I had a client reach out to me the other day about why she wasn’t happy with her results.
One of the hats I wear is that I am group fitness instructor. But that’s what I put on my LinkedIn page. I am much more than that. I become invested in my client’s lives. Because I’ve been in their shoes and want to help them achieve their best versions of themselves. I try my darndest to learn everyone’s name and at least one thing that is interesting about their lives. I try to learn their starting points, their journey, pain points, likes and dislikes and what injuries or limitations they have.
The client who approached me is frustrated with where she is on her journey.
We’ll call her ‘Jane’ to protect her identity.
She’s a tall woman, about 6’3”, wants to lose some weight and feel better about herself. I just learned diabetes runs in her family, so her doctor advised she get on a fitness plan while cleaning up her diet.
Jane is fierce. She comes in to Orangetheory Fitness (where I coach) twice per week and works hard for 60 minutes. She never complains. She always has a smile on her face and is always willing to try something new and get out of her comfort zone. Her first class was with me about six months ago.
I could tell during that first class that she lacked confidence from not being in a positive, inviting atmosphere in the past. She looked around at others beside her while trying to perform some perceivably ‘simple’ exercises. But that’s my favourite part of what I do. I get to jump in and provide support and guidance through those times. I will never tell someone they are doing something wrong. My job is to congratulate while correcting. And I worked on that quite a bit with Jane. Every time she attended one of my classes, I’d give her special care and reinforcement.
I always go back in my mind to that time when I couldn’t even lift 20 pounds on a bench press. I take that feeling into every single day that I coach. My goal is to make sure someone feels like they succeeded at something, rather than feeling like they were judged. Jane — and every single other person I see — is no exception. I see cases like hers as an opportunity to teach. When someone has that ‘aha’ moment in their mind, and I see that something clicks, I know I’ve done something right in their lives.
Fast forward to the other day when Jane approached me after one of our classes together saying that she is not seeing the results she was hoping for. She turned to me for advice on how to lose her weight from her stomach. I have to stop here and say that her journey from her first class with me to today is nothing short of unbelievable. She looks dynamite and has a pep in her stride now. But I can tell she wants more. So let’s see what her diet is like — wow, it’s actually amazing. She is seeing a nutritionist who is helping with meals plans. Her caloric deficit is lower than I’d like to see, and I wish she ate a few more clean carb sources — but she’s not paying me for diet advice.
How’s her sleep? Good — she tells me that she’s getting 8 hours every night.
How’s her stress level? Great — Has moderate stress during work, but knows how to unplug on the evenings and weekends.
Water level? Recovery days? Amount of sunlight? Check, good, fine.
The whole time, I’m thinking in my mind: she has had some amazing results over the past six months. What more does she need? She’s on the right path. I remember about three months ago, I pulled her aside and said she looks amazing and told her to keep up the good work. But I can tell she’s yearning for something more.
Then it clicked in my mind — she is seeing herself every single day.
It’s hard to see that progress when you don’t see that image in the mirror changing day by day. It’s a process that takes time, not 24-36 hours. Stepping on the scale every morning and see it move plus/minus a few pounds DOESN’T HIGHLIGHT TRUE RESULTS. It’s the long-term game. Month over month, year over year that really matters. Not the day-to-day (however what you do every day is what adds up to the long-term plan).
I also asked Jane what she was doing outside her two classes per week outside Orangetheory. She also attended a spin class twice a week, and did weights once per week. She had the mindset that all that cardio would help her lose weight.
I had to remind her that a mix between cardio and weights is ideal — but about 85% of her fitness was HIIT cardio. High intensity interval training is great in moderation. Going 100% all the time will lead to burn out, fatigue, overeating, over-training, injuries and many more issues. And that’s especially for someone who is a novice in the fitness space.
So I told Jane it’s time to start lifting more weights, to even out her cardio and weight-lifting to about 50/50. Limit those spin classes (they’re free with her gym membership) and start picking up some heavy dumbbells if she can. Hopefully lifting three days a week, and coming twice to Orangetheory will boost her metabolism and lead her past her perceived plateau period.
Don’t believe me? Here are a few studies that back up my point:
Most importantly — what I learned from Jane that day was that despite wanting to see solid results, she wasn’t tracking her progress. That is so important if you want to experiencing your changes. She said she was journalling her meals, but not taking pictures. She said her clothes were fitting much better and she has much more energy, but wanted that feeling to reflect in the mirror. One of the best ways to appreciate how you feel is to take pictures and track that progress. I told her that maybe snap a quick picture once a month, or even look at old pictures of herself from about a year ago. That might keep her motivation high. But then again — having your clothes fit a little looser while having more energy in the day is an amazing result in itself.
I reminded her that loving herself is going to be first and foremost. Celebrate her successes, do whatever fitness she wants to do — my suggestions may not work for her, but taking it a new direction might give her what she’s hoping for. Don’t let these ‘instant fad diets’, ‘lose weight quick’ and magazine cover culture get to you. It will leave you discouraged and always in a feeling of ‘wanting more’.
Try to trust the process and whatever will be, will be.
Good luck Jane!