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

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What to do When You’re Stuck in the Middle

This blog post has been rolling over in my head and my heart for a few weeks now. It stems from a song that I’ve listened to on repeat a few times. And each time I hear ‘The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World, I’m struck by how important the message is. It’s simple…but it’s relevant, and it’s something we all need to take in.

“The Middle” By Jimmy Eat World

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on.
Just try your best, try everything you can.
And don’t you worry what they tell themselves when you’re away.

It just takes some time,
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine,
Everything, everything will be alright, alright.

Hey, you know they’re all the same.
You know you’re doing better on your own (on your own), so don’t buy in.
Live right now, yeah, just be yourself.
It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough (good enough) for someone else.

It just takes some time,
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine,
Everything, everything will be alright, alright.
It just takes some time,
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine,
Everything, everything will be alright, alright.

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet.
It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on.
Just do your best (just do your best), do everything you can (do everything you can).
And don’t you worry what the bitter hearts are gonna say.

It just takes some time,
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine,
Everything, everything will be alright, alright.
It just takes some time,
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine,
Everything, everything will be alright.

Then last weekend I got some of the worst news I could ever think possible. News that deeply saddened me, made me angry, made me numb, and made me want to pull any person that is dear to me closer.

On Monday night I was teaching the class and ‘The Middle’ came on, bringing tears to my eyes as my heart filled with sadness, anger and love all at the same time.

You see in life we are always going to be in the middle of something.

Maybe it’s the middle of working towards a goal. For me, I’m two half marathons away from my goal. My legs are tired, I’m worn out and though the finish is within sights it’s taking everything I have to put on my running shoes and do another 13.1.

Maybe it’s that sort of middle where you just feel stuck. Even though you are working hard and doing all the right things, nothing is changing. It’s like running into the wind – the effort is there but you don’t feel like there’s any forward progress.

Maybe it’s a middle that’s so low you can’t see the beginning or the end. I’ve been there. Overanalyzed decisions that got me to the terrible middle and left desperate for a solution that would help me climb out of that place.

The thing is no matter what ‘middle’ you’re in right now I guarantee there is someone else in your life in that same middle. Don’t take on your ‘middle’ alone.

Know this…

We’re far more quick to write ourselves off than others will. Stop being your worst enemy. Talk about your struggles with those you trust and accept the encouragement they will give you.

Get out of your head. We all have negative self talk – silence it by soliciting positivity from those who love you.

Try your best. Doing your best doesn’t mean being perfect, it means staring down the challenge and knowing that in the end you couldn’t have given any more. Don’t sit on the sidelines for fear of failing, the biggest failures in life are when you don’t even try.

Try everything you can. You never know what you’re capable of until you try. Take risks. Will you fall down? Sure! Will you be disappointed sometimes or heartbroken? Absolutely. But get out there and live life and take those chances, because that is exactly what is going to sometimes pull you out of the middle.

Don’t worry about the opinions of others. Be free to live a life that is true to yourself. We only get to do this once, why waste your time consumed by what others say?

Be the best you possible. Here’s what I tell my Schindlings all the time, ‘You be you. Worry about yourself and just be YOU.’ We are all uniquely and wonderfully made, be concerned with making yourself the best version of you and don’t bother to compare yourself to anyone else.

Remember, we’re all in the middle and it’s gonna be all right. Some stages of being in the middle might seem like the end of the world but it’s not. Chin up, cry when you need to, be angry when you have to, but don’t allow yourself to give up. If you need help ask for it, if you need a hug give one, if you feel alone know that you aren’t.

I’m not sure what your middle is right now. But here are just a few of mine…

  • I’m in the middle of grieving
  • I’m in the middle of achieving a big goal and paralyzed by the thought of setting the next one
  • I’m in the middle of trying to establish myself as a fitness professional and build a business
  • I’m in the middle of navigating how to best parent my Schindlings
  • I’m in the middle developing friendships and cultivating others
  • I’m in the middle of discovering what it means to continue having a meaningful connection with my husband
  • I’m in the middle of my faith journey

No matter your ‘middle’ know you are loved and a true blessing to more people than you can possibly know.

A Pair of Jeans that Fit Just Right

A couple weeks ago I wrote about breaking up with my scale and ways you can measure success without being attached to a number on the scale:

  • Tracking calories
  • Using tape measurements and
  • Keying in to how your clothes feel

I’ll be honest, I haven’t done much with tracking my tape measurements…but I have been regularly using MyFitnessPal and being honest with myself about how I feel in the things I wear.

This morning we were getting ready for church and I glanced over at a pile of clothes that I had set aside to give away. I’ve ignored that pile for a couple weeks now. One, because I’m disappointed that I’ve spent money on things I didn’t really like, Two, that I’ve somehow outgrown some of the things that I love and Three, that I’ve been too lazy over the last few weeks to scoop it all up and donate it.

jeans-personaltrainingbyjenn

Then, for whatever reason, I grabbed a pair of jeans out of the pile. I remembered how much I loved those jeans – so much, in fact, there were two identical pair in the pile. But it had been months since I had even attempted to wear them. The last time I tried them on I felt restricted, I felt fat, I felt uncomfortable.

These jeans were just a reminder of the smaller me. They were a reminder of who I wasn’t now. They were a reminder that I had failed myself.

So why I even bothered to pick them up this morning I really don’t know. But they fit. And they felt good. And I felt good about myself. Have I had a perfectly clean diet? No. But have I been conscious about making good choices. Have I made every personal workout I’ve intended for myself. No. But I’ve made the best of the one’s that I was able to get in.

Again, it goes back to taking small steps to appreciate the big reward of achieving your goals. I had given up on getting back into those jeans, it no longer seemed possible. But once I set my mind to being accountable for my calories in and out on a daily basis things changed.

I still don’t know what I weigh – and to be honest – I don’t care. My jeans fit again and that’s all that matters.

Top 5 Questions You Should Ask Your Personal Trainer

If you are investing in working with a personal trainer then you deserve to get the value out of every dime you are paying. It’s called ‘personal’ training for a reason.

Yesterday I gave you some questions that your trainer should ask you before taking you into the gym for a workout, so today I want to arm you with questions to ask them.

trainer screaming

What kind of trainer do you want?

  • What style of trainer are you? You need to know what their temperament is…what if they yell like a Drill Sargent and that intimidates you? The sessions aren’t going to be productive. Or on the flip side, what if they are a push-over? Will you be challenged enough to succeed in reaching your goals? If the trainer can’t honestly tell you their style, walk away.
  • What type of support do you offer outside of the training sessions? Listen, I know personal training isn’t cheap. But for my clients, they get what they pay for – support throughout the week with exercise plans, encouragement via text or email or even phone calls, nutritional guidance, answers to questions, etc. If the only thing you are getting out of your trainer is the session time, you are being cheated.
  • How will you personalize my plan? I can’t say it enough, if it is going to be called ‘personal’ training then the plan should be unique to you, your needs, your abilities, and your goals. Not everyone should be put through a BootCamp style session, and not everyone should complete repetitive exercises session after session. You are paying to improve your health and that can only be accomplished through personalized plans with varying difficulty to meet your needs and challenge your thresholds.
  • How will you track my progress? Certainly you have the ability to watch the scale and see differences in how your clothes fit but it shouldn’t be up to you to make notes of inches lost or increases in your ability to lift heavier or do more repetitions. In addition, your trainer should regularly work with you to set short and long-term goals and help you track your progress. They should provide encouragement through the times your willpower is down, they should help redirect when the goal isn’t grounded in reality, and above all they should be your biggest ‘front row clapper with a standing ovation’ each and every time you make progress towards your goals.
  • How will you keep me accountable? Change requires accountability, period. Along with being your biggest cheerleader, your trainer should be one of your biggest accountability partners. Life happens, I get that. Sometimes we can’t avoid a sick child or a last minute assignment from work. However, if we are going to achieve our goals we also can’t let those things be excuses. Your trainer should be able to read through the lines of the excuses and hold your feet to the fire. There are plenty of ways to do this that aren’t nasty, and as your trainer it’s their job to call you on it.

You’re paying for a premium personalized service and that is what you deserve. Don’t settle for less. I’m not writing this to put down other trainers, I’m writing this to empower you so you know your money is being well spent and that you have a partner that will invest in you and your health.

If you have questions about working with a trainer contact me. I don’t necessarily have to be your trainer to help you. I’d certainly like to be, but more importantly, I’d like to help you find the person that can best help you achieve health and happiness. If you are in the Lombard, Elmhurst or Glen Ellyn area, let’s meet for coffee and talk about your goals…my treat.

Top 15 Things a Trainer Should Ask You Before Creating Your Fitness Plan

The temps have been up in the Chicago area but the sun has been down. Multiple days in a row with little to no sun can send me into a bit of a funk. Nothing extreme, but enough to know that even though the temp is projected to drop 10 degrees tomorrow, the prospect of seeing the sun wins over 40 degree temps.

This got me thinking…why on Earth am I letting the lack of sunshine affect my mood. I know what picks me up so I got up and did it – for me I practiced TurboKick and all the while was thankful that I’m now working hard to learn new things that I love, rather than working hard to manage projects that deep in my heart really didn’t interest me.

But another VERY important thing occurred to me…if you aren’t one who likes to exercise, when you are stressed, or in a funk exercise sounds like the most absurd thing to relieve your bad feelings.

The thing is, when we don’t feel well, whether it’s because of stress, anger, disappointment, etc. the thing we want most is to feel good again. But what makes us each feel ‘good’ again is unique to each of us.

For some it’s prayer or good conversation, for others it’s a drink or some chocolate, for others it’s putting your face in a pillow and screaming or taking deep breaths. The point is each of us are unique, and find comfort or coping, if you will, in different ways to relieve the feelings dragging us down.

lightbulb

Trainers need to be enlightened on your specific needs before they can create a plan.

BING!!! LIGHT BULB!!! In all my years of being a personal trainer and even a group fitness instructor I’ve spent a great deal of time learning about my clients habits, preferences and temptations, but I don’t specifically ask, ‘What is your “GOTO” when you feel bad? What do you do when your willpower is at it’s lowest and when exercise is about the last thing you can imagine will relieve stress?’

As a trainer, if I am going to support someone during the tough times, I have to know the signs to recognize when they are there, but also know how to build them up so they keep going.

All of this got me thinking that if you’ve never worked with a personal trainer before you might not know what to expect. Here are some questions that every good trainer should ask you before putting you through a workout if they are promising you an individualized plan.

Top 15 Questions Your Trainer Should Ask Before Creating Your Fitness Plan

  • Why do you want to work with a trainer?
  • What are your expectations of our time together?
  • What types of GOALS would you like to achieve?
  • How many days a week will you workout out while not with me?
  • What equipment do you have available to you?
  • Do you want strictly home workouts or will you go to the gym?
  • What things do you like to do?
  • What things do you not like to do?
  • What things intimidate you?
  • Do you have any health concerns or injuries that need to be considered?
  • What time of the day is best for you to exercise?
  • Who do you know that is supportive of your efforts to achieve greater health?
  • Who do you know that may be a roadblock or tempt you from straying from your goals?
  • Do you use any technology to track your activity and nutrition?
  • How do you prefer to communicate (email, text, phone calls)?

I talk all the time about creating personalized plans – and I wholeheartedly believe that is the only way to succeed. But in order to do that, I need to know more about you as a person – you are not a one size fits all solution sold in a book off the shelf. You are a unique person with individualized needs and deserve a personalized plan that will enable you to make the changes you want to achieve.

Be sure your trainer is committed to YOU as a person and invests in YOUR goals. If you are interested in talking to me more about your goals and are unsure if working with a personal trainer is right for you, drop me a line, I’d be happy to answer any questions you have. If you are going to work with a trainer I would hope it would be me, but more importantly, I want you to work with the trainer that is the right fit for your needs.

Tomorrow I’ll write more about the questions you should ask every trainer before working with them.

Healthy New Years Resolutions

new years resolution

With Christmas just 9 days away and New Years just 15 days away, the thoughts of New Years resolutions will likely be hot topics of conversation. There is something about a new year that inspires people to make change, just like most new diets begin on Mondays.

In 2012 Time Magazine released a list of the 10 Most Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not a surprise among the list of ten include:

  • Lose Weight and Get Fit
  • Eat Healthier and Diet
  • Be Less Stressed

However, what is more interesting are the results of New Years Resolutions as published by University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology in January of 2014. According to their study only 8% of people actually follow through and succeed on their resolutions. Only 8%!?

Seems like a pretty discouraging statistic, right? But I don’t think it has to be, I think the reason people fail to follow through is that they have failed to create a plan. So as you begin to think about your New Years Resolutions for 2015, consider the following:

You Need SMART Goals

Each of the failed resolutions listed above are entirely too general. For instance, instead of lose weight, determine how much you want to lose in a certain amount of time. Then, how are you going to accomplish the weight loss? Are you going to start weight watchers? Are you going to use a free calorie tracker? Are you going to give up soda? You have to determine specific steps you will take to ‘lose weight.’ Without a goal and a plan you aren’t committed to actually making the change.

You Need Accountability

I’ve written on willpower in the past – at some point the temptations will become greater than our ability to resist. When we connect with someone, whether it be a friend, a family member, a personal trainer or group fitness instructor, etc. you become accountable for doing what you said you are going to do. An accountability partner should not only be invested in you but also in achieving the same types of goals. Let’s say your goal is to ‘get fit.’ One of the best accountability partners you can find is someone who already enjoys exercise. Pairing up with someone who also is good at finding excuses for skipping the gym likely isn’t the best choice for achieving your goal.

You Need Expertise

Stop spending money on the latest fad diet book or workout DVDs and connect with a professional in your area. Think about it, why are we willing to spend hundreds of dollars for an ‘at-home’ solution when none of the past solutions have been effective? Instead, invest some time and money to partner with a personal trainer or nutritionist that can give you practical advice and support. Having a one-on-one relationship with a professional is going to help to support your unique needs and goals – no book or DVD is a one size fits all, which is why they aren’t effective in helping you succeed.

If you need help defining your New Years resolutions this year, drop me a line. I’d be happy to take some time to help you create a plan that not only meets your needs, but that you can successfully accomplish.

Not Just a Trainer, an Accountability Partner

In my blog ‘The Benefits of a Workout Partner and How to Find One,’ I touched on the importance of accountability over willpower. I’d like to dive a little deeper into the difference between the two and how as a personal trainer I use accountability to increase your confidence and ultimately strengthen your willpower.

Making Changes

When working with my clients we always start by talking about their goals: physical, nutritional and lifestyle. This information is essential to create a customized plan with unique and personal goals. And in creating their plan and goals we break things down into stages.

It’s important to have both short and long-term goals. The short-term goals may be for a week or a month and are the steps necessary to accomplish the long-term goals. They are the key to increasing confidence and willpower and create the accountability needed to sustain change. Let me give you an example of physical, nutritional and lifestyle:

Physical

Let’s say your goal is to reduce body fat from 32% to 25%. That’s not going to happen overnight and not something I would recommend measuring on a weekly basis, but rather every 4 to 6 weeks. Here’s why: measuring it weekly could create frustration by not seeing results and could result in a loss of willpower and desire to keep working towards the goal. However, part of achieving that goal will be to increase lean muscle mass and reducing fat.

So the client and I would work together to create goals that are based on increasing performance during the workout; perhaps increasing the number of repetitions, or increasing the amount of weight lifted. These are examples of short-term goals that can be easily achieved in progressing towards the ultimate goal of fat loss. Each time one of those short-term goals are accomplished, the client gains confidence in their ability to achieve the long-term goals and increases their commitment to the process. When committed to change, willpower grows and excuses for skipping workouts diminish.

Nutritional

The majority of clients that I have worked with have had a weight loss goal in mind. While exercise is an important component of weight loss, dietary modifications are also necessary. Unfortunately, even our toughest workouts can’t overcome continuous bad choices in the kitchen.

I try to encourage my clients to track their nutritional intake through any number of free apps like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt, but the fact is, some just aren’t interested in tracking portions and calories. I understand that and help them to create other goals that will help to make long-term dietary changes.

For example, let’s say you love sweets. The extra sugar and calories consumed by eating sweets is a factor in weight maintenance. Once again, this isn’t something that can change overnight. Making too drastic of dietary changes quickly puts too much pressure on willpower and not enough on establishing a pattern of sustainable dietary changes.

So we break it down first by evaluating the quantity of sweets consumed during the week. Once we have a handle on the amount, we can establish a goal of beginning to replace manufactured sweets with natural sweets because it’s no mystery that a piece of fruit is a better choice than a candy bar. Rather than setting a goal that the client is going to quit sweets all together, we establish a plan for manageable modifications. Maybe that means starting with replacing two items a week, maybe more. Using the approach of gradual modification allows the client to see that reducing sweets is possible. As the client gains confidence in their ability to make choices, we increase their goal because their willpower to resist manufactured sweets has been strengthened.

I would never ask a client to stop eating sweets cold turkey; this puts an enormous pressure on their willpower and each time they are exposed to sweets the temptation grows and the greater amount of pressure on their willpower. Eventually, the temptation wins, the client feels defeated, discouraged, and ashamed they weren’t able to stick with their goal. This isn’t helpful for anyone. Whereas the gradual change builds confidence, willpower and the ability to adopt long-term change.

Lifestyle

I am a firm believer that if you are working towards improving health, you need to incorporate lifestyle changes beyond diet and exercise. My favorite example for a lifestyle change is creating a consistent bedtime and waking time. Our bodies crave routine and many of us rarely give our bodies the rest they need. I know both personally and through my clients that adopting a consistent sleeping pattern helps with energy levels, weight maintenance, and stress levels.

Establishing Accountability

So I know you’re probably thinking, ‘That’s all great, but as a client I might only meet with you once a week. It’s up to me to follow through on all of these goals.’

In part that is true, it is up to my client’s to commit to their goals, however, I know that no matter where you are in the process of achieving your long-term goals, you need support and accountability. Honestly, as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I need accountability. We all struggle with willpower from time to time so we need to be surrounded by those who want to build us up.

Throughout the week I check in with my clients. Whether it’s a text or sending an email with an article that could be helpful, I make sure to stay in contact. This helps my clients to know that I am there for them, opens the door for them to ask questions or admit their struggles, and further builds our trainer-client relationship.

If you are looking to make some changes, I would love the opportunity to speak with you. Drop me an email, and let’s set up a time to chat about your goals and how I can help you create a plan to achieve them.