Many clients come to me with weight loss goals. When I set out to be a personal trainer, weight loss and weight management were the least of my interests, as my philosophy has always revolved around healthy, active living, and being active for the joy of it rather than to achieve a societal norm of what’s considered the ideal body shape du jour. But as my experience grew, I had to face the facts that weight loss is what people want and it is what sells. As a Trainer, my main goal is to help my clients achieve a healthy lifestyle through active living, but unfortunately this philosophy is not as shiny and tempting for many clients (especially women) than how many pounds they can lose in the shortest amount of time. And whereas I want to do things my way, the fact of the matter is that this is my full time job, and if I don’t have clients, I can’t pay my bills. Thus, the temptation to switch gears to offer clients exactly what they want, even if it’s at odds with what I believe in to be a healthy goal, is always there. Notice I said temptation. Human nature is to be tempted by all sorts of things. What makes us more advanced than other animals is the ability to keep those temptations in check and to just say no.
Having said all that, we’re still left with a huge problem: many of my female clients are motivated by weight loss goals. The problem is, that no matter how few or how many pounds someone wants to lose, the motivation for weight loss is usually short-lived, because weight loss is always framed in the negative. No matter how you put it, weight loss goals always want you to do something to address a negative (“I’m too heavy, too flabby, too whatever”).
So what I choose to do with my weight loss clients is to encourage them to set a fitness goal for themselves and to train towards reaching that goal. The weight will come off by extension once you set out to accomplish whatever race/challenge you’ve decided to complete. I also always encourage clients to sign up for whatever challenge they decide on the minute it is feasible to do so (considering finances and time constraints). Even if the challenge is in October and it’s February, signing up for your challenge now gives you a clear date by when you need to accomplish your fitness goals and makes you less likely to miss workouts. Compare this to a weight loss goal, where if you haven’t reached your goal by a certain date or you miss a workout, you can just tell yourself you’ll try harder next week/month/year. With a clear event in mind, if you don’t stick to your workouts, the event can’t be postponed and you’re out of luck.
Here’s where walking (or running!) in my clients’ shoes comes in. First of all, I already have done what I stated above after having my first child. Rather than just telling myself that I wanted to lose a certian number of pounds, I signed up for 3 triathlons. 7 months after having my first baby, I was back in better shape than before I got pregnant, and instead of restricting all the food I love to eat, I just exercised and made sure I fueled my body appropriately with real, whole foods that helped me with my training. And yes, I continued to allow myself the occasional treat.
I had my youngest baby 9 months ago and I won’t lie; I’m not super happy with my shape right now. This has not much to do with body image issues but the fact I have a whole closet full of size 7 clothes and I’d rather not have to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe. But I know that “losing 15 lbs or 3 dress sizes” isn’t a good goal for me. Because frankly, I don’t care that much about weight loss. What I do care about, is how well I can do in a race for beating my own previous times.
So, I’m making a deal with my clients and all my readers. I know sometimes (well, most times), the things I ask you to do are hard. Whether it is changing your frame of mind around goals (stop thinking about weight loss, love your body, train it, and the weight will come off anyway), lifting heavier weights than you think you can, doing that last repetition when you think you’ve already given your all, or asking you to exercise a certain number of hours on your own when you’re already seeing me twice a week, I know that the things I ask you to do are challenging and sometimes feel impossible.
So here is the deal. Yes, I do want to lose some body fat. Yes, I do want to fit back into my size 7 clothes. But what I want more than that is to complete a 10K race and to do well in my triathlons this year. Training for these events and having a clear goal in mind, plus concentrating on achieving these fitness goals has a lot more value than what I look like in the mirror. Thus, I’m going to be moving towards these goals and the weight/fat/sizes will come off by extension (just like they did after having my first child).
And because I believe in transparency in any business, and I want you to know I’m a real person just like you, who struggles with keeping a workout routine and who loves to eat things that probably aren’t good for me (chocolate, how I love thee), I want to share my journey with you. I’ll be posting weekly updates on how I’m doing in moving towards my goals. This will do two things: help my clients and readers relate when they’re struggling, but equally as important, keep me accountable to a whole bunch of people in my fitness journey.
So here is what I have to share with you as I start out to walk in my clients’ shoes and do all the things I tell them to do.
Weight: 160 lbs
Fitness goals: Run a 10K race on April 27th, 2013; complete 2 sprint triathlons and 1 short course triathlon, with the goal triathlon race being the short course K-town Tri on August 4th, 2013 (700 m Lake Ontario open water swim, 30 Km cycle, 7.2 K run).
Secondary goal: fit back into my size 7 clothes and/or go back down to around 145-150 lbs (150 if I’m still breastfeeding by then; less if the boy has weaned) by April 27th (10K race day, and a very realistic goal).
Important Info: currently breastfeeding; on medication for hypothyroidism, mild asthma, vegetarian. Advised by physiotherapist to get back into running by doing walk/runs because of severe sacroiliac joint pain during pregnancy and residual pain and dysfunction after pregnancy – I will be doing The 5K to 10K program to get myself ready for the 10K and triathlons, to follow phsyo’s orders and to avoid re-aggravating this problem.
What have I done so far to reach my goals? I’m signed up for the KGH Trauma 10K race, and I’m currently designing my workout plan to reach my goals above. I’ve also made a commitment to stop my bad habit of staying up too late and thus munching on stuff at midnight when really, I should be in bed. I’ve also decided to go back to my 5:30 a.m. workout routine, because I’m a morning person and if it doesn’t get done at 5:30 a.m., it just doesn’t get done.
I’ll be updating everyone on my goals on a weekly basis, so stay tuned to see how I’m doing.
Why am I putting myself out there like this? So you can see that I’m not just a trainer, I’m a normal person who struggles with her fitness and health goals just like everyone else, and to show that I practice what I preach as well. Part of the reason for having a trainer is to keep yourself accountable. What better way to keep a Personal Trainer accountable than to put it all out in the open and to have a bunch of readers checking in to see if I’m really practicing what I preach?
Don’t hesitate to e-mail me with your thoughts and words of encouragement. Stay tuned for my next week’s report.