Monthly Archives: May 2017

5 Reasons to Hire a Personal Trainer

Trinity College Sports Centre, Trinity College, Dublin, 10/7/2013 General view of Personal Trainers Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

In a time where we can find answers to any questions, tutorials for any task and research to back any claim, not to mention endless hours of entertainment, it’s harder and harder for the lay person to find reasons to hire an expensive professional unless they are in the most dire of circumstances. However, most occupations that require a professional do so because there is usually a lot more involved in the process than people realize. During client intake assessments, more often than not, the person I’m talking to has already been exercising in some way, but has not produced the results they were looking for. Most of them have tried extreme, restrictive, or trendy diets, but have been unable to adhere to them or sustain their results. Some have lost weight, but still aren’t feeling very good because of their lack of muscle mass. Many have obtained great initial results, but have plateaued and are not sure how to bring their fitness to the next level. In almost every case, these people have tried to do things on their own. While this can work out and good information is definitely out there and accessible, your journey has the potential to be much more smooth, efficient, and enjoyable if you start with a qualified trainer. So without further ado, some indications this route may be your best option:

  1. You are new to, or otherwise unacquainted with, a variety of the aspects of fitness. Are you familiar with the types of cardiovascular conditioning, modalities of weight training, alternative exercises to keep you in shape around injuries or other restrictions, recovery needs based of CNS taxation, and basic nutrition concepts (based in science, not what you saw in the latest article on Facebook)? This is just the tip of the iceberg. If any of these concepts sound daunting or unfamiliar, that’s ok! However, you may want to consider hiring someone already well-versed in these and other concepts rather than try to navigate them all on your own.
  2. You need accountability. A trainer can be friendly, but is not your friend (when in coaching mode). Friends might let you get away with slacking off, giving half effort, and altogether becoming inconsistent and mediocre. A trainer will have set expectations and is in a position of authority. You will be expected to show up on time and ready to work. You will be expected to work around your challenges and excuses. Your results in workouts and weigh ins will be tracked and your progress will reflect your effort without biases. You will be observed and pushed. On top of all this, you are paying for your coaching, so you’ll have extra incentive to get your money’s worth out of your sessions.
  3. You are accountable and familiar with fitness concepts, but you’re stuck. Your results have plateaued and although you’ve tried to mix things up a bit, you’re not seeing any progress. This would be a good time to hire a coach. They will be able to use their knowledge of bodily systems, adaptation, nutrition and training variation and modalities to help you make progress toward your specific goals. Again, this may be something you are able to find on your own, and if you can and it works out, great! But again, your results may come more quickly and your workouts may be more efficient if you are able to find a coach to help you skip the extensive research and subsequent programming processes.
  4. You’re lacking consistency and motivation. This ties in with accountability in many ways. Motivation comes and goes, so you can’t realistically rely on it to sustain a lifestyle. That’s where consistency comes in. If you are not able to be consistent, you will fail. Your motivation will wane and you’ll find more and more excuses to skip workouts and indulge in comfort foods. A trainer can act as a lighthouse in these circumstances, giving you direction, tips, and accountability to help you establish consistency, eventually leading to a lasting lifestyle change. They can also help rekindle motivation by helping you see your progress, reminding you of your goals, and providing a good example. Disclaimer: the drive to change should be intrinsic or it will not last. While a trainer may help you get started, the idea is not to have one your entire life. You, as clients, are our baby birds. In due time, you must learn to leave the nest and fly alone.
  5. You want constructive feedback. This is for those who are more advanced in the fitness lifestyle. You make progress, you’re consistent, you have a solid foundation of the essentials, and you’ve made health a lifestyle. Congratulations! However, none of us are perfect and we all have room for improvement. It’s also hard to actually watch yourself workout from every angle. Really, whether it’s in the gym or the kitchen, we could all use an outside source to provide helpful cues that’ll aid our performance.

Ultimately, what it all comes down to is save yourself some time and headache (and possibly some money)! Hire a professional. It doesn’t necessarily have to be long term, but vet your options, think about your specific goals and search for someone you are confident will help you get there and teach you along the way.

Musings on the True Center of Health

As you get older and wiser, you start to recognize how things intertwine. There are principles that apply across borders of subject, ethics/morality, time, culture, and practices. One thing that’s been heavy on my mind and frequent in my conversations is the principle of balance and moderation, whether it be in lifestyle, fitness, diet, relationships, work, hobbies, education, or decision making.

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To me, it seems that moderation is at the core of every facet of a healthy life, emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially. Extremes may get you somewhere faster, help you feel superior, or give you an edge. They may even be the jump start you need to begin on a pathway of change, but they are not sustainable. They throw off balance in other areas of your life, areas that deserve attention and respect. Extremes may also be required in certain seasons of life (competitions, crisis, etc.), but realize these seasons are just that: seasons. They are here for a time, then they pass and the extreme behavior will no longer be required to sustain your situation.

Balance also allows room for error, and, as we all know, to err is human. Allow yourself some grace. Be flexible in how you approach your goals. Be willing to step outside the boundaries you’ve set to enjoy or care for things that may provide a richer, more uplifting experience. Differentiate between the moments that will not come again, and those you are blessed to experience regularly and prioritize. Don’t necessarily let your direction waver, but don’t let yourself regret missing out because you were too stringent.

There’s always an “ideal” or “perfect” way to do something for your health, but these standards rarely account for realistic time constraints, budgets, and other life demands. Moderation and balance help you find a centered place in reality. They help you fill your life with many of the best things, several of the better things, and a handful of the good things that might not be ideal, but allow you room to exist without feeling the strain of trying to attain an impossible standard.

Moderation allows flow and give and take. It promotes consistency, another principle that extends across existence. It facilitates adaptations to the changes life will inevitably bring without forcing you to derail everything you’re ultimately working for. Finding it may pose a bit of a struggle. As imperfect humans, we all tend to bounce from one extreme to another as life demands, rather than live in a consistent “flex zone.” However, implementing balance into small areas of your life at a time will help you learn to recognize how it feels, how it changes and how it translates to other areas of your life. It won’t be a perfect process, and it will take a lifetime of attention, but I truly believe that it’s one of those things that’s worth implementing in your life to promote a healthier, happier existence.

10 Not-So-Fit Confessions of a FitPro

Ever scroll through social media and look at all the fitness pros out there and wonder how in the world they have it all down? Even the posts that admit to “imperfections” seem to ooze false humility and end with a quasi-inspirational quote accompanied by a bright, gorgeous ab selfie of themselves in their underwear. Yes. You’re so flawed. So relateable. Not.

Honest bathroom selfie

I admit, I’ve been guilty of this too. Granted, my mirror is always disgusting, my bathroom is not pretty or modern, I never have good gym lighting, and I usually look like I’ve rolled out of bed after having the flu for 3 1/2 weeks, but I know even in some of my “real” posts, I preach motivation, grit, endurance, and consistency. I do have all those things and I practice them often, but not all the time. In fact, I’ve been cutting myself quite a lot of slack lately, which inspired this honest, completely uninspiring, non-dramatic blog post.

Confession 1: Every month or two, I set a goal to do yoga and/or stretch at least twice per week. I have yet to keep this goal at all. So not only am I admitting that I set goals I basically have no intention of reaching, but I also fail miserably to stay on top of my flexibility game. I know this will be extremely detrimental to me if I keep this habit up. I’m trying to get on top of it, but admittedly, it still fails to be a priority.

Confession 2: Pizza is the main food I have not figured out how to eat in moderation. So I go nuts on it a moderate amount of the time (about twice a month, probably).

Confession 3: I hate how pregnancy has made my body look. I feel fat and gross. I feel like such a weakling. My lifts suuuuccckkk (relatively) right now and I can’t stand it! I like being pregnant. I like working out. I do not like them at the same time. And gaining weight has been really hard on me this time around. I haven’t figured out how to emotionally navigate that yet. I’m working on it with some help from my marvelous support system.

Confession 4: I’ve been in this game long enough to make exercise a given in my days. But sometimes, I procrastinate till the end of the day, get tired and lazy, and decide my body needs a rest day, even when it doesn’t. It’s what I tell myself to make me feel better about it, but I know I’m just making excuses.

Confession 5: I spend way too much of my time in my comfy living room chairs playing on my phone and not being active. This definitely happens more during the fall/winter/spring (I seriously hate Utah weather) when it’s too cold for me to want to go outside. During the summer, I’m much more active throughout the day, but I know I need to do better.

Confession 6: I sometimes sneak bites of things and don’t track it. My kid’s PB&J, gummy bears, my husband’s lunch, licking the bowl after baking, a couple pieces of cereal, etc.

Confession 7: I don’t always push myself in the gym. Especially lately. I’m mostly hanging out in my comfort zone right now, but I guess that’s probably appropriate right now. Just know that there are days where I leave my workout thinking I could have/should have done more, and it’s not just me beating myself up. There’s a difference between doing that and simply settling for mediocrity.

Confession 8: I don’t eat a lot of fruit because I like to use my carbs on “dirty” sources like bread, pasta, cereal, potatoes, and dessert. Bite me.

Confession 9: I like disgusting foods that most people consider themselves way too good for. I like fast food, frozen food, packaged food…I know quality when I taste it, but I’m not too pretentious to admit that I can down a whole box of Kraft mac n’ cheese with room to spare.

Confession 10: I rarely buy new gym clothes. Most of my stuff I’ve had for years and I will wear it till it dies or I do. I will also never spend more than $15 on a bra, $25 on leggings/shorts, or $35 on a tank top. To be honest, I have only gone that high on an item of clothing or two ever in my life. Usually my budget is way lower. I’m cheap, it’s an outfit I’ll get disgusting in anyway, so I’m not going to worry about the trends or whether my stuff if Lulu or not.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not justifying any of my flaws or saying this is the best way to be. I have many good habits; I do work hard and make sacrifices for my health and I make sure to try to find balance with my diet, exercise and lifestyle. But I don’t have it all together, I make excuses just like everyone else, I indulge, I fail. It’s part of life. Quasi-inspirational quote here (sorry, can’t help it!): work on one thing, one day, at a time. Acknowledging imperfections doesn’t mean you have to embrace them. Choose what you’re willing to fix, then take the steps you need to fix it.

Confession 11: Honestly, I probably will not work on fixing that pizza habit. Not for a very very long time, anyway.