Why I hate being called a personal trainer

I once had a client with an extreme habit.

She'd stop at the petrol station up to three time a day and binge on Coca Cola and chocolate bars.

She told me she was spending up to $700 a month on junk food. And while she knew it was dangerous and she had tried everything to stop, she simply hadn't found a way to shake it. She would hide the empty wrappers and bottles in her car so her husband wouldn't find them.

One day, she told me she'd like to start taking protein powder, and asked me what type she should use. I responded that if her current diet was that poor, then adding protein powder was not a priority right now. Improving her nutrition was more important.

She became angry with me. How dare I refuse to answer her question? How dare I not sell her my product?

She was highly offended. Surely, she said, having more protein in her diet was better than no protein at all? Why was I being so unhelpful?

I hate being called a personal trainer.

I seem to spend more time telling people not to train than I do actually training people. And while I might be qualified to teach people about nutrition, I don't think I know much more about food than anyone else. And I certainly won't sell products to people if I don’t think it will help them.

So what the heck should I call myself?

One client actually asked me if it made that much of a difference if she ate from the lolly jar at work every day.

Yes, of course it will make a difference. But why was she eating the lollies in the first place? Boredom? Loneliness? Not bringing enough food to work? Instead of alleviating the bigger problem, she just wanted me to give her permission to eat the lollies. Sorry, but eating lollies every day will stunt your progress, no matter how good the rest of your food is.

But it got me thinking. Most people are happy to fix all the little niff naff and trivial things in their life, but they dance around the real problem. Sure, I could have just sold that client the protein powder, given her what she wanted and even made myself a little extra cash in the process. Everyone would be happy.

But how would that help her? She was flooding her body with so much poison, it would have cancelled out the benefits of the protein. Should I praise her for putting a band-aid over her poor diet, or should I step outside my boundaries as a PT and tell her that I suspected her Coke and chocolate habit was being triggered by bullying?

And what about the lolly-eating girl, should I congratulate her for showing up and never missing a PT session? Or should I request that she removes the lolly jar at work? I know she desperately wants to lose weight, and that no amount of exercise is going to cancel out the lollies. Either way, I'm not going to win. Because no one wants to be told they can't eat lollies when they are sitting on a shelf in front of you, staring you in the face.

People who are focused on the real problem don't seem to need a personal trainer. They might want a little guidance and support, but they see clearly what needs to be done. You can't make people change their mindset. When they want to change, they just change. If they are not ready to change, they will focus on niff-naff. But is that a good enough reason to make a career as a niff-naff fixer?

There really isn't a big secret to losing body fat or building muscle. You just need to focus on the things in your life that are stopping you from doing it. Don't allow yourself to get distracted by naff-naff. You might be too close to your own problem to be able to see it (or you might be pretending it’s not there), but either way, if you're not progressing, ask yourself if you're dancing around the real issue.

I never did approach that lady about the bullying, but I did stop selling protein powder. 

After all, you don't fix a three-times-a-day junk food habit by taking protein powder.

You fix it by facing the bully.

Till next time,

Trish xoxo

PS: Check out my trainer profile here

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