Exercise should not be used to create weight loss.  However, exercise should be part of a comprehensive approach that you employ to revise or ‘tweak’ your dietary and lifestyle habits in order to find and maintain your natural bodyweight.  In my experience as a personal trainer, with more than 5,000 hours of sessions, I have found that the ability one has to cognitively re-frame how they view weight loss has a profound role in whether they make positive changes to their habits and experience lasting weight loss.

Here is a sample conversation of one that I’ve had many times with many different prospective clients:

“Hey Sam, I really want to lose weight.”

“That might be good for you.”

What do you mean by that?  I have some extra weight on me.”

“I mean that it depends.  It depends on how you think about losing weight and then how you go about it.  Why do you want to lose weight right now?”

Like I said, I know that I have some extra weight, like twenty or thirty pounds.  It’s starting to bother me.  I want you to make me workout harder than ever so I can lose it!”

“That sounds good.  Good and terrible. It’s terrible because you got it all wrong about exercise and weight loss. Good because at least you are talking to a professional about it.”

“Are you serious? I thought you believed in using exercise to lose weight.”

“I’m a personal trainer and I professionally consult with people to improve their health.  But I’m not that knucklehead trainer who encourages the mentality that you, admittedly 20 or 30 pounds overweight, need to exercise harder or even eat less in order to lose the fat. I can help you get the results you want, but it’s not going to be from using exercise to lose weight.”

Wow. You’re not saying that I shouldn’t exercise though?”

“I believe that the purpose of exercise is to help people embrace their physicality and learn something fundamental about themselves.   This can be done a few ways. I have had success with quite a few clients by teaching them how to use strength training and strategic cardio to become stronger, more physical human specimens.  I can directly help you improve your physicality with my personal training.  I will instruct you on proper form and mindset as well as design an appropriate ‘training regimen’. However, that is complementary to the shifting of your lifestyle and dietary habits.  More importantly I like to help people believe in themselves and the life they are living.”

“Sam, I believe in myself.  Don’t worry about that.”

“I’ve learned that words just pour out of people’s mouths.  People always tell me that they are willing to do whatever it takes. Let your actions speak for themselves. Action create results.  I am here to help you create your own lasting results.  In my experience people’s actions are connected to the way they think about themselves and their situations.  Faulty beliefs and a poor self-image will always hold someone back, sooner or later, from losing weight and keeping it off.  That’s why I start addressing beliefs right away. I have found that someone’s self-image and the beliefs they have about the power of lifestyle changes, their situation in life and their capabilities is of the utmost importance.  After all, the degree of changes people make and the consistency they bring to their healthier habits is dependent on how they think and believe.  How does that sound to you?”

“It sounds great.  I want to keep the weight off.  I am with you on that. Are you saying that there is more to losing weight than eating less and exercising more?”

“That’s what it sounds like, right?  My vision for your weight loss is for you to shift your beliefs, your self-image, your physicality and your daily habits in meaningful and sustainable ways.  The idea is that I can help you find joy in living in a way that is more compatible with outstanding health and performance.”

“This sounds pretty good. I would like to do this with you.  How do I start?” 

“You start right now.  I want you to close your eyes and visualize what you want to look like.”

“That was easy.  I see myself as being thinner and more toned.”

“Good for you.  I imagine that you will probably be smiling too, because you have more confidence and feel better about yourself and your life.  The vision you just had will become your new self-image; a happier, healthier, stronger version of yourself.  Now I want you to close your eyes and think of any possible roadblocks that might get in the way, or slow you down from becoming the most vital version of yourself.”

“Sam, I have a stressful job, a kind of rough schedule and sometimes I like to go out and eat and drink some things I probably shouldn’t. But, on a day-to-day basis I eat pretty healthy and try to exercise when I can.”

“Stress management has to be your first step.  You can start by using the suggestions and recommendations from this test (GO HERE) to help with your perceptions that relate to stress.  I also want you to plan to get as much as sleep as possible.  And, I also want you to stretch and do deep breathing activities for 5 minutes at a time, 2 or 3 times per day. If you make it a routine to stop whatever you are doing and do some deep breathing at various times throughout the day then you are choosing to take back some control over your stress.  How’s that sound so far?”

“Those are changes, but I am with you here.  What about diet and exercise?”

“We add some structure to how you eat and how you move.  This is monumental.  I like people to regulate their daily eating habits and make the best use of the time they spend exercising whether it be 20 minutes or 60.  Strength training and short bout of conditioning with medium and higher intensity levels are highly effective ways to exercise.  My approach to exercise is very time efficient, and I will begin showing you how to strength train and do short conditioning drills in your first training session with me.”

This sounds like some more changes as I’m used to doing long cardio workouts, but it’s very doable so far.  What will I do in my training sessions with you?”

“You train with me next week. Until then I want you to build your general conditioning base with lots of walking, preferably as many hills as possible.  As for diet, the basic “healthy eating” guideline is to avoid the worst stuff, and since you claim to already be eating relatively “healthy” then you shouldn’t find it very hard to avoid wheat, corn, vegetable oils and sugar.  Often times people’s results are heavily dependent on how easily they avoid the crap.  We will get into the diet more after you cover the basic avoidance of crap.  How is this sounding as of now?”

“It sounds great.  What exactly will we do in our training sessions?”

“First, we find out where you are now in terms of your weight, bodyfat and the measurements of your waist, hips, shoulders.   Then you get to show me how strong and conditioned you presently are; you will do squats, push ups, rows, some form of deadlifting, planks and lunges.  Then you will show me how you walk and run as you perform a basic conditioning test.  Last but certainly not least, I have to get to know the story behind your story and get to know you beyond your tangible characteristics.  This may be the most influential part of our first few training sessions.  I will have a ‘motivational interview’ that will take put us in position for you to make realistic goals and a realistic comprehensive plan of shifting your lifestyle and dietary habits in a healthier, lasting way.”

“I’m with you here, this sounds like it can really work for me.  What’s after that?”

“It doesn’t matter what comes after that.  Lock this down.  Be patient.  It took you plenty of time to put the weight on and compromise your health, naturally it will take you some time to change your beliefs and habits to get healthier and drop the weight off as a result.  Starting right now you have the basic structure to actively manage your stress, employ some basic dietary principles and exercise with the purpose of becoming stronger and better conditioned.  If you sense that you are losing focus or questioning your willpower you can close your eyes and visualize what you want to look like. This will happen and that’s a part of life; no big deal. Persistence and dedication to the big picture will be needed to align your choices with what you want your body to look like. It is my job to formulate the strategies and teach you tools that you will employ to find it easy to shift your habits and seriously pursue better health, wellness, performance and ultimately weight loss.”

This sample conversation shows how a prospective client with an open mind and willingness to learn and be coached can be given the basic structure in under 10 minutes.  That is the easy part.  Getting in there or out there and actually doing it is the difficult yet much more rewarding part.

In my years working in the health and fitness field I have learned how to move people and influence them to make positive shifts in how they view themselves, their health and the role of exercise in their life.  At this point in my career I am looking to train and consult with people driven to become the healthiest, strongest, most vital version of themselves.  If you sincerely desire to formulate a strategy and overall structure to your ‘healthy lifestyle’ or ‘training regimen’ please contact me at truehealthservices@gmail.com to schedule an online consultation or begin a personal training regimen with me.  You can use this small amount of information to begin making lasting changes to your own life right now.