Compliance is the key to a successful fitness journey. Many times, when asked to report on what they have eaten or how much exercise they have done outside of the few hours they are with their trainer, clients will not disclose every bit of information. Yes, some things are superficial and can be held back, but others are more important and a trainer likes to know what's going on behind the scenes so that it makes the client's path to their goals easier for both to tread. I'll be focusing only on food intake in this post.
Clients will hold things back from their trainer for many reasons. Usually it's embarrassment; feeling shame in not being strong enough to resist. They're embarrassed to say they spent the weekend eating pizza and drinking beer. Or maybe they have been making poor choices in snacks. They feel if they disclose everything, their trainer may be disappointed and either scold them or get frustrated enough to not train them anymore. They know what they've done (even before they do it) is hindering their progress and don't want to appear weak. The truth is, giving the trainer insight into every step of the day is beneficial. Not only does it keep the lines of communication open so the trainer can better guide the client, it also establishes another supporting connection in their arsenal. The trainer can now officially be part of their emotional support network and a person they can talk to and rely on to keep them on track when it gets tough to make the right choices.
Used with permission, and anonymously, is this report below from one of my clients. He did not hold back and I couldn't be happier. I have since sent it back to him with my recommendations on what he can change to better serve his desired goals. This is a prime example of full disclosure; something every trainer should want and expect of their clients. There's no shame in reporting all of your stumbles as shown below. When you hire a trainer, you are often spending a decent amount of money to have them help you get where you want to be. Not giving them all the information, or not doing everything they say (within reason, of course), just delays or halts your progress which, in turn, is a waste of your time and money.
Here's his report. Just for fun, see how much lines up with your intake or, if it doesn't, how many times you make adjustments to it in your head. Looking at it objectively, it's easier to make better choices for this unknown client. When it's your own menu, that's when your emotions begin to manifest excuses for why things went south on a particular day. You'll also notice he's added a couple excuses in there for some choices. This is also disclosure I like to see. It gives us more talking points to help him prepare meals ahead of time if he knows choices may be limited.
Breakfast - none
Lunch (12pm) - omelette (egg yolk, spinach, bacon, onion, shredded cheddar cheese). Apple juice
Snack (3:30pm) - chips and salsa
Dinner (6:00pm) - double cheese burger with bun (pickles, onion, lettuce), breadstick. Powerade (Was nothing good to eat for dinner so I ate that)
Snack (8:00pm) - 5 thin mints
Celebration (9:15pm) - oreo ice cream cake. Sparkling cider (My friend's birthday, not an everyday thing)
-Snack (8am) - fig bar. Water
-Breakfast (10am) - eggs, bacon, tater tots. Apple juice
-Lunch (12pm) - honey glazed ham, potatoes. Water
-Snack (2pm) - 15 pringles. Water
-Dinner (5:30pm) - steak tips, potatoes, salad (Onions, kidney beans, cheese, carrots, olives, sunflower seeds, vinegar, and oil).Sparkling lemon lime water
-Late night dining (10pm) - cheese burger with fries, doritos bag. Powerade (Got out of practice an hour ago, and was hungry)
-Breakfast (7:30am) - eggs, potatoes. Apple juice, french vanilla cappuccino
-Lunch (12:15pm) - white rice, 3 fried falafel balls. Water
-Snack (2:15pm) - peanut and fluff on double protein bread. Water
-Dinner (4:30pm) - 2 bread sticks, white rice, 6 olives. Lemon water
-Breakfast (9:50am) - eggs, tater tots. Apple juice
-Lunch (3:00pm) - double cheese burger with bun, cucumbers with ranch. Lemon water (Late lunch so not many choices)
-Dinner (5:30pm) - tuna melt (marble rye bread, American cheese, mayo), banana. Melon water
-Snack (9:30pm) - Cheez its. Water
-Breakfast (7:30am) - eggs, potatoes, bacon. Apple juice, mocha cappuccino
-Snack (11am) - banana
-Lunch (12pm) - orange cinnamon chicken, white rice. Lemon water
-Snack (2pm) - blueberry fig bar. Gatorade
-Dinner (4:30pm) - 2 bread sticks, chicken nuggets, steak slices, small salad (onions, cheese, olives, carrots, kidney beans, oil, vinegar). Lemon water
-Late night dining (10:30pm) - cheeseburger with fries. Powerade (Had a game and was hungry)
-Breakfast - none
-Lunch (12pm) - 3 slices of bbq chicken pizza. Lemon-Lime-Orange water
-Dinner (8:30pm) - Raising Cane’s 3 piece, fries, texas toast. Mountain Dew and Sweet tea
Saturday (Game Day/ Tournament) 3/31
-Breakfast (9:30am) - hash browns, donut, bacon egg and cheese. Medium iced coffee
-Lunch (2pm) - steak and cheese quesadilla, half chicken burrito. Water
-Dinner (6pm) - 5 small slices of chicken bacon ranch, bread and oil. Arnold Palmer.
Right off the bat, I could see he wasn't getting enough vegetables. The sugary drinks and processed snacks needed to be replaced with better choices. Also, protein was mostly from red meat and not lean meats like chicken and turkey or from protein-rich sources like fish. Without this knowledge, I could only assume he was eating right and that the last pounds he wanted to lose were just being stubborn on their own. But, armed with this knowledge, I was able to make adjustments that he thought were reasonable and that he could definitely substitute into his menu. I also gave him the option to take it step by step, essentially changing one or two things a week, or to change it all at once. With the ball in his court now, he'll report back to me once changes have been made and he will see the positive changes in his body that he wants.
So, the point of this post is not to brag about my client (though, he deserves high praise for this endeavor), but to illustrate that having shame in reporting what you have or have not done (even with regards to exercise) could be holding you back. It causes us to be much less compliant with the forces that are there to help us become better. As an example, this weekend in New Orleans, I practically inhaled three beignets within two blocks of the cafe where I purchased them. I hardly remember chewing. Was I even ashamed in front of my friends as the powdered sugar snowed all over my clothing? No. Those suckers were amazing. Granted, at this point my body can handle and metabolize them quickly and I basically report to myself (those aspects help me not feel as embarrassed about it at this stage of my journey), but I'm a trainer and shouldn't be eating that crap. I should be setting an example for my clients. However, the main reason I don't feel badly about it is because my decision to have them wasn't driven by unbridled emotion. I had calculated earlier that I wanted to eat them (I was in NOLA, so why wouldn't I?) and had prepared myself. Also, because my emotions were in check, I was able to pass by the key lime tarts and caramel nut brownies that could have easily been consumed within the third and fourth blocks of the cafe. They looked amazing and, while I thought heavily about getting those as well, I already had planned my attack, made peace with the little guilt I would feel after downing the sweet lumps of fried dough, and stuck to my plan. Mission accomplished.
Emotion is why most of us eat poorly. We associate certain foods with how they make us feel or how they mask feelings we're having. When those emotions are not regulated by stronger, more beneficial emotions (desires to stay fit, look good in a bathing suit, or know that too much would be detrimental to our goals), we eat the comforting, less healthy foods and it becomes hard to talk about due to the shame of having been weak. Emotion-regulating-emotion is something that has to develop over time, and it can only develop if we practice being honest with ourselves and those who are there to lift us up. Do yourself a favor. Listen to those who are truly trying to help you. Keep them in the loop no matter how hard it is to open your soul. If their honest desire is to see you get better, your information should be as safe in their hands as their respect for you is in yours. Self-improvement comes in many forms. Don't let your pride get in the way of your progress.