Here’s the thing, every single day there are millions of well meaning people who are struggling to achieve their goals.
When there is so much free and easily accessible information on diet, exercise, and life… Why is weight loss, or muscle gain so elusive for some? I think the best way to paint this picture is with an example. I am going to tell you the story of a real client of mine from a few years ago. To protect her identity, we will call her Sarah.
Sarah came to me wanting to lose weight, her husband had bought her some personal training sessions for her birthday. She was an upbeat woman, despite some health issues. She was a mom of 3, and worked a part time in an office for fun. I asked her to tell me her diet, her reply was one I hear all too often. She said “Oh I eat pretty healthy. I just need to exercise more”
This is one of the three most common responses I get, when asking that question. Either people say “I eat pretty healthy” even though they haven’t lost weight in years despite always trying. Otherwise they will wholeheartedly admit that they need help and they eat fast food all the time. The last, and least common response, is that people will have no real concept of what they eat or how much. This is common of the very busy professionals I work with. They get to a point where they eat only a little bit as to keep off hunger. They have no baseline to know if they are eating “good or bad”, because they never really think about it.
But let’s go back to Sarah, here is a sample of her “healthy diet”.
Breakfast- Coffee or yogurt, sometimes a bagel on weekends with her husband as a treat
Snack- Apple or banana from her offices open snack bar
Lunch- Salad with a vinaigrette (or low fat dressing)
Snack- Carrots or pretzels if she is craving salty foods
Dinner- Organic whole wheat pasta with red sauce and turkey meatballs, sometimes vegetable soup, sometimes casserole
In her mind, she was doing everything right. She was eating organic, fruits and veggies, low fat, and smaller portion sizes. She was avoiding sweets and desserts. She opted for fruit at work instead of chips. In her mind, the worst thing she was eating was the occasional handful of pretzels. For Sarah, it was less about what she was doing, and more about what she wasn’t doing. Sarah wasn’t including very much healthy fats or protein in her diet. Because of that, her skin was dull, she had brittle nails, and her hair was lifeless. Her diet was very high in sugar, which probably led to her big energy crashes during the day and her being a pre diabetic.
To put it differently.
Sarah’s problem was not that she was eating too much or that she was eating “bad foods”. Her problem came from her understanding of nutrition science being very limited. She was focusing on the little things that she had heard she was supposed to do. She missed the big picture of getting in a calorie deficit, properly balanced macro nutrients, and getting in a variety of nutritious foods. Trying her best, her body was still going in the wrong direction. She was always tired, she was still gaining weight, and she felt generally unwell.
People who fall into the category of doing their best but not seeing results live in one of four places
- They think they are right and that they just need to keep pushing along till it starts to work
- They think they are right, but they just need to change one little thing for it to click. (Like adding a specific exercise or a certain supplement as the “key” to unlocking all their other efforts)
- They think the diet is right, but that somehow they are a terrible human and just not good enough to get real results
- They really do have some underlying medical conditions that are causing their goals to come along slowly or not at all.
This is an impossible place to live. It’s like when a dog starts digging at the carpet floor trying to make a nest. It is futile! Now I genuinely believe everyone is doing the best they can, and some of us don’t know any better. However, it is your responsibility to examine your own life and make conscious decisions. Is your current method working? No? Then why are you still doing it?
Admitting You Are Wrong
I would argue that one of the main reasons that Americans struggle so much with their weight, is the same reason we are so polarized in just about everything you can have an opinion on. One group of people scream that Keto is the only way, while the other side screams Vegan only! Should you count chemicals, or calories? Remember that scientists once told us to stop eating eggs and fat because those were bad for us. Some people still eat that way, and others have ridden the swinging pendulum to the other side. Now banning all the carbs they see. (Not bashing any diets here, but you need to look at your own reasons for doing things)
I think it takes a degree of skill to look at your life and say “This isn’t working. This is not getting me to my goals.” It is really easy to get caught up in a fad diet, or to even avoid a fad diet, because you think you are right to begin with. Keep reading, in the next section I am going to give you my steps for creating change.
I personally had some health complications come up recently that is making me question everything I know about food. I used to say that only people with Celiac disease should eat a gluten free diet. I used to laugh and say that detoxes were complete BS. Or that drinking expensive filtered water was a scam. Well, as it turns out I was wrong on all of those. Nutrition is something that is very complex with a lot of elements to it. Maybe you should count chemicals, and calories. Maybe the anti inflammatory elements of keto are great for some, but a plant based diet vegan is better for others because it helps them eat more veggies and therefore get more nutrients. Yes, a detox tea every weekend after binge eating won’t help you lose weight, but It might help your gallbladder, or other organs function better. In turn allowing you to get more nutrients from food, so you don’t crave it as much because you are more nourished from each meal.
I have not one, but two nutrition certifications and years of studying nutrition in college. If someone like me can admit that nutrition is vast and complex science and it would take decades of study to know it all, then you can too. It is ok to be honest with yourself if your current efforts are fruitless. Or if your current efforts are unsustainable. One reason I personally never liked IIFYM was because counting calories cause me to skip out on some foods or ingredients that would have been good for me. I didn’t want to take the extra time to calculate each food item for the day to make it fit, so I would just stick to a pretty basic diet of rice, chicken, and veggies. I would miss out on adding foods like ginger, fish oil, local honey, or other herbal remedies because I didn’t want to “waste” a carb on those things. I have since given up trying to make myself like IIFYM, and I remind myself “It’s nutritional science, not nutritional math.” Don’t get me wrong, I agree with Dr. Mike Israetel, author or Renaissance Prioritization, that calories and macros should be the first two considerations of any diet. However, they shouldn’t be so important that we forget about micro nutrients, food quality, etc. At the end of that day, you need to find something that works for you!
Back To Sarah, and You
The problem with Sarah, that I think all human beings have in common, is that she thought she was right. I use her diet as an example because it is easy for most of us to see her flaws. The basic understanding of nutrition these days is to get more protein in, and limit simple carbs. However, 8 years ago that diet was considered to be a normal and healthy diet. Good news, Sarah actually did end up making some major lifestyle changes and was successful in her weight loss journey. We can all learn from her example and think to ourselves, “Maybe I am wrong?”.
One of my favorite Ted Talks is about being wrong. Kathryn Schulz speaks beautifully about this topic, you can watch the video HERE. She encourages us to accept that maybe we don’t know everything and that maybe the people who have a different opinion than us are not lazy, dumb, or evil. That’s why at Body Temple Aesthetics, we like to guide our clients in making informed decisions and help them stick to digestible process goals. It goes something like this
- Awareness that what you are doing is not working
- Reflection to see if you have been putting in the proper effort
- Willingness to admit you are wrong and change
- Educate yourself from as many different resources as you can
- Decide on new outcome goals (optional)
- Create new process goals and,
- FOLLOW THROUGH
The last on is so important, because if you do not follow through with your new plan, you are likely to founder and slip into prior unhealthy behavior or worse, new bad behaviors. Our coaches can help you avoid that happening to you. We will listen to you with empathy and make sure we have the full story before making suggestions or recommendations. Often times, it is really just a matter of trial and error. What works for one person, doesn’t work for another.
I have heard other coaches say that people aren’t successful because they are just lazy. I strongly disagree with that thought. I think that people these days are trying harder than ever. We are burnt out, tired, and desperate. I want anyone reading this to feel encouraged that YOU ARE NOT LAZY. Your efforts might just be misplaced. Even before you can look into being successful with your eating habits. Do you have a lifestyle set up where you have time to cook, shop for healthy food, and to educate yourself? If you have no time, then that is the first place to start. Create time in your life by cutting out the drama and the unnecessary fluff. Then you will at least have the time to go through the bullet point steps above.
A trainer can only help someone who is willing to change. If you are one of those people who wants to change, but need help with the how. Then please contact us today. We would be more than happy to help you. Click HERE to contact us and get started on your transformation.