A client was telling me the other day about how she has been struggling to get her eating on track. I asked her, “If you were me, what advice would you give yourself?” I asked her this partly out of curiosity, and partly because it was the end of a long day, my brain was a bit fried; and I had nothing intelligent to add to the conversation.
What she came up with sounded like a great plan. It included adjustments to her eating and exercise habits, (when she wasn’t training with me), and daily activities (outside of formal exercise). – I asked her to write it down, so we could work through it in more detail when I was to see her again the following day.
We worked through the plan, made one or two minor tweaks and established some parameters and behaviour changes that she felt highly confident she would be able to implement. In my experience, every successful health and fitness journey starts with YOUR action plan, (not your coach’s or anyone else’s ideal). For this reason, I have no doubt my client will be successful.
The moral of the story?
  • No one knows you better than you. Your coach/trainer can put together the most calculated, scientifically advanced programme known to man, and define every step you need to take, if it is not something that includes your input, something that YOU can comply with, it’s worth nothing. In this industry, it is so easy to be swept up into rigid, dogmatic approaches towards health and fitness “If you don’t do x type of exercise, six days a week you’re wasting your time…” or …”…you should never do that…” or…”you’re not allowed to eat x y and z…” These rigid generic approaches are intimidating and most of the time too overwhelming for people starting out on their journey, to comply with. When you can’t meet the unrealistic demands, you stop believing in yourself, you feel like a failure and lose confidence in your abilities:- “I’m just not cut out for this” you say. Sound familiar?
  •  There are an infinite number of possibilities, baby steps and paths to take on your journey to health and fitness – no two success stories are the same. One key ingredient however in every successful transformation, is BELIEF. You start believing when you start achieving, and the more you start to achieve the more your confidence and belief grows. Start by celebrating the small daily victories and watch your belief grow!
  • So, you need a plan that is your own. One that takes into account your personality, your preferences, your history, level, life pressures, sustainability etc. Most importantly, you need to be able to look at your plan and feel absolutely confident that I CAN DO THIS! It needs to grow your BELIEF in yourself, not overwhelm or intimidate you. When you play an active role in creating your own plan, you take ownership of your journey and become accountable for your own success. You help to establish the parameters, goals and rate of progression. You choose activities that you know you can stick to, build on and enjoy. You make food choices that allow you a level of enjoyment whilst improving your health. Your health and fitness is no longer someone else’s ideal, magic formula, priority or responsibility, it’s your own.

What if my own plan is wrong?

Let’s face it, when it comes to health and fitness, there are certain principles that apply that you can’t ignore. If for example your plan includes binge eating on weekends followed by a starvation diet and military style exercise during the week in a misguided attempt to repair the damage, it is a flawed plan that won’t work. You have to accept that you need to make healthy choices, even if you start with baby steps, a progressive change is part of the deal.
Your plan should ALWAYS promote optimal health and performance in everyday life. It should include daily practice of small habits whilst working towards realistic goals. If you are unsure of what is healthy and what isn’t, speak to a coach or a friend whose knowledge and support you can rely on. A good coach/ trainer will help you fine tune your plan, give it wings. They may suggest options you may not have considered, establish the correct rate of progression, whilst all the time ensuring that it is set at a level at which you feel in control but adequately challenged and confident in your ability to achieve. If your coach or trainer is too rigid or dogmatic in his/her approach, move on.

There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a client grow from strength to strength. Some achieve incredible physical feats – doing things I could only dream of. When you look back at the humble beginnings on which their fitness journey was built – the first walk around the block, the excitement over pushing out their first push up, or their first dance class, when people start believing, it’s pure magic!. Remember, this is your journey, learn from the knowledge and experience of others, but don’t let others define the path you choose or the do’s and don’ts. Take the time to plan your own transformation, ask for help if you need it, that’s what we’re here for, and write it down-document everything, your challenges, your progress your vision of the future you. Your success story is unique and is just about to be written!

(Ashley Galliard  October 2015)