So this is a dangerous statement for me to come out with… Especially considering that I am one of the above-mentioned Personal Trainers; and that the majority of my clients are weightloss clients.
Since I started working in this profession, I have had many clients come to me and say something along the lines of:
- “Help! I need to lose weight. I’m going on holidays in a few months and I want to lose 2 stone”
- “I’m getting married in August! I need to be a size 10”
- “The weight has just crept on over the last few years – I want to lose this extra 3 stone by Christmas”
And do you know how many of these clients are successful?
Well I suppose it depends on how you define success.
I estimate that around 50% reach their target in or around the timeframe they wanted.
But in more than 50% (it’s probably closer to 75%) of these successful cases, these clients encountered weight issues again within 12-18 months.
Of the 50% or so who don’t succeed in the first place, I might meet some a few months later after they have gone on a crash diet, or followed a crazy plan or regime and they’ll say “Look at me now! I’m fitting into my size 14 jeans again. Delighted, and I didn’t need to pay a Personal Trainer”.
But guess what?
12 months later, they are back at the gym – slightly heavier than when they started, looking frustrated and broken, and trying to use exercise to shift the excess weight.
And in many cases, injuring themselves in the process.
So far, so gloomy – right?
Well this post isn’t meant to be a negative post, leaving you thinking “So why should I bother with anything then? You’re saying none of it works, and I’ll just end up back at square one (or worse!) regardless.”
This is where the missing 25% of the successful 50% above comes in (I know, maths is confusing, that’s why I’m not an accountant).
8 people come to me looking for weightloss.
4 achieve their goals, 4 don’t.
Of the 4 that do, 1 will have continued success.
So what makes that 1 person in 8 different?
What singles out that 12.5% of the population from the rest of us?
And here is where I’m going to spill the beans on how you can achieve and maintain that magic weightloss WITHOUT having to pay for a PT (though I can promise you, if you follow these steps, a great Personal Trainer is invaluable when it comes to getting you to – and staying at – where you need to go).
1. You’ve got to be prepared to make substantial changes
This I think is the Number 1 differentiating factor that will separate those who succeed long-term, and those who don’t. One of the hardest things to do is change a habit, and stick to that change over an extended period of time. This can apply to any aspect of your life, and weightloss is no different. You need to be sure that the changes you make now are still viable in 6, 12 or 24 months time. If you think “I’ll give up the drink for 8 weeks and I’ll easily lose a stone”, you are probably right. But this is often not sustainable, and after the 8 weeks are up you have a few mad binges and you’re up half a stone again.
A better option in this example is something like “Ok, instead of going to the pub every weekend, I’ll have a few drinks once each month – I’ll enjoy myself, maybe have some takeaway or a dinner out. That way I won’t feel deprived”. That’s a much more sustainable and realistic plan, and is a real stepping-stone on the path to success.
2. You need to know your “Why”
“Sure I know why I want to lose weight – I want to fit into that size XX jeans”; or “Once I see single digits on the scales, I’ll be happy”. These whys don’t really tap into the actual reason most of us want to lose weight, and keep it off.
If we think about it and are really honest with ourselves, it’s more complex and deep-seated than that. It is integrally linked to our self-esteem, our self-image, our real sense of self.
So while that surface-level concept of “I want to lose weight to reach XX stone or dress size” may seem like our “why”, there is often a much deeper motivation – such as “I want to lose weight because I want to feel like myself in front of my partner again”, or “I want to lose weight because I want to feel in control of myself and my decisions again. I don’t want to be that person who binges at night and can’t stop myself”.
Consider what is your inner “why” – and remember that it might be a difficult and emotional one. And one that might not necessarily be related to your weight per-se, but to your self esteem and how you view yourself.
3. You should have a goal that is not related to weightloss
Following on from point 2, this is often an important aspect that is missed when someone starts training for weightloss. The scales can be beloved friend and a hated enemy – and one that you sometimes can’t control. As such, having a training-related goal that follows the SMART principles (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Boxed) to support your weightloss regularly leads to much more success.
For example, if you want to lose weight in order to improve your physical fitness, you could plan to complete a 5k within ten weeks.
Or if your goal is more aesthetic, a good approach is to reduce body fat rather than focusing on the scales. This is a great option as reducing your bodyfat improves your overall health, and diet and exercise combined really complement each other to achieve bodyfat reduction.
4. Be aware of your nutritional needs
Again, there are a million-and-one ways to lose weight that will work. However, the real yardstick for actual success is sustainability. If you follow extreme calorie deficit diets, or meal plans that involve consuming food-like products (such as shakes, bars or excessive supplements), then this would set off alarm bells for me. Can you see yourself still drinking shakes or purchasing and taking multiple supplements in 12 months time? And are you meeting your nutritional needs?
Remember, it is often best to get our nutrients and fuel from food and not from food-like products.
A good way to figure out your nutritional needs is to get blood tests done and see if you are suffering from any deficiencies.
This can often be remedied with adding some different food to your diet or getting a healthy supplement (specific to your needs). This way you can be sure that you’re not endangering your health & well-being by not eating enough of the good stuff.
5. You can’t out outrun a bad diet
And I can’t stress enough that eating the good stuff is the number 1 action to take to lose weight!
Not eating is almost as detrimental to weightloss as overeating, so bear that in mind. But whatever eating habits you have, your food intake is usually the first thing you need to address if you want to lose weight. And this is not always as straightforward as “eat more veg and up your protein”.
We regularly have emotional connections and associations to our food that can go back to childhood. This means your habits and outlook around food have probably been with you for decades. So it can take work to address this.
As a PT, I have seen this hundreds of times and most PTs have developed an approach that can help with this – we know of different resources that work such as books, or online resources. We also have practical advice, contacts (such as nutritional therapists, psychologists etc.) and tools that we can provide to help you tackle this.
6. Your internal monologue should speak to you like a close friend
I am constantly surprised by how many women (I work mainly with women) speak to themselves in such berating and undermining tones. For example, I make a plan for the week with my client that she will batch cook some meals at the weekend, and bring her lunch to work each day to help her make good food choices during the week. We also decide that she should fit in 3 x 30 min walks that week. When we see each other a week after the plan, the first thing she says is “Oh Carrie, I’m such an idiot. I know, I know – you gave me the plan and I started off great but then on Wednesday I had a scone. I’m disgusted with myself, and then I ended up eating out for lunch then for the next 2 days. Why can’t I just do what I’m supposed to? And I’m such a lazy slob I only went for one walk all week. I’m never going to be able to do this”.
Now, read this again and replace the “I”s with “You”s, as if you were speaking to someone you knew. Would you ever tell a dear friend how disgusted you are with them? Or call them a lazy slob? Or tell them they could never do it?
We need to acknowledge this inner voice – don’t ignore her, but try vocalizing what she says. Say it out loud to yourself a few times and see how harsh it sounds. This kind of talk is really not conducive to achieving much at all.
So what you need to do is fire this narrator, and get a new one 😉
Instead of calling yourself an idiot, say something like “Ok, I had that scone with the girls at breakfast. And you know what – it was lovely, and we had a great catch-up. It’s done now, and I have my lunch packed for later. I’ll feel so much better once I have that, and I’ll still go for my walk after work. It’s a lovely day out there”.
If you can do this (and do it consistently), you will find that not only are you more likely to achieve your goal but you will start to feel calmer, and more at ease with yourself as you’re not locked in this eternal inner struggle.
So, should I hire a Personal Trainer?
If you are considering hiring a Personal Trainer to help you succeed in achieving weightloss, answer the following questions.
If you answer “No” to any of them, don’t panic.
This is where the awareness of what you can work on is a bonus, and you can then make sure you incorporate this into the goals that you and your trainer will work on together.
In fact, print off this list and bring it with you when you meet your trainer so that you both know what areas you can focus on together.
This way, you are so much more likely to succeed – and get the best bang for your buck.
Am I prepared to make substantial and longterm changes in order to achieve my goals?
Am I willing to put the work in outside of my 1-2-1 sessions to achieve my agreed goals?
Do I agree that small, implementable changes to my daily habits are much more likely to lead to longterm success than more dramatic, short-term changes?
Do I agree to be kinder to myself? Will I speak to myself as if I was speaking to a dear friend or family member, rather than a berating and overpowering bully?
Do I agree that exercise complements good diet, and exercise alone is not the key to long-term success?
Will I commit to my sessions with my personal trainer? And on those days when I feel like going to meet him/her is the last thing I want to do, do I acknowledge that those are often the days I will get the most benefit from my sessions and I will not cancel?
If you’d like to learn more about what I do, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check Facebook and Instagram.
I’d love to hear from you.