People choose to begin working with a personal trainer for a range of reasons; whether it is to train towards a specific goal or just for an added dose of motivation and accountability. Of course, you are going to need to put the hard work in to see results, but your personal trainer will equally need to be putting in the work to keep you motivated and keep pushing you to reach the goals you have set. Personal training can sometimes be too expensive for some people, so online personal training or small group training is another alternative. There are so many benefits of personal training, from perfecting your form to nailing your nutrition, but before you begin working with a personal trainer, there are a few things you should know.
Question Your Potential Personal Trainer
The consultation prior to deciding whether you proceed with a personal trainer is so important! This is your opportunity to truly grill them and ask questions to get a sense of who they are and to make sure they will be a right fit for you. Of course, it’s important they ask you questions too so that they understand you, your history and your goals to ensure they can create an effective regime that will bring about results. Here are some great questions you should be asking your trainer:
- Do you have experience designing a plan for someone with my kind of goals?
- What is it like to train with you?
- How easy will you find it to make adjustments to my plan based on changes that may come up?
- What do you expect of me as the trainee?
Define Your Boundaries
Always let your personal trainer know what your boundaries are – without a doubt, your trainer is going to push you, but we all have our limits. For example, if you truly hate the feeling of being so out of breath that your chest hurts, let your trainer know this so they can plan movements that will not cause this. The same goes for how much physical contact you deem acceptable; some trainers will help reposition you if your form is not quite correct, but some people can find this invasive. If you would prefer your trainer to not touch you, always let them know this.
Don’t Feel Stuck
Many people begin using a personal trainer and over a few months, or sometimes even weeks, find that they are not clicking with their trainer in the way they would have hoped – or perhaps are finding there are no results being seen. Regardless of your reasons, just because you started with one personal trainer does not mean you are tied in for life. You can always shop around and with a bit more experience under your belt in terms of what you do like and what you don’t, you may be able to find someone better suited to you.
Buying Multiple Sessions is Not a Requirement
Of course, any personal trainer is going to want to sell you as many sessions as possible, but this is where many people find they feel trapped with a trainer; at first things may seem great and you may think you each are well suited to each other, to later find out their training style is not quite what you expected. When you are tied into multiple sessions, it isn’t so each to back out. Always start out with just a couple of sessions before buying any sessions in bulk.
Don’t Tell Your Personal Trainer What They Want to Hear
Honesty is key! It is so important that you prioritize what it is that you actually want, not what you think your personal trainer will expect of you. Many people train not to see any physical changes, but simply to feel stronger and more fit, and that is totally acceptable! Do not feel forced into claiming you have certain goals just because you believe that is what your trainer will want. Being open and communicative with your personal trainer is always best, that way, you will truly be able to work towards your goals or to simply maintain where you are at, if that’s what you wish.
The same goes for certain movements – do not pretend to enjoy certain things if you really don’t! If you get bored of reps and sets, perhaps timed sets would be more enjoyable for you. Always discuss what you like with your trainer and which things make you feel your best; they can tweak and adapt your plan to best suit you. Think back to one of the first questions we suggested you ask:
- How easy will you find it to make adjustments to my plan based on changes that may come up?
This question is so relevant as trainers need to be adaptable and flexible to ensure you feel motivated and pushed, while also enjoying what you do!
It can take months on end to build good habits and make them apart of a sustainable lifestyle, however, we all go through phases of losing our motivation and sometimes veering off track. Rather than scrapping all of your good habits and writing everything off completely, read this guide to help you maintain your good habits; after allowing yourself to mentally reset, you can hit everything hard again. Sometimes, forcing yourself to train or do more than you can handle can have a negative effect which causes you to give up on everything entirely; avoid this by listening to your body!
We can jump into the deep end when it comes to wanting to get in shape; however, we usually are very excited when we first start out, and over time, this excitement dwindles. One of the biggest things to bear in mind is that you should approach any new habit with caution as burnout can ruin things, even for the best of us! Did you know that a habit can take anywhere from two to four months to form? This helps explain why after just a few weeks of going hard and not seeing any results can leave us feeling discouraged and disappointed – be patient and start small!
If you are new to exercise, start with just a couple of sessions per week and then, one you feel exercise has become more of a habit for you, increase the number of sessions you do. This also applies to healthy eating, which is a major struggle for many people – and explains why diets never last! Rather than cutting carbs as that low-carb diet you may be considering suggests, start looking for healthier carbs to include in your diet, or just have smaller portions. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t need carbs, they are an essential macro and we all need them! The key to balancing your nutrition is to enjoy things in moderation instead; but luckily, as carbs are perfectly acceptable to eat, you will want to opt for carbs that help keep you full for longer, such as potatoes, quinoa, brown rice and wholegrain pasta.
When you do find that you are losing motivation after working hard to create good habits, you sometimes need to shake up your environment. We all can become complacent and sometimes complacency gets the best of us. Many of us struggle to drink the right amount of water, but a great reminder that you can put in place for yourself is by leaving full bottles of water around the house. For example, put one by your bedside, one in the office, one at the dining table, etc so that you feel encouraged to drink them. When things are not in our sight, we can sometimes lose focus; by changing your environment, you can help build more sustainable habits, as well as maintain those you have already put into place.
If you are feeling demotivated, ask yourself, why did you start in the beginning? Sometimes reminding ourselves of why we started in the first place can help give us the kickstart we need. A great idea is to always keep your goals noted down, so the times you are feeling a lack of motivation, you can refer back to them to help inspire you again. This may sound a bit bizarre, but your mind cannot actually differentiate between things that you imagine and those that you don’t; based on this, you should always visualize the success you will achieve when you set out to achieve the goals you have set. That way, you are so much more likely to follow through and find that motivation that you had before!
Sometimes when we get into a mental state of feeling demotivated it can be hard to pull ourselves back out of it; this is a known fact, as motion creates emotion! Even if you are not wanting to do a full-on training session, get up, get active and you will notice how your mood increases and you may find yourself discovering that motivation again. Lastly, don’t forget the support systems you have in place – whether that be through family or friends. For those that either can’t rely on their friends or family as a source of motivation, find others around you that can help; this can be in the form of reading a motivational book or listening to a podcast.
Creating habits can be such a challenge, but consistency and dedication is key. When we lose our motivation, we need to remind ourselves why we started and how far we have come; the smallest step in the right direction can lead us down amazing paths. You will be amazed at the changes you can make in your fitness, strength and nutrition when you make small, sustainable changes in your life.
To be successful at anything requires a plan, and that includes eating right!
Without a meal plan, it’s a whole lot easier to order take-out trap again… only to realize you made dinner once this week, and it was or cereal.
Use the weekend to your advantage and plan your meals for the week ahead of time. There’s no one way to do it, and you definitely don’t have to be super strict about it 100% of the time. But even if you just plan a few dinner and snack options, you’ll be on track to a healthier lifestyle!
Map out your meals for the week
If you’re new to meal planning, you might want to start small by just planning out one type of meal for the week, such as breakfast. Once you master it, add another meal to the plan. Try setting aside 10 minutes on Friday afternoon or evening to map out the coming week. When planning your meals, consider the following:
- Look at your calendar. Do you have a lunch meeting on Monday? Are you meeting friends for dinner Thursday? You can subtract those meals from the weekly meal plan so you know how many meals you really need to make.
- What kind of meals do you enjoy eating? If it’s cold out, consider making soup or roasted veggies. You want to have food around that you actually want to eat! If you can, think about what foods are in season and use one or two of them as the base for your meal.
- Spend a little time each week going through your recipes or searching new ones online or on social media. I recommend this website! Just keep in mind your cooking strengths and how much time you have for cooking!
- If you’re lacking inspiration, consider theme nights! It could be Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Breakfast for Dinner, Pasta Night, leftovers… whatever you like. Sticking to a theme can make coming up with meals a lot simpler.
- Check your pantry, freezer and refrigerator for inspiration. Is there some baby bok choy in the produce drawer just waiting to be used up? Great, then make a stir-fry. How about that can of black beans in the pantry and the chicken thighs in the freezer? Sounds like ingredients for Taco Tuesday!
Go Shopping (Saturday)!
Now that you know what you’re going to eat, make a list! Check your fridge and pantry to see what you already have, then make a list of anything else you need. That will also reduce the chance of impulse buying or wandering aimlessly around the market looking for some inspiration. Go through your spice and seasoning drawer to purchase or replace any old spices, except for salt and pepper (if your spices are over one year old, it’s time to replace them). Seasoned food just tastes better!
If you can, try to stop by your local farmers’ market. If you you’re pressed for time, make a one-stop trip to the grocery store. Shop in the morning to avoid busy grocery store lines in the afternoon and early evening.
Also, make sure to go through your cabinet full of containers to make sure you have enough food storage for the week. You might want to consider purchasing a new set of stackable containers.
Prep Time (Sunday)
Part of meal prep is deciding if you want to make everything for the whole week, prep some of the meals, or just chop up veggies and organize ingredients to be cooked fresh on the night you want a particular recipe. Many people like to get it all done on Sunday so all you need to do each night is microwave it. It will take a little more time out of your Sunday, but you’ll spend less time in the kitchen the rest of your week. Here are some prep tips!
Consider cooking double batches of recipes and freezing half, which you can then take out in a few weeks and reheat.
Sheet-pan meals are ideal if you want little to no clean-up. Just line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and load it up with veggies and a protein. Season and bake in the oven until done. When cool, load it into containers and recycle the foil. No clean-up!
One-pot meals are another great way to cook with little clean-up. Sauté your veggies in some heart-healthy oil, add brown rice or quinoa, your protein of choice, broth, and seasonings and then cover with a lid and simmer until done.
Use your slow-cooker to make soups, chili or stews. You can load up the slow-cooker in the morning before you leave and set it to cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. When you get home, all you have to do is serve. Make extra so leftovers can be enjoyed for days to come.
Sample Meal Plan
Breakfast: frittata (for Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and smoothie (Tuesday, Thursday)
Lunch: Leftovers from last night’s dinner for lunch. You can turn it into a sandwich, mix and match, or just eat it exactly the same as before!
- Meatless Monday—vegetarian chili
- Taco Tuesday—chicken, black beans, shredded lettuce, salsa, guacamole/avocado and mini corn tortillas
- Breakfast-for-Dinner Wednesday—scrambled eggs topped with salsa, toast and fruit
- Crock-pot Thursday—simmer chicken thighs with 1 cup frozen organic corn, 1 can black beans, 1 container fresh salsa, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and broth. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours, then shred chicken and mix everything together. Top with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream.
- Pizza Friday—buy a store-bought whole grain crust or make your own crust and top with marinara or homemade pesto, parmesan cheese and whatever veggies you have on hand. Bake until cheese is melted and crust is crunchy.
Snacks (optional): prepare snack-size baggies with mixed nuts or make containers of chopped veggies and hummus. You could even bake your favorite banana bread recipe and cut it into single servings for dessert every night!
Once you get the hang of it, using your weekend to plan and prep your meals for the week will save you time, money and stress. That means more time to enjoy your meals, squeeze in that workout after work, or just relax with friends and family!
Blog post written by Trainer, Sarah Oliver
VIM is now offering nutrition services with Trainer & Nutrition Coach, Christine Galvin!
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