There's an article circulating around facebook, that I actually really love. It's about the things trainers want to tell their personal training clients. Give it a read here.
I love this because I've been a trainer. After Biggest Loser, I spent 3 years building a personal training business and worked with over 60 clients of varying weights, body shapes, experiences, levels of understanding, etc. I can't tell you how many of these thoughts and conversations I've had over and over and over again with my previous clients.
But here's the thing: I've also been a client- and often times a challenging client at that (ask my coaches, past and present!). And there are some things a LOT of trainers do NOT understand about clients that are probably as important as the things that WE do not understand about them.
So, if you're a trainer- ESPECIALLY one that may not have struggled with your weight, here are some things that might come in handy:
1.) Just stop telling me you get it.
The short answer is- no. No, you don't. Maybe you've lost a lot of weight yourself (when I was a trainer, I had lost 113 lbs in 8 months- no easy feat!), or maybe you've never had to worry about putting weight on. Whatever. The reality of it is, is you do. not. know. what. it's. like. Your clients are all different- different body types, different tolerances, different backgrounds, different personal lives. What might be easy for one of your clients to do (say, exercising 45 minutes a day, every day), might be a near impossible goal for a single mother of 2 that works full time and just barely manages to squeeze in 3 sessions a week. Understand that your clients' circumstances go far beyond what you see in the gym. That doesn't mean we don't want, or hear, your advice. It just means sometimes it's not always "follow-able". And a good trainer (like ones I've had) know how to adjust their input to make it work for each individual's overall life.
2.) Just stop talking about how I should eat perfectly, and start talking about how to eat realistically
Every single trainer I've ever had kill me in the gym, I've also seen eat pizza, drink beer, or have birthday cake. Stop acting like you don't. Because, the reality of it is, as a trainer, you become our "gym parents" and this bizarre phenomenon happens- your habits become the expectation of what our habits should be. If we see you occasionally indulging, and not harping on yourself regularly for making little decisions- that, let's be honest- won't make or break our training, THAT is what instills GOOD habits in your clients. It's been proven over and over and over and over again that diets that promote deprivation or the abolishing of certain foods work temporarily and ultimately boomerang to bite clients in the you-know-what. Most of your clients that have long term struggles with weight have long-term emotionally unhealthy habits with food. If we feel like we're constantly disappointing you by eating birthday cake, because it's something you would "never" do, or something you would "never" suggest, we will fail. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but ultimately. We need to be told, and shown, that it's not about "eating healthy" or not; it's about eating like a normal, reasonable human being: Learn what's best for you, do the best you can, when you can, and when you can't, let it go, wake up the next morning and train hard and eat right. The end.
3.) Just stop saying things like "You can beat your metabolism!" or "A calorie is a calorie" or that "so and so lost 60 lbs in 3 months!"
Let's get something straight. Metabolic conditions are a real thing. There are people in the world who really do struggle, at a cellular, biological level. AND there are people, who after years of unhealthy yo-yo dieting, have damaged their metabolisms unintentionally. If you're summing up every client that's overweight as being an "excuse maker", you're painting everyone with the same brush, and it's just not true. There are people who struggle with weight from childhood, developing so many hungry fat cells (that by the way, are never LOST, but rather are simply deflated) that it's in their muscle memory to gain weight. There are people who have a sluggish thyroid, or an elevated response to cortisol, or a hormone imbalance. There are pre-diabetics/diabetics who have an insulin response to any carbohydrate that enters their body that their non-diabetic counterpart would have no reaction to whatsoever. If you're not looking at the biological, anatomical equation of things, and brainstorming new ways to combat the individual client's reaction to food and exercise, you're guilty of exactly what you're accusing your clients of: Laziness. Sure, you'll get the dud client that blames a bad metabolism and then sneak eats a dozen Krispy Kremes, but if we've handed you our food journals and are giving you our all, it might be time to consider a deeper cause.
4.) Just stop acting like you know absolutely everything about exercise
You know what the best exercise is? The one we'll do consistently, intensely, and passionately. Unless you're a spin instructing, zumba teaching, crossfit loving, kickbox boxing, marathon running, hip hop dancin' fool, you don't have a stronghold on all the exercise knowledge in the world. Post Biggest-Loser, I was a big advocate for just killing yourself on a treadmill because I'd seen results, and knew it worked. Now, I would sooner die than recommend that. We love what we know because we know it fits us. But that doesn't mean it will fit EVERYONE in the long or short term. A client is not a proprietary person you have ownership over. In a healthy, fun coaching relationship, a client is someone you are partnering with to help them become healthy. Your job is not to run them in the ground with what you know works for you and a handful of other people. Your job is to figure out what works for them, then holding them accountable, and re-evaluating when that stops working. That means if a client goes to a spin class before their session with you, they're not cheating on you. They're trying on a new pair of shoes. The fact that they share it with you means they trust you and want to share their journey with you. Don't be offended. If they're overtraining, it will show in their results and THAT'S the time to pull on the reigns- not when someone's looking for new ways to push or better themselves.
5.) Just stop telling me not to worry about what I'll look like when I'm done
Blah blah blah. We all know that working out and eating healthy is about being the best version of yourself. But if we're being honest, the best version of myself, in my mind, wears a size 8 and can rock the hell out of a pair of skinny jeans. Is it everything? No. But by you belittling at least a PIECE of my "why", it doesn't encourage me to show up, and makes me feel like you just don't get it. Make our time together about what's important to ME, not to you. That doesn't mean throwing in, "Come on! Work for those size 8 jeans!' between every rep (I would probably punch you), but it means understanding that sometimes working out isn't just about how fast or strong we are. And that doesn't make us shallow or NOT a badass- it makes us human. We can be badass, fast, strong AND hot. And who wouldn't want to be?
6.) Just stop acting like little achievements aren't a big deal
I told you my goals, and I'm psyched that you're working to get me there. But, along the way, some magical shit is going to happen. Magic that either I will or won't recognize. So, when I do recognize it, via an instagram photo of my first palm rip, or a video of my first "whatever", stop calling it bragging and start recognizing that even if it's happenstance to you, and everybody else, it's a big deal to me. My clean-induced bruises, or callused palms, although maybe not the ideal, are my badges of honor for pushing myself beyond what I used to be capable of. There's nothing wrong with recognition, as long as it doesn't circumvent or replace action. So let me bask in my little, magical, "I never thought I would get here or do this" moment, and stop assuming it's not a HUGE deal or major motivator in my training. I won't get cocky- I'll just get excited and use it as fuel for my next big push.
7.) Just stop caring that I don't like exercise
I used to hate exercise. Like, last night at 5:20 pm in the midst of my 5th set of burpees. You know why? Because it's hard. Physically, it sucked. Emotionally and mentally, it hurt because I couldn't do, without great effort, what other people seemed to do easily. I love exercise now because when I'm not doing it, I forget how much I hate it when I am. It still sucks (S.U.C.K.S) when I see I'm going to have to run. Or do burpees. Bleck. But I show up because I know after that 20 minute workout, I'm going to love exercising again. I will shoot my coach a dozen sideways looks and swear like a sailor during my workout. Probably to the point of his frustration. But I show up over and over and over again. As long as your client's showing up, they like exercise, whether they know it or not, and part of your job is to tolerate their personality type, which can, occasionally, come with complaining. Not everyone has the capacity to uphold their mental and emotional stamina while pushing themselves physically. Either deal with the fact that it just ain't that easy for everyone, or, of course, just fire your client. You're not in the business of changing personality types. You're in the business of changing bodies.
8) Just stop underestimating your role
I hate to tell you, but you matter. A lot. How many people do we let see us look like drowned rats on a daily basis? How many people do we think about when debating whether to pass on the gratuitous cupcake? How many people do we look to for approval when we do something that may be little, but is significant to us? You matter. That means how you treat us, our concerns, and all of the above, matters. Probably more than you want it to. Because that means you don't get the cop out of saying "Just don't". It means, if you're a great coach, you don't say "Stop saying or doing that" you say, "WHY are you saying that? WHY are you doing that?". No, you shouldn't need to play therapist, but you have to have the capacity to recognize when we're flailing, or succeeding, or making bad or good decisions, and react accordingly. Because we're invested in you (financially, emotionally and physically), and if you don't feel the same, you're wasting our time.
9.) Just stop telling us to stop
Because we've all got our "things" that we're good and bad at, and for some of us, the exercise and eating right thing isn't as easy as it might be for you, or one of your success story clients. Understand that if I'm showing up, and working hard every day, I'm dedicated. Even if it means I complain, stray off course, take a random zumba class, or post pictures of my calluses.
As discussed SEVERAL times in my blogs, I am in love with being a cheerleader for other people. I take their dreams on as my own, cradle them, and nurture them, and ultimately, have zero control over whether or not their owners make them come true. At the root of this is my deep, all-encompassing love of people. The friends, family and adopted-family in my life are not important to me; they're EVERYTHING to me.
For several of my recent blogs, I've waxed poetic on how I need to focus on me and make my dreams come true (truth). But what I've neglected to notice, to feel, and to admit is that other people finding fulfillment, happiness and glorious, glowy, passionate existence, is one of my most important dreams. I've had a real on-the-surface "eff you" attitude lately, about the role other people play in my life and my existence: "Oh, he/she doesn't want to return my calls? Eff 'em! I don't need 'em! I just need to focus on ME!".
Well, here's the cold hard truth: I could temporarily get happy in that "eff 'em" attitude, because it postponed me having to deal with the painful, hurtful, yucky, complicated truth that when people bow out of your life, you realize the monumental differences they made.
This last week, that reality hit me. I don't know what finally brought me face to face with an immovable mirror of truth, but it found me and I couldn't escape. And then something awful and borderline embarrassing happened: I stopped caring about myself.
Because someone in my life, that I cared for VERY much, stepped back and, in my limited perception, "stopped caring", something inside me triggered and told me that I should stop caring, too. My "eff 'em, I don't need 'em" attitude, flipped its poles, and suddenly, I felt as if one person's presence in my life determined any and all of my value (or lack thereof) and if I was disposable to them, I was disposable, period. And no one or nothing could lift me out of it.
Love, of any kind, on any level, is probably the riskiest behavior we engage in on a daily basis. Loving something or someone- a job, a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend- means placing our trust, our secrets, our dreams, our lives, in someone else's hands on a regular basis, with the unending risk that at any given moment that person or situation, that feels so steady and permanent, might simply decide to walk away; for reasons we don't agree with, don't understand, or worse- sometimes for no reason at all. The promises we make to others are ones we silently hope and believe they're making to us, and we exist and care under the often-false pretense that each party is equally vested in the solidity of a situation or relationship.
So, you know what I did when I stopped caring? Nothing. I existed. I still went to crossfit. I still came to work. I still showed up. But my fire was blown out. Crossfit was challenging, but not intense, not rewarding. Work was steady, but not exciting. I sank into feelings of exhaustion and did nothing productive with my down time. I stopped writing music- even LISTENING to music. I phoned it in to life.
And for the first few days, I'm pretty sure I didn't feel everything I was letting slide, but then, I did. And in that moment, something awesome happened:
I was forced to admit I'd been defeated. I was forced to pick myself back up. Alone. By myself. And figure my shit out.
Somewhere in between wallowing in a pint of frozen yogurt and not responding to emails of people that were talking to me, I realized what I was doing. I was choosing (C-H-O-O-S-I-N-G) to be a disaster. Now, I can't help what I felt and STILL feel (hurt, sad, lonely, etc), but I absolutely can and was choosing how I was responding to what I was feeling.
The truth is: I put a lot weight into all of my relationships, and that means when someone goes missing from my life, it's a huge deal. It's NOT an "eff 'em" situation. It's an earth-shaking, soul-splitting, heartbreaking thing. Even though I wish it weren't....and, maybe, that's ok.
When I was growing up, my parents had one simple rule about my brothers and my view on life, the world and spirituality: People are your religion. You do right by them. You risk things for them. You care for them. You sacrifice for them. You be there for them. You forgive them. You inspire them. You listen to them. You apologize to them. You fight for them. You LOVE them.
These teachings and rules were so deeply ingrained in my heart that it is impossible to "forget" about someone I've ever loved or have them "not matter". Even people that have been out of my life for a very long time, are still people I worry about, wonder about, and even- if only almost immeasurably- care for.
The fabric of my heart, and its well being, are built on the impact of others on me, and my impact on others. And that makes it almost consistently unstable. Because of that tricky "they could vanish" fact. Someone who is the bedrock of my makeup could suddenly disappear, and I'd have to somehow, rebuild... Rebuild, or get lost.
This time, I got lost. And every other time, I've stayed lost, waiting for someone or something else to find me and pull me out of my self-imposed vortex of blah. But I won't- I can't- and don't want to- replace this bedrock:
I won't because who knows how long waiting for someone/thing to fix me is gonna take? This girl's got stuff to do and if I leave it outside of my control to LIVE then I could be sittin' pretty in my nothingness for quite some time.
I can't because finding something new to depend on won't get me anywhere I haven't already been.
And I don't want to because, well...that's the hardest part. Realistically, I don't want to because I believe that there are certain things and people in your life that become sacred. Yeah, sure, we all have the day-to-day acquaintances and coworkers and almost-friends that you grab a beer with or go to the movies with, and they can be replaced (to a point) because they're action-driven. But then, there are the people that are linked to you, implanted in so many intricate layers of your life that it seems like you don't have a memory without them in it. They're foundations that the rooms of our lives are built upon. They're the walls that protect us, and the windows that allow us to see the possibilities of the world. They're the familiar glow of a porch light left on. They're the place we know how to get to by heart...they're very simply, and sometimes tragically, home: Soul mates, best friends, mind readers. And those few, rare, perfectly imperfect gems that we are blessed to collect, even if temporarily, are just not something you have the option of replicating. They're precious, and even if you hold them for a moment, once you've felt the weight of them in your hands, you really don't want to- and can't- settle for an imitation, or anything less. And, beyond that, quite honestly, their void is meant to be felt, not filled. It's meant to be honored for what they were and are, and maybe, just maybe, held for if and when they find the will to make their way back to you.
So, with the option of "getting lost" already crossed off my list, it's time to rebuild and give myself a good kick in the rear. Because the truth is putting my life on pause is not a disservice to the people that walk out of it; it's a disservice to the people that stay invested in it...and beyond that, it's a disservice to myself.
We all rely on other people for strength, and we all feel the inclination to crumble when that supplementary strength is pulled away from us. But it doesn't mean we don't have reserves of our own, it just means we have to relearn how to tap into them. So, that's what my next chapter of this journey is about: Embracing the fact that people matter (maybe too much?) to me and have an enormous effect on my life, but re-teaching myself that even when it doesn't feel like it, my "house" is still going to stand...There's a big, solid foundation under me built from the lives and contribution of many who have loved and do love me. There are walls around me to keep me safe, built by a beautiful collection of best friends, soul mates, and mind readers, and though the absence of one has its definitive wake, it will not be a wrecking ball that crushes everything I've built, even when it feels like it will. And there are still windows-- windows that really, have nothing to do with anyone or anything other than my own perspective. Because, regardless of who chooses to love me or leave me, the possibilities are truly limitless; truncated only by my own inaction, indecisiveness or inability to choose.
So choose, I will. Decide, I will. Take action, I will. I may not know EXACTLY how, all the time, but today, I'm pretty sure it starts with doing a little writing (check), thawing out my heart (working on it), and bringing it ON in the gym (T minus 2 hours).
Sorry I left y'all hanging with no blogs for a while. Sometimes it takes a little "lost" to gain a little perspective.
Fridays are my favorite! The hard-workin' week is over and it's time to celebrate. And what better way to celebrate than throwing some weight around? Literally.
-Get at least 7 hours of sleep the night before
-Eat clean with the exception of ONE sweet
-Drink lots of water (over 120 oz)
-Do something for someone else
Mission: Crossfit Hard
Accomplished? Yes! Our Fridays at Nashville Barbell are the most fun. My non-crossfit friends have taken to calling it my "protein party" (because although it always involves lots of weights, it also sometimes involves food.... and, confession, it ain't always protein ;) But it IS always a party). Tonight's workout (because I forgot to snap a picture of the board) was the "bear complex"- a power snatch, push jerk, back squat and push jerk for strength. The actual WOD was that movement at 80% of our maximum (my max was 113...I think I could've done more), plus a handstand hold for as long as possible for 7 minutes. It. Was. Fun. Really enjoyed this workout.
Mission: Get 7 hour of sleep the night before
Accomplished? Thank God I FINALLY got this one on the money! My body's been begging me for sleep; a request that's fallen mainly on deaf ears. But I did finally get some shut-eye last night. Woo-hoo!!
Mission: Eat Clean, and have a sweet treat
Accomplished? Wait- a WHAT? I'm allowing myself a sweet? Yes, yes I am. On Oly nights, I give myself the OPTION of having dessert. Otherwise I might go crazy! It's not about even taking the option, always, it's about having it. Here's what today looked like nutritionally:
I find my weight loss works best when I "spike" my calories once a week. It's like it jumps starts my metabolism and gets it working harder. So was my mission accomplished? Yes! If you took out my sweet treat, I'd actually be way UNDER my calories. I'm fueled and ready for a double-workout tomorrow!!
Mission: Water, water, water
Accomplished? Can't believe I failed this one, but I did. The day got away from me, and I found myself with an empty water bottle several times. Bleh. Well- y'all know what happens when this happens- IMMEDIATE goal for tomorrow!! :)
Mission: Do something for someone else
Accomplished? Yes indeed! For details, head over to my facebook page and see what I'm offering up!
I know this is short and Ben-and-Jerry's sweet tonight, but this gal is TIRED! Love and water bottles and achy muscles to you all :)