Thursday, November 21, 2013
So, here we are.... A week before Thanksgiving. Do you feel your healthy eating and weight loss plans slipping from between your fingers? Are you thinking "What's the use?", ready to throw in the towel already, because you've been here before and you know that it ends with a 5-pound (or more) gain on the scale once the season is over, even though you swore you wouldn't let it happen again?
Well, guess what? You are not alone! It's a tough time of year for most of us to muddle through. No wonder that the gyms are full in January!
But there is good news- You do NOT have to exit this holiday season in worse shape than you started it in. Why? You are going to make a PLAN. I don't mean "I'm not going to eat junk until January", vague, way-too-general promise. These are rarely successful. No, I mean you are going to have a specific PLAN with realistic goals and tools for keeping your health under control.
Ready? Let's go!
Word of warning: I would suggest you NOT have some grandiose vision of losing weight or gaining mass amounts of strength in the gym during the holidays. If it happens, Okay. But, unless you have a figure or bodybuilding show coming up at the beginning of the year, going through the holidays with the idea that you are going to reach significant health goals is more than likely setting yourself up for failure. Just plan to hold steady where you are.
On the other end of the spectrum. lose the idea that it's a free-for-all food fest. PLAN to stay on track most days through the holidays. Log your food. Log your exercise. Even if you mess up, log it. That accountability will have you thinking twice before you cram five of Aunt Bee's jumbo sized iced cookies in your mouth and wash them down with a stein of spiked eggnog.
Now that you are in a more realistic mindset, figure out a calorie level that is do-able and would allow you to show a slight loss. Then write it down. For me, this will be about 1650 calories a day. At that level, I can have whatever I want for our holiday meals and still average out to the same or a little less calories than it takes for me to maintain my weight.
Next, sit down and be honest with yourself about how many days a week you need to exercise to maintain your fitness level, as well as how many days you realistically CAN exercise, given your wacky holiday schedule. Write all this down on the same sheet of paper your wrote your calories on. If it's just two days of cardio, that's Okay- But once you commit, work out those two days, no excuses. Again, you don't want to set yourself up for failure by being too zealous in your estimation. If you are able to exercise more than you planned, great! But if not, you made your goal and you can pat yourself on the back.
For me, this is a minimum of doing cardio to burn at least 900 calories a week (by the machine's estimation) and lifting weights at least 3 days a week, hitting each body part once. Many weeks I will get more than that, but if I can get at least that much done I will be satisfied.
And lastly, pick out which events you really want to have your splurge meals at. Too few, and you will get frustrated and cave to temptation. Too many, and you will undermine your goals not to backslide. Write these down, too. If there is an event that really doesn't matter much to you but you have to be there for appearance sake, have a healthy meal before you go and plan to drink sparkling water and enjoy the company of others while there. And don't worry: If you don't mention it, people probably won't even notice that you aren't eating. And if they do, a simple "Oh, I already ate" with a smile is as much explanation as anyone usually will want.
Remember: You can't ruin someone else's good time by not eating.
Those events where something is served that is really special and you only get it this one time of year should definitely go on your "splurge meals" list. Have enough to satisfy you, but not enough to make you feel over full. You want to come out of this feeling treated, not guilty. Besides, Aunt Bee's jumbo sized iced cookies won't have nearly as good a memory if you are burping them up four hours after you finished the last one.
Now, take a look at everything you wrote down, tweak it to your satisfaction, and type or write neatly all over again on another piece of paper. Put this somewhere that you will see it frequently. For me, this is in my food tracker. It will help you to keep your mind on your goals.
Like the old saying goes, if you plan to fail, you fail to plan. This year, be in charge of the holiday season instead of at it's mercy.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Been a while since I've blogged, eh? Like everyone else, life has been throwing me curves and loops lately. But I thought I'd take a few minutes and address something I have heard folks question: Why do personal trainers charge so danged much?
In a nutshell, it's because our expenses are very high. Before you roll your eyes, bear with me:
First of all, if we are working for a gym, they often get 50% of our client income. It can vary a bit, but in most gyms I've talked with about half of the trainers fee is the gym's take. Yeah, it seems like highway robbery (and honestly, it feels like it, too), but the fact is that we are paying for the convenience of using their equipment. That stuff is expensive!
If the trainer happens to own the gym, their expenses are even higher. Think the expense of a house, only filled with uber-expensive gym equipment, repairs to said equipment, water and electric bills for multiple people, cleaning services, and insurance that's out-the-roof expensive. I'm sure there's more, but I can't think of it because I have never owned a gym.
Then there is the matter of what it takes to get and stay certified. If the trainer is with a reputable certifying agency, the initial certification was somewhere in the neighborhood of $500-$600. We have to re-certify every two years, and the cost to re-certify is just under $200. In the meantime, we are scrambling to take our CEC's (continuing education credits) in time for the re-certification. Depending on what you decide to study for these, they average somewhere in the neighborhood of about a hundred bucks a year. And then there is trainer insurance, which is about $180 a year. I'm sure there's something else I'm not thinking of- This is just off the top of my head.
Then there's the little expenses, like buying ankle cuffs because the gym doesn't have them, and calipers to measure body fat (which we seem to be continually losing, or another trainer loses for us because they lost theirs and borrowed ours), and measuring tapes for the exact same reason as calipers, and a host of other small expenses that add up fast.
And socks. We go through a lot of socks.
Then there is the time we spend on being a trainer that we are NOT with clients. For instance, I don't know about other trainers, but I don't "cookie cutter" anything. I start from scratch with each clients program. This can take more than an hour to assemble for just one client. I generally create a new program for each client once a month. BUT, after the client walks out the door I almost always have to take time to make little tweaks to better suit them, as well as annotating what they did that session so that I can know where to start them the next time. Personally, I always try to put my clients an hour and 15 minutes apart, despite the fact that I spend about an hour with each client. While it helps me with my sanity, it reduces the amount of clients I can squeeze into my available training hours.
Additionally, there is the time we spend reading up on everything we can to stay abreast of current trends, throw out what we think won't work for us and our clients, and file what we think will. I don't do much "leisure" reading that isn't fitness related. Which doesn't really make it "leisure", I guess, but it helps to equip me to help others to the best of my ability.
Unless we happen to live next door to the gym, a lot of time (and gas money) is spent going back and forth between the gym and wherever else we go between client sessions. (Because rarely do we really get all of our session scheduled back to back. The client doesn't work around us- we work around the client.)
And, of course, the time we spend studying for and obtaining our CEC credits. If we don't pass, it's wasted money, so we are very motivated to apply ourselves.
So you are really paying us for much more than the 45 minutes or hour that we spend with you directly.
Can most of this be written off on our taxes? Yes. But we don't get it all back- Mostly it just reduces the amount we pay. And even if we do get some of it back, trust me: It's not cool to get paid once a year.
The fact is that if we don't have a full roster of clients, whether by choice or because of some other circumstance (this could be a whole 'nother blog), many trainers are making next to nothing for the hours they put in, despite the fact that you think you are paying them a small fortune. So why do we keep doing it? Because we really, truly want to help you.
I'm not writing this blog to complain. Obviously, we choose this profession because we love it and want to do it. We are here to help you, and most of us do it for the joy of seeing you feel better about yourself, not the money. So cut your trainers a little slack when it comes to fees. And please...... Stop asking for free services. Yes, people really do that. And no, we really can't afford it.
Monday, September 02, 2013
On a board helping people overcome eating disorders that I am a part of, a gal posted saying that she was on the verge of tears: She has three young children at home that she is homeschooling and simply can't find time to exercise. It sounded to me like she was suffering some guilt from this. She also stated that she is worn out all the time and concerned as to why this might be happening. This was my reply to her. I thought it might help some of my blog readers who struggle with similar issues:
I normally just lurk here and don't post much, but I am a personal trainer and feel compelled to tell you that you are officially off the hook for dedicated workouts until your kids get a little bigger. If you don't have time, you don't have time. There isn't much you can do about that.
How do I know? I also used to have three little ones- Stair steps. For a while they were all in diapers. It was nutzo. You can only do what you can do, and they need a healthy mom and you need your mind WAY more than anyone needs 30 minutes of dedicated exercise a day.
Also, the exhaustion you feel? Totally normal in your situation. It's part of being a mom with three little ones, so don't sweat it. That will improve with time. It's just part of the territory right now. It'll get better as they get older. I promise.
The most important thing you can do is eat as good as possible. Diet is most of the battle, anyhow. And if you have a few minutes to get a walk or do some bicep curls with spaghetti sauce cans, it's a bit of a bonus.
Your situation is uniquely YOURS. You have to give the overall picture a good, hard look and be honest about what is best for your mental health and your families well being. I'm not saying come up with excuses to not exercise, but if you really, truly don't have time there is no point in beating yourself up about it. Just do the best you can in your individual situation with the idea in the back of your mind to get to exercise the minute life allows.
Friday, August 30, 2013
So, you have a big party or event coming up, and you are wondering how in the Sam Hill you are going to manage to not eat everything in sight. Especially since you know they are having it catered in by your all-time favorite barbeque and cheesecake places. Feels like a social binge just waiting to happen, doesn't it?
Trust me, you can still eat at your event and not devour everything in sight. Really. When you hear my solution, you are going to smack yourself in the head and say "Why didn't I think of that?".
I call it "Pre-eatting". And it's pretty darned simple:
About 20 minutes before you leave for your event, eat something. Make it a something healthy, low in fat, high in fiber, and high in water content. Like a small veggie salad with nonfat dressing. Or an apple. Yeah, there are a few calories in these foods, but not as many as the junk you'd be ravenously devouring if you showed up at your event starved.
Oh, and drink a glass of water, to help the fiber in what you are eating swell up and fill your tummy even more.
You'll still be able to eat the foods you truly WANT at the event (if you want anything, since you won't be hungry), but you won't feel the overwhelming need to throw yourself at the cheesecake bar.
Simple, but effective. Give it a try! And let me know what you think!
Sunday, August 18, 2013
I know I usually do the supportive, advice-giving type blogs, but this blog I am the one asking for help and support.
I have been having a hard time with my eating lately. I won't go into the particular foods (pretty much everything), but it's been way too much, and sometimes I am finding myself in binge mode. (It was very hard to type that!) I've managed to stop myself before I go TOO off the rails, but I know I am in a dangerous place mentally. I need to stop.
I have about 8 lbs I need to take off. I know this doesn't sound like a lot, but for me lately, with the eating issues I'm having, it feels about as far off as 80. It also makes a difference for me of about 2 pants sizes, believe it or not, because at this stage of the game ALL of it comes off of my lower half. If I'm going to lose these last 8 lbs, my eating has to get healthy again.
I always hesitate to post about my own troubles because I feel a real burden to be an example. But that's not going to happen if I can't get my head in a better place.
I'm not posting this blog on my Blogspot blog- Just here on Spark. I feel safest with my fellow Sparkers.
Any words of advice or encouragement would be much appreciated!
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