Our clients often want a magic approach to make lifestyle habits surrounding diet, sleep, workout routines, and adequate hydration easy and attainable all the while never losing momentum. The new year is a prime time for fitness clients to hit the ground running and embrace lifestyle changes, simply because most see the new year as an opportunity for a fresh start. We get pumped up, make the plans, have high hopes for ourselves and our clients, and off we go! But how do we help our clients sustain those changes?
Recognize the Pattern
Week one into January all is good because motivation is there. Week two, we see some changes and are feeling good. Week three the routine has settled in and likely we’ve got some momentum, the timing of our days are flowing and it’s smooth sailing. Then week four hits, you and your clients have been at it for a month and the novelty of the new year begins to dim its light.
Progress may seem to slow down and the excitement that initially fueled us has waned; the repetition of it all has become just that…repetitious. What can we shift in our perspective to keep clients moving forward and thinking less off the days ahead and more about the bigger picture? Is it more about it being a new year for new starts rather than focusing more on changing our habits and lifestyles? What can we do to help clients sustain these changes so when 2023 rolls around it’s just another calendar year and not an opportunity to start again?
Dieting is a thing of the past
Many of our clients may have tried at one time or another, adjusting eating habits hoping that those unwanted pounds will be gone in “X” amount of days/months. They typically ask for a guided plan, aka diet, to follow that helps them achieve their elusive goals. But, how do we explain that a “diet” is not what they need?
Dieting is restriction and being restricted on any level doesn’t leave a good taste in the mouth (pun intended). If you want to be effective in guiding your client, continuously reiterate that they must burn more energy than they consume, but still consume enough to maintain their bodily functions. Eating below BMR will cause long-term health problems and even thwart weight loss.
Most “diets” out there that cut out a food group or cut calories drastically will not work long term. Educating your clients on macro’s and what their individual functions are will serve as a guide to help them make their own decisions on what foods to eat that work best for them and their long term health goals. Encourage your clients to use the months ahead to experiment with different, nutrient-dense foods and calorie intake to find what they respond positively to. Over time, they should be able to intuitively gauge how to listen to their body’s cues, and surely they will see that dieting is indeed a thing of the past.
Getting your Zzzzz’s
Hands down the most important part of becoming a healthier version of ourselves is getting adequate sleep. Numerous functions happen that are key to our recovery and setting us up for the day ahead. Waking up groggy and feeling unrested can lead to bad decision making when it comes to food choices and the desire to exercise.
How can we help our clients to understand the importance of 7-9 hours of sleep so they can benefit from waking up perky and refreshed instead of the latter?
Help them prioritize. You will no doubt run into the I’m so busy, I can’t get to bed early enough excuse. Have your client plan their day/week out in advance. Together you can go over their schedule and see if there are any instances in their scheduling that may effect their sleep schedule, not allowing for those 7-9 hours. It is also common to learn that your client has trouble sleeping. Although this is a real issue for some, continue to encourage them that the right food choices and consistent exercise/stress management may very well be the key to helping them form better sleeping patterns and habits.
These suggestions take time and effort on their part but once they notice the positive effects of these efforts, the long lasting effect can continue year in and year out.
Getting that heart pumping
Starting off full-throttle into workout programs that leave your client sore for days is not congruent with sustainability. When training your clients, looking at the long term bigger pictureis the best route. Take time to educate your client on the proper steps to safely become stronger…slowly. Help them to recognize that becoming fitter and healthier isn’t done with a ‘push yourself to the max’ program, but more so learning how their body responds and recovers over time.
This is also a great opportunity to circle back and reiterate why nutrition and sleep are key to sustaining a healthy body as well as a healthy mindset when it comes to training and their routine in general.
Keeping all of this in mind, the goal to live and practice a healthy lifestyle can be more effective if it is maintained long term without the desire to hit the “start again” button over and over. A new calendar year, historically associated with new resolutions can actually decrease our effectiveness to make those permanent changes necessary for success. Encouraging your clients to take their time throughout the year without an end point in mind is indeed a sustainable and effective way to reach all of their goals.