenote: I tell my students all the time that peer pressure never goes away, it just changes. Nearly my entire circle of friends has taken up running, with most of them running half marathons and many of them running fulls. While I think this is extremely admirable and wonderful, I'll repeat words of wisdom I once heard spoken in a fitness class as we were doing split stretches: "This is not a goal for me." I was peer pressured into walking a 1/2 marathon for which I trained very poorly. I have no interest in ever repeating that episode. But I digress.)
Knowing all this about myself has helped me to build accountability into my personal exercise since I started over a year ago. I love going to fitness classes for this very reason. Group fitness classes are a great way to ensure that you can't skip out and have no one know about it. Anyone who knows me well knows how much I've come to L-O-V-E Zumba, and part of the pull (besides having a super fun instructor -- SHOUT OUT TO AUDREY ESTES! -- and the opportunity to dance around like an idiot) is knowing there will be friends there to laugh and cut up with when I show up. I also really enjoy weight lifting but have slacked off since the end of last school year. Know what? There's no accountability for me there. No one I'm working out with, no one checking up on my progress, no one to know if I don't show up. So I've slacked off.
Well, I've gone and done it now. There will be nothing but accountability once next school year starts. I've wanted for several years to be able to offer a girls' fitness class at school, and that's coming to fruition next school year. I went to Zumba Instructor Training early this year and started teaching at school for my co-workers, who are more fun than a barrel of monkeys! They've given me courage. :-) They served as my guinea pigs, and I decided that this is something I can handle. So I'm excited, many of the girls at school are excited, and I can't wait to get started! We get 5 days a week, 45 minutes a day to create and maintain habits that will have a lifetime of impact. My goal is to help these girls discover that they, too, can find a "new me." That they can gain confidence, health, and a love for keeping their bodies working as well as God intended. I want them to spend the school year learning to love their bodies and take care of them. And I get built-in accountability. And a group of girls who will (and should) expect me to practice what I preach. I'm looking forward to it! Bring on the accountability!