A few days ago, a trainer sent me a message that went along the lines of “Hey JC, what are you reading lately? I’m about to order some stuff from Amazon. I’m looking for any material on nutrition, training, whatever that’s non fiction.”
So my response was definitely of the non fiction category, but not necessary strength and conditioning/fitness related.
“I’m currently reading Prometheus Rising, and The Brain That Changes Itself” is what I said.
When he insisted on some fitness stuff, I let him know the last few books/products I consumed were The Cycle Diet by Scott Abel, and Leigh Peele’s Starve Mode.
Both products are fantastic, by the way, but a lot of my reading these days stretches far beyond just health and fitness material.
Lately I’m much more interested in how I can be a better coach, writer, listener, and how I can help my clients and readers create lasting change through matters surpassing great training and diet information.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a HUGE believer in getting the basic stuff down and it’s largely why I wrote LGN365. In the opening section of the book I talk about getting your mind right, and how if you don’t make the time for that, nothing else you do will ever work as well as it could.
The books in my response dive deep into the mind, which is of utmost interest to me lately.
In Prometheus Rising, it’s more about the possibilities of the thinker, and from what I gather thus far, is a lot of material that makes you think about thinking. One should also note this book was written in ’83, and the way the author presents his ideas are very much beyond his time.
The Brain That Changes Itself is more about how we really don’t understand much about how the brain works. There are many cases in the book that disproves the old notion that the brain functions like a ‘machine’ and that it has specialized areas.
But I’m not here to talk about the brain. I wrote this to touch upon something I feel goes unnoticed at times, but is super important.
A few months back, I reluctantly took on a group of 10 guys for group coaching – something I’d done only once in the past, which turned into a complete disaster due to having to manage forums, but mostly because I offered the program for free.
No one values anything they get for free, no matter how you present it.
To be transparent, I wasn’t too crazy about the idea considering how much I hate sifting through forums, and how the last attempt went for me.
I’m a Leo. I love being in control, and the thought of managing a small group of men primarily outside of email and spreadsheets made me quite nervous.
However my friends who developed the software assured me it would be a good experiment and they thought it’d work well. I obliged, and decided to take them on.
Now let me give you the basics.
It was a group for guys who were in their beginner phases of training.
They had to be relatively lean and not made much progress in strength or size, despite their past time spent in the gym.
My goal was to help them correct some of the typical mistakes beginners make, and hopefully help them instill some new habits they can carry on for a lifetime.
What I learned made me completely rethink just how important accountability and even camaraderie can be for someone who has always been on the fence.
Someone who wants to create a change in their physique, but has never quite committed due to whatever excuse they give you.
The desire to change goes much further than the appearance alone, but for sake of not making this post all about psychology, I’ma leave it at that.
I surveyed them after 12 weeks. Their responses were pretty amazing and eye-opening from my end.
I’ve always known from my personal experience that accountability can be, quite literally, everything for a person. I’ve learned this through having my own personal coaches, and even looking back to my team athletic days.
It’s easier to succeed when you have a group of other like-minded folks pursuing a similar goal.
So let’s face it. While I might be able to create the best training program known to man, and the absolute best diet strategy, if someone isn’t committed to the small, daily actions, they’ll never experience true, lasting results.
No new habits are created, and nothing actually sticks.
So how do you get someone to act?
Personally, I did two things:
- I offered a prize of $750 to the best transformation.
- I also offered continuous support over the 12 weeks from myself and the other guys in the group. We’re all in this together, so to speak.
The first incentive is a bit shallow, but it’s a crucial part of the initial attraction, especially for those who don’t even realize they can benefit, or truly need the accountability and consistent support.
Plus, who doesn’t want some extra cash?
Of course, the second one is for all those who know they need this type of thing, but haven’t been pushed to take it a step further. And some of these people really, really need a push.
In fact, this is why I agreed to get on the phone with those who were interested. This is where I feel ethical marketing comes into play.
What I’m about to reveal is not a bunch of stuff I gleaned from studies on adherence in groups and controlled settings. It’s just an anonymous Google survey I sent out to the group after we wrapped up the 12 weeks together.
I have a message for you at the end, but please don’t skip to the end. I’ve also bolded areas of the responses to hit the high points in the case you want to skim.
Here are some of the questions I asked with their responses below.
What’s the biggest obstacle this group coaching helped you overcome?
“My eating. I really had a mental block in terms of my diet. I was on a very low calorie diet before I started the program and my workout consisted of high cardio. Moving to diet with 2000 calories and a program with virtually no cardio was a challenge for me. This program really helped me break through that barrier. Now I realize that I can add the calories to my diet but I can do it in a way that enhances my workouts.”
“By far the group coaching helped me with accountability and sticking to one program. I have always been guilty of switching programs or trying new training methods/diet methods to quickly. I also never missed a single workout because I knew I would have to log it and provide a brief description of how the workout progressed.”
“I was so scared to lose a body I had worked hard to build that I went to extreme measures both mentally and physically through diet and exercise to ensure I stayed “acceptable” to myself. By having this group I was able to slowly but surely overcome this fear which has led me to progress beyond my wildest dreams. I definitely think having all these guys to confide in and relate with helped me to realize I am not alone and anything is possible.”
“The biggest obstacle was my self doubt about the amount I could lift. I had previously injured my back on dead lifts over a year ago. I have never really put much weight back on for dead lifts. The challenge knowing I am up against others and its only twelve weeks with coaching has helped me push myself hard. Having a goal and a time period does wonders.”
“The biggest thing was consistency. Knowing my work was accountable to everyone else really helped me stick to it even when I didn’t particularly (in the moment) want to.”
“Staying accountable with tracking my food intake.”
“I think the biggest obstacle this helped me overcome was my fear that unless I felt completely trashed every day, I wasn’t working hard enough and would become a giant blob of suck.”
What was the biggest takeaway from this coaching group?
“I started the program at 148 pounds. By the end of the program I was 162 pounds. Overall I found both a physical AND a mental transformation in the program. I saw better results than I anticipated AND I think I would see even better results if I were to do it again as I wouldn’t waste the first two weeks allowing my former fat boy fears to overwhelm me.”
“For me, it was definitely just tracking my macros everyday. This is the most success I’ve had at trying to eat more consistently.”
“The coaching group was one of the best things I have done. It’s the first time I have noticed a change in my physique and ability to train properly. The group coaching helped me stick to one program and made sure I did not over-think everything. It was great to have a forum of guys to bounce ideas off and talk to on a weekly basis. All the guys in the program had similar goals so it was helpful to see their progress as well as difficulties and how they overcame these.”
“I think the biggest takeaway is a little more trust in myself, both in eating and exercising.”
“I overcame fears and worries about eating and really cured the once terrible relationship I had with food. I am so much more confident and I am able to facilitate stronger relationships. You helped me to become a bigger, stronger and more confident version of myself.”
“I have learnt to set small goals, which give me something to aspire to achieve. The fact that I wasn’t consuming probably half the amount I was supposed to is a major thing that I am taking away. I always ate healthy but just did not consume enough food.”
“I was in a bad rut with my “fitness journey” and had been spinning my wheels. I’ve essentially been able to pull an entire 180 from where I was 12 weeks ago.
I have been able to get into more of a groove that I will hopefully be able to carry out for the long-term.”
“The biggest thing I gained was seeing what kind of change could be made with focus. My body had really always been the same since I was in middle school, and seeing that with some focus and discipline, I can make noticeable changes.”
Stack The Deck In Your Favor
After all that, don’t you agree that accountability is very important to think about?
There are typically two types of people in these situations.
- people who’ve been training for a long time, and don’t need a lot of outside encouragement
- people who are new to the fitness lifestyle, aren’t sure how to get started, or someone who is on a journey, and needs reassurance, and encouragement. The need to be held accountable to succeed.
I’ve been in the gym for a very long time, and have no problem staying in routine, and improving my fitness. I’m very confident in what I’m doing, and have been at it a very long time.
But I’ve had a lot of practice. Even I hire other coaches for accountability at times, and to get a fresh approach.
If you’re someone that’s new to training, or you’re lacking confidence in what you’re doing, I urge you to seek out some accountability.
See if you can find a group to train with, or a friend in your building who wants to hit the gym with you after work.
Seek out someone in the gym who is there at the same time as you who can be your training buddy.
Heck, if you’re feeling really ambitious, sign up for a photo shoot, or join a group transformation contest for the accountability.
It’s for your own good.
It’s easy to say “no, I don’t need help. I can do this on my own.”
And while that’s probably true, the chances of seeing yourself until the end are slim.
Why? Because unless you’re extremely internally motivated, it’s easy to let the old habits creep back into focus.
Missing one training session turns into two. Then it turns into an entire week. And then, a whole month. Before you know it, you’re back into your old habits.
But what’s worse is now you’re mad at yourself.
If you don’t have someone to report to, who wants you to succeed, it’s difficult to realize your goals.
Be who you want to be.
Image Credit: longtrekhome