I have bad gums! There I’ve said it. I know, I know, you think I’m pretty perfect so this may come as something of a shock – but when it comes to my gums apparently I’m pretty susceptible to gingivitis….. Now this isn’t anything to do with my ‘strawberry blond’ hair but is the inflammation of my gums. A major problem? No not really as long as I engage in good oral hygiene. My dentist likes to scare me with scenarios of long term tissue damage and all my teeth falling out – but she tells me all will be fine as long as I floss. Regularly.
The problem there is that I generally don’t. You see I don’t like flossing. And I often don’t remember to floss. And when I do remember it’s usually only really late when I’m just brushing my teeth about to crawl into bed and I simply can’t be bothered so I’ll decide to do it tmrw…..again…..
‘Ben stop’ I hear you cry, ‘enough already about your crappy gums.’ ‘Where are you going with this?’ And fair enough. But the point is this. I went to the dentist last week. I’ll go again in about 6 months. Between each appointment I’ll likely see the dental hygienist. Probably at least three appointments a year for someone to stare in my mouth, prod and scrape around, hurt me a bit and ask me questions about how well I’ve been flossing. And there it is. Accountability.
You see for about a fortnight before each visit I think regularly about flossing and I actually floss. I’ll do it occasionally during the rest of the year too, but this is the only time when I make a real concerted effort. I don’t want to turn up and have my dentist give me her disappointed look…again. And although I don’t floss all the time what I do seems to be just about enough to stay on top of it. Surprisingly enough I don’t want all of my teeth to fall out, and apparently neither does my wife – so I book appointments to keep me on track.
Now you can see this one coming… the comparison I’m going to draw here is with many of my clients. As much as I like to think that I’m hired for my fantastic training sessions, up to date knowledge and charming manner, it’s not. More important than any of that to lots of my clients is that I am measuring/tracking their progress, keeping them accountable to what they have done since I last saw them, and of course knocking on their door and forcing them into the exercise session that they might otherwise have found a reason not to be doing. My disappointed face isn’t as good as my dentists but I’m working on it.
Why does Weightwatchers achieve really impressive short term success? It’s in no small part due to the accountability of the weekly weigh in. Of course there’s the ‘diet’ and points system to follow (although don’t get me started on the ‘eat what you like as long as you stay in the within the points’ mentality that it seems to me to promote…..that’s for another time.) But for lots of members it’s the impending date with the scales, dressed in the lightest clothes possible, that’s a real driving force in keeping them motivated to achieving their goals.
Now don’t get me wrong. Accountability is not everything. It doesn’t provide the support that you need and it doesn’t change your relationship with exercise or food. And in my experience it depends on how as an individual you are motivated – there are a few people I work with who seem to rebel against having to be measured and accountable for their actions and therefore it would work against them not for them. But the majority of people find that a little accountability can go a very long way to keeping you engaged with and focussed on what you are trying to achieve. It might be a small piece of the jigsaw that you are missing.