Personal trainers are great for two reasons:
- They give you specialized diet/exercise advice
- They make you feel more obligated to go to the gym and work out
They usually bill themselves as the first benefit, but I think the second benefit is the more important one. For anyone who has a hard time getting to the gym, having someone who you know is there waiting for you and expecting you (as well as whom you’ve paid to do so) can be very motivating. Mornings where we would have said “Ugh, I don’t want to go today” turn into “I have to go, she’s counting on me.” As I said in my post on Making Exercising a Habit, a lot of the time in the beginning of getting fit it’s less important what you do at the gym, and more important that you actually get there.
This idea of having someone who you’re accountable to can extend to any habit, and can be incredibly effective in ensuring that you stick to your change. In the book Switch, the Heath brothers talk about how useful it can be to “rally the herd” or team up with people who are pursuing the same changes, because every success by a member of the group motivates the rest of the herd. Behaviors are contagious.
This is fine and dandy for the gym where you can easily meet up with someone or hire a personal trainer, but what about dieting? Having a healthy eating partner is extremely useful as a way of keeping each other accountable, but it’s rare that you’re going to have someone who you eat every single meal with. It’s this self-accountability at the most difficult times of the day that make dieting so difficult. You usually only have your own willpower to rely on.
My girlfriend and I started following the Slow-Carb diet from The 4-Hour Body recently, and she had a brilliant suggestion: send Snapchats of every meal we have. Considering we spend half of the week in different states and work in different places, we only get to have a quarter of our meals together each week. But we can still keep each other accountable with Snapchat.
Snapchat is perfect for constant accountability for a few reasons. They make it really really easy to send pictures back and forth. Sending pictures through MMS takes forever, whereas snapchat has it distilled to a two-step process. Snapchat also lets you add captions to your pictures, draw on them, and easily send them to multiple people if you want a dieting group. You also won’t eat up all of your phone’s storage, since snapchats delete themselves after a few seconds.
But why stop at dieting? Snapchat is a great tool for reinforcing all sorts of habits that you pursue with someone else. Want to wake up at 5:30 every day? Have a friend who wakes up that early or wants to as well, and if you don’t get snapchats from each other by 5:35 start calling. Want to start drinking more water? Snapchat every bottle or glass your finish. Want to exercise more? Snapchat your gym visits with someone. The applications are endless.