Episode 2: Accountability Partners: Help Me Help You … But Mostly, Just Help Me

Two women working out do squats on boxes.

No one is more surprised that AJ and Hillary have been working out together twice a week for more than two years than AJ and Hillary themselves.

What’s even more surprising is that neither has brained the other with a dumbbell. 

Along the way, they’ve figured out some stuff that seemed to keep them on track and some other things that didn’t really go as planned.

So, whether you’re looking for someone to help you stick to your fitness goals or eating plan or daily mediation, give these five tips a whirl.

1. Pick your poison … uh, “partner” … wisely.

Some folks have good luck with their significant other as their accountability partner. Others like staying married. Similarly, sometimes, your BFF makes a good accountability partner. But friendships and squat reps don’t always mix. Depending on the type of accountability partner you want, sometimes people you don’t know super well make ideal workout buddies. We tend to be the best version of our selves with those we don’t know well so that they’ll think better of us and because they’re not contractually obligated to love us no matter how often we flake out. 

2. Set the rules of engagement right away.

Make sure each of you understands what the other expects. If you can’t make it to the gym or yoga class, do you let the other person know or keep it to yourself so that they still head to the gym or class and get their workout in? Do you want someone who will help you correct your form or keep their lips zipped if your side plank looks like it’s warped? Will you be doing the workouts together or will you do your own thing while each of you is at the gym? Whatever your expectations, make sure your clear so no one’s feelers are hurt later.

3. Do what you say and say what you do.

Sure, there will be times you can’t make it to the gym at the predetermined time or you fall off the eating plan wagon you both agreed to. We’re all humans and fuck up a bunch. But don’t be completely unreliable. Be honest with yourself, and if you know you’re shit when it comes to being on time or sticking with something, don’t subject someone else to that. It’s fine to be a free spirit. It’s not cool to be someone others can’t rely on. And there’s your after-school special message for the day. You’re welcome.

4. Find someone at your level.

If you’re just starting to workout, a gym rat might not be an ideal buddy. You might both end up frustrated, and you could end up hurt if you try to keep pace with them. If your partner is just starting an eating plan you’ve been doing for months or years, you could get annoyed by a bunch of questions or listening to frustrations you’ve already overcome. That said, if you set the rules of engagement and are cool with all that, then rock on with your bad selves. 

5. It’s OK to break up if it’s not working.

You aren’t married to this person (unless you are, in which case, our sympathies). But if the accountability portion of any relationship isn’t working, come clean. You can do the “bad news sandwich.” “Hey, this was great, and I really appreciate our time together. I’m going to try something different though, so I won’t be able to workout/eat paleo/stretch your quads any more. Thanks so much for giving this a whirl! Let’s do lunch/smoothies/never see each other again!” Embrace the awkward suck for eight seconds, and then move on with your day.

What have you found that does — or doesn’t — work when it comes to an accountability buddy? Partner up with us in the comments!

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