A Little Tough Love
One of the most common lines I hear from clients is, “I don’t have a lot of spare time.” This comes up frequently, particularly when we talk about planning meals. And I get it. Life is crazy busy.
However, I can’t help but admit… I’m tired of hearing it.
The fact of the matter is, you just can’t have it all, and if health (and usually fat loss) is a priority (and I mean a REAL priority), I promise that the only way you are going to see results and find success is by making the time.
So often we get caught up in our jobs, our families, our social life… things that are all extremely important and, for the most part, deserve the majority of our energy. But, what is it about our own health that we allow it be put on the back burner and give it the residual energy left over after we’ve ticked everything else off of our to-do lists? Maybe it’s just me, but that seems a little backwards.
Hear me out.
What are we without our health? Don’t we do a better job in all of those other categories when we feel like the best version of ourselves? If yes, then why do we allow them to suck up our energy, leaving nothing left to dedicate to creating that person we want to be?
Whether your goals are fat loss, building muscle, or changing particular lifestyle habits, I guarantee there are no quick fixes. It takes hard friggin’ work to accomplish these goals. And that hard work requires focus and determination, because it won’t happen quickly, and there will probably be many points when you want to throw in the towel. Although I try my best to work with any particular personality type, I will never tell a client that it’s going to be a walk in the park. So until you are ready and willing to stay focused and dedicate that time to you and your goals, I can’t help all that much. No one can. Change has to start with you and a burning desire to see it happen. Without this, you will surely fail.
One of the tools I use with almost every client at some point is food tracking (or journaling, as some call it). Some people thrive off of this sort of activity, while others find it foreign and annoying. That’s fair. It’s not for everyone. But, listen: sometimes getting to where we want to be requires certain actions we won’t enjoy. You don’t have to track forever, but you cannot manage what you don’t measure. If you have never tracked your food intake, give it a try for a week. I promise that 90% of people are not eating what they anticipate. You need to gain a solid understanding of your eating habits before you can make any sort of reasonable change to your daily diet that will help you achieve your goals.
Now, I say ‘reasonable’ because so many people are quick to jump on the chicken and broccoli train for 4 weeks and see a fast 10 pound decrease on the scale. But let’s pause for a second and consider this: sure, the chicken and broccoli diet worked to effect change in a positive way. But what happens when the four weeks is up? Then what are you going to eat? Because whatever you land on will affect the scale in one way or another. And it probably won’t be in the way you’d like. Or are you planning on eating chicken and broccoli for the rest of your life? Because that sounds terrible and I would feel sad for you.
There is one word in the world of diet and fitness that I believe deserves a spotlight and that word is sustainability. Unless you’re headed to a photo shoot and could care less what you look/feel like afterwards, as long as you’re a smoke show for that particular hour, you should be placing some major consideration on sustainability. There is absolutely no point in going on a ‘diet’ that you know you cannot sustain long term. Whether it takes 3 weeks or 3 months, at some point you will fall off the train and go back to your old habits, because that ridiculous soup diet that your friend recommended could not possibly be sustained any longer. Be real with yourself: what are some habits that you can actually form for the long term? Those are the habits you should put your energy into.
Now, my first point of making time and putting in the work, in some ways, contradicts my last point of sustainability. But the fact of the matter is that for real results, you need to find a balance between the two. There are periods in our life when we have big goals. The bigger the goal, the more specific and intense your behavior needs to be. However, there are also times when we can afford to be a little more relaxed about things, and that’s when those sustainable healthy habits that you learned about earlier can be used on the daily. These seasons of diet and fitness are just a natural part of life. They come and go on the regular.
Consider your priorities. So you want to lose 10 pounds. But how dedicated are you, really, to that goal? Because I also know how much you love that danish with your coffee every morning (I know, I know—it’s still warm and the apple is so fresh). Listen: there is no judgment here. I loves me a good danish. But unless you’re absolutely killing it in the gym, those kinds of habits probably won’t help you reach that 10 pound fat loss. So which one do you want more? The danish or the fat loss? There is no right or wrong answer here, but the decision is entirely up to you. You need to determine whether your goals align with your lifestyle. If they don’t match up, you won’t be successful—whether you have a coach or not. On the other hand, if you’re cool with your body, and there are no related health issues, then go ahead and keep up the daily danish. No harm, no foul. Seriously—people need to stop demonizing food. It’s infuriating. But that’s another post for another time. **disclaimer: the danish is a metaphor. I am, by no means, saying you can’t lose 10 pounds while still eating baked goods. It can be done.
One of my biggest realizations as a nutrition coach has been that I can only do so much. This has been difficult for me, because I tend to be somewhat controlling (a self realization that I came to a while ago, much to my dismay). I wish I could hold every client’s hand and make each daily decision for them. But I can’t. In addition to that charming controlling quality, I also tend to be very self-motivated (a trait I know is admirable, yet simultaneously annoying. Weird). So when clients can’t do what we know they need to do in order to be successful, I’m left feeling dumbfounded. Why are you paying me? But then, I take a minute to realize why the motivation might be lacking. Life is busy and stressful. Things don’t always go as planned. Fine. But know that in these low moments, when we don’t feel set up for success, these are the times when you have to dig deep and remember what your priorities are. It’s not always going to be easy, and there are weeks when an even greater amount of effort will be required of you (what? I already said I’m super busy). It’s just the way it is. Be accountable. Use your coach if you have one—that’s what they’re there for. Communicate your struggles so they can help support you. Your client-coach relationship is what you make of it. No coach? Find another way to stay accountable. Create a tracking sheet of your own, or use the buddy system. These things are a lot easier when you have a friend on the same journey.
This brings me to my final point. I have a coach of my own, and a lot of people say, “But aren’t you a coach? Why do you need a one?” Most coaches I know will also work with their own coach, particularly if they have a fitness plan (and goal) coinciding with their nutrition. The other day, I was listening to a podcast that summed up the “why” of this in one simple line: because emotion trumps knowledge every time. It is so difficult to be subjective about our own needs and progress. That’s why guidance from an unbiased source can often be the key to success (I also hire coaches with experience that reaches far beyond my own. They become my mentors, and I love learning from these amazing individuals, as they make me better at what I do).
So to sum up this rant of a blog post, here are the main points that I hope you will walk away with today: