Keeping your ears open for ideas and trends that might be leading your clients astray does them a great service. There are several common themes that appear in magazine articles, social media posts and tv shows to keep an ear open for.
People who are desperate for answers to their lifelong battle with being overweight will often seek out extreme ways to deal with it. Preventing unhealthy eating issues is an important part of any fitness program. It’s hard to say with absolute certainty how you would define a “fad diet” or exactly what “normal eating” is. What I can say for sure that if some style of eating causes you bodily harm you should avoid it.
Weight Loss Competitions
People are constantly bombarded with mixed messages about what exactly they should be doing. TV shows have contests to see who can lose the most weight in a week even though it’s been proven time and time again that fast loss is not usually lasting. Employers sometimes emulate these contests with their employees to encourage them to lose weight.
Imagine if you went to work and staged a contest to see who could smoke the most cigarettes or drink the most alcohol? If you weren’t fired on the spot you would certainly face some sort of disciplinary action. At what point in my lifetime did an eating disorder contest become an effective weight loss program?
While it seems harmless, encouraging people to compete with one another in a weight loss competition sets the stage for extreme diet and training protocols. This is harmful to the participants and sets a bad precedence in the minds of the public. In my opinion any trainer that has ever been on a weight loss contest show is a complete sell out. Not only are these contests unhealthy but it violates a very important principle of our profession.
Surely you’ve told a client that the only person they are competing against is their former self? It’s a good message to repeat andy time you feel it necessary.
Go on social media on any given day and you will likely see someone boasting that they lost five or six pounds in just one week. Knowing full well that the maximum safe weight loss is 1-2 pounds a week their friends offer praise and encouragement. Would you praise them if they told you that they were taking anabolic steroids and put on five or six pounds of muscle?
Both things are harmful to your body and should not be encouraged and yet it is socially acceptable to praise a person for successfully starving them self. As unpopular as it might make you, it is the right thing to do to tell a person that is losing weight too quickly to stop doing it and explain why. Let’s change the popular belief that losing weight quickly makes you a hero.
Quite often people that want to lose weight as quickly as possible resort to a nontraditional eating style. Becoming a Vegan, Vegetarian or Paleolithic eater is not in of its self necessarily an eating problem. In fact it is really a value based decision as to what lifestyle you choose. However there is no valid reason to adopt such a diet just to be healthy or to lose weight. You can eat healthy or unhealthy while adhering to any of these diets.
The same can be said of a diet that includes meat. However there does seem to be a certain extreme element that eats a nontraditional diet that can have more of a tendency to develop eating disorders. It’s not that the diets are bad. It is just more attractive to start this type of diet for people that have extreme views on eating and this type of person is more likely to have or develop an eating disorder.
Make sure that non-meat eaters are meeting all of their calorie, protein, vitamin and mineral needs. It is important to let people know that they should do their due diligence before adopting a vegetable base diet. It’s handy to have a Licensed Dietitian that you can recommend. If you find that a client on any diet is losing weight too rapidly or is weak and looks rundown you need to talk to them about their diet.
Quite often Vegetarians or Vegans ask me about vegetable based protein supplements. I tell them that I am not qualified to offer nutritional counseling but that I do know of vegetable based protein supplements that they can research. It is really up to the client to decide what they put into their bodies. If I tell someone of the existence of pea, hemp or soy protein supplements it is not the same as endorsing their use. It is an important distinction that you are only providing information as to what supplements exist and not endorsing or prescribing a diet to them.
When to step in
There is a very fine line that exists between being highly motivated and being too extreme. It’s a judgment call that we sometimes have to make whether or not a person is pushing things too hard. If you find that a person is obsessive and often makes extreme statements about their eating or workout desires, it may be time that you recommend that they get help. We are advocates of living a healthy lifestyle. The pursuit of perfection can color ones sense of what is healthy. It is important that health takes priority over aesthetics.
What conversations have you overheard or been a part of that contained misleading information? We’d like to know!
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