Dealing with Challenging Clients, part 3

no excuses

Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS
Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist

Afraid to work hard

In this article I highlight my last type of difficult client, those that are afraid to work hard. These clients can tend to be the most aggravating type of client especially when you can see the hidden potential. Clients that are afraid to work hard come in all shapes, sizes, genders, ages, and fitness levels. I have trained some of the whiniest athletes and male clients that were the biggest babies! The trick to dealing with this type of clients is to set boundaries. Determine what you are willing to tolerate and what behaviors are inexcusable. Like most trainers and coaches, I do not allow the words “I can’t.” If you hear “I can’t” more often than you’d like, evaluate your training plan. If your client feels they can’t do something then there may be a workout progression problem. Clients that are afraid to work hard need a slower progression to build confidence and reduce exercise fears.

I will also highlight the importance of developing a training lingo with your clients. This may sound foreign, but when dealing with difficult clients, most trainers will try just about anything! I’ve done my fair share of sneaky training tactics but all for the overall good of my clients. Follow my tips below for training for clients that are afraid of working hard in the gym.
Hypochondriacs
Hypochondriacs obsesses about every little ache and pain often questioning if they have a much more serious health issue. I experience more elderly hypochondriacs, but that doesn’t always hold true. Most hypochondriacs take pride in telling you about every malady. They also like to refer their current health conditions back to when they played sports. I can see it now, you are rolling your eyes, and I’m right there with you. We’ve all had that client that can’t do JACK because they played football 30 years ago. Former colligate and professional athletes, I am leaving you out of this category.

I would bet money that most of their aches and pains are due to a sedentary lifestyle versus decades old sports injuries. It can be almost impossible to train this type of client. Your training sessions feel like a game of battleship or dodge the injury. Every basic exercise seems to flare-up or hurt a different body part. This is where the lingo component of your training comes in. I find that hypochondriacs often classify pain and strain as the same thing. I tend to describe pain as a sharp and stabbing type of pain. A strain generally feels like tightness, tiredness, or stiffness. If the client feels muscular strain then you are doing your job right. If they have a stabbing pain especially in a joint then immediately stop and re-evaluate. Pain is NEVER ok, and clients should not be coached to push through it. Try a different but comparable exercise to determine other range of motion limits and physical inabilities. If you are unable to train them pain-free, refer your client to a certified specialist to diagnose underlying musculoskeletal issues.

Whiners and Complainers
I would warrant that at least half of your training clients are whiners and Debbie downers. Most want to see immediate results but are unwilling or afraid to put in the real sweat equity required. The first thing I do is assess why the client is “out of shape.” Are they unmotivated? Are they unaware of what a REAL workout is? Do they want to be comfortable not challenged? See if this example sounds familiar.
Your client can do 10 pound kettlebell swings for hours, but if you give them a 20 pound kettlebell “IT’S TOO HEAVY!” This is where the master negotiator and sneaky trainer come into play. A lot of trainers may argue that you should never negotiate exercises with a client. When you are desperate to get your client to do something, ANYTHING, go ahead and negotiate. Some trainers may just drop a whiney client, but I tend to find the glimmer of hope in every person. So here’s what I would do, give your client two options, Option 1: 10 pound KB swings for 30 seconds repeating 10 times. Or, Option 2: 20 pound KB swings for 30 seconds repeating 5 times. Most often they will pick the short and perceived easier option.
Another example, let’s say your client doesn’t like walking lunges. I will negotiate walking lunges for leg press singles, single leg dead lifts, standing split squats, or Bulgarian split squats. You are getting a single leg hip-dominant exercise out of them without them actually doing lunges. If they still whine and complain then enact my favorite policy of all, the push-up policy. Every whining outburst incurs a 10 push-up penalty and no girlie pushups either! I will not continue the training session until the penalty is paid. Whine and you get more work.

Debbie Downers
The next type of difficult client is the Debbie downer, or the “I’ll never be able to do that” client. We never intend to set our clients up for failure, but we’ve all overestimated our client’s capabilities at least once or twice. I’d rather have you and your client be pleasantly surprised by their achievements than depressed about their failures. Be wary of ego because most men overestimate and most women underestimate. Debbie downers also tend to talk negatively about themselves and have low self-esteem. One of the most important aspects of our job as trainers is to not only motivate but to empower. I never allow my clients to talk about themselves negatively, and I try to encourage an atmosphere of fun and positivity. Redirect your client’s negative thoughts and highlight all their achievements and accomplishments. If your client is feeling negative about their workout, find things that they are positive about. A little negotiation never hurts here either.
For example, if your client feels like they are a terrible runner, then select an elliptical and crank the resistance up. You will get more out of your client, less whining, and they will feel confident too. This brings me to another sneaky trainer point. I can’t count; I never have, and probably never will. This can be either an asset or a hindrance when it comes to personal training. I tend to get caught up in watching form and technique and then forget what number I’m on. I’d rather my client do it RIGHT then do it the right amount of times. So when it comes to that client that “can’t do that many” or “go that long” I forget to count on purpose or distract them from the numerical value. You’d be surprised how well this works! It always makes me laugh when they get caught up in conversation and end up doing 20 extra minutes or an extra mile.
Every trainer will experience difficult clients that challenge their training style. It can be frustrating when clients are hypochondriacs, excessive whiners, or have no self-confidence. Remember it is your job to push them to new levels and instill exercise confidence. Health and wellness has its physical component but it also has a major mental component. Some trainers may not agree, but don’t be cautious about negotiating with difficult clients. When motivating difficult clients, don’t be afraid to play brain games and employ sneaky tactics to get the most out of them. I’d rather my clients enjoy their training, work harder than they thought possible and see amazing success in the gym.

Working with Challenging Clients, part 2

Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS
Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist

personal trainer therapist

Extra “Needy”

Have you ever felt like your personal training session turned into a therapy session? We’ve all had that client that tells us every single personal detail whether it relates to fitness or not. Often times I have a hard time knowing when to and when not to listen to personal details. It is important to listen to our clients and be sympathetic to personal factors that may affect their training. Needy clients can often leave you feeling emotionally exhausted and may affect your other training appointments. After all, they are hiring us to make them sweat and improve their health not solve their personal dilemmas. But where do you draw the line with too much information? After all, we are trying to get them off the preverbal couch! Follow these simple steps when dealing with needy training clients.

Stressed to the MAX!
An extremely important thing to take into account is why your client chooses to do personal training. Everyone one wants to be healthier and lose weight, but are there other factors? Does your client need to relieve stress, have personal time, or escape from work/home life? If you have a high stress client, try not to bring stressful things up during your training session. Talk about enjoyable and happy things to keep the session positive. You will probably get more out of your client too.

One of the first things I do when working with a stressed out client is to uncover where the stress is coming from. Listening to your client might seem like a no brainer, but really assess what is bothering or difficult for them. After determining their areas of difficulty, give your clients “homework” to solve the areas that affect their fitness goals. For example, if a client has difficulty sleeping due to stress, recommend soothing before-bed strategies to wind them down. A cup of herbal tea, a few chapters in a good book and keeping the bedroom extra dark and cool could do wonders.

I would say more than half of my training clients would fall in the over-stressed worker category. This can present its own set of training challenges when trying to help clients reach their health and fitness goals. Stress levels, hormonal factors, sleep schedules, lifestyle pressures can hugely impact one’s ability to see success in the gym. We all know that if your stress hormones are high, you only get a few hours of sleep and you eat for comfort then your workout will just plain SUCK! Talk to your client about the importance of stress relief and provide healthy ways to mitigate lifestyle pressures. Although it may not seem like your “job,” lifestyle coaching can make all the difference in the world when it comes to client success and retention.

Chatty Clients
We’ve all had that client that talks from the minute the session starts to the very last repetition. It can be extremely frustrating when trying to cue form and explain different exercises. The most important thing is to keep your cool and find ways to reduce the incessant verbal waterfall. This may sound a little harsh, but the very first thing I do is to give more intense or highly skilled exercises. A higher intensity makes the client work harder, which hopefully makes talking harder. I am a big fan of the “talk test,” which tells me if you are pushing yourself. If you can tell me a sentence and that’s about it then we’re at a good training level. If you can talk nonstop for 30 minutes then I’m not working you hard enough and shame on me. I also find shortening rest periods and water breaks helps keep the intensity level up making it more difficult for clients to talk your ear off.

The last piece of advice I have for dealing with chatty clients is to discover where this chatty behavior is coming from. Some people just love to talk; I’ve got plenty of friends like that. I’ve also had clients that are scared to death of exercise and being a motor- mouth is how they deal with fear. Once realizing the insecurity, I changed my training style by selecting confidence building exercises. All it took was a little detective work and now I’ve got a self-assured, successful and repeat client.

Gluttons for punishment
The last needy client I will highlight in this article is the glutton for punishment. Every gym has that client that chronically over trains and just can’t get enough exercise. Very rarely do I EVER recommend clients train more than once a day or for periods longer than an hour. I have had my fair share of clients that just love to “double dip” and workout 2 times a day. This is always a red flag for me and it is extremely important to uncover why the client feels this is necessary. Don’t be surprised if your client tries to hide their gluttonous ways from you. They may be accumulating more mileage or adding more sets than recommended, which will inevitably lead to injury. Another way to uncover a secret glutton is to inquire about any previous injuries. This usually is a gold mine tactic to identify over-trainers. If your client has podiatrists, orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists they see regularly, oh my, then you’ve got a client who chronically over trains.

After you’ve identified your over-trainer, then comes the difficult process of determining why they do what they do. I would say at least a few of my glutton for punishment clients have a form of body dysmorphia. Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is characterized by an obsessive preoccupation with an imagined body defects (1). BDD is classified as a mental health disorder, which may lead to anxiety disorders, depression, and eating disorders (1). Eating disorders and dysmorphic disorders tend to go hand in hand and it is important to determine if clients are having nutritional issues.

Nutritional issues could include binge eating or a lack of eating. If you suspect a disordered eating habit, refer your client to a qualified nutrition expert. Any mental health disorder is vastly outside our area of expertise and clients should be referred to an appropriate specialist. It can be difficult to identify why clients over train and it can be even more difficult to address it with your clients.

Every trainer will experience their fair share of needy clients during their career. Every client/professional situation is unique especially when dealing with difficult clients. I urge you to uncover why your client has a difficult behavior and take steps to correct it. Your client might not even realize their behaviors are making them problematic. Resolving issues in a respective manner and setting boundaries will make your working relationship much more enjoyable.

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (n.d) Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/body-dysmorphic-disorder-bdd.

Working with Challenging Clients

by Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS
Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist

 

We’ve all had difficult personal training clients; it’s just a part of the business. We wish that every client would be on time, never cancel at the last minute, didn’t use us as their therapist, isn’t excessively needy, and works hard 100% of the time. That my friends would be the Holy Grail and alas that client still remains an urban legend. When working with difficult clients I sometimes struggle with the balance between earning a living and professional responsibility. It’s easy to have clients pay late fees, chit chat through an entire session and push them only as hard as THEY want.

Sure, it’s easy to pocket the money for a cake walk session, but aren’t our clients coming to us to make physical progress? Don’t we owe it to them and our reputations to help them achieve their fitness and weight loss goals? It has been a few years since I was in the commercial fitness business, but corporate fitness does have its own special challenges. Every client, trainer, and situation is unique. Below I share my own personal experiences with three different types of clients that we have all experienced at one time or another.

late

Always Late or No Shows Clients
Does this sound familiar? It’s 5:30 AM, your client is 30 minutes late, you haven’t gotten a call or text, and now your whole schedule is thrown out of whack. It sure is frustrating and the excuse never seems to justify the complete waste of your time. I get it that people have sick kids, car troubles, and all sorts of other life events. JUST CALL ME AHEAD OF TIME! Lateness is also aggravating when you have to travel to meet a client or when sessions are scheduled at odd hours of the day.

My first suggestion is to make an initial consult session where you outline client goals, get basic physical measurements and develop a game plan with your client. During this initial consult session you should fully explain the late policy, cancellation policy and talk about how you would like to be paid.

My policy is that I forgave the first no call/no show session, and I charge a late fee for the second one. If the client no call/no shows a third time, I charge for the full session cost. Most often that cures clients of their tardy habits.

Another personal policy I adopted out of sheer necessity was to confirm every single training appointment the night before. A quick reminder email, text message, or phone call seemed to work wonders for getting clients to actually show up. This can be extremely tedious when you are juggling many different clients. You will thank yourself when the client says “I forgot to tell you I need to cancel,” and you don’t have to set your alarm for that ungodly hour. Develop policies that work best for you, set it in stone and stick to your guns. My policies may sound a little harsh, but after years of training I know what I’m willing and not willing to put up with. If you don’t lay down the law in the beginning this type of client will take advantage of you every time.

Another great tactic when working with the chronically late or frequent cancelers is to try and make your sessions part of their weekly routine. Building your training sessions permanently into their schedules helps with adherence. I like to find days and times that each client can train consistently every week. Keeping clients on a permanent training schedule usually mean they are willing to accommodate other things around your training sessions. Clients that frequently train at all hours and on different days will not only be a headache for you but may indicate a lack of dedication. Having a set schedule with your clients also allows you to monitor their weekly progress and vary their training routines. Haphazard training schedules makes it almost impossible to progress clients. After all, clients are coming to us to achieve goals as well as stick to a routine.
I always made it a point to have my clients pay me in packages ranging from 3 to 10 sessions. This way if they are late or no show your wallet isn’t getting burned. Using training packages usually leads to more client adherence, longer term clients, and more client progress. It’s not rocket science, more sessions equal more achieved goals, which equals more financial success for you. I’ve tried allowing clients to pay the day of, but that inevitably led to me hassling clients to pay up. When it comes to chronically late clients, use your discretion about allowing sessions to carry over. If I have someone who just can’t get there on time, I will reiterate the late policy and allow a few carry over minutes. I also might schedule a client right after the tardy trainee so I won’t be reinforcing the late behavior. I don’t normally charge for being late, but I sure don’t make up missed time either. You get paid for the allotted session, and it is your client’s choice to waste their own money. Time is money, you need to make a living, and don’t be afraid to think about your bottom line when charging clients.
I hope these tips and strategies for managing late, frequent no show clients and those who “forget” to pay you, help you with your business. One of the hardest parts of training is knowing when to lay down the law and when to be lenient. Lackadaisical and inconsistent clients most likely are unmotivated and not the type of client you want to be working with. Do not be afraid to let those types of clients go.

Stay tuned for more articles on challenging clients and my tips for motivating them.

Reward yourself without guilt

Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS

So, you have been working hard to reach your goals by eating better, moving more and implementing healthy changes.  Give yourself a little reward that won’t blow your calorie or your household budge.  Here are a few ideas to keep you motivated without setting you back.  Go ahead, you’ve earned that pat on the back!

  1. Play hooky from work and do something fun with a friend.
  2. Buy a new healthy cook book or fitness book.
  3. Clean out your closet and donate your oversized clothes.
  4. Buy new workout clothes or athletic shoes.
  5. Give yourself an at home manicure, pedicure, facial, or bubble bath.
  6. Post your hard work on social media. Your friends will cheer you on.
  7. Travel somewhere new for your outdoor workout, new scenery is great!
  8. Subscribe to a health, fitness, or cooking magazine or blog for new inspiration.
  9. Buy a new album or download new workout tunes.
  10. Invest in a new piece of workout equipment (ipod, heart rate monitor, fitness tracker).
  11. Pamper yourself with something luxurious such as perfume, body wash, or pajamas.
  12. Try a new hairstyle to go with your new body.
  13. Plan a getaway with your sweetheart, and make sure to do something active!
  14. Try a new exercise class such as Zumba, kickboxing, or hot yoga.
  15. Adopt a dog for the cutest workout buddy ever!
  16. Write 10 reasons why you love yourself and post it on the fridge.
  17. Buy some new flowers for your house. Beautify your house and get a little exercise.
  18. Sign up for a charity exercise event.
  19. Try cooking three new recipes in a week.
  20. Try on your slinkiest dress and admire all your progress and hard work!

 

 

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Rewards as Motivation

Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS

Motivation is something we know we need to reach our fitness and health goals. Have you ever thought deeper about what truly is motivating and why do some have it and some do not? Motivation is the force or influence that causes someone to do something and is classified as intrinsic or extrinsic. (1) Someone who is intrinsically motivated does not need a physical reward but does the activity for enjoyment and satisfaction. (2) A person who is extrinsically motivated seeks a reward in the form of a recognition or positive feedback. (2) Let’s be honest, most of us want the ribbons, trophies, or praise from our trainers and coaches. Our society is driven by extrinsic motivators and a system of rewards. We are used to receiving rewards for a job well done. So how do we relate that to our health and fitness goals? How do we use the reward system in a positive and healthy way to keep our motivation high? Later in this article, I will highlight some useful strategies to reward yourself for all your accomplishment.
Everyone is intrinsically and extrinsically motivated to achieve their goals, and it is important to strike a balance between the two. If you reward yourself with a present every time you achieve something, you will probably be broke by the time you reach all your goals. Don’t we tell our children “you don’t have to get something every time we go to the store!” It is important to appreciate the intrinsic motivators by finding enjoyment and satisfaction in simply achieving your goals. Take a long look at your exercise routine, what do you enjoy about it, how does it make you feel, what personal benefits does it give you besides physical health. I love my workouts because it is my time to zone out, reflect on things, energize my soul, and sweat out my stresses. Make a list of all the intrinsic reasons why you like and need to exercise. Reflect on that list the next time you are trying to talk yourself out of a workout.
Now on to the good stuff, rewarding yourself for a job well done. I can’t stress enough that rewarding yourself with food is always a slippery slope. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use food as a reward, but try to keep it to a minimum and make it as healthy as possible. If ice cream is the reward of choice then try frozen yogurt or lower fat ice cream. If chocolate is your favorite reward, try to make the portions small and choose dark chocolate for added health benefits. When deciding on a reward system, try breaking your rewards into two categories. I suggest you have a set of rewards for healthy behaviors and another set of rewards for weight or inches lost. Often times, women see no changes on the scale but are losing body fat as they add muscle. No progress on the scale is extremely depressing and can derail your exercise motivation. Your body may be making amazing changes without you realizing it! This is when you should reward yourself for the healthy behaviors since you are making progress even when that stupid scale says otherwise. Rewarding yourself for healthy behaviors and weight loss will hopefully keep you motivated and inspire you to keep working hard. Make a list of fun ways to reward yourself and display it somewhere easily seen. Next time you want to blow off that workout, look at the reward list, get that workout over with, and treat yourself to a reward!
Click on the Weight Loss tab above for a list of great rewards for all your hard work that won’t make you feel guilty!

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Sources:
1. McCullagh, Penny. (2005) Sport and Exercise Psychology Lecture. Cal State
University East Bay. 10/27.
2. Wilson, Gabriel. “The Effects of External Rewards on Intrinsic Motivation.” Abc Bodybuilding Company. 24 Dec. 2005. Web. 25 Feb. 2015. http://www.abcbodybuilding.com/rewards.pdf.

 

 

The Buddy System…not just for kindergarteners

Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS

Trying to lose weight and get healthy can often seem very isolating. After all, our friends and family can’t lose the weight for us. Creating and maintaining a healthy support system of family and friends can often make or break your fitness commitments. Using a support group will not only help you stay motivated, but will impact your relationships in a healthy way. Your support system can involve exercising with a partner, hiring a personal trainer, or taking group exercise classes. Another great way to build your support system is to find a local group that shares similar fitness interests. Great examples include joining a yoga studio, taking salsa lessons, or joining a rec league. Make sure whatever activities you do are enjoyable and build variety into your workout routines. Being open to new forms of activity will keep your workouts exciting, help you meet new people and can be done with the whole family.

When exercising with a partner or trainer, I suggest you fully divulge your goals and fitness aspirations. Your partner will be able to ask you about your progress and hold you accountable for your goals. Schedule exercise sessions with your workout partners, and make sure you have a reminder system in place. Most people are less likely to blow off their workouts if someone is waiting for them and will be disappointed if they don’t show up. Guilt can be a powerful workout motivator! Your workout partner will also be your alert system for when you are slipping on your goals. Often times we have a hard time looking at our actions in a truthful light. Tough love might be needed whether you realize it or not, and both of you will be there for each other when there are setbacks. Also when working out with a partner or group, determine what motivates you to keep going. Some people love competition and need it to reach their goals. Others find competing with the group demoralizing and detrimental for their progress. Try to only compare yourself to your own standards since everyone’s bodies and fitness levels are so different.

Getting your family involved with your healthy lifestyle is one of the most rewarding ways to create your support system. Children are like sponges, modeling the behaviors they watch their parents doing. Modeling healthy behaviors will not only improve your children’s current lives but will serve them for many years to come. A great way to include your family is to have each member suggest a healthy meal or activity each week. We all had a sticker charts as kids, and we would get a sticker for every good behavior (brush your teeth, make your bed, or do your homework). Why not make a healthy chart to get the kids involved! Every time you do a specific activity such as take a 20 minute walk, try a new vegetable, or eat a healthy snack check it off the list. Once you complete the list, do something rewarding with the family. Make your reward a healthy activity so your progress isn’t hindered. Good examples are taking a family cooking class, playing baseball in the park, or trying a new sport such as paddle boarding.

Family can be extremely supportive when trying to get healthy, but I hear all too often family members unintentionally sabotage good intentions. As you progress along your journey do not be afraid to make sacrifices and just say “NO!” to temptations. Your friends and family might find it strange at first, but do what you have to do to stay on track. If you are giving up an unhealthy habit, odds are your entire family should be giving it up too. If Fridays are always your takeout pizza night, switch it to homemade fajita night with everyone helping cook. If you have a weekly movie night with hours siting on the couch then switch it to game night and get the family moving. Whatever happened to soccer in the backyard or kickball in the cul-de-sac? Now it seems every activity is done seated using your two thumbs. GET MOVING! GET OFF THAT COUCH! GET YOUR SUPPORT GROUP INVOLVED! Everyone will be healthier and happier in the end.

BFF bikes

Who’s counting?

Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS

One of the easiest ways to make sure you are achieving your health and fitness goals is to track what you are doing. Keeping a log of your activities and food consumption will help you understand why you are or aren’t achieving your goals. Tracking your habits will help you take an honest look at your successes, failures, and results. If you gained a pound this week, look at how many times you went to the gym or how many servings of desserts you had. If you lost a few pounds, what made the difference? In addition to tracking your food and exercise, I suggest you track your sleep patterns and how you feel each day. Sleep is incredibly important for weight loss, greatly impacts your metabolism, and can also affect your work and exercise performance. Evaluating how you feel each day allows you to examine daily patterns and habits. Did you eat enough calories, did you exercise too long, did you drink enough water? All of these factors will affect your health and weight loss goals. Today’s technology, smartphone apps and fitbits make it unbelievably simple to record your daily food, exercise, and sleep habits. 

Looking at your week as a whole will also help you identify positive or negative lifestyle trends and indicate areas that need work. If you didn’t accomplish everything you wanted to, your weekly log will help you understand why. Getting up 30 minutes earlier could give you time for packing lunches or eat a healthy breakfast. If your goal was to accumulate 70,000 steps by the end of the week (10,000 per day is recommended) which day did or didn’t accumulate that? Did you have tons of meetings? Did you take the dog for an extra-long walk? Without a log, you wouldn’t be able to track these valuable pieces of information.

Using a weekly log will also help you plan ahead for your workouts making them much more effective. If you have a day with unlimited workout time, schedule a longer cardio session or a cardio and weights combo workout. If you only have 30 minutes, try a quick weight training session or group exercise class. Weekly logs will also allow you to build variety into your workout plans making exercise more fun.

I also use my exercise and food logs as plan ahead tools for the upcoming week. Each week, I review my upcoming activities, pencil in my workouts, and plan each week night meal. I generally do all my food prep on Sundays such as making a few days of lunches and cleaning all my fresh produce. Cleaning all your produce ahead of time will allow you to quickly make a fresh and healthy meal. A fridge full clean fresh produce will hopefully inspire you to grab a healthy snack when the munchies hit rather than the empty carbs in the pantry. I also plan out my weekly dinner menu making sure I have all the needed ingredients. Planning your weekly menu ahead of time greatly decreases cooking time since you will not searching for each ingredient.

You can also use your weekly log to help you plan for a behavior change. Examples of behavior changes include going to bed earlier, making healthy snacks to keep at work, walking an extra mile with the dog, just to name a few. I suggest you add or change one new behavior per week. It can often be overwhelming when we try to change too many things at once. By selecting one thing to change per week, it will easily be identifiable if the change worked or didn’t work and why.

Below is an example of a weekly log that tracks nutrition, exercise, sleep, and any other things you are working on that week.  Download the log, print it out and use it or find an electronic version (like Lose it!) you like.  Be sure to make comments on your day to give yourself extra insight for your behavior changes. I hope all these tips and tracking log information will help inspire you to make and stick with new healthy behaviors.

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Striving for Progress!

ByKara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS

For most of us, the New Year spawns new commitments to health, nutrition, and overall wellness.  As the newness of your resolution starts to fade, the hard part begins.  How do you actually stick to those health goals you set in January?  Finding the motivation and dedication to adhere to your goals can be absolutely overwhelming.

As a fitness professional, I know the fitness trends and can set my calendar to them.  January brings out all the “I’m finally doing it this year” exercisers, and by march at least half of exercisers have given up.  May causes a short burst with bathing suits season approaching, but that only last for a month or two.  Another burst comes in September when all the kids are back in school and worn out parents finally find time for fitness.  So how do you avoid the year long ebb and flow of most exercise routines? I will be highlighting simple steps below and in my upcoming articles to help you all year long.

It is so exciting to see changes in your body as you progress through your exercise and nutrition plans.  It can be extremely discouraging when everything comes to a grinding hault.  Being patient is something many people struggle with, afterall we are a “right now” society.  With today’s technology everything is right at our fingertips.  Now if only our metabolism could catch up to our smartphones!

Being impatient can be devastating to your accomplishments and lead you very far away from the bandwagon.  Haven’t we all said “Well I ate that pizza for lunch so I might as well call the whole day a cheat day.”  It takes time and commitment to make healthy a habit, and most of us haven’t lived our entire lives that way. It will take weeks, months, or even years to truly adapt a healthy lifestyle.  Concentrate on one meal, one workout, one day at a time to prevent impatience.

Changing your habits is HARD with all the distractions of work, family, and kids.  Try not to dwell on your failures because everyone takes a step backwards now and then.  See your failure as a learning opportunity so you won’t make that mistake twice.  Do your best to eliminate the source of temptation or problematic behavior.

I have a weakness for potato chips, a full on, I will eat the entire bag obsession.  Therefore, I don’t allow them in my house and I don’t go down that aisle in the grocery store. Also, visualizing yourself overcoming your obstacles can help you get back on track.  If your goal was to complete a specific exercise or resist a specific temptation visualize yourself doing what you want to do.  Imagine yourself completing that third set of pullups or saying no to the birthday cake at the office party.  Behavior changes are not only physical but psychological as well.  Psych yourself up for success!

When you find yourself being impatient with your health goals I suggest you stop and recognize your current successes.  Acknowledge all the small steps you are taking to reaching the end goal.  For example:  You want to lose 20 pounds, but you are not there yet.  Don’t be discouraged you haven’t seen the big 2 – 0, and concentrate on the progress you are making.

  • You brought a healthy lunch of protein and veggies three times this week
  • You avoided the doughnuts at both meetings this week
  • You made it to the gym an extra night this week
  • You lost another pound and you went to the next belt loop

Those are some serious accomplishments deserving a ton of credit!  Once you made a few successes go ahead and build on them.  Take your lunch a fourth day, workout on the weekend, take a 20 minute walk on your lunch break, every little thing counts!  When you do something great for yourself it is ok to give credit where credit is due.  You are making progress so go ahead and pat yourself on the back or tell a friend how awesome you feel.  Being healthy and achieving your goals big and small is so brag worthy.

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Kara’s Basic Weight Workout

Bodyweight Exercises –  Hold each for 30; 8-12 reps; 1-3 sets

Plank

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Supermans

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Hip raises

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Modified push ups

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Band Exercises – 8-12 reps; 1-3 sets 

Band Chest Press/Band Row

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Band Bicep curls/Band Squat presses/ Band Pulldown

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I hope all of my strength training information (click on the “Motivation” tab above) and exercises will motivate you to begin a new routine. There is no need to be afraid to start weight training. Everyone, I mean EVERYONE has started where you are right now and worked their way up. Make sure you also do something you enjoy because if you don’t like you probably won’t do it. Exercising with a friend, spouse, or your kids may also help you stick to your plan. As with any routine, don’t forget to be patient. You didn’t develope your current body in a day, so strength training changes won’t be seen over night. Hang in there, it will be worth in the end!

Source: American College of Sports Medicine. Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006, p. 22-23.

Weight, What?

How to incorporate a basic weight lifting routine

by Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS

Ask any person with a fitness resolution what their goal is and the answer is always the same,  “I want to lose weight, get toned, shrink my midsection, and get healthier.”  Cardiovascular exercise has its place in every fitness routine and weight training is equally important for your health.  Strength training allows you to achieve your toning and weight loss goals more effectively than cardio.  There are many different physical and psychological reasons why strength training is so important for the human body.   Strength training reduces the natural age-related decline in muscle mass and bone density.  Toning and sculpting your muscles can also improve body image and self-confidence.  Lastly, being strong just makes life easier!  Heavy groceries, hard yard work, moving clunky furniture, NO PROBLEM!  I always laugh when a pet store clerk asks if I need help carrying the 80 pounds of dog food in my cart.  I respond “no thank you, I lift weights,” and proceed to tuck 40 pounds under each arm.  Wouldn’t it be exhilarating to do almost anything you want to with ease?  Strength training can get you to the, “no help needed, I’ve got this.” kind of life.

What is Strength Training?

Strength training, also known as weight lifting, requires your muscles to generate force in order to overcome a set resistance.  Resistance can be in the form of weight machines, resistance bands, free weights, or even your own body weight.  Many female clients often worry about “getting bulky” when beginning a strength training program.  The hours in the gym and amount food you would have to eat to look like those women in magazines would be astronomical.  It is almost impossible for the average woman to get bulky and pack on the muscle weight.  The first 8 weeks of a strength training program does not change a person’s strength or muscle size at all.  Sounds crazy right!  The body makes neuromuscular improvements not actual muscle changes in those first 8 weeks.  The nervous system becomes more effective at recruiting muscle fibers making your muscles work more effectively.  In addition, you are building the stamina and force capacity of your tendons, ligaments, and joints.  Your body is working smarter not harder.

Are there any reason why I shouldn’t strength train?  After almost 10 years in the fitness industry, there isn’t a single reason why someone should not be strength training.  I have strength trained clients hundreds of pounds overweight, those with brittle bones, clients needing joint replacements, children, pregnant women in their third trimester, and even people in a cast!  If you have a broken arm, you still have another arm and two legs right?  Your age should NEVER be an excuse not to strength train.  My oldest client was a 99 year old woman who exercised every day and lifted weights.  She survived a broken hip at age 97 and was fully recovered within a year.  If that isn’t a testament of the power of strength training then I don’t know what is.

Boost Your Metabolism

Once you stop cardiovascular exercise, your calorie burning potential drops drastically and returns to baseline within ten minutes.  Strength training allows you to burn calories up to 36 hours after your workout due to muscular rebuilding.  I do admit the calories burned per hour after strength training may be modest, but when you multiply it by 36 hours the calories can become significant.  I imagine my muscle cells to be like Pacman, constantly eating, constantly searching for more dots.  Our fat stores provide the never ending source of “dots” for our Pacman muscle cells.  Even if we haven’t eaten recently, the worn out muscle cells will burn stored fat to remodel and repair the damaged cells.   Rebuilding our muscle cells requires a lot of energy (in the form of calories), which causes our resting metabolism to increase.  This means you are burning more calories per hour even while you are doing nothing.  Sounds like a bargain to me!  Some studies estimate that every pound of muscle increases your resting metabolism by 30 – 50 calories per day.

Before You Start

Strength training can be done in your local gym or even in the comfort of your home.  I always recommend consulting your doctor before you start any new exercise routine.  If you decide to take the home route, I recommend buying some inexpensive exercise equipment.  Most of the equipment can even be stored in your luggage so exercising while traveling is possible.  Each of these items will cost around $20.00 and can be found at any local store.  For your home gym I suggest you purchase:

  • A set of resistance bands (light, medium, and heavy resistance)
  • Yoga mat
  • 2 sets of dumbells (8 – 15 pounds) on lighter and one heavier set
  • 55 cm physioball or stability ball
  • jump rope

Ready, Set, SWEAT!

If you click on “Workouts” at the top of the page,  I have listed some great exercises you can do at home using your body weight or set of resistance bands.  Any of these exercises can be made harder by adding repetitions, doing multiple sets, or increasing your holding time.  Try to hold the first three bodyweight exercises for at least 30 seconds.  Resistance bands can also be made more difficult by stepping farther away from the band’s start point.  Gradually increase sets and reps to prevent muscle stiffness and excessive soreness.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends performing strengthening exercise two days per week on nonconsecutive days.  Perform one to three sets of 8 – 12 repetitions per exercise for novice to intermediate exercisers.  Aim for 8 to 10 different exercises targeting all major muscle groups.  Make sure to incorporate upper body, lower body, and core exercises into your routine.   Click on the “Workouts” tab and check it out!

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