Accountability Partners: Not just “yoga buddies”

Here we are, seven weeks into 2012 … perhaps you started out strong on your New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier, lose ten pounds, or take five hot yoga classes a week. Oftentimes we make resolutions with great ambition in the moment, but we tend to lose perspective (and the eagerness to follow through) as time passes — sleep right now sounds so much better than getting out of bed to take a 6 a.m. Fire class.

Photos courtesy of Britt Bailey

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tend to take the backseat as the year progresses. One way to motivate yourself to stick with your goals is to bind your success with someone else’s—an Accountability Partner.

We all need a little nudge at times to help achieve our goals. How we get that nudge can be uplifting, spurring us on to victory, or it can make us feel defeated. For example, if you beat yourself up when the number on the scale hasn’t changed or you didn’t make it to class two

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days in a row, you may want to give up. How much better would it feel if that “nudge” came in the form of an uplifting text, a commiserating smile from across the hot room, or just seeing your friend zombie-walk through the door at 5:59 a.m.?

An Accountability Partner is there to support you – to encourage you when you make progress and to get you back on the path when you stumble. People hire Personal Trainers all the time to push them and advise them on how to achieve their goals. PTs are generally liked for their expertise and charisma. And they provide accountability because, Hey—you’re paying them, so you might as well use them, right? Like a PT, an Accountability Partner will push you to follow through and provide new perspective when you’re struggling to reach another milestone. But Accountability Partnerships are even deeper than PT/client relationships because the encouragement is not unilateral; rather, you are both working to achieve a common goal. They are just as committed to your success as you are theirs.

It’s no big deal if we let ourselves down (“I can work out tomorrow”). But if our absence from class is going to disappoint someone else, then we are less likely to “flake” and fall through on our commitment (“Sue told me she is counting on me to show up—I can’t leave her hanging”). There are times when it may be difficult for you to see the immediate benefit of showing up at Sunstone Yoga, but when you walk into the studio and see your “partner in crime,” you’ll receive instant gratification by spending time with your friend and knowing you both followed through on your commitment, as well as the long-term health benefits from working out.

Accountability Partners help us focus not only on our day-to-day performance but also on the lifelong habits and practices we need to develop to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If two or more people are united by a common goal, their collective long-term perspective will carry them further than a day-to-day competition in the hot room (“Did you see my Standing Bow today?” “No, but my Triangle was awesome!” “Whatevs, I beat you both in Locust!”). A group fixated only on what happens in the yoga room today is less likely to build a long-term body, mind, life practice. If you and your Partner are working towards living healthier, more-balanced lives both in and outside of the yoga studio, you will be able to remind one another of that long-term perspective and not get caught up in the little things (like whose toes were higher in Standing Bow).

It is easy to acknowledge physical advancement and to have a positive attitude when you are full of motivation, but what happens when your resolve and stamina start to give way? When these moments come, Accountability Partners can objectively determine whether you legitimately need a break or just another dose of motivation, while still keeping the overall goal in mind.

See next week’s blog for the best ways partners can keep each other motivated and on the path towards body, mind, and life fitness.


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