I’ve been in the personal training game for 12 years now, and let me tell you, I’ve come across a number of bad habits from clients. Habits are often just what I consider “routine”, and people fall into certain routines in their day-to-day life that often have a negative effect on their health. Our job, as fitness coaches, is not to just scold clients and tell them how horrible their bad habits are. It is to help them realize how they can easily make small changes. How to turn their bad habits into good, or “better” habits.
Often, clients don’t even realize some of their bad habits are even bad. They may not realize that they are working against their fitness and weight loss goals. Again, our job is to make them aware of how these habits might be affecting them, and then offer simple solutions that they can gradually implement.
Here are 2 common “bad habits” I come across often, and actionable steps I use to help clients get past them:
1. Staying Up Too Late Watching TV or Scrolling Social Media Resulting in Lack of Sleep
This is a habit I find clients often know that they’re doing. These clients don’t realize how lack of sleep relates directly to their fat loss results. I usually begin by asking clients approximately how many hours of sleep they get each night on average. Then I explain to them how lack of sleep affects their cravings, energy levels during the day and during their workout, as well as their focus for staying on track with their fitness goal. I often find that sleep is quite overlooked when someone starting a fitness and nutrition plan. People just don’t seem to realize the correlation between the two.
Steps to Getting More Sleep
I begin with educating clients on the importance of sleep, and how much of a priority they should be making this in their life.
Challenge clients to begin by going to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual. Also put their devices away before bed. I make suggestions to read a book, or actually just climb into bed and go to sleep with their phone on silent.
After they have accomplished the 30 minutes, we then attempt to make their bed time earlier and to become more consistent (at least on weeknights) with their bed time routine. Once it becomes a routine and sleep is a priority, they begin to experience the benefits. From there the “bad habit” is often broken.
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2. Skipping Meals Because They Think It Will Help Them Lose Weight Faster
I find this is very common in some clients who are just beginning a fitness and fat loss journey. Especially clients that have read a lot on the internet about the “calories in vs. calories out”. However, although this theory is generally true, we all know that if not executed properly, it can be detrimental to a metabolism.
Steps to Re-teaching Clients How To Eat To Fuel Their Bodies and Fire Up Their Metabolism:
I always begin by educating each client on how important it is to find a way of eating (and training) that fits into their lifestyle long-term. For example, clients should not starve themselves and workout 2 to 3 hours per day. This is not an effective, or healthy, way to lose fat over the long term.
Begin by taking baby steps and teaching the client how to time their meals, prepare their meals/snacks in advance, and what kind of foods they should be eating and why. I select one change they can make each week, and introduce each on a weekly basis.
Once simple habits are changed, take steps to focus on more specific macronutrient percentages, meal timing, or other techniques we feel would work best to get them to their goals.
This is just how I approach changing bad habits into “better” habits over time with clients. The keyword is “over time” (as I feel this is the least stressful and confusing for clients). This also produces the most success over the long term. What are some of the bad habits you have come across with clients? How have you helped them work through it?