I’m a member of quite a few professional groups on social media and there are usually a wide variety of topics discussed. One that I see pop up frequently is the topic of calories and weight gain. It usually goes something like this….
“I have a client who weighs _____lbs and has lost ____lbs. We track their food and he/she is around ____kcals/day with very strict macros. They also workout 3-5 days per week, usually a mix of strength training and cardio. But…….they’re not losing weight and getting very frustrated, what should I do?!”
Well, first, it’s tough to give an opinion based on such little detail. (Even though it’s funny when other ‘fitness professionals’ give absolute recommendations thinking they have it all figured out.. but that’s a different topic entirely.) So I ask myself “how can I still guide without coming off as a know it all?” It usually involves some general recommendations or things that have worked through experience or maybe I have seen it recited elsewhere at some point in time. And even though that doesn’t create a specific, absolute, this is what you have to do answer...it at least allows the original poster to start exploring, researching, and trying. Because let’s face it, when it comes to this health and fitness stuff, there will NEVER be the exact same road/path to the end destination. (And that also holds true for your own, individual experience.)
That was a tough thing for me to admit early on in my career. I thought ‘hey, I’m smart, I got the hang of this stuff, I know all the answers!’ And that’s partly true. I was getting great results with my clients and I felt very confident in my abilities. Until they stopped working or were only for the short term. What happens when you’re training a client for 5, 10, 20 years? Well I quickly learned that my short term solutions were exactly that and when my clients started to regress or quit all together, I knew something needed to change with my approach.
The best advice I’ve gotten on this was during my time at the RTS courses in Oklahoma City. ‘You will never have all the answers, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying (within reason), and that’s what makes this enjoyable...Always figuring out solutions to puzzles’ That really hit home for me.
Back to the start of my career...I was ignorant to think that I would know everything about everyone at every point in time and get great results forever. I was really good in the beginning because that’s all I knew. I had never trained a client past a few months starting out, so I was lost.
But fast forward to today and I now know that it was ok to not know everything. That’s part of learning and getting good at using the resources available to you. Trial and error is the name of the game (again, within reason). But the cool thing is I’ve had way more success using guiding principles rather than absolutist statements with any of the clients that I’ve trained. Because there’s an end with those absolutes, a destination, a finale. But I have quite a few clients who want to train to live longer, so the only finale with that is death! (Sorry to be so morbid) So what do we do? Well of course we have shorter term goals scattered throughout their training regimen and lifespan, but a lot of it is trying stuff out to see if they like it or maybe working on a very specific piece of the puzzle to see if it helps improve the whole or any number of things, since we do have quite a while together. Because let’s face it, a client that’s happy, enjoys exercise, and continues to do it day in and day out will more than likely live longer and that’s why I got into this business in the first place. Not to get a few metrics down for a few months, but to make lasting, long term relationships to help individuals improve their health and fitness for a lifetime.
Anyway, enough rambling about me, what can you get out of this post, right?
Well I encourage you to also use a set of guiding principles with your health and fitness. Here are a few that I try to live by daily that you can hopefully adopt and start to implement:
Don’t be afraid to try something and be ok with failing
This is probably the hardest for me, which is why I put it number one. I analyze everything, which leads to inaction. I’m trying to improve every day to make small, attainable actions that help propel me forward.
Consistency is key
Doing those actions I create in principle #1 EVERY day.
Always try to improve and learn from what you tried (and most likely failed)
Failure is feedback, which I learned through a Precision Nutrition course very well. Failure will more than likely be a common occurrence, but it should allow you to grow and learn rather than give up or feel defeated (not that those feelings won’t exist, but it’s how you deal with them that matters.)
Be grateful for what you have and what you’ve accomplished, don’t dwell on what you don’t have and haven’t accomplished
Going back up to the start of this post, all the trainers that inquire about their clients usually miss the successes, which are such a BIG deal. Yes, I’m all for improving and getting better and finding solutions, but don’t miss out on the steps that got you there.
So I guess after all that, don’t be afraid to get started with an exercise program or nutrition habits because it’s never too late to start and the process is half the enjoyment. If you need guidance and feel lost, don’t hesitate to reach out and we can chat about your ‘triage plan’ or what you need to focus on first to make the most impact. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can fill out the ‘Get Started’ tab in the right hand corner. Get out there and take some action!