The Secret to Change


When people come to see me as a trainer they are mainly interested in three things: losing fat, having more energy and reducing pain in their body. The number one reason people go to a personal trainer is for weight loss—they want to be leaner.

Everyone is different; some are trying to lose one hundred plus pounds while others may be trying to rid their body of those last stubborn five pounds of fat. I develop a weight loss strategy with a proper eating plan and exercise regime that makes sense to the individual and the environment that they have created. The key is for the plan to be followed long term.

The exercise plan has to fit the individual’s current fitness level and must be progressive so that when they get fitter the exercise becomes longer in duration and higher in intensity. Most people do not train hard enough to evoke changes in their body. The eating plan must contain the calories specific to the person’s metabolic rate. The calories eaten must provide enough nutrients to maintain cellular health, the energy to perform intense exercise and be specific to the weight-loss goal. 

Being more fit or having more energy is the next most popular request in a training program. People want to go through their day without feeling exhausted. The idea is to have an exercise program specific to the environment you want to be fitter in.

If I’m training a professional hockey player, I need to prepare their body to give and take hits, accelerate quickly and have the energy to do 45 second high intensity hockey shifts multiple times with limited recovery time.

If my client is a stay-at-home mother, then I need to look at what they do during their day. Maybe they clean the house, take groceries from the car into the house, garden and spend hours a day picking up after the kids. I then select the appropriate exercises and work the energy systems they need to be able to be better in their world.

Random exercise will burn some calories and get the heart working, but I believe the key is to maximize the benefits of your workout time specific to what you want to be better at. If your workout makes you fitter for what you specifically encounter during your day you will go through it with more ease, perform at a higher level and have the energy to do it day after day without injury or exhaustion. 

The third most popular reason people see a trainer is for pain removal. People may have back, knee, hip or shoulder pain. Pain is a problem because it forces us to pay attention to our bodies during a time when we need to pay attention to other things like family, work or daily responsibilities. The constant focus on the pain is stressful and draining on the mind. We become depressed and avoid movement, fearful of making the pain worse.

At the start of any training program, people should get an assessment of their joint health and movement mechanics. Muscular imbalances could exist that create faulty movement patterns. When the body does not distribute forces equally through out a movement one joint or specific muscles may be doing more work than they should. Corrective resistance training exercise to strengthen weak muscles and corrective stretches to loosen up tight muscles should be the start of any workout program.

Pain can be alleviated by just helping muscles and joints function better. An example of bad posture affecting back pain can be attributed to sitting at a computer all day long. Try this: while you are sitting round your shoulders forward and tuck in your chin to your chest. Keep this bad rounded posture and fold your arms in front of you. Rotate your torso to one side then the other. Notice the amount of rotation in your spine you can perform. Now, maintain good posture. Your chest should be out, shoulders together and abdominals nice and tight. Fold your arms in front of you and rotate again. Notice the difference in spinal rotation.

This example shows that tight shoulders and chest muscles have an effect on how well we can rotate at the spine. Imagine being in a situation where you are suddenly forced to rotate under a load, like shoveling snow. Poor posture can cause a back injury. I would recommend stretching the chest and strengthening the opposing upper back muscles to create better muscular balance.

Why is looking and feeling good so hard for some people?

It is too easy to become fat and it takes effort to become lean. The obesity epidemic has really only been a problem for the last 60–70 years of human existence. Why was fat a non-issue in the tens of thousands of years man has been roaming the planet?

Science shows that our genetics have remained unchanged in the last 40,000 or so years. What has changed is the environment that we live in. Our desire to make life more comfortable, our search for knowledge, our obsession to acquire property and material things has ultimately lead to humanity’s demise. I do not see the problem getting better any time soon.

Improvements in technology will only increase and our desire for more stuff will grow because of greed. We no longer have to worry about food, water, or shelter. Our concerns today are about making the mortgage and car payments, buying nice clothes, and trying to acquire more possessions than our neighbor. Our reason for existing is still the same (to evolve and perpetuate the species). What has changed is our mindset, the energy we expend in a day and the types and amount of food that we eat.

Our ancestors were happy with a warm fire, covering to protect them from the weather and avoiding starvation. Today we go to school to avoid blue-collar work. We order food from a phone because we have no time to prepare something. We spend an average 8-10 years of our lives sitting in front of the television or computer for relaxation and entertainment.

We may be smarter than our prehistoric ancestors but we are paying the price by slowly killing off our bodies. You cannot change the world, all you can do is change how you exist in it.

Fear vs Love

People give me many reasons why they cannot lose weight and become fit. Some say that they have no time, don’t know what to do, it is too hard, they hate exercise, they love sugary foods, they are not motivated and so on.

These are all excuses. It comes down to love versus fear.

People are afraid to change their body because it is scary. For their body to change they have to alter so many things in their lives. Maybe they have to exercise a few hours per week, maybe they have to give up some of the chocolate they like to eat, maybe they have to make more time for themselves. This is all unknown territory for most.

Change and the unknown is hard but the “hard” is what makes being fit and lean so glorious. If it were easy then everybody would be an Athena or Adonis. The “hard” is what makes the lean fit body so sought after. When someone has mastered going to work, paying their bills, taking care of their family plus make the time to maintain the physique they desire, all others are in awe of them. This could be you.

The key is to fight the fear and embrace in loving yourself. If you feel you are worth the effort, if you feel you deserve it, if you can place value to your body then you will be successful. What we love and value is what we take care of the most. Think about the things in your life that are most valuable to you. Think about how you take care of them. Think of the time you spend with them. Think about the attention and priority you place on them.

Now place this love and value on yourself.