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  • kevinthodges

You Know Better

I had the privilege of training clients at two prestigious companies for a little over five years. I was a contractor with a rather large fitness company and two of the businesses they worked with were in technology. As a personal trainer in a corporate setting you strike a balance between providing specific knowledge about an unfamiliar industry and holding people accountable to their goals. I would say the most difficult part of my job early on was getting people to sign up for personal training. For those that already used the gym, they felt confident with the equipment and had established a routine that worked for them. Many others wouldn't bother coming into the gym at all. Fear and trepidation kept them from ever stepping foot into a place they had access to for free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

As I built my client base, I started to recognize a trend in many of my clients' attitudes towards fitness. Among these elite academics, the biggest challenge was not knowledge. It was confidence. Most of my clients either knew what they should do to get healthy or knew how to find out. Technology allows anyone to become an armchair expert with a couple of clicks. But having the confidence to follow through is a totally different animal.

Confidence in results that come from sticking to a routine, examining one's diet and making strides to sleep well, is consistently lacking for so many people working in these settings. A coworker of mine used to say that the people we trained were the smartest dumb people she's ever met. Her intention wasn't to disparage them. I would modify that slightly and say the people we trained were the least confident smart people I've ever met. For the majority of my clients, they knew better than they acted. They knew diet and exercise were really important to not only their overall health, but these choices had a significant impact on work performance, relationships and mental health.

Much of the information we need is readily available. What was most common in my experience wasn't a need for more knowledge, it was the need for reassurance that what a client was doing was the right thing and that while the results weren't instantaneous, the payoff would come over time.

As you read this, you may feel a familiarity with my clients past and present. You may look at your lifestyle and think, I know better. I could be healthier. I could be more confident in my choices and make the changes I know are better for me. Maybe you need some assistance, in which case I would recommend talking to family and friends. And listen to a podcast or read a book that might provide both insight and assurance in the direction you hope to go. And if you need more, I would recommend hiring a personal trainer, or dietician, or a life coach.

In my last post I mentioned sharing some of the things I recommend to my clients. Here are a few tips I use to get my clients, and myself, on track towards better health:

Keep a journal. Tracking your movement and food choices can help give you an accurate measure of your current lifestyle and it can make estimating changes easier. If you are exercising a decent amount already, there is no point in stressing out about finding more time to work out.

Share your desire to change with others. There is power in speaking about the changes you want to make, even if they aren't detailed or exact. And inviting others into your journey can help provide accountability and, more than likely, you will receive necessary encouragement to stick with the changes.

Focus on today, set goals for the future and loosen up on the past. You cannot undo years of poor eating, not exercising, rounding your shoulders, staying up too late. You can acknowledge these are areas you would like to change, and you can start immediately. Start with today, even if that doesn't mean getting to the gym or dumping all your sugary snacks out. Be determined to be mindful about your behavior and set modest goals for the next week. Want to run a 5k? Plan to get in daily walks for the next week. Set a modest step goal for each day and plan to increase it if you're successful after a week. If not, keep focused on the first goal.

Be kind to yourself. We are most often our own harshest critics. Acknowledge your disappointment with how things are going. Take a deep breath or two. Release your discouragement with each breath. The effort it takes to be aware that you want to change should not be lost in the moment. Awareness is where change begins. It takes many people a lifetime to realize this. You are there. Take another deep breath, exhale and begin to make the changes you want for yourself.

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