In talking to a fellow trainer the other day, it occurred to me that having a client lose 100 pounds is a rather rare phenomenon. He had only one client lose that much in an 18 year career. This is a guy I respect and he is a capable and knowledgable trainer.
We then talked about how “keeping it off” was akin to seeing a unicorn sliding down a rainbow while being ridden by a leprechaun and the Easter Bunny.
The statistics are not good for this demographic.
He then asked me why I was so successful in producing clients who both lose 100 pounds AND keep it off. I didn’t have the time to explain MY reasoning so I just said “The clients do all the work. I must just be lucky in choosing clients.”
Although there is some truth to that statement, I wasn’t satisfied with that explanation. So I decided to write this post as a way to atone for it.
I believe the reason my clients have been successful is, in large part, due to the initial philosophy. My goal as a coach is not to create 100 pound weight loss. It is to create the environment, within which, 100 pound weight loss is possible.
That might seem like semantics to you but believe me it is not. I want my clients to “get it.” By “get it” I mean to have a clear understanding of their body and how exercise and nutrition impact them. I want them to understand “why” they make the decisions they do and how to control that power. I want them to create a new self worth and use that to create the life of their dreams. I want them to continually strive to better each day.
If I worked with a client for a year and they didn’t lose a pound, I would still be satisfied if they “got it” on the 365th day. Why? Because then they would have the ability to create that life any time they wanted.
Of course, it doesn’t happen that way. Clients do lose a ton of weight during the process. I am just trying to make an analogy about the importance of the philosophy.
Secondly, the speed with which this philosophical transformation occurs is different for everyone. There are too many factors involved and each client needs to be treated as a unique equation. Herein lies the most difficult part of the coaches responsibilities. Coaches must be “Masters of Programming.” Cookie cutter programs and close mindedness about there being one solution to the problem are killers. If you aren’t well versed in program design or don’t have the ability to interpret needs and prescribe solutions, you will never be able to help these people.
For example, I cringe every time a see a young, enthusiastic coach putting a new, inexperienced, older client on a bosu ball with a barbell attached to their back. This trainer is suffering from STS (Super Trainer Syndrome). They believe in “functional training” so their clients do “functional training” routines.
Now, I’m not saying that functional training is unimportant. On the contrary I believe that functional training, if prescribed in the appropriate parameters, is incredibly important to the over 50 crowd. It just think it needs to start very slowly and build gradually. That is not what I’m seeing in the gyms.
Start slowly, keep the complexity down and grow by tiny increments.
Another major contributor to the success rate of 100 pound weight loss is the attention to “mindset.” These clients need to redefine themselves. I prevented a client from referring to himself as Big Mike (name is changed to protect the innocent). He had referred to himself as “Big Mike” for decades. All that did was reinforce his negative opinion of himself. So, we banned the “Big” and he became “Mike” for the first time since he was a kid.
I love it when I am talking to a client and he/she says “I love to eat!” I usually say “We all love to eat.” The client then corrects me by saying “Ya, but I’m Italian!!!” I was unaware that all other ethnic groups had it so easy because the Italians have a corner on the “eating enjoyment” market.
I have this conversation almost every week. This is also a “mindset” issue. We all love to eat. You cannot use your nationality as an excuse to over eat. That philosophy needs to change. If you change that mindset you change the internal decision making process and thereby gain control.
These are just some of the reasons why I feel that my clients are successful on their journey. There are more reasons, but I think if you focus on these few, in the beginning, you will have a greater chance of success.
Remember…….we are all unique and need to find the right combination to open our own safe. Peace.