Revolutionary You! #300-Leigh Peele: Restriction Is Not Reasonable Or Rational

Maybe it comes as little surprise to long-time listeners of the show but Leigh Peele makes her 6th appearance for the milestone 300th episode. You can also check out our previous conversations via Episodes 28, 118, 150, 200 and 215. She has been in the midst of a complete re-write of “The Fat Loss Troubleshoot” which will be released at the end of this year in a very big way and, according to Leigh, is nothing like the original release. We discuss the directions in which she took the book, where her current philosophies and strategies are headed when it comes to coaching fat loss for clients, the importance of diet breaks and maintenance eating and much more. I feel like each time we talk, the episodes get better over time and this one is arguably my favorite. A very big thanks to everyone who has helped us make it to 300 episodes and stay tuned to the end of the show to hear a little bit about the changes I’m looking to make as the show continues on. 

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When Did “Diet” Become A Dirty Word?

The longer I remain in the health and wellness industry, the longer lines become drawn between the right way and the wrong way to do something, the optimal path to success, and all the nuance involved when it comes to someone simply trying to improve themselves through food.

It’s not uncommon now to find some really fantastic coaches, doctors, dietitians and the like steering people away from the word “diet”. The implication is that dieting means you’re doing something potentially unsafe, with a high failure rate (not being able to maintain a given weight after dieting) and only fosters a more dysfunctional relationship with food.

Many of these same health professionals will espouse a more intuitive style of eating (not to be confused necessarily with the Intuitive Eating plan) and try to instill better eating habits through food environment, support systems and some basic nutrition guidelines (more lean protein, more vegetables, less processed foods, etc.)

While I love those nutrition guidelines and they reflect much of what I coach to clients, I don’t quite understand all the shame around the word “diet”.

Here’s why:

Do a little internet scouring and “diet” has roots in the Greek (Latin) word, diaita, or “way of life” and that doesn’t exactly sound like it has a negative connotation to me.

In this day and age, when someone typically wants to reduce their weight they talk about “going on a diet”. The understanding is that they will be making some marked changes to the way they have been currently eating via some degree of food intake reduction. However, when someone wants to increase their weight for perhaps a given sport or for health reasons, this is still a “diet”. They are just dieting to gain as opposed to dieting to reduce. It’s about strategy…(more on this later).

Part of my frustration comes from the fact that we are all (myself included) trying to navigate the best way to eat for us, our lives and our goals. At 45 years of age, I don’t eat the same way now that I did when I was 25. At 25, I ate with no regard whatsoever to food quality, portion sizes or anything like that. My body is less forgiving of that behavior now and I do try to focus on getting the food that I need to fuel my day, my workouts and to maintain the body weight I keep now. How I eat is my diet. It is my “way of life”.

A few years ago, when I intentionally lost a handful of pounds to reduce some fat mass on my body, that was also dieting. I was just dieting with a plan and a strategy to get to a given goal. That included eating in a deficit, getting in enough protein to preserve my lean body mass and some toying around with intermittent fasting and TV dinners to have better control over my intake that worked well at the time.

I think people who are trying their best to find a way of eating that works best for their lifestyles, current stressors, and current goals might be dealing with enough shame as it is. Implying that the word diet, by itself, is a negative is only going to lead to more frustration than what already exists.

My advice this week is to find the way of life that works best for you.

Answer these two questions:

-Am I happy?

-Am I healthy?

If the answer is yes, then your way of life is close to where it should be.

If you answered no to either (or both) of those, find the way of life that gets you closer.

It doesn’t have to match anyone else’s definition and if it takes a diet by any name to get you closer to where you want to be (and it’s done safely/sanely) the semantics don’t really matter anyway.

Revolutionary You! #299-Caroline Juster: Make It Easy To Make Good Decisions

I’m joined this week by fellow coach Caroline Juster. In this episode, we talk about her journey from musician to personal trainer and her own weight loss transformation. Caroline talks about how she takes inspiration from both of those areas to inform how she coaches her clients to better success. We also talk about how her clientele and her approaches to training evolved in light of the pandemic. 

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That Porn Problem

In late 2018, I was contacted by a gentleman named Joshua Shea with regard to a book he had just released “The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About“. Joshua believed his topic would be of interest to the listeners of my podcast as his book was about the damage that porn (and alcohol) addiction had on his life.

My kneejerk reaction was to decline the offer. I didn’t think that porn needed to be a subject for a podcast primarily focused on health, fitness and nutrition.

However, I didn’t keep that reaction for long.

I knew that porn or any other addictive vice did have an affect on health whether directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously.

So, I read Joshua’s book and we made plans to get him on the show to discuss the book and the circumstances more directly. That episode aired on November 29, 2018.

Reading his book brought a lot of my own problems to the forefront of my mind because my story, as it relates to porn, started around 40 years ago.

I can’t recall the first time I was aware of pornography but my recollections were that I was not much older than my son, Sebastian, is now. Somewhere around the age of 4 or 5, I had learned how to read the HBO guide that was delivered to our home. My mother recalls me being able to note that in the movie descriptions “V” was for violence, “N” was for nudity, etc. and I knew how to find the movies that featured “N”.

It didn’t take long before my family caught on to what I was doing and they had to keep an eye on my TV viewing for the foreseeable future.

Within the next year or so would be the incident that would have the most scarring effect on my childhood, when I was sexually abused by a babysitter. I am going to make the relatively safe assumption that this incident alone would continue to affect my relationship with pornography moving forward.

In the early 80s, I remember my father bringing home a Playboy magazine. He didn’t have a collection, mind you, there was only this one issue I recall him having and I remember sneaking off to look at it when I felt like my parents wouldn’t notice me.

Over the next several years, porn consumption became a more frequent aspect of my life. I would have friends with older brothers who had their own collections of magazines and videos that we would sneak around with and snicker over. All of which would make me feel as if, even though we weren’t allowed to look at them, the fact that so many of us did so made it feel somewhat normal, especially as I was soon to be making a transition into and through puberty.

When our family was transferred to Brasil through my father’s work, there was no age limit on purchasing pornographic materials, so I would frequent the local newsstand picking up something I felt I could hide from my parents so I could still have something to view. I seem to remember being busted by my father on more than one occasion when he would find my stash and make me throw it all away.

As I got older and more involved in relationships, the scenarios played out in those magazines and videos then became something of a snapshot of reality; each partner being an extension of whatever I had seen before. Of course, when you’re a teenager, there’s so much excitement wrapped around just being sexually involved that the associations between fantasy and reality had little to no bearing. All I knew was that fantasy and reality had finally intertwined.

Fast forward into the age of Napster, Kazaa and Limewire, (the free download sites one could find through the internet) and downloading pornographic videos became easier and the hard drive of any given computer of mine became the storage space for anything I wanted to watch. It was also during this time that my own drug use was at a high point so I could mix porn, drugs and whatever other debauchery I wanted into my lifestyle.

I never connected the dots that dysfunctional relationships, excessive drug use and easily accessible porn were all overlapping in my life. If my relationships went south, I had drugs and porn to fall back on. If a relationship was going well, porn might take a slight backseat but it was never far from eye’s reach.

Then, the rise of the smartphone came and websites that were exhaustive in their reach of any type of fantasy, desire, fetish, you name it. Everything was there, everything was easy, and everything became easier to hide from others.

To me, up until I read Joshua’s book, I didn’t think my constant viewing of porn was a problem. By then, I was happily married and Sebastian was still an infant. If I watched porn away from my wife, she was none the wiser and there was a story that I could tell myself that it wasn’t exactly unfaithful…was it?

Joshua’s book made me question that.

So, I tried an experiment.

I cut out porn “cold turkey” around the release of our episode together. I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I just wanted to see how I felt.

-What would change?

-Would I view my wife differently?

-Would intimacy feel better?

After about 30 days of not viewing any porn whatsoever, things did, in fact, change. I started to notice things about my wife I hadn’t before. Her body felt different to me. Kissing felt different. Intimacy just…got better.

For the record, I have always been wildly attracted to my wife. Intimacy had never been lacking between us and I wasn’t suffering from anything like erectile dysfunction, low libido or anything like that. I just felt like something was missing and I never made a correlation with porn consumption to draw a link.

Looking back, porn was the fallback when she and I would argue or if I was alone and dealing with stress or if she and I had gone through a period of time without intimacy. The thing is: porn had been a part of my life for so many decades that it all just felt so normal to me.

Until I removed it.

Joshua had told me something and I believe he wrote it in his book that (I’m paraphrasing) a person can tell you that they’re in recovery from alcohol and people applaud and support them. However, when you tell them you’re a porn addict in recovery you’re treated as a deviant or a predator.

Much like I found through the many years I’ve had to sort through being a survivor of sexual abuse, talking about this type of thing is not comfortable, it’s still very much taboo. My concern, is that, of the myriad things that men have to sort through to be…well, “better” men, topics like childhood sexual abuse, childhood trauma and porn addiction can’t be left to chance.

In my mind, being better also meant being more responsive, more connected, less detached…

My biggest problem with taboo subjects is that, if men (or women) don’t feel comfortable discussing them, then they can’t fix the issue, and if it can’t be fixed, then what remains “broken”? For me, I’m trying desperately to fix all the broken areas of my life because nothing good happens there.

I didn’t stop consuming porn because of any spiritual connection or calling. I stopped because reading Joshua’s memoir gave me pause and made me consider that maybe, just maybe, my problem was bigger than I gave it credit for.

Just stopping wasn’t my only hurdle. I also felt it was time to open up to my wife as well. Having that conversation with her felt equally liberating, embarrassing, and frightening all at once. To admit to someone that “Hey, I’ve had this issue for four decades” doesn’t scream out a great degree of self-awareness on my part.

Besides, if it was all so “normal” why did I feel the need to hide it?

I should also add, that I don’t judge anyone who hasn’t come to the same conclusions I have. If you have porn in your life and you feel that no areas are adversely affected, I leave that up to the individual. I found it was doing a disservice to my own relationship to be intimately involved with the person I’m married to when my mind was off in fantasyland of whatever I had seen in porn.

For me, I have been spending the last several years of my life taking stock:

-What feels “off” to me?

-What can I change?

-What happens when I change it?

I also had to consider the fact (and this just doesn’t just concern the consumption of porn) that we can normalize, rationalize and justify nearly anything in our life if we need to confirm a given bias. I just reached a point where I couldn’t find the normal in looking at porn anymore.

Truth be told, there really isn’t anything more rewarding than your significant other feeling more attractive because you’ve devoted your full attention to them…

As part of that, I credit Joshua for having the bravery to write the book that he did and the companion book “He’s A Porn Addict…Now What?” and, of course, to my wife for having an understanding and kind ear when I finally brought this to her attention.

If you’re struggling with a dependency on pornography or you know someone who does, I would encourage not only the advice of a qualified therapist but reading each of Joshua’s books to gain some more insight into how any of this could potentially have far-reaching negative effects in your own life. Writing this article and making these decisions for myself doesn’t put me on a soapbox to preach. I’m above no one, rather I wanted to open the conversation in hopes that you can take stock for yourself.

Revolutionary You! #298-Chris Burres: Sleep Aids, Sleep Hygiene and MyVitalC

I welcome research engineer and scientist, Chris Burres, of MyVitalC to the show this week. In this episode, we talk about the plethora of sleep aids, sleep devices and better sleep hygiene for individuals who could benefit from them. Chris also discusses how he got involved with MyVitalC and the potential for being helpful in that conversation. 

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Code: revolutionaryyou

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Dear Dad… (10 Years Gone)

Dear Dad,

You may not know this but leading up to your passing, I was struggling with talking to God. I struggled, not just because I knew you wouldn’t be with us much longer, but because my own relationship with God had deteriorated so much over the years.

I felt guilty and out-of-place in having those conversations with a higher power and prayer, in general, felt empty and hollow.

In the days/weeks after you passed, I couldn’t speak to God at all. I could only speak to you.

I spoke to you as if you were the only higher power that I knew, because in many ways you were…not just to me, but to Mom as well.

Dad, while you existed in this material world, you were my true north, and if I ever had a compass for right from wrong (frequently I did not, as evidenced by much of my behavior) everything came back to you…What would Dad do? What would Dad say?

I have spent the better part of the last ten years since you passed oscillating between the areas and places of my life where I so desperately wanted you to see the good I was doing and on the opposite end praying (there’s that word again) that you couldn’t see what I was up to because disappointing you was always one of my biggest regrets.

There are days when family and friends, and even Mom will say: “You’re just like your father” and there is no higher compliment. You were the pinnacle of any personal achievement I could accomplish, such was the standard you held in our lives.

I look at Jackson, the only grandchild you had the joy of experiencing and he exhibits expressions and conveys emotions that remind Mom and myself of you. That you left this world when he was only three means that his memories of you will be minimal at best. That is a great tragedy of Jackson’s life…not having more of his Opa.

Then, of course, there is Sebastian, the grandchild you never met and the one who I think you would marvel at his energy, his enthusiasm and his vocabulary. I think of all the things you could have taught him…

Dad, nearly every good and right thing in this world inspires me to want to call you and share it with you. I haven’t dialed your numbers in ten years but I still have your cell phone number and office number memorized, as well as saved in my phone.

And, of course, when things have a tendency to go wrong and I need your advice, I still have to stop myself from calling you, too.

We’ve just returned from another trip to Tennessee, one where we celebrate the birthday of “Gram”, (my maternal grandmother) and where we make the drive out to the cemetery to pay our respects to you. This particular trip was unique because it was Sebastian’s first trip down to see where his Opa is, as well.

It’s difficult to explain death to a three year old, Dad. Sebastian recently lost his “Booma”, Marissa’s grandmother, and while he can tell you that she’s in heaven, he still thinks she’s coming back at some point. Marissa is trying to explain to him that Booma and Opa are in the same place, neither of whom will be returning to see us.

It’s difficult for me to explain my own moodiness that falls around these events too. Each occasion: holiday, anniversary, birthday, etc. carries that general cloud of you not being here and there is the part of me that feels guilty for keeping that cloud with me and the part that feels determined to keep you by my side, ever my true north, whether you’re in this physical world or not.

Dad, so much has happened in the ten years since cancer took you. I wish I could say with pride that every lesson you taught me took but, even in death, I can’t lie to you. Rather, I can’t lie to you and expect you to believe it. I have always been a painfully slow learner when it comes to lessons you tried to instill. For every positive influence you left, I feel my own tendency to drift from those lessons were the skeletons I couldn’t shake from my closet.

This is what I know to be true: you would have been so happy about RevFit. I can’t even begin to explain to you how that business has changed since you passed. Mostly all for the better, but some changes that had to be made were difficult indeed. I would imagine every small business owner can relate.

You would have been so thrilled about your grandsons. Jackson and Sebastian would have given you more joy than I think you would know what to do with. I still like to imagine conversations you and Mom would have about the way those boys are in relation to what it was like for me growing up.

You would have continued to teach me more about being a husband and a father. The fact of the matter is: I learned from the best, I just didn’t practice every lesson you taught me. I’m working on that. You have no idea what it’s like to try to stand in your shadow. Some days, failing to do so seems far easier than to try and catch up to you. Such is the standard you held in my mind.

Dad, even after these years have passed, I still sometimes expect to see your face and hear your voice. The disappointment of having neither bothers me more than it should because, as my therapist was kind to remind me, I probably never grieved losing you in the right ways.

I am also, slowly, learning that perhaps trying to be more like you is not the correct path for me. Not because you weren’t worthy of it, quite the contrary, but because I think the safer, more advisable road is the one where you taught me to be the best version of me…not just a carbon copy of you (like I said, I’m a slow learner).

What’s funny is…you were trying to teach me that in the last year or two of your life, in somewhat mysterious ways. That conversation came about because of conversations we shared on God. That maybe, the life we live isn’t meant to be defined by how we can be more like someone else…but how we are living to the best of our own abilities, in God’s eyes.

Maybe someday, I’ll take that conversation back to God. As for now, it’s still easier to talk to you, even when prayer is infrequent.

And then, I look in my son’s eyes and think, for all the times I’ve fallen short of what you hoped I’d be, maybe I’m not doing as bad as I thought.

Ever my true north, I love you Dad. We miss you.

Revolutionary You! #297-Leslie Benedetto: On Autism, Addiction and the Evolution Of B-Well Nation

I’ve been connected with B-Well Nation’s Leslie Benedetto for several years and of many things we have in common within fitness we also have raised children with autism and have struggled with addiction leading into this industry. In this episode, we talk about the intersection of those factors, how her own business with group exercise has evolved over time and most recently, how they have shifted and changed their business model on the heels of the pandemic. 

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…And Then, There Were Four

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to update the news on our staff and so much has happened over the last several months that it felt as if now were the best time to do so.

I’ve recently brought two people onto our official staff roster: one, a returning face to the business and one, who has transitioned from intern to employee. In addition, we’ve seen a shift in one of my longstanding coaches as well.

I’ll start here:

David Cameron and I connected about a year and a half ago through an internship program through the Exercise Science department at Kent State University. My last three hires had come through Kent State, two from Exercise Science and one from Dietetics, and I had been very happy with all of them. David brought a slightly different look to our staff. He is currently in the final semester of his junior year and his backstory into Exercise Science comes from a love of martial arts. When we first sat down to discuss a potential internship opportunity, we were only a couple of months prior to lockdowns due to the pandemic. David expressed that his dream was to open up a facility of his own with services as both dojo and a fitness studio. Between his school demands and the potential of being able to start his own business sooner than we may have initially thought, David interned with us for several months and started to train a small group of martial arts students out of RevFit. That business operates under the name: Blue Wolf Martial Arts. He is a 1st degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do as well as a 2nd degree in Isshinryu Karate and Ryukyu Kobudo (Okinawan Weaponry). As he is continuing to grow that business, I felt it was time to make him official as staff with us and, when the time is right, I know he’s going to likely be up to great things with his own business. It’s my hope that he will have learned some beneficial things being with us, since he’s been able to see both the positive and negative of small business ownership (here’s a hint: it’s not for the faint of heart!) David lives in Kent and just recently celebrated 4 years together with his girlfriend, Jessica. I am very grateful to David for his commitment to RevFit thus far and I look forward to seeing what the future brings for him.

Megan Winiarski first began her time with RevFit as a client, upwards of 10 years ago. Her mother actually started as a client of mine in my first location and she referred Megan to us all those years ago. She is a Kent State graduate with a major in Health and Physical Education. The stars aligned sometime back and Megan got certified as a personal trainer to join us on staff. She and I had the opportunity to work together for about 5 years before she transitioned out of the fitness industry altogether. That was about 3 years ago. A few months back, Megan rejoined RevFit as a client again and the conversation came back around to the potential of her rejoining as staff. The field she had transitioned to had taken some unexpected turns and it gave us an opportunity to work together again. I am very happy to announce that this RevFit veteran has returned and she has hardly missed a beat. I can tell you with certainty, many of our tenured clients were very happy to see her return! Megan lives in Stow with her husband, Nick, their son Jack and their dog Bailey.

Mike Roder, like the aforementioned, David Cameron, came to us over three years ago through the Kent State Exercise Science program. He began as an intern and I was so impressed with what he brought to the table, I invited him to join staff officially not long after. He got his BS in Exercise Science and then furthered his education with a Masters in Cardiac Rehab through Cleveland State University. While Mike was waiting for job openings to become available in Cardiac Rehab, he continued to grow his youth athlete clientele. If you know Mike, you know that there is hardly a soul more passionate about sports than he is. He is exceptional at his craft and it is truly amazing to see the work he does with his athletes and their commitment to working with him. He is my go-to when I hear that someone wants their child to get fantastic sport-specific strength and conditioning for their respective athletic endeavors. Last year, Mike married his college sweetheart, Marina and, at the end of January 2021, Mike and Marina welcomed their first, a baby girl named Millie Rae into the world. Mike was able to secure a position in the field he majored in, so between that schedule and his scheduling with his youth athletes, he is not currently able to work the shifts with me that he once was before. This is far from a bad thing. Mike has been tremendous for me and for the business and it stands to reason that he needed to take the next step up in his career. While I can’t say that Mike won’t ever be back to help with my roster, right now the focus is on Cardiac Rehab, his youth athletes and, of course, fatherhood. Mike continues to train his athletes out of RevFit so if you know someone looking for that service, he’s your guy.

Lastly, there’s me. I started this business in the Spring of 2009. My initial goal was to help people lose weight through exercise appropriate to their goals and sustainable nutrition coaching. Since then, we have not only grown year after year, but we have changed our physical location twice. We began in Hudson, Ohio and outgrew our spot by the end of 2012. This led us into neighboring Stow and we relocated to the Shoppes of Stow plaza. We were in that location for about 5 years and then growth demanded a bigger playground. I was fortunate that our landlord had a much larger spot available for us in the same plaza, so we took that spot in the fall of 2017. Since I started the business, I started a podcast (Revolutionary You) which is inching towards its 300th episode, I wrote two books which are available in physical and Kindle versions on Amazon, I maintain this weekly blog and I am the head coach of the monster we affectionately know as RevFit (formally Revolution Fitness and Therapy). It would not have been possible for me to write the words I do today or oversee this business as we know it without the help of a pretty damn amazing staff. It’s because of them that we are able to service our kick ass community, who are the real heroes of RevFit, and keep the train moving forward. All of this allows me the privilege of supporting my family: my wife, Marissa, and my sons, Jackson and Sebastian. Oh yes, there’s also our boxer, Dempsey. It’s still sort of breathtaking to think that we are about to celebrate 12 years of business (which we will celebrate at the beginning of May).

But my staff deserved a formal introduction and in some sense, a re-introduction, to all of you. I would not be where I am without them and at the rate that RevFit is growing, I can’t proceed forward in the most supportive way possible to our clientele without a team to help me do it.

We are RevFit and if you missed our tagline somewhere along the way: We Make Great People Greater.

(All photos courtesy of Kerry Russo Photography)

Revolutionary You! #296-Ned Parks: The Sustainability Of Change

Ned Parks has been a client and friend of mine for almost 3 years now and, within that time, he has not only referred friends and colleagues to the business but his wife and daughter have become a part of the community as well. In this episode, we talk about what inspired him to start, how he remains motivated to improve, where a tendency to fall to extremes may have backfired on his journey and how sustainability plays a  significant role. 

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Five Signs You’re Not Ready For A Fat Loss Coach (And Three Tips For The Coach)

Hiring a coach can be an intimidating process. Not unlike having a hair stylist, accountant or financial advisor you spend many years working with, it’s based on a relationship. That relationship requires a give and take of both leading and following.

It stands to reason that this relationship you’re looking to forge is determined by hiring someone who has a degree of expertise you may not have or, can help provide a blueprint making it easier for you to reach your goals or desired endpoint.

Just like those aforementioned other industries, there will never be a shortage of people available to you who have the qualifications to help. However, as it’s said from the mountaintops in my industry: The perfect program means nothing if the client can’t stick to it.

There is also a complementary sentiment that a mediocre program can get you a lot further if you can stay consistent with it versus a more advanced one that you cannot.

All that aside, before you decide to spend your time, effort and money on a coach, here are five signs that perhaps now is not the best time to do so:

  1. You’re financially strapped. Hiring a coach is typically not a cheap expense. If you find that you’re rubbing your pennies together just to afford one, that’s a sign to wait. Your coach, upon signing you as a member, likely has a long term plan for your success. This is not remotely synonymous with a 21-day fix or whatever snazzy title has been marketed to you. The change that most (not all) people want, whether it’s weight loss or strength gains, take time to see occur. Yes, there are some very aggressive things that a coach can do to help you lose weight but the rebound for those endeavors can be less than appealing. If you can’t see yourself financially prepared to spend at least 3 to 6 months committed to a training plan (on the low end), you may need to wait until you can. This is as much for the benefit of yourself and your habits as it is for the coach you hire since they are looking ahead to the results they can help you attain.
  2. You have unrealistic timelines. Can I help you drop 10 pounds in 2 weeks? Probably. Should I? Probably not. When you see clickbait headlines like this, it gives an unreasonable expectation of what the human body can and should do to reach a given goal. With regard to weight loss, an adage you may have heard is that: you didn’t gain the weight overnight and you shouldn’t expect to lose it that quickly either. A responsible coach is going to try and help you change your relationship with food so that you have a lifetime of healthier eating habits. A coach who cares only about their bottom line is going to give you false promises and blow a lot of smoke out of their photoshopped ass to get your money. Similar to the point made in #1, put yourself in position to commit at least 90 days to a plan. If you can follow the dietary and training options for that amount of time, your results should be commendable. This advice is not applicable to athletes who may have to “make weight” for a given sport. They operate under different rules and may be willing to do more aggressive things to achieve a certain weight class (albeit temporarily before they rehydrate and replenish glycogen stores).
  3. You’re unwilling to stay off the internet. This is a dicey one, since, you’re reading this article on the internet and, I’m trying to give some helpful advice. However, just because you see something on a website or written in a book does not make it true (and you’re invited to read my words with skepticism too). In addition, what works for one person may not work for another because of their own respective characteristics they bring to the table. This is why a vegan diet is fantastic for some, keto is fantastic for another and someone else out there has absolutely no business whatsoever doing either of them. Your neighbor is likely not a credible source for nutrition and while I’m on that topic, neither is Gwyneth Paltrow, Dr. Oz or Tom Brady (and I love Tom Brady…he just needs to stick to playing quarterback). If you hired a coach to help you break through the relentless nonsense that exists on the internet, it will help both you and your coach if you follow their guidelines. This is assuming, of course, that they have real results, with real people, and no snake oil shenanigans.
  4. You can’t be honest with yourself. There are exceptions to what I’m about to say so take this with a grain of salt. There are essentially two types of fat loss clients: The ones who tell you every single detail of their diet and the ones who will do everything they can to only tell you the “good” parts of their diet. There are pros and cons to each of these extremes. That being said, the client who is only willing to share the “healthy/clean/virtuous” sides of the diet can be some of the toughest ones to help succeed. It’s the coach’s job to flesh out the problem areas of the diet to help you achieve your results. As I’ve been known to tell clients: I’m less concerned with what you’re eating and more concerned about how much of it you eat. So, if you eat a couple of forkfuls of your kid’s mac-and-cheese and you snag a couple of handfuls of trail mix, that counts! It can be easy to forget those things if we’re not cognizant of the behaviors. This is where some degree of short-term tracking/food journaling can be insightful. Think of it like this: I pay an accountant X amount of money to show me things like my debt-to-income ratio on a given month. If I mistakenly don’t tell her about a couple of credit cards that are on my credit record which have balances on them, she can’t do her best work for me. I have to lay all of my cards out (pun intended) if I want her to do the best job she can that I hired her for. This is the same principle that applies for fat loss. The more I know, the more I can help.
  5. You can’t have difficult conversations. Like my financially inspired example in Point #4, there are two things that I find most people are VERY sensitive about: their food and their money. Most couples I know generally have to discuss candid details about their finances. These aren’t easy conversations to have and they can absolutely become heated discussions. Food is no different. It is necessary to our lives and vital for our survival. However, if you are trying to lose fat and you plan to hire a coach to help you, the coach can only do so much. The true test happens outside the doors of the gym. If you are not ready to have conscious, serious discussions with your family members about how food is affecting your life and how grocery shopping and cooking may need to temporarily or permanently change, now may not be the best time to hire a coach. Eating for fat loss requires deliberate change. Sometimes, these are small changes, like reducing the creamer in the four coffees you drink each day or swapping regular Coke for Diet Coke. More often than not, there are far too many tempting food options in your home that you cannot currently regulate. If you decide that chips aren’t allowed in the house for the foreseeable future, who else in the home is affected by that decision? That’s why these changes not only require the positive influence of a coach but making sure the troops at home can rally behind the decision process.

And of course, since this is not a one-way street, I have three tips for the fat loss coach looking to make a positive impact on their client. Bear in mind, that everyone who comes to you is in a different place when it comes to readiness, willingness and ability to change. In addition, it’s our job to either give them the skills they’re seeking or improve the areas that are already trending the right direction.

  1. Keep an open-door policy. There is no conversation that is off limits to me. I have heard and seen more about the human body than I thought I’d ever know. The more I can keep an open mind and ear to what is happening with my clients, the better work I can do for them. I need my clients to know that I am willing to listen to any concern they have on their plate which might be holding them back from better results. There are a lot of things I can’t relate to (like menopause) but it doesn’t mean that I can’t have good resources for my clients to help them reach their goals. In fact, having a strong network of people to refer out to when I’m out of my depth has been one of my greatest professional assets.
  2. Realize that movement may have to precede dieting. Well over half of the clients who train with me are here for fat loss. I know that an energy deficit is what makes that possible. However, some clients need to gain confidence in movement, consistency with scheduling/showing up for their workouts, and need to feel stronger before they can even attempt to focus on their food intake. I don’t force the issue and I realize that sometimes life gets completely screwy (kind of like the vast majority of 2020) and trying to be in a deficit is just not in the cards for now. Focus on other areas to improve and some non-scale victories before you wage the battle with calories.
  3. Allow room for the ebb and flow. Let’s face it: motivation will not always be high and skill-sets take time to develop. Many clients are motivated when they begin and 3 weeks in, they hit a lull. Be patient and continue to nurture whatever good things are happening at the time. It’s not uncommon for a fat loss client to lose some weight, gain some back and recommit to the process. This is normal and it should be treated as such. One client isn’t better than another because they can white-knuckle the ride. Some clients need space to breathe and learn what works within their lifestyle at that moment. Changes in work environment, family stressors and relationship woes can have a dramatic effect on how someone eats, sleeps and trains. Be prepared for those shifts in behaviors and refer back to Point #1 of keeping an open-door policy. Foster open, kind, honest communication until your client is ready to push forward.

Below is my client and friend, Amy C. She has had spectacular weight loss, incredible increases in strength and been committed to the plan for the last four years. Also within that four years, she has seen her weight increase from her lowest and has experienced many dips in motivation and consistency. That being said, she has turned a recent corner with her progress. She remains one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever worked with. The beauty of a coach/client relationship isn’t always in the numbers, it’s in the impact. Amy inspires others no matter what the scale says and no matter how life may be trying to dictate otherwise. That’s why we play the long game with health, nutrition and fitness.

“We Make Great People Greater”