4 Tricks to Hold Yourself Accountable

Accountability (noun): the quality or state of being accountable; especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions

Look, most of our lives are very busy.  Careers, kids, spouses, family, friends just to name a few… bottom line, every day we are pulled in a million different directions. Some obligations physically DO keep us from keeping up with our most genuine fitness goals, while often they just provide convenient excuses as to why we fall short.

Unlike responsibility (the “before”) and self-empowerment (the “during”), personal accountability is the “after”. It’s a willingness to answer for the outcomes of your choices, actions, and behaviors. When you’re personally accountable, you stop assigning blame and making excuses. Accountability WORKS and it comes in many different forms. I break it down by 4 simple things that have helped me stay on track.


 Be in the Right Mindset

Hectic Day? You only need 30 minutes to go for a quick run.
SAHM? Download a workout from the internet and sweat from your living room while your kids sleep.
Tired? Even more of reason to workout! The endorphins from a sweat session will have you feeling refreshed and more awake.

Bottom line, accountability is 100% up to YOU. If you’re allowing “other factors” effect your goal, you need to strengthen your mindset and find a motivation tool that does work. Although your fitness goals are physical, your mind is the muscle fueling your personal results.

You have to know your WHY… why is accomplishing your fitness goal important to you? What is motivating you to do it?
Tip: Sometimes knowing more about the topic can help strengthen your WHY.

For me, becoming a mother put things into perspective. I had become a more mindful person and was truly understanding the importance of self-love. I felt passionately about what I knew, felt and wanted. I had always “worked out” but it wasn’t until after I had my son that my mindset really changed and my WHY became clearer.

As weird as it might sound, one thing that really worked was seeing my closet filled with clothes… I was determined to be able to wear them again!

A fresh playlist or new song was sometimes all I needed to get motivated to go to the gym that day.

Seeing results was also highly motivating for me. Results can become addictive and I used this form of gratification to help keep me persistent.


 Make the Habit a Priority

Success in anything comes from making it a priority. I did this by setting goals and eliminating the excuses. Getting my workout in was part of my day like anything else was, sweating became mandatory, it was part of my daily routine like my morning coffee or brushing my teeth. Here are a few tricks that help me:

I never miss a Monday. Starting the first day of the week off with a workout has so many benefits.

The longer I wait to get my workout in, the chances of it actually happening get slimmer. This isn’t always true, but I have definitely fell victim to it enough times to learn my lesson.

Weekends are no longer “off days”. In fact, weekends are my favorite days to workout since my husband is home from work to help with my son while I sneak away for an hour (yes, you only need an hour!) Weekends give me the opportunity to get some much needed “me” time so I look forward to these days.

Traveling is no excuse to forgo my workouts either (obviously depending on the circumstances and destination) Some of my favorite experiences while traveling are when I am able to explore the area on a run or take a local class that I couldn’t find back home. If possible on travel days, I will go to great lengths to workout before a flight. Even if it means waking up super early and having it done before my son is up. Knowing how stressful and long traveling can be, I can’t tell you how many times my mood has been saved by that morning workout.


 Fitness goals should be Specific and Measurable

“I want to lose weight”… a pretty common fitness goal. But how exactly will I get from point A to point B?  Through my experiences, I have found that setting more specific goals (or smaller, micro-goals) are easier to keep track of and keep me motivated.

For instance, after I had my son I had 10 pounds to loose to get me back to my pre-pregnancy weight.  I set a goal that I wanted to lose 10 pounds over the following six weeks by eliminating soda and eating a high-protein and veggie diet. In addition, I also made a goal to workout 5 days a week. If that isn’t specific enough, try setting many micro-goals.

Micro-goals are long-term goals broken down into everyday mini-goals. They are extremely small, task-specific goals and deal with everyday duties that need to be done in order to achieve bigger goals. For example:
Long-term goal: Lose 20 pounds in 60 days.
Short-term goal: Run 4 times a week, 4 miles each time.
Micro-goal: Get to the gym and run at least a mile today.  Then once you are finished with that first mile, your next milestone is to run another mile. Then another. Then another.

Bathroom scales. I have a love/hate relationship with them. But ultimately I have learned that they can be a very useful tool in holding myself accountable. Besides the way my clothes are fitting, numbers don’t lie. Choose to weigh yourself at the same time each day or once a week. I have found that this is the best way keep track of my progress and make immediate corrections to my diet.


 Treat Yourself

Rewards work! They help motivate me AND remind me when I’m not meeting my goals. They don’t have to be anything extravagant either.

A small gift… maybe a pedicure or a massage once a month.

Trips were my favorite reward. A week in Hawaii would motivate me for months (seriously) But, trips don’t need to break the bank either! Scheduling a night away with a girlfriend somewhere driving distance counts too. If my packing involved the sun and a bathing suit, I was highly motivated.

Healthy meal plans are necessary to obtain your fitness goal, however there are ways to feel like you’re “rewarding yourself” when you’re not. I love to snack and have a sweet tooth but I’ve found some great alternatives HERE. Remember that holding yourself accountable is a mindset adjustment, treating yourself with a burger and fries or a day off from your workout doesn’t aline with your weight-loss plan. Instead, make the reward something that makes you feel good about yourself and what you’re accomplishing.


Activewear by Hallow and Plank  

Joggers  |  Crop Top  |  Bomber Jacket  |  Sunglasses

Photography by Miranda McDonald


Love: Holding yourself accountable and sticking to your goals is the true definition of self-love. As I saw myself working towards my goals of changing bad habits and behaviors I finally felt less anxious and more at peace.  


These tricks have helped me stay on track for over 3 years, I hope you find one thing that helps you too. Thank so much for reading!



The Secret to Blasting Fat

Forget that “fat-burning” zone on the treadmill. I have learned firsthand that strength training has done a better job at helping me lose fat (especially belly fat….my collection area). While aerobic exercise burns both fat and muscle, weight lifting burns almost exclusively fat and the proof is in my personal results.

At 30-something, I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. Crazy right?!  Especially since I have always been a super active person. In my late 20’s (when I could finally afford to spend money on personal fitness)  I began training with Markshane Malone 2-3 times a week. Our personal sessions consisted of functional, bootcamp style workouts for 30 minutes. The workouts were high intensity, jumping from one exercise to the next with little to no break leaving me ridiculously sweaty and breathless in no time at all. One of my favorite parts of my functional training sessions were that they were always different, challenging, yet easy to follow. As suggested by Markshane, I always arrived 20-30 minutes before our workouts to do cardio on my own, usually walking/running on the treadmill or the elliptical.

When I was 32 years old, I gave birth to my son. When it was all said and done, I had gained 40 pounds during my pregnancy and when I weighed in with Markshane 6 weeks after my cesarian, I was 15 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight.  First things first, he told me functional training was out. We were shifting my sessions over to strength training since we had some work to do (15 lbs of work). He explained that before pregnancy we were always maintaining. Strength training was going to help me lose weight (and body fat) and help me retain the muscle. However my diet had to be tightened up for the “formula” to work, I had to be strategic about reducing the amount of calories I was consuming to lose the baby weight which was tricky since I was breastfeeding (for more on my post-baby diet, read this). Markshane also asked me to stop coming early and doing cardio before our workouts. He explained that our weight lifting sessions would require ALL of my energy, plus he knew that I was running while pushing my son in a jogging stroller several times a week. The coolest part about strength training is that it has a much greater level of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption than aerobic exercise alone. So when I would finish a workout, my body would need to do a lot of work to replenish itself in order to bring itself back to a normal state.  That takes a lot of energy, and it boosted my metabolism for up to 38 hours after my workouts. Cha-ching!

If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve heard that strength training/weight lifting has a reputation of making women “bulk up” right? Ladies, I am living proof that it’s NOT true! Within the first 6 weeks of sticking with the “formula”, cardio on my own 2-3 days a week, lowering my calories and strength training with Markshane 1-day a week, I was only a few pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. I do want to emphasize that the weight was very stubborn at first, there were so many frustrating days for me. But I stuck with it and the weight began to drop and drop…..and drop. I was also rebuilding my muscles, especially important in my core since I had just had surgery. My flexibility had improved too which was making hot yoga easier and my body felt stronger so my running improved as well.  Stronger muscles meant better performance in all activities. When it was all said and done, I weighted 8 lbs less than my pre-pregnancy weight! Win, after win, after win!

Overall, strength training has brought me to new levels physically and mentally. The stronger my body gets the more it effects other parts of me. I feel more confident and more empowered because I’m challenging myself to do something I didn’t think was possible. When I started properly caring for my body by strengthening and nourishing it, I started more easily appreciating and loving it too. Transforming my body transformed my mind as well and I’m so grateful for that. ♥

Videos from my training sessions with Markshane Malone below.


Miranda McDonald Photography 

Leggings by Goldsheep

My strength training journey with Markshane has been a very positive experience for me and I am vey proud of what I have been able to accomplish. I’ve included some videos of my favorite workouts with him below. Personally, weightlifting is all about taking my time, correct form and modifications (I have a neck injury so I have to be very careful with the amount of weight that I use especially with shoulder exercises). I explain each workout in further detail below. As always, thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoy!




San Diegan’s, for more about Markshane Malone and Shapeup Studio, click here.

This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and experiences are my own.

 Kneeling One-Arm Row

Choose a flat bench and place the dumbbells on each side of it. Put your leg on top of the end of the bench. Bend your torso forward from the waist until your upper body is parallel to the floor, and place your right hand on the other end of the bench for support. Starting position is when the palm of the hand is facing your torso. Pull the weight straight up to the side of your chest, keeping your upper arm close to your side and keeping the torso stationary. Switch sides and repeat again with the other arm.

Tip: It helps if you concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the top position. Also, make sure that the force is performed with the back muscles and not the arms. Finally, the upper torso should remain stationary and only the arms should move.


Alternating Chest Press

Angle your bench back. Have a dumbbell in each hand resting on top of your thighs. The palms of your hands will be facing each other in the resting position.  Raise and hold them in front of you at shoulder width. Make sure you rotate your wrists forward so that the palms of your hands are facing away from you. The dumbbells should be just to the sides of your chest, with your upper arm and forearm creating a 90 degree angle.  This will be your starting position. Use your chest to push the dumbbell up. Lock your arm at the top of the lift and squeeze your chest, hold for a second and then begin coming down slowly. Repeat on the other side and continue alternating sides.

Tip: Ideally, lowering the weight should take about twice as long as raising it.


Lateral Raise

Stand with a straight torso and the dumbbells by your side at arms length with the palms of the hand facing you. This will be your starting position. Lift the dumbbells to your side with a slight bend on the elbow and the hands slightly tilted forward (no swinging). Continue to go up until you arms are parallel to the floor, pause for a second at the top. Lower the dumbbells back down slowly to the starting position.

Tip: This exercise can also be performed sitting down.

Modification: With my neck injury, these can be challenging for me but I LOVE to do shoulder exercises. I try to create a small bounce in my feet to help take the pressure off my neck when I’m feeling it pinch. I have also modified by doing left, right, then both


Barbell Lunge

Inside a squat rack, first set the bar on a rack just below shoulder level. Once the correct height is chosen, step under the bar and place the back of your shoulders (slightly below the neck) across it. Hold on to the bar using both arms at each side and lift it off the rack by first pushing with your legs and at the same time straightening your torso. Step away from the rack and step forward with your right leg and squat down through your hips, while keeping the torso upright and maintaining balance. Using mainly the heel of your foot, push up and go back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.

Tip: Do not allow your knee to go forward beyond your toes as you come down, as this will put undue stress on the knee joint.


Squatting Row

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. With your hands grab the cable bar palms facing down-forward, (also shoulder width apart) and extend your arms all the way out. Begin the movement by flexing your knees and hips, and sitting back with your hips. Continue down to full depth and as you squat, keep your head and chest up and push your knees out. At the bottom of your squat, pull the bar back towards your torso while keeping the arms close to it until you brush your abdominals. At that point you should be squeezing your back muscles hard. Hold that contraction for a second and slowly go back to the original position.



Chest Fly with Bicep Curl

Using a resistance band with handles, anchor the tubed band around a sturdy pole or workout machine. Sit away from the machine holding onto both handles with your arms extended out and palms facing toward each other. Make sure to give yourself a good amount of resistance in your starting position (3-4 feet) and lean your torso back, chest up. Lower your arms out at both sides in a wide arc until you feel a stretch on your chest.  Keep in mind that throughout the chest movement, the arms should remain stationary; the movement should only occur at the shoulder joint. Return your arms back to the starting position as you squeeze your chest muscles. Next, keep your arms extended outward still parallel to your shoulders, curl the bands while contracting your biceps towards your face. Hold the contracted position for a brief pause as you squeeze your biceps. Slowly begin to lower the bands back to the starting position and repeat.

Desert Oasis: A Girls Weekend

Desert. Sun. Girlfriends. I’m in! Our recent girls weekend in Scottsdale took us to a Spanish oasis at  The Omni Montelucia Resort & Spa. Upon checking in Friday afternoon, we freshened up and met up with some of our friends for an evening of cocktails and heavy appetizers by the outdoor fire pit. The warm, dry desert weather was a crowd favorite! Our suite was nestled at the base of Camelback Mountain. Sipping...