Updated: Feb 26, 2019
It's that time of the year again. Christmas and other holiday celebrations full of over-indulgence, stress and disrupted work/life schedules are about to hit full force. If you're like the average North American, you'll wake up on December 27th, feeling sluggish, out of synch and a prime candidate for the New Year's diet/weight-loss marketing piranhas ready to pounce on your vulnerability.
No wonder we see a spike in gym attendance, memberships, and weight loss system purchases. Many folks fail to maintain their good healthy habits, and it catches up with them. There's something about the New Year that forces us to reflect upon ourselves and boom there you have it. A recipe for feeling sorry about everything.
Today I'm going to discuss some of my personal AND professional pet peeves. The days preceding the New Year is a time when we are bombarded by media advertising to "get a better body in the New Year", or "check out my before and after pictures of my" wrap, detox, cleanse, fast, fad diet, exercise gizmo/product (you name it) thing.
Ugh. Sigh. Cue eye roll here.
Please, do not fall for the trap and allow yourself to get sucked into spending money on detoxes, pills, potions and magical powders.
Stick to your goals and remain focused on your healthy life habits plan.
Consistency should never take a back seat to instant results.
Now, I'm not here to bash before and after photos, or any particular weight-loss program or training system. If you found something that works for you, and it helps you change your life for the better, and you can maintain it as a new habit - I am the first to celebrate alongside you!
All I'm saying is that the New Year is a ripe time where bright marketers and pseudo health specialists like to take advantage of our vulnerabilities. Marketers use unrealistic photos to sell all sorts of products and programs, and usually, the only person that loses is you.
I should know. I've bought into these scams by colleagues in the industry and succumbed to them myself!
In general, I have an incredible mistrust of before and after pics, and diet/weight loss "systems" because more often than not, they don't tell the real story of what is required to bring about dramatic body composition changes indeed.
They also breed the continuation of weight loss myths. In my experience, most do not encourage long-term health and promote the false idea that how you look externally is a positive indicator for your overall health.
Remember that BEFORE and AFTER pics and messages weight loss "release" type messages do not give a real measure of health gains. In fact, before and after pictures base progress on how you LOOK, not on how healthy you've become.
True health is impossible to measure in a photograph.
Also, how "fit" you've become or how much weight you've lost doesn't measure or correlate to your health. Becoming "fit" and doing everything imaginable to get the "ideal body" will not buy you happiness or guarantee that you will be functional, injury or pain-free in that body.
Do not become another person who falls prey to fad diets and quick-fix solutions through supplements, wraps, detoxes, cleanses and such. Instead of focusing on how we look and selling you a system, find someone who will help coach you become the BEST and HEALTHIEST version of yourself ALL THE TIME by helping you change your habits.
Top 10 Traps To Avoid When Starting a New Fitness Training Program
1. It's a trap when the program or person sells or suggests purchasing their supplements and products to ensure your success.
When a program or person starts your change journey off by suggesting you purchase their products and supplements, PLEASE walk away. Quickly. It is a myth that to improve your fitness and overall health that you need to take supplements. There's no research out there to support it, and ultimately may be a waste of your money and hopes. Additionally, unless your trainer is also a medical doctor, they can't "prescribe" anything. The supplement industry is so successful because we're willing to buy-in to the promises, but unfortunately, the scientific proof isn't there to back it up. Additionally, most of the hype and “benefits” of supplementation come from the mouth of the celebrities who have a shareholder stake in the company or stand to profit through the manufacturer. I'd guess most don't use the products at all.
Please note, I'm NOT against taking supplements. I personally, ingest many over the counter supplements on a daily basis (methylated B complex, red Korean ginseng, magnesium, fish oil, and Vitamin D), BUT, I understand the science, know that from trial and error what has helped me in my overall health and performance,. ADDITIONALLY and perhaps most importantly, I implemented them after consulting my medical and allergy doctor (both MD's). I also understand that I may just be creating very expensive urine! So, first, get the facts. Then work with a trained professional who can make suggestions, and then work with your medical team before you jump into a multi-level marketing scheme, or pad the trainer or company's bottom line by purchasing things you just DON'T NEED.
2. It's a trap when the company or person engages in body shaming as a "motivational" technique.
Let's get this straight. In no way is body shaming another human being ever ok. Feeling like your coach or trainer is wagging his/her finger at you is the best way to engage in a traumatic dieting experience. It never works. All you have to do is see the long-term results of the contestants who participated in the reality TV program "The Biggest Loser." There are hundreds of positive ways to motivate a client to exercise and change nutrition habits, and the absolute worst way is to make someone feel like their efforts, and the current condition is disgusting. If a trainer makes you feel guilty, unworthy or inadequate, again, WALK AWAY!
The trauma of this kind of experience doesn't just go away but can take years to heal from and can add to challenges of trying to change. Another problem is when your physical appearance compared to someone else. This DOESN"T WOK. Ever! Find a coach Ithat motivates you and encourages you in a step-by-step, progressive habit change kind of way where you begin to think more positively and constructively about your body, mind and physical ability change journey.
3. It's a trap when the program or person insists that "my way is the one and only 'right' way."
This kind of sales pitch is a sore spot for me. I've been in the health and fitness business for thirty years, and there are so many GOOD programs out there to help people change their lives. However, the idea that there is one and only "right way" for each person isn't real. From CrossFit, OrangeTheory, Olympic and Power Lifting, to Pilates, Yoga, HIT programs, running and walking clubs, each has a pro and con when it comes to working for YOU.
Depending on what you choose to start with, someone at that facility will undoubtedly tell you that their program and preferred method of delivering training is the right, the best and only one for you. Talk about not taking the client into account at all. It is a narrow-minded and short-sighted approach to helping a person change his/her life. In my opinion and experience, I believe that to improve your overall health and body composition, you need to move your body in different ways and at a variety of intensities and time durations to challenge the different physical abilities of the human body, for strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination, balance, agility, etc. Often, this is why CrossFit works so well for some individuals, but let's be honest. That's not always the right program for every individual, nor does each affiliate offer the variety needed (stretching, mobility, corrective exercise, de-loading programming to name a few) to ensure that. Depending on your own goals it may make the most sense to check out a variety of program. You might find yourself leaning more towards one particular application, but have to add in supplemental workouts throughout the week to balance yourself out. A good trainer and program will encourage you to think about the whole you, and support you in adding other forms of movement into your training routine.
4. It's a trap when the workout programming doesn't account for your history and goals in mind.
When it comes to hiring a trainer or purchasing a program, this one is key. Not all programs are right for all people (see point #3). Beyond balancing out your training, not all trainers have experience or training in how to correct movement patterns, or how to regress/progress a movement if you are performing it in a manner which can lead to or has caused injury in the past. How you warm-up and perform movements is super important, and simply asking if you have orthopedic challenges doesn't always mean you're getting a coach or cue to keep yourself in the best position possible. Look for a program or trainer who knows how to create balanced programming, and can adopt a generic workout or create a specific exercise for your unique needs. Additionally, look for a program that coaches you to challenge yourself muscularly, but not "gives up something to get something" at the cost of repetitive stress acute injury.
5. It's a trap when the program or person promotes weight loss only.
The quickest way to lose weight and cause a lot of future problems with your resting metabolic weight is to emphasize losing weight only. Changing your body composition doesn't work this way. Just ask anyone who has lost a lot of pressure without stressing muscular strength at the same time. Even more, if he/she has lost a lot of trouble by cutting out specific food groups, extreme caloric restriction, or gone on some crazy "to-day detox" without changing their habits. Losing weight at the cost of sacrificing your muscular strength is a program to avoid at all costs. The same is true if you are doing an extreme fitness program that only focuses on calories burned and only focuses on your weight loss. These people are HURTING you in the long-run. A program or trainer who only emphasizes extreme calorie burn via cardio, light weight training for a cardio effect, or HIT have a limit on what the body can produce through exercise. The way to get the weight off is to restrict calories and eliminate food groups. Not a good combination (see point #1 about "The Biggest Loser" contestants long-term results).
When you incorporate nutrition habit-change, along with adding in strength based exercise, you can increase your resting metabolic weight. RMR and BMR education is a more extended conversation I discuss in depth with my nutrition coaching clients when we first begin working together. Long story short, by adding in strength programming you're more likely to increase your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) and BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). By increasing your overall lean muscle tissue, you add more calorie burn potential both during exercise and daily life activities. When you strength train while changing your nutrition habits, you increase your rate of losing fat versus sacrificing your lean muscle tissue when changing your habits and maintaining your weight-loss once you've achieved your goal.
6. The program or person focuses on intensity and scores or time versus form and good movement mechanics.
This issue is prevalent everywhere, not just in CrossFit or weight-lifting. I've witnessed it in boutique fitness studios and large private programs that are well known nationally around the country. Only because a person has a personal training or other certificate does not guarantee he/she knows how to assess and correct a person form. It's so easy to focus on what you can do, and at whatever the cost. Your body has a fantastic ability to withstand a ton of dysfunctional or compensation movement abuse before it begins to break down or experiences an acute episode in the gym. Then you have the "no pain, no gain" culture which comes across at success at all costs. I believe in the idea of "no pain, no gain" meaning to challenge yourself muscularly in a way you're unfamiliar with, but not at the cost of feeling like you're about to injure yourself. That is a distinctly different feeling. Proper form and movement mechanics under load, speed or intensity is by far the most important aspect to focus on during any training. The ability to help a client know when his/her form is failing, and how to self-correct or de-load is crucial to your LONG-TERM quality of life.
It's easy to get caught up in it when your a teen or young adult, but let me tell you, the cost of joint replacement surgery and back-fusions to name a few is one you never want to pay. When you repetitively do movements where you can't maintain proper form under load, speed or intensity, the returns on your investment diminish rapidly. The first indication is a loss of form and limited range-of-motion. It's not uncommon to see people pick the activities they prefer the best, and avoid the stuff that's difficult to do. Doing repetitively similar workouts and avoiding your weaknesses can create or intensify your dysfunctional movement patterns and compensations, but can also impact your posture, and joint mobility/stability. Long-term, chronic pain, joint stability become something that keeps you from doing the activities of daily living and exercise movements you enjoy or prevent you from doing. Be sure you hire a program or trainer who knows how to coach for YOU and can regress/progress any movement to help you function and move for the LONG-TERM! If not, you know what to do!
7. The program or person does not take time to educate or empower the client.
I used to work for a company that loved to dangle bits of information at the client, and just enough to keep them coming back for more sessions to fill up their calendars and pad their profits. Let's say that I didn't last very long at that company. I feel that the privilege of coaching and training people involves an ethical responsibility to educate and empower. As I like to say "you don't know what you don't know." I believe it's my job to help fill in the gaps, so you understand how to best care for and move your body. Now, I will say that when I teach in a group setting, my ability to accomplish this is greatly reduced because I have to teach the whole and provide a safe and effective learning experience. When I train someone privately, my ability to increase this is exponential. Either way, my messaging must stay consistent. Teach to the core values, and be available to intercede when required. As I like to say, "my job is to get you out of here as soon as possible." If you end up staying, you're always welcome, but my goal is not to have you become dependent on me. So to that, if you find yourself with a trainer or program that keeps you addicted, it's time to look for someone who pushes you to be your best and instill new habits and behaviors where you start helping someone else in return!
8. The program or person sells the myth of "spot reduction."
YOU CAN"T DO THIS! Unless you are buying some crazy laser or plastic surgery procedure (which costs hundreds to thousands of dollars), let me say it once and for all, YOU CAN"T SPOT REDUCE! Run away from any program or trainer that tries to sell you this garbage. It's false and unethical information. If it sounds like it is too good to be true, trust your instincts. It is! Question their integrity and certifications, then run!
9. The program or person promises unrealistic and very quick results.
If a program or person entices you with the promise of a very quick result, you can be sure you're getting into something that will hurt you in the long-run. Many people start into an exercise routine with the hope that it will be easy to hit their goals as long as they put in some effort for a while. I know that it can be discouraging to some to hear that they are not going to drop 10 pounds in a week without serious health repercussions and that they need to realize that exercise and health are things that need to be a permanent part of their life. Sadly, I have lost some potential clients because I have told them that their goals would take longer to reach than they want. A good trainer who is ethical will make the hard decision to address false hopes and help people set new attainable ones with a SMART goal programming process. Stay away from programs or trainers who make false promises based on myths or pseudoscience and gimmicks. Changing your life habits, but nutrition and movement take time. If you've found yourself in a place you don't like, it didn't happen overnight, but over the years. Cut yourself some slack, and practice patience. It takes time to change your body composition and heal your relationship with exercise, movement, and food. If someone tells you otherwise, they do not have your best interest in mind. Habit change is a process, not an event. It's going to take more than10-days.
10. The program or person only talks about "the core" and lower abs.
Really? This myth falls under dispersing false information, but it is one that I hear ALL THE TIME. Coach Deb, so and so told me I need to strengthen my core. Argh! Any program or person that says they are going to show you an exercise to work on your lower abs doesn't know what they are talking about because training the lower abs means that you are simplifying a very complex and integrated human body system. There is no such thing as the lower abs, and it's merely a myth. The abdominals work as an integrated chain in conjunction with so many other systems, and I could go on until next week talking about it. It's very technical, so for brevity sake, please trust me, and we can discuss in person with some anatomy lessons and charts.
So what's the takeaway? Do your homework! Think about what you're looking for when purchasing a program or hiring a trainer. Remember that consistency beats instantaneous, all day, every day. This blog is intended to help you ask open-ended questions, think about your goals long-term, and enables you to find the right program or combination that meshes with your goals. There's so much more at stake than just losing-weight. It's your life!
Remember that consistency beats instantaneous, all day, every day.
Connecting with programming and a trainer who is compassionate, practices integrity and well educated is worth your time. Partnering with someone who can help you heal from traumatic dieting experiences and emotions, and learning to become a stronger, leaner, happier and healthier you is priceless. There are many good options out there. Find one that helps empower and motivate you to change your reasons, responses and routine so you can improve your health, wellness, and fitness.
If you'd like more information, please reach out. I'd love to have a discussion with you to help you get to the right trainer or program.
And last, please remember that list is based on my opinions and experience, and certainly not all-encompassing Do you have something to add to this topic of conversation? I'd LOVE to hear from you. That also includes things you might disagree on. I want to know what and why. All healthy discussion and differences of opinion are welcome. Please be respectful and kind.
Here's to a marvelous 2019! See you in the New Year!