Before becoming a Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach, I thought training people and helping them get results was all about building great programs and teaching people how to use them. Wanna know a secret? Those things account for about 25% of what it is I do as a successful coach.
Most clients come to me thinking "Hey! All I need is a program and for you to tell me what to eat. Then I'm good to go, I can handle it on my own." For a long time I would roll with this sentiment. I would build out these amazing, customized programs. I would create skeleton plans of what foods to eat and when. And virtually every time I let those clients hack away at it on their own, I would end up feeling guilty and sad because they would end up frustrated, confused and entirely feeling like they had failed. Well guess what? Fitness? Nutrition? It's hard. And more importantly... WE'RE HUMAN.
The number one thing that I find myself doing as a coach is just that. Coaching. It is so much less about designing the perfect workouts, or the right meal plan. It is about educating people about the "how" and "why" a program will work for you. It is about teaching you how important it is to eat sustainably, what foods fuel you and what foods are calorically dense or entirely devoid of nutrients. It's about teaching folks how to live and enjoy food rather than view it as the enemy. And above and beyond all of that, it is about showing you that you CAN do it and that it takes time. As a coach I spend 80% of my time reminding people that they need to journal their food intake, record their workouts, plan ahead and prep their meals. Reaching your goals is an investment and you have to continue to pay the bank. It's about making small, manageable changes that you can take on one at a time, so you don't burn out and throw in the towel. That's when motivation slips away - those moments when it all feels too overwhelming to keep going. The reason I spend so much time on this stuff with clients is because the key to fitness and lasting change is MINDSET. Lack of motivation is the number one thing that people struggle with. It's not the food, it's not the exercises themselves, it is just finding the strength, the courage and the flat out interest in staying on the path to wellness. And that can be hard. So I'm gonna hit you with my top 5 strategies for overcoming your motivation woes.
1. Don't aim to be an overachiever.
You are already making a huge change by taking on a new fitness commitment. The last thing you want to do is come racing out of the gate, only to find that you have taken on too much and you're burnt out by week two. Create some behavior based goals that will get you to an ultimate end goal, such as "I am going to eat an additional 50g of protein every day so I feel fuller, eat less empty calories, and have more fuel for building muscle. This will help me achieve my goal to lose 10 lbs while I continue to gain strength and muscle." Once you have conquered your behavioral goal for a week, it's time to add in a new goal and continue this way until you reach your long term goal. Further to this, remember to take your rest days and follow a sustainable nutrition plan. Going balls out in the gym and eating nothing but broccoli and tilapia for seven days straight is going to lead to burnout and injuries in no time.
2. Make a list of priorities.
I am, by nature, a maker of lists. If there is one thing that always grounds me and brings me back to what matters, it's making a list of priorities. I start by asking myself, what are the top 5 things that are important to me in life. It usually goes something like this:
- home / financial security
- freedom to enjoy life, travel, vacations
Once you have your list, ask yourself "What exactly do I need in order to achieve and enjoy each of these important things in my life". If you haven't put it in your top 5 list yet, I'm gonna bet that HEALTH falls into your top 5 pretty quick. In order to be around to enjoy your family, you need your health. To succeed in and be present in your career, you need health. Spending time and enjoying social events with friends would require financial security, therefore a career and hence, health. Owning a home and having financial security? Steady job that you can go to every day, which means... health. Freedom to enjoy life, go on vacation and travel would require more job success and financial security. And yep, you guessed it... HEALTH. It may sound corny and flat out annoying to keep bringing you back here, but really, you need to understand health and fitness as a priority above and beyond the rest. Because you literally cannot enjoy any of the things on your list if you are laid up in a bed nursing debilitating pain, or spending what money you have left on medication to treat illness or heart disease. Once you remind yourself of the importance of your health, it will become a spark that lights up your motivation, because it is your WHY. Knowing your "why" is key to overcoming your slumps and will help get you back on track in the kitchen and in the gym.
3. Find someone to keep you accountable.
This could be a gym buddy, someone to tackle a new race goal with, or it could be a coach who makes it their business to keep you accountable. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who have similar goals increases your chances of success three fold... legit. Find a group fitness class where you feel connected to the community. Having a support network is one of the key indicators of success with all my clients, so seek out those people who you can talk obsessively about macros with, or who love to talk endlessly about their race training schedule and the best places to find a bathroom on a 15k training run.
4. Find a great coach.
For obvious reasons, this would be my first choice. The advantage of having your own coach goes beyond just accountability and guidance. When you hire a coach, you are putting someone in place who will call you out on your bullsh*t and tell you what you NEED to hear rather than what you want to hear. A coach can also be an unbiased party in your support network, who will challenge you when you need to be pushed harder, and who knows when to back off. They will follow through on helping you get real results, without bouncing around to a million different programs and strategies. And finally, they will be your biggest cheerleader and your most trusted support person, because frankly, a great coach should be as invested in seeing you realize your goals as you are.
Last but not least, remember that you are human. Rome wasn't built in a day and there were certainly hiccups and setbacks along the way. Your biggest mindset shift needs to come in the form of what I call your "bounce back potential". When you slip up, eat too much chocolate, miss a couple workouts or binge drink on the weekend, let it go. Put the slip up behind you and chalk it up to not being perfect, but don't use it as an excuse to fall even farther off course. Everyone makes mistakes, but real success is dictated by how we bounce back and reframe missed opportunities. Learn from your mistakes and celebrate them as challenges you were able to overcome, one day at a time.
Start fresh and forget what's in the past. You've got this!
- Coach A.