How Becoming A Health Coach Helped Me…Lose My Shirt

About 6 years ago I made the decision to become a fitness professional. I’ve taken some detours throughout that time but my heart always led me back to helping others obtain a healthier lifestyle.

Between personal training and group fitness I have worked with a wide variety of people: young and free and those more wise from life experience, athletes and those dealing with injury and pain, dedicated and those who let excuses get in the way, confident and those who struggle to take a compliment, strong and those who only feel weakness…and any combination of these.

I’ve never had someone come to me who didn’t have the foundational knowledge that what they were eating (or not eating) and how much they were moving (or not moving) was the reason they were in their current state.

As a trainer I could advise them in general about nutritional choices and I could certainly give them an unforgettable workout, but I always felt like I didn’t have enough time to truly connect with them about the things holding them back from achieving a healthier lifestyle.

lost-my-shirt

Why didn’t I have the time?

  1. I needed to do some serious work on me to be able to truly connect with others.
  2. I lacked the foundational knowledge to help someone else dig below the surface excuses and obstacles standing in their way.
  3. I felt my true concerns for my clients were inauthentic while telling them to do another 15 burpees.

I don’t know a single person that hasn’t used ‘not enough time’ as an excuse. So I made up my mind to find the time to work on me, to educate myself, and to make time for others.

Not that long ago I was constantly critical of my physical appearance, my parenting skills, and my ability to balance work and home and being successful at both, to name a few. And to some degree I still struggle with these things and many more.

But what I came to realize is these negative thoughts and feelings were cheating me out of truly enjoying life. It was time to take control of my ‘joy.’

So what did I do?

  • I took off my shirt and ran in public in a sports bra without a concern about what others might have to say about my physical appearance
  • I started hugging my Schindlings more and
  • I started being more forgiving of myself and accept that I truly am doing the best I can

 

Part of what helped me be so successful in working on myself was seeking information on personal growth. I read a few great books and I studied to become an ACE certified Health Coach.

I learned about different personality types and how to best connect with them, I developed strategies to help people uncover the unsaid things standing in their way and discovered that my personal growth was a great foundation for helping others.

Since becoming certified I have worked with a few different clients ‘beyond’ the gym walls. We talk about their struggles, we celebrate their successes, we dissect their obstacles and we take great joy in dreaming about the future.

Are you someone who knows exactly what you need to do but still feel like there are things standing in your way?

Do you want to dig deeper to set some goals for achieving a healthier lifestyle?

Do you want strategies for overcoming perceived failures and excuses?

Are you in need of an accountability partner to stay true to your vision?

Let’s talk. My journey may be different, but I can empathize with being on one and I can help you better navigate your own journey.

Give me a call at 574-387-1344 or email me at personaltrainingbyjenn@gmail.com to schedule your first Health Coach appointment.

If you’re interested in reading more about my personal journey here are a few other posts you may like:

Stuck In The Middle

I’m My Own Worst Enemy

Things the Schindlings Taught Me

Dealing with Rejection

Don’t Let Your Mind Bully Your Body

Four Things I Needed to Do

5 of the Best Lessons I Learned from My Worst Race

As many of you know I set a goal of running a half marathon every month leading up to my 40th birthday.

Going into the process I said all that mattered was that I finished every race. I wasn’t going to be concerned with finish times, but rather enjoy the experience. But along the way I have battled my own competitiveness.

Last Sunday I ran #8 in Sandusky, OH. It turned out to be my worst race of the series. There are a number of factors that lead to my finish time, and in looking back this race taught me more than any of the others I have ran. So while it maybe was my worst finish time, it was my greatest victory so far.

Only 13.1 to go!

Only 13.1 to go!

I’d like to share with you some of my lessons learned from this race…some of them may seem like ‘no brainers’ but even as someone who lives and breathes fitness and healthy living, they are a good reminder.

Nutrition

In general, my family eats a healthy diet. Of course we enjoy pizza or a restaurant burger and fries from time to time, but our diet consists of lean proteins and veggies. After 10 days of travel and numerous meals out, my body was pleading for it’s normal food intake.

Surely I did my best to make the healthy choices when available, but between the numerous hours in the ‘Mothership’ (our family suburban), multiple meals out and a visit to an amusement park there’s only so much control one has on their food choices.

My eyes were opened to how lethargic the body becomes when fueled with ‘junk.’ Sure I ate salads, grilled fish and found a stand at Cedar Point that sold fruit cups, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the other meals. I lacked the energy I needed to sustain the 13.1 miles.

We have been home less than a week and now that I am back to my regular food intake I have more energy and feel stronger.

Lesson learned: a consistent healthy eating lifestyle is necessary to achieve physical gains. I don’t believe this is a change that can happen overnight, but with gradual changes and true commitment to it being a lifestyle and not a diet anyone can adopt healthier eating habits.

Training

Because I teach numerous classes throughout the week (and do them with my classes) I don’t often have time to get in the long runs necessary to train for these races. I am fortunate enough that my cardio and interval classes give me the endurance to run for 2 hours at a time.

Over our 10 days of travel, 5 of those were spent in the Mothership. Each of those legs of travel (but one) was close to 500 miles. So as you can imagine, the 5 days spent ‘vacationing’ were focused on having the most fun as we could as a family. I didn’t want to take time away for myself.

We spent time in the ocean boogie boarding and swimming, we walked an entire day through downtown Nashville, we spent an entire day walking an amusement park – but none of this could replicate a true workout.

I do believe at times that my body needs rest. But as someone who doesn’t sit much throughout the day, 8+ hour car rides not only made me stir crazy but dramatically affected my strength and endurance.

Lesson learned: exercise has to be consistent and intentional. Even if you can just fit in 20 minutes – it’s worth it! You have to make it a priority and in retrospect, my family wouldn’t have ‘missed’ me for 20 minutes or a half hour. I could have taken advantage of the time they were showering or I could have let them know how important it was for me to take a break – they would have understood. Don’t cheat yourself out of a workout – ever.

Rest

I’m certainly not the best at a consistent bedtime. I preach about it often but my bedtime often varies which sometimes makes early mornings that much more difficult.

On vacation bedtime and waking times become unpredictable for our family. We stay up late enjoying activities and time with each other. We sleep in and enjoy not having the pressure of daily responsibilities. On the other hand, there are nights we crash early from exhaustion and get up at dawn to head out on our next adventure.

Between inconsistent sleeping patterns and rotating beds and pillows, it goes without saying our bodies were exhausted.

Between poor nutrition, lack of intentional exercise and inadequate rest – I had created a trifecta for reduced performance.

Lesson learned: our bodies need rest. Whether it’s a rest day from exercise to heal muscles, or mental downtime from the responsibilities of life, or actual sleep, we need to recognize the impact fatigue can have on our abilities. Improper rest from working out can lead to injury, improper rest from ‘life’ can lead to mental and emotional fatigue, and lack of sleep can lead to all of these things.

Reality Check

I started out the race really strong – too fast, in fact. But I felt good. I went into the race with little expectations because of all the things I mentioned above, but began to think, ‘What were you so worried about? You got this!’

Then the wind hit, followed by hip and knee pain, then bring on the shin splints. Before long I was physically beat. I am used to ‘hitting the wall’ halfway through the race. It happens every time. But this was different. I wanted to quit.

I was disappointed in myself and my performance. But I’m not a quitter.

So I walked. Ugh, I was w.a.l.k.i.n.g. But as I looked around I saw other people walking too. Maybe they were feeling as broken as I was, or maybe they were feeling strong. Either way each of us was doing the very best we could. And one way or another the finish line was going to be in the same place whether I was running or walking.

I decided this would be the perfect time to do some interval work. If I can’t continue to run into the wind with the physical pain, it was time to set some goals. Push through a song with a steady pace. Then slow it down, catch my breath and regroup for another push. That lasted for a while until about mile 10 or so.

I knew I had a day ahead with my family at the amusement park. Was I going to risk ruining my day of fun with them just to run more of the race? I knew if I walked more than ran at this point I would be able to keep up and enjoy the day. So I walked.

Lesson learned: Don’t quit. A setback is just that. It’s not the end. Find a way to push yourself, and do the best you can. Don’t ruin an experience just because you are meeting the expectations you had set. Evaluate those expectations and adjust them if necessary. Keep moving towards the finish and know that this experience is going to make you stronger for the next time.

Family

I continued to walk. Pushing myself into the wind, knowing every step was closer to the finish, closer to my family fun day at the amusement park.

My family has played such a major role in my races. They get up early to watch me start, then they bounce around the course to meet me and cheer me on at various checkpoints, always making it back to the finish to congratulate me.

This course was different. I saw them at the start, I saw them about mile 4 and I wasn’t supposed to see them until the end.

About mile 7 or so I called Don. I told him I was struggling. We talked he encouraged me, then put me on speakerphone and the Schindlings cheered me on. That’s about the time I put on my ‘girls’ playlist and started running intervals.

Just after mile 10 I stopped running. My head was hanging. I knew I was doing my best but I was still disappointed. Just after mile 11 I looked up and saw Don and Ella just ahead of me.

They carried me to the end.

They carried me to the end.

Maybe I’m getting sappy as I age, because again I cried. They knew I was having a tough day and even though they weren’t dressed to run, they were going to get me through my last mile and half to the finish. We ran some, we walked some, we did it together.

At the finish line we met up with the other two Schindlings – in a big group hug they all told me how proud they were of me and what a great job I did.

Lesson learned: even though this is a personal goal, I need the support of others. Achieving a goal means absolutely nothing if you don’t have people to share it with. Never underestimate the strength that comes from loving and being loved.

So while you may not be a runner, I hope the lessons I learned while running will help enrich your life.

I know that going into race #9 I will have a much better perspective on what it means to successfully reach the finish line.

How To Deal with Rejection

A few months ago I was teaching and training at 3 different gyms. I was constantly on the go and eager at the chance to pick up another class.

I put everything I had into each of those gyms. I connected with the members and structured each class to best meet their needs. When an opportunity to sub or pick up a new class presented itself, I responded immediately, hoping that I was first on the list.

One of those opportunities was to run a small group training class at a big box gym. I couldn’t wait to interview for the position. I felt like the job was ‘made’ for me. I had proven myself to the members at the gym. My classes were challenging, I was able to keep them motivated through the toughest part of the workouts, and I heard time and time again ‘Great class!’

I walked into that interview with great confidence. I was going to ‘own’ this interview and help them grow this new program. Everything was going great until he said, ‘I just don’t think this is going to work because you teach and train at other locations.’

“WHAT? ARE YOU SERIOUS? You are denying me because I work other places?”

I just couldn’t wrap my head around this rejection. It would be one thing if I wasn’t qualified but I was being rejected because I worked other places.

Sometimes rejection is exactly what you need.

Sometimes rejection is exactly what you need.

Side note: You might think that membership rates or personal training fees are high, but believe me, those of us in the fitness industry do what we do because we have a passion for helping people discover a healthier lifestyle – not because of the money.

I was angry, I was hurt, I was disappointed and then I was just done. I gave my notice. If they weren’t going to give me the opportunity to help more people achieve a healthier lifestyle it was time to walk away.

But I walked away bitter. I walked away angry, hurt and disappointed and sad that I wasn’t going to see my front row diva again, or my tall blond who complained but still worked her tail off, or my dear friend who scheduled her workouts just to come to my classes.

Fast forward to now. That rejection was probably the best thing for me. I now realize that I was relying too heavily on established class schedules and not doing enough to personally make connections with those who currently don’t exercise.

My passion for fitness isn’t about making a profit – it’s about being an inspiration to women just like me. I love working out, but I have days that I just want to sleep in. I love the way my body feels when I eat ‘clean’, but I have days that I want a slice of double pepperoni pizza! I have days that I look in the mirror and feel like a rock star, and other days all I see is dark circles under my eyes and a sluggish form.

So I’ve put myself out there. I started recording daily workouts that people can do from home. I don’t love every shot – at times my face looks sour, my midsection looks bloated, my triceps look a little flabby…but it’s me. It’s the real me. The rejected me.

I realize the rejected me is the one that is okay with all of that.

Yes, I have a sour face – working out is hard and I don’t have to smile all the time, I’m putting in effort!

Yes, my midsection isn’t perfect – I’ve had three children. They are far more important than having a defined ‘six pack.’

Yes, my triceps droop – I continue to work on them, but just like my abs, it’s not about perfection in looks – it’s about strength.

So the next time you feel rejected, be empowered and dig deeper into the real you.

How to Take the First Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Just over a week ago I wrote about stepping out of my comfort zone and filming exercise videos. I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t like seeing myself on camera and I didn’t think they would be very effective.

Heading into the end of the second week of posting videos I’m not as hesitant. I still don’t love myself on camera but at least I don’t feel like throwing up at the thought of recording them. But more importantly I’m discovering that by posting them I’m opening dialog with others about exercise.

I’ve had the chance to encourage others in trying things they didn’t think was possible. Here’s one example that just made my night…

We're all capable of surprising ourselves.

We’re all capable of surprising ourselves.

I’m a personal trainer and group fitness instructor because I want to inspire and empower others. To do that I’m going to have to step outside my comfort zone because for many people, walking into a gym or even trying an at home workout is forcing them out of their comfort zone.

I encourage you to take that first step. The next step might still be uncomfortable but it’s worth it because I’m finding with each step it’s getting easier and bringing me a step closer to becoming a better me.

How do you improve? Step out of your comfort zone. That’s just what I did.

This past weekend I stepped entirely out of my comfort zone.

I felt like throwing up the entire time.

When was the last time you pushed past your comfort zone?

When was the last time you pushed past your comfort zone?

You see for months, my husband and others have been advising me to do online videos of exercises and post them.

I’ve resisted. I didn’t want to be on camera. I didn’t think the amount of time it would take me to film, edit and post would provide me a return on my investment.

But after attending a weekend fitness conference I realized that if I am going to grow my business, I have to be willing to step outside of my comfort zone and try new things.

So last weekend we filmed a series of 25 exercises, with the intention of posting 5 every day along with guidance on how to complete the workout.

Will my efforts pay off? Will people actually benefit from the videos? Will they not only benefit from them but see the value in attending my classes or hiring me as a trainer? It’s entirely too early to answer any of those questions.

But what I can tell you is I’m willing to take a chance, at least for a while, to see how this might help me grow as a person and as a trainer and instructor.

I’m passionate about health and fitness and for me to succeed I’m going to have to be willing to take a risk.

So I ask you, what are you passionate about? What risks are you willing to take to be successful?

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jenn-workout-3

 

Don’t have time? Do the 15-minute workout!

One of the biggest excuses I hear about why people don’t exercise is that they don’t have time.

As a working mom of three I can identify with the pressures of trying to be successful in multiple areas of our lives. To achieve professional, relational and personal success we have to be committed to putting in the time required. No one just wakes up one morning on the top of their industry. No one is a great wife or mom simply by co-existing in the family home, and no one achieves great things by sitting on the sofa.

The same is true for fitness. To achieve a stronger, leaner body you have to be willing to put the time in. But I think there is a misconception when it comes to working out.

Who said that a workout has to be an hour long? Yes, most fitness classes run for an hour, but there is no law written in stone that says if your workout isn’t an hour it doesn’t count.

aint-nobody-got-time

I want to encourage all of you to look at the time you have in your day. If 15 minutes is all you can spare, get in a quick body weight workout – do each of these moves for 1 minute and do three sets:

  • Body weight squats
  • Butt kicks
  • Push-ups
  • Jumping jacks
  • Crunches

Don’t have 15 minutes and only have 5 – then just do one minute of each!

My point is, you have to make up your mind that you do have time and you need to start somewhere.

 

Forget the notion of a workout having to be a certain length of time or that you need to make it to the gym. Make the most of the time that you have and get in a body weight workout in your living room. What matters most is that you get up and move!

And if you’re new to exercise, accept that you have to start somewhere. If your goal is to run a marathon you are going to slowly build your running endurance. No one is going to register for a race and set out and do 26.2 without training. Start small and build on your accomplishments. Each workout will make you stronger and build your endurance.

So look at your schedule for today, if you can make it to the gym or a class, write it down and commit to it. If you don’t have the time, commit to doing the workout listed above – even if it’s just 1 set it’s a start.

Stop letting time stand in your way. Stop using limited time as an excuse.

How do you make yourself a priority? The answer might surprise you.

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to attend a 3-day fitness conference. I took a number of classes to check out new equipment and teaching techniques. I walked away with some great new ideas and some really sore muscles!

But more importantly, I walked away knowing that my classes and training sessions aren’t just about working out.

empower-people

Without a doubt, there are tremendous health benefits from exercise – improved cardiovascular health, increased lean muscle tissue, and decreased fat. Some of those results are very tangible, you can see the difference in how your clothes feel, you can endure longer periods of exercise without rest, you can even see how much stronger you are.

But it’s the things that are a little less tangible that I think are just as important.

Taking time to exercise means that you see yourself as a priority. We all have limited time in a day to get things done and when you include exercise as part of that, it’s proof that you value yourself.

Exercising also is an example that you believe in yourself. Many things we do in class mimic the functional movements of life, but with an added dimension of challenge. Repeatedly choosing to engage in exercise shows you have the courage to take on the challenge and the drive to dig deep to succeed.

So the next time I am asked what I do for a living, I won’t simply say ‘I’m a trainer, or a group fitness instructor.’ Instead, when asked what I do, I I’ll respond by saying I empower people to make themselves a priority and I inspire them to accomplish great things.’