Photo by kike vega on Unsplash
Reading the article, “Number of states with high obesity almost doubles in 2 years“ from Axios, made me think about our current situation. Since March of 2020, America has lived in some sort of “lockdown.” In many cases, gyms have been closed or limited and, as a person who has been able to workout in gyms in three different states, the impact on the fitness industry is still being felt all over.
Without a doubt, many people have locked themselves down a lot harder than many would like to admit. I am not blaming anyone. These are interesting times and pointing fingers is not appropriate. But what is appropriate is making sure we are all taking care of ourselves.
In an article by ISSA posted on 40+&Fit, “What Is the Relationship Between Poor Nutrition and Disease?,” the importance of proper nutrition is addressed. It is easy for a person who is no longer active to start overeating. Where it would seem to be counterintuitive for someone to eat more when doing less, it is often what happens. And when this happens, weight gain is inevitable. Overeating is a disastrous practice that can cause serious health problems.
In a time where staying and being healthy have never been more important, it is everyone’s responsibility to care for themselves. Now, more than ever, we must be prepared to do everything we can do to make a conscious effort to be fit and well, and in all three of the most important areas: mind, body, and soul. We must push ourselves forward to avoid getting lost in the trap of isolation and unhealthy lifestyles. This is difficult in normal times, but it is imperative that we do it. We must do it every day, without exception.
The following ISSA questions that are suggested that trainers ask of their clients will help with your endeavors, if you answer them honestly:
- Do you ever eat due to mental health reasons, such as depression or anxiety? This question helps you identify if the client is an emotional eater. Mental health can impact their food choices. For instance, if they struggle with depression, they may use sugar as a pick-me-up. Knowing this upfront can help you come up with other ways to deal with these mental health issues. Suggest that they use anxiety as a trigger to take a walk, versus going to the fridge. Talk about how chatting with a friend is a better way to deal with depression than eating a carton of ice cream. If their mental health issue is more severe, suggest that they seek the help of a counselor or therapist.
- Are you a fast eater or a slow eater? The faster you eat, the more likely it is that you will take in too much food. Getting the client to slow down supports weight loss by giving the stomach enough time to realize when it has had enough. One way to achieve this goal is by setting a timer when they eat. Encourage them to make their meal last 20-30 minutes. This will help them achieve a healthy weight.
- Do you multitask when you eat? Watching the TV or checking your email while eating makes it incredibly easy to take in too many calories. Before you know it, your food is gone, and your weight is on the rise. Change this habit by doing nothing else while eating. Focus only on the food. Pay attention to how it tastes and feels. This helps keep the calorie count low simply by being engaged in the eating process.
Making Physical Activity a Life-Long Lifestyle Change
- Talk to them about the kind of physical training required to reach their goals. For instance, if they want more muscle, their focus should be on strength training. If lowering their weight is their primary concern, cardio can help get them there. The more they are able to see how a particular activity gets them closer to their goal, the more willing they’ll be to make it a habit.
- Set weekly and monthly exercise goals. When your goal is to get to a certain weight, you have an end goal in sight. Setting an end goal with exercise is a little harder because there isn’t always a magic number the client wants to reach. This is where weekly or monthly exercise goals can help. It keeps them motivated because they’re actually working toward something. Encourage an exercise goal that makes sense. For instance, maybe they want to exercise five days every week for 30 minutes at a time. That is a reasonable goal. If they want to exercise 7 days a week for 5 hours a day, you may want to talk about why that goal is unrealistic and could set them up for failure. Once you’ve agreed on a good goal, check-in with them to make sure they’re meeting it.
- Encourage exercise between training sessions. Creating a healthy lifestyle change involves creating habits both in and outside the gym. Encourage them to pursue their fitness goals outside of your training sessions. For cardio, they can walk, run, or cycle around their neighborhood. They can build muscle with relatively little home equipment. Bags of sand can stand in for hand weights. Bodyweight exercises don’t require any equipment at all.
These questions and suggestions are more important than ever. Be honest with yourself and set goals. Make being healthy your day-to-day goal. Never go a day without being concerned about your health and fitness. Make it a top priority and never cheat yourself. You are the most important person you can take care of. Do it as if your life depends on it because it does.
Joseph St John