Accountability and Wellbeing: What the Chilean Miners Taught Us

posted Oct 25, 2010, 2:03 PM by Sara@LS

From Jack Bastable,
CBIZ National Practice Leader Employee Health and Productivity
            Trapped underground for 17 days before anyone knew they were alive, the 33 Chilean miners lived precariously. Their every bite of precious food and every breath of underground air were monitored by their peers to tenuously preserve all lives.
After being located underground, awaiting rescue, their everyday lives became front page news and their every step and every request were known to the world. Their behavior was a flag of honor for Chile and the rescue was a source of great national Chilean pride. The miners did NOT want to disappoint… their co-survivors, their families, their country or the world.
That’s accountability in action, for sure.
In my years in the health and wellbeing field, I have witnessed the power of accountability toward enhancing wellbeing. Without someone to workout with, quit smoking with, celebrate successes with or be a sounding board for temptations, the chances for real and positive change are diminished. Alcoholics Anonymous is a famous example of the use of accountability to create change. It’s shown that sharing with others who face similar challenges is effective.
A leader in the field of life change is the Human Performance Institute (HPI), located in Orlando, Fla. It was co-founded by Dr. Jim Loehr, PhD  and Dr. Jack Groppel and is now owned by Johnson & Johnson Health. The primary method taught there is to establish habit change by rewriting your personal story. The process starts with factually deciding:
1.      where you are and
2.      where you want to go and
3.      why you want to go there.
The term “factually” is the key here. Most people's perceptions of their current story are not entirely factual. What are the facts, not perceptions, about your current situation and where do you really, without limitation, want to go?
Once you rewrite your “old story” into a new version, HPI teaches that you should set yourself on a 90-day training mission. What will you do for the next 90 days to get yourself going in the right direction? This does not mean you will GET to the new goal in 90 days. That’s unlikely but you will start building momentum which will increase your chance of success significantly.
First, just set the 90-day mission. And as you go, rewrite your NEW story six times, by hand, over the next 90 days, without looking back. Your new attitudes, habits and conditioning will change gradually so that rewriting the story will reinforce the changes that are happening. You need to see what you are going to become.
Fans of the acclaimed TV show “Mad Men” will recognize this as Don Draper’s efforts to write his new story, as he journals and ponders where he is, where he has been and where he wants to be. His attempts to change his life are apparent.
Then, as someone writes their new story, they need to surround themselves with people who see life as they WANT to see it and not as they HAVE seen it. Accountability can work in both positive and negative directions. Hanging out the friends that smoke or have poor nutrition habits, makes change more difficult. Find people who want to strive for health, just like you do. And by finding someone who is taking the same path to health as you, you can teach each other. Reaching out and helping someone else reinforces our own self-improvement. It’s win-win.
            A recent MIT study referenced in a New York Times article concluded that loose affiliation with our social network or accountability is not as effective as getting personally and closely connected. Also, according to another Times article, there has been an explosion in the number of certified coaches in the field of triathletes since the year 2000. As the number of athletes has increased, so has the need for coaches. There is a correlation between participation and success that comes from coaching.
(Better Health with a Little Help from our Friends, NY Times)
What’s practical in the every day?
Together, you can start new rituals such as taking the stairs up two floors in every building you enter before getting on the elevator, or parking further away or eating the same nutritious breakfast every day. Breakfast is documented to be the most important -- yet most neglected -- meal. Check out my personal smoothie recipe below and make that change the first in your 90-day plan.
Send your accountability partner(s) emails to encourage changes. Walk your dog, even if you don’t have one, when you get home from work. Set a fitness workout time and put it on your calendar, share that time with a friend and have them call to make sure you actually did it.
Find accountability partners for positive change. It breathes life and energy in everything we do when we make it a social experience. Accountability fuels our need for togetherness, and it breeds success.
Jack's Nutritious Breakfast Smoothie
1/2 peeled grapefruit
1 peeled orange (small)
1/2 peeled banana
            1 sliced apple (small)
.5 c of unsweetened frozen strawberries
                .5 c of unsweetened frozen blueberries (or berry medley)
2 oz. of pomegranate juice
2 oz. of Acai juice
1 T Flax Meal (available at GNC)
1 T Whey Isolate protein power (available at GNC or Whole Foods)
Blend it up, starting with the peeled fruits first. Add the protein powder last.
                (This makes one smoothing, so depending on your daily caloric needs, you may want to adjust the ingredients for a smaller or larger quantity.)
Nutrition information:
 1 Serving

Amount Per Serving

  Calories  578.9

  Total Fat  6.1 g

      Saturated Fat 0.7 g

      Polyunsaturated Fat 2.8 g

      Monounsaturated Fat 0.9 g

  Cholesterol  0.0 mg

  Sodium  62.6 mg

  Potassium  1,716.8 mg

  Total Carbohydrate  109.8 g

      Dietary Fiber 17.9 g

      Sugars 55.5 g

  Protein  30.3 g

  Vitamin A 32.2 %

  Vitamin B-12 47.3 %

  Vitamin B-6 74.6 %

  Vitamin C 395.5 %

  Vitamin D 0.0 %

  Vitamin E 11.7 %

  Calcium 20.4 %

  Copper 59.7 %

  Folate 41.2 %

  Iron 40.5 %

  Magnesium 18.1 %

  Manganese 33.3 %

  Niacin 61.9 %

  Pantothenic Acid     38.3 %

  Phosphorus     30.9 %

  Riboflavin 32.1 %

  Selenium 6.5 %

  Thiamin 69.7 %

  Zinc 117.3 %


*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.