I have been a health and fitness professional for the last seven years and have worked with a diverse audience. I’ve worked hard to be able to meet and help a lot of different people with their health and fitness goals.
These goals range from weight loss, sports performance and rehabilitation to name but a few. One of the key components of building and maintaining a clientele is the ability to get results. Overall health improvement and maintaining a sustainable quality of life, in my opinion, should be the main goal of everyone in the fitness community.
The secondary goal could be weight loss, meaning the result of training or coaching should be losing weight. It could be to build muscle, and in this case the client should be building muscle as a result of a specific training regime. It could be rehabilitation, in which case the result should be structuring a program allowing the client to heal, so that they can return to participating in their chosen sporting activity without a recurrence of injury.
Progress in all of these goal areas is not always in a linear fashion. There will be setbacks and issues that need facing along the way. I have seen this time and time again, causing clients to become frustrated because they see for a brief period that they are not making any progress.
When this does happen I try to talk with each of my clients about what is happening. Sometimes there are flaws within their execution of the plan put in front of them, meaning they are not getting the results they want. For example, with regards to weight loss, this could involve not keeping up with workouts or regimes and not maintaining a healthy diet as a result of giving into cravings.
The problem that I have to address with clients wanting to lose weight more often than not is to do with the weighing scales. The dreaded weighing scales. The one thing that most weight loss clients fear the most is the one thing they focus on. When the number on the scale doesn’t go in the direction that they want, down in this case, this is where the frustrations begin. I often see a downward spiral in their mindset from that point until the end of the session or day, and sometimes it spans into the next day, and the next week.
The point I am trying to make is that the weight on the scale should not and cannot be the only thing that is focused on when it comes to progress. When I meet with someone for the first time and we establish what their ultimate goal is, 9 times out of 10 they say, “I want to lose some weight.” I usually follow this question up immediately with “Ok great. What kind of weight do you want to lose?” This sometimes catches people off guard, but let me explain.
When you step on the weighing scales the only thing it measures is your weight. It may go down, it may go up or it may even stay the same. The weighing scales do not tell you if you have you have lost fat, lost muscle, gained fat, gained muscle, or just didn’t go to the bathroom this morning.
If you stand a 300lb bodybuilder who is 5% bodyfat and a 300lb O-lineman in the NFL who is 30% bodyfat side by side, they look very different yet they both weigh the same weight. My point being is that a lot of individuals focus solely on weight and not enough on overall body composition. I have dealt with this personally and had to go through a major shift in my mindset on my approach to fitness.
When I was 14 I weighed 210lb. When I stepped on a scale in 9th grade I was disgusted and decided right then and there that I was going to change my lifestyle. I began to exercise more and took a lot of the unhealthy foods in my diet out of my life completely. I dropped about 60lb in the first two months while doing this. I weighed 150lb but I was still unhappy with that and I wanted to lose more. I thought if I lost more weight that I would look better. To cut a long story short, I ended up losing so much weight (down to 129lb) that I was told I was doing damage to my body and I needed to change my rapid weight loss program, which was becoming a danger to my health.
I made changes to my lifestyle under the guidance of RJ and ATN Coaching and thanks to them I am where I am today. I’m still in contact with RJ and ask questions because he can give me feedback and see things that I can’t see about my physique or progress. I am not ashamed at all to tell people that I have a coach, because I know 110% I would not be where I am or know what I know without help along the way.
My mindset during the process had to be level set and I had to be educated on the same things that I educate a lot of my clients and friends on today. Once I began to transfer my focus from solely looking at the weight on the scale, I began to see the success I was after. My focus switched from the weight number, to looking at myself in the mirror, seeing the lean muscle gains and skin tightening, seeing how my clothes were fitting and realizing how I was feeling with regards to my mood, my energy levels, my stamina, my strength and my mobility.
There are many other aspects that you need to focus on when trying to achieve your training goals. When all your focus is on one specific aspect, you begin to pay less and less attention to the other important things. If you’re focus is to lose weight and you only pay attention to that you begin to ignore what’s happening outside of staring at that number on the scales.
You forget that you skipped lunch 5 times this week. You forget that you didn’t sleep well for the last 3 nights. You forget you gave into temptation and had that high calorie snack 4 times last week. Or you forget that you’ve been lifting the same weight and running for the same time in the gym for the last few months without making any significant progress. I tell all of my clients that no one knows how much you weigh unless you tell them or they physically watch you step on the scales.
Take Home Message
My main point in this article is to provide an insight into the fact that there is more to progress than just focusing on one specific variable. Everybody has a different goal with regards to their desired image and exercise regime, and there are many different ways to gauge progress. The most important thing is to focus on the bigger picture and then the journey to reach your goals will not seem as difficult.