I’ve recently started supporting an eating disorders and mental health awareness campaign that started with a friend and colleague of mine, Marlene Hibbs. She is a fellow personal trainer, and has struggled with eating disorders all her life. It’s hard to tell she’s been struggling because on the outside she looks totally normal and healthy.
You know, like many of us do. Appearing normal and healthy on the outside, battling our own demons on the inside.
As a fitness leader, I felt it was important for me to take a stand and talk about mental health and eating disorders, specifically in the context of the work I do as a trainer.
I’ve had many clients come to me over the years, wishing they had a slimmer figure, hoping that they will love what they see in the mirror a lot more if only they weighed less…if only their abs were flat…if only…
Here’s what I’ve come to believe:
Weight loss goals, just by themselves, can be soul sucking.
They become an obsession. They cause people to go on extreme diets, only to have to deal with the consequences later.
So I thought I would share three of the questions I get my new clients to answer when we first start on our journey together. They are meant to take the focus off the weight loss effort itself, knowing that through creating sustainable healthy habits, and building consistency, weight loss will follow.
What are 1-2 things you want to be doing in your life, and what’s preventing you from it?
This question is meant to do 2 things: get at your WHY – the things that matter to you which you want to achieve; and identify the areas that need to improve in order for you to get those done.
Some examples of the answers I’ve gotten:
- “I want to get back to hiking, so I need to improve my leg strength”
- “I want to play a full game of soccer so I need to improve my cardio!”
- “I want to work out consistently, but I’m always very sore when I start a new exercise program”
Well isn’t that great? Now we know what to work on! Hiking, playing soccer, working out consistently – aren’t these fantastic and exciting goals? Aren’t these healthy, sustainable habits?
What do you want to learn to do?
In his book on motivation, called Drive, Daniel Pink talks about learning based objectives and provides evidence that focusing on learning a new skill or a new habit, results in someone being able to stay motivated on their objective for much longer. This is in contrast to someone whose goal has an end point. For example, someone whose goal is to learn German is more likely to keep at this objective for longer, and accept setbacks along the way, than someone whose objective is to get 70% in their German course.
Applying this concept to fitness allows people to identify those habits that they want to learn, and to build. Some people talk about learning new simple recipes for easy meals; learning to identify healthy vs unhealthy foods; learning to meal prep; learning to dance; learning how to be consistent with workouts.
These are topics that spark one’s curiosity. They may even cause a bit of research to happen. They may give rise to more questions. Yes, they may lead to setbacks along the way. But ultimately, they will cause healthy, sustainable habits to happen, as well as personal growth.
What are 3 things you can do RIGHT NOW to get yourself closer to the things you want to be doing?
It’s nice to identify goals, objectives, and areas of improvement – how about taking some action? This question is meant to get people to spring into action by identifying simple changes they can make right away.
Some of the answers I’ve gotten:
- “tape my workouts to my fridge”
- “stick to my training sessions”
- “schedule my workouts on my wall calendar”
- “sign up for a 5k race”
Nothing crazy. Just simple actions that will cause a cascade effect, and cause other actions to take place.
To sum it all up
Weight loss goals can be soul sucking. They can cause people to do extreme things to their bodies, hoping that a slimmer figure will cause them to love what they see in the mirror. Instead, take the focus off weight loss, and identify the things you want to be doing (and what’s preventing you from doing them); the things you want to learn more about; and some simple action steps that you can take RIGHT NOW to get you closer to those objectives.
ACTION PAGE: Three questions to take your focus off weight loss
Yay, you made it to the end of this article. You learned some new stuff, and now it’s time to apply them to your life. To help you out, I’ve taken the main points from this article and summed them up in what I call an “action page” – a 1 or 2 page PDF resource that is all yours, for FREE. You can download it, save it for later, tape it to your fridge, but most importantly – use it to give your weight loss efforts a new focus. Enjoy 🙂
After being skinny unfit for the majority of my life, I discovered fitness by accident after having my daughter. A couple of years later, I started Tone Every Zone out of an overwhelming desire to help other busy individuals juggle a hectic lifestyle while staying active. My mission is to teach people about fitness and work with them as a team to make long lasting lifestyle changes. My personal values include being professional, honest and transparent in all of my doings but also being funny and silly because that’s what makes life (and your training sessions) fun! If you’re ready to take that first step towards starting an exercise program, it would be my honor to help guide you. Just get in touch.