Why can’t we take care of ourselves?
And, where are our priorities?
These are two questions I ask myself a lot these days.
I see people doing one or two personal training sessions and quitting because of “finances.” Not to cast judgment, but these same people have smart phones, eat dinners out, and go skiing. These same people are also carrying way too much extra weight and lack lean muscle mass.
Why can’t they take care of themselves, or more accurately, why won’t they?
There are plenty of well-known risks with being overweight: diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, to name a few. And there are just as many risks with being “skinny fat” or simply not having enough muscle mass – osteoporosis, poor posture, poor metabolism, and injury, for example. You’d think our rational selves would assess that we need to take serious action.
And sometimes we do take action. We try a quick fix like a fad diet or cutting calories drastically. We decide we’re just going to avoid lifting heavy things and moving in certain ways. Or we make the decision to accept our low energy level and chalk it up aging.
Some do meet their goals, with or without help. But in my job as a personal trainer, I see many who either never seek help or quit shortly after. I see them on the cardio machines but not losing weight. I see them on the cardio machines but not in the weight room. And many times I stop seeing them at all as they fall off and quit working out.
What Exactly Does It Take?
When someone who hasn’t been able to lose weight comes in for a couple of personal training sessions and then says, “I can do it on my own,” their chances of success are slim. While I give them credit for coming in, one, two, or three sessions isn’t enough to change lifelong habits and teach new skills. Sure, the highly motivated can succeed, but even then, it’s tough going on your own. Still, many people who need it the most don’t want to spend the money, even though in the long term, their medical bills could cost them much more.
When you (1) know you need to lose weight or gain strength, (2) have tried it on your own and failed, and (3) still think you can do it yourself, you just might be saying, “My health is not a priority to me.”
At some point, we need to know when to get help and commit to it. Starting a tried-and-true weight-loss program such as Weight Watchers and sticking to it. Researching science-backed data and mapping out a proven plan. Saying no to fads and quick fixes and acknowledging that this is a lifestyle change. And paying for – yes, I said paying for – a personal trainer and/or nutritionist to keep you accountable and track your progress.
Here are some pretty good indicators that it’s time to get help:
This would make you in the majority; eighty percent of people who lose at least ten percent of their weight gain it back within a year (according to Apex Fitness Group). We all know how hard it is.
It’s all about lifestyle changes, not injections, pills, or a fat cell-sucking spa treatment. You need to keep a temporary food diary to understand what you’re consuming. You need to know your daily calorie requirements so that you know how many calories you need at a minimum and how many you need to cut back. You need to be on a regular exercise program. You need to be very aware of your actions and know nutritional data about the foods you eat.
If you can’t seem to lose the weight with these tried-and-true methods, isn’t a long, healthy life worth paying a personal trainer or nutritionist as much as you’d pay for a year’s worth of junk, dinners out, or movies? Think priorities here… you really ARE worth it.
You avoid certain movements because it hurts.
While it’s nice when you can rehabilitate your own ailments and it’s even nicer if you can ignore them, many times it only gets worse if you don’t address it. You need a doctor’s visit and/or physical therapy for that “bum knee” or the ankle that never healed properly after a sprain. After making these appointments, a personal trainer can safely progress you through a program that gets you back to 100%.
When you avoid doing certain things (like raising your arm above your head) or start favoring one side over the other, your body begins to dysfunction. When you move this way for prolonged periods, you’re setting yourself up for weaknesses that lead to injury. Don’t avoid movements because you want to avoid pain; fix the pain.
You aren’t seeing any progress.
Clearly you may need some help if you’re not getting stronger or bigger (if that’s your goal). Or if you’re training for an event and you can’t seem to meet your goal.
You simply don’t know where to start.
There are plenty of people out there who have never strength trained. They have absolutely no idea what exercises to do or how to do them. Others are misinformed about a healthy diet or have never stepped foot in a gym. But they have a feeling their body is weak and a ticking time bomb for osteoporosis or injury.
I see this frequently with people who are over the age of forty. They become aware that they have very little muscle tone, feel weak or injury prone, or are losing the ability to do things that were once easy.
I wish people would have this realization earlier, because everyone needs strength training, young and old. Whether you’re inactive, a runner, a workaholic, a parent, or a teenager, you need strength training.
These are only a few signals that you should get help. So let go of resistance. Look at yourself critically and then compassionately. Sometimes you just need help and it may be now.