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How to Stick to Your Health Goals

Molly Downey, RDN, LDN

Published in Lifestyle

7 min read

March 8, 2021
a person holding a dumbbell outdoors
a person holding a dumbbell outdoors

It’s the start of a new year, and you’ve got big plans. You’ve picked out the perfect diet that will cut out all the junk. You’ve marked your calendar to be in the gym every morning before work, with an hour-long run on the weekend. This year, it’s going to be different!

But as the weeks pass, temptations start to creep in. You feel less motivated to stick to your diet when you’re craving the meals you had to say goodbye to. Working out every morning is wearing you down, so you give up on the weekday sessions to focus on the weekend one.

Next thing you know, it’s March, your diet plan is in tatters, and you’ve seen more of Netflix than the gym. What happened?

Healthy lifestyle changes like these often begin with good intentions. Whether it’s a resolution to get fit or lose weight, when you first make these goals your motivation will be at its highest. But sticking with these changes long term is hard. Despite “exercising more” and “eating better” being two of the top New Year's resolutions in the United States in 2020, past research predicts that 80 percent of people give up on them by the second week in February.

So, how do you become one of the success stories? How do you stick to your health goals? The answer is simple: accountability.

What is accountability, and why is it important when making lifestyle changes?

Merriam-Webster defines accountability as the willingness to accept responsibility for your actions. It helps you to stay consistent, and that’s an essential part of success.

If you have to record or report back on your progress, you’re much more likely to stick to your goals.

Want proof of just how powerful accountability is in smashing your goals? Here’s the data:

  • A Stanford University research trial found that making check-in phone calls every two weeks on exercise progress increased participants’ total exercise by an average of 78 percent.
  • The same study showed this group continued to exercise at the same higher level 18 months later. The phone calls worked by making participants accountable for maintaining their progress.
  • An accountability study by the American Society of Training and Development found that you are 65% more likely to complete your goal if you commit to someone.
  • Your chance of success can increase up to 95 percent if you also carry out specific accountability appointments with the person you committed to.

Reaching health goals takes commitment, perseverance, and hard work. Putting an accountability system in place drives you to achieve those goals.

two people doing reverse push-ups outdoors

How to maintain accountability

Now that we’ve covered the importance of accountability, the next step is finding the right accountability system for you.

Try experimenting with these five methods and see how they impact your progress toward achieving your health goals.

Find an accountability partner

Working alongside a friend, relative, or colleague is a great way to stay accountable. You are much more likely to go to a gym class or stick to your dietary plan if you have someone doing it with you.

One study showed couples who workout together have a dropout rate of just 6.3% — more than 36% lower than those who work out separately. So working out together... works!

Join a support group

A support group, whether online or in-person, is a fantastic way to achieve your health goals. It can help you stick to your plan and gives you people to discuss your challenges with.

Knowing that you can talk to someone when you feel the urge to break your new routine is a mental relief and gives you accountability. Online groups make support accessible any time of day or night, offering someone to chat with or offer advice when you need it.

a person making notes on a journal

Design a habit tracker

If you keep a diary, a journal, or use paper organizational methods, then a Habit Tracker might be your ideal way to stay on top of your health goals.

After writing down the habits that will help you achieve your health goals, check your tracker daily to make sure you’re following them. This reminds you to act, motivates you to continue, and is a visually satisfying way of viewing your progress.

Wear a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)

A CGM is a powerful tool that helps improve your metabolic health by providing immediate feedback. Our brains are hardwired to respond positively to immediate gratification. But, this can be frustrating as most health habits have a delayed gratification process.

There can be a considerable time gap between taking a healthy action and visibly seeing its results. A CGM bridges that time gap. If you've finished a workout or eaten a healthy meal, your CGM will immediately show you the benefits it had as opposed to months or even years later.

When you get an immediate reward, it's more meaningful and can enhance intrinsic motivation. The best part? It's not your doctor or blogger or neighbor telling you what's best — it's your body telling you what's best in that very moment.

a person working out at home, wearing CGM

Work with a professional

Working with a professional like a personal trainer, dietitian, or weight loss coach is a time-honored way to stay accountable and achieve health goals.

Seeking help from a professional puts an expert in your corner to help you stay motivated and educated. Those are two big keys that will help you unlock your potential to hit your health goals efficiently.

Going beyond accountability

Let’s pull back for a second and talk more about that last point. For a lot of people, working with a professional seems like an impossibility. Others may wonder, “what good will it do?” If you have a gym buddy and a doctor already, why would you need to find a pro just to tell you what you already know?

The reason is that a pro can help you achieve things a buddy or a doctor just can’t. They have time for you, as well as specific knowledge about your goals. They can coach you through different ideas and changes to achieve your personal health milestones.

If you choose an expert in the field of your objective (let’s say a personal trainer to help you reach a specific level of fitness), they can observe your routine from an outside perspective and use their expert knowledge to tailor it to be successful.

a doctor talking to a person

If you’re looking to be metabolically healthy, a dietitian can assist you in becoming an expert on everything from glucose to macros. They’ll explain the data and show you its values, so you'll learn to assess your results and make healthy changes yourself.

The problem with many diets and fitness regimes is that they’re subjective. What works for one person may not work for the next. It can take trial and error to find what works for you, which can be disheartening. But there’s one more person you can be accountable to who can help: yourself.

How to improve your self-accountability

a person weighing themselves on a scale and looking happy

Some people feel no matter what they do they are their own biggest enemy. But there are simple solutions to turn yourself into your best ally instead. Using technology to educate your choices might just be the best way to do it.

Heart rate monitors, fitness trackers, and Blood Glucose Monitors (BGMs) or CGMs are all examples of technology that can be a positive form of support. For example, a CGM provides you with the real-time data you need to make changes that work for you. It joins the dots connecting how your body feels with a dietary or lifestyle decision you have made. You can immediately see the results from your actions and consciously improve your decision-making. Over time, changing your lifestyle decisions consciously will also change your subconscious decisions. That’s what will lead to long-term lasting results.

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Engage with Your Blood Glucose Levels with Nutrisense

Your blood sugar levels can significantly impact how your body feels and functions. That’s why stable blood glucose levels can be an important factor in supporting overall wellbeing.

With Nutrisense, you’ll be able to track your blood glucose levels over time using a CGM, so you can make lifestyle choices that support healthy living.

When you join the Nutrisense CGM program, our team of credentialed dietitians and nutritionists are available for additional support and guidance to help you reach your goals.

Ready to take the first step? Start with our quiz to see how Nutrisense can support your health.

Find the right Nutrisense program    to help you discover and reach your health potential.
Kara Collier, RDN, LDN, CNSC

Reviewed by: Kara Collier, RDN, LDN, CNSC

Kara Collier is the co-founder and VP of Health at Nutrisense, one of America’s fastest-growing wellness-tech startups, where she leads the health team. She is a Forbes 30 under 30 recipient, frequent podcast guest & conference speaker.

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