Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Blame Game

One of my favorite clients brought up an interesting topic during our Saturday morning workout. Right after she finished a round of her circuit, she started with "let's talk about goals. My posture has improved, it's easier picking up my dog (her dog is old and can't walk up the stairs), my cycling has gotten better and my knees feel better...but I want to lose weight."

A quick background on her; she is one of my weight-loss clients. She is in her late 30's or early 40's (honestly, I'm not sure) and is married with an 8 year old son. She and her husband are vegetarians (although she eats eggs and fish, thank God), and she is working on actually eating like a vegetarian and not a processed-food-atarian. She has previously had success with training and actually lost about 80 pounds a few years ago. Since then, she has put about 20-30 of them back on but has re-committed to losing the pounds. She comes to me with a few pre-existing injuries (a weird shoulder thing, a hip issue and a knee issue). Our last few months of training have been 3 days per week, with 2 days being strength oriented and one day being a metabolically challenging day.

The goal of our strength training days has been to correct some of her existed injuries and imbalances that her last trainer(s) have left her with. She loved her last trainer, and while she did a great job getting this client interested in fitness and getting into shape, as well as losing weight, she left a lot to be desired in terms of programming and actually getting someones entire body healthy. We have been utilizing compound exercises as a way to even out her body and get her baseline level of strength increased, as well as trying to gain some lean body mass.

As previously mentioned, we have also been trying to re-vamp her diet. She fell into the classic "vegetarian" diet of not eating a diet that is void of meat, but high in carbs and processed anything. Just like anyone else, she has her good days and her bad days.

She's achieved a lot of things in our last few weeks of training, but apparently she has yet to see any results regarding her most important goal: weight loss.

One of our weight loss strategies has been for her to send me daily food logs. This is not something that she is exactly religious about, but does it mostly when it's convenient. On her good days, she'll send me a log; on her bad days, I get nada. She has also supposed to have been attending some group fitness classes at her other gym (her membership is at another gym in the neighborhood, but since I'm way better than their trainers, she came back to me), but hasn't been doing a whole lot of those either.

We've overcome some important obstacles. First off, she started to take my dietary advice. She saw a nutritionist who advised her to eat 1300 calories per day and when she told me I nearly spit out my coffee and I wasn't even drinking any. I implored her to bump it up to 1800, and we settled back on 1600. She has also been trying to bump up her protein intake and has been trying to eat more eggs and fish as well as even drinking protein shakes!

So, back to our original problem: the apparent thought that the lack of weight loss was somehow related  to the workouts that I had been programming for her. It appeared, almost, as if she was placing the blame on me!

Thankfully, I am always prepared for just such an occasion. I'm confident in my ability and I'm well aware of what is going on in my clients lives that may be helping or hindering their progress. In this case, I know that she tends to be a stress-eater and a mindless-grazer. She has a bad day at work, and looks to food for comfort. She gets bored, or see's food sitting there, and eat's it without really thinking about it.

In this situation, I was able to lay it all out on the table in a pretty frank manner. I simply suggested that she do more physical activity on her own, and stop dicking around with her diet. I told her that if she was really serious about the weight loss, she needed to take care of business on her own end. She's really only under my care for three hours per week, which leaves her a lot of time to manage herself. I also told her that the programming I've had for he has been aimed at fixing her imbalances and increasing her baseline level of strength, so that we would be able to do more of the exercises that will be beneficial to her. You're only going to get so far with your goals if you can only do bodyweight squats.

I'm very lucky that this client is able to understand what the problem really is. No matter how hard our workouts are, it'll be tough for us to balance out the consumption of an entire jar of peanut butter. Many clients, however, would be completely serious when they posed this scenario to their client. How do you get your point across to someone who isn't willing to accept responsibility for their own actions? It's much easier for someone to say "you're a shitty trainer" than it is for them to say "you know, I could probably try a little harder with my diet, and I guess I could do some conditioning work on my own too. This is all my fault."

Maybe I'm lucky and I ended up with clients who were really good at taking responsibility for their own actions. Maybe I'm a beast and I've instilled the proper amount of self-efficacy into my clients that they know when something is my fault and when it's their fault. Either way, she went to Trader Joe's after our session and sent me pictorial evidence of her newfound dedication to our goals.

Eggs, salmon, avocados, berries, nuts; not a bad shopping trip. Now that I've called her out in a blog, maybe her dedication will be even more intense. What do you say, E.L.?

Have a great day, folks. Go lift something heavy. If you don't, it's no ones fault but your own.


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