My work as a personal trainer entails establishing a client’s hormonal profile. In other words, I try to understand which hormonal disturbance is causing the person to gain or lose weight. Once I have a hormonal map of that person, I create a training program and suggest lifestyle changes. It is never a matter of one size fits all. Why? Because we are all different and what works for my best friend, may not work for me. After all, my hormones may be doing something completely different than hers which means that my body will respond differently to a certain stimuli.
I see different people in my line of work. The first group comes in for advice on how to balance their hormones, get healthy and consequently lose weight. That’s right: you need to get healthy to lose weight and not the other way around. These people want to do things on their own and use me as their sounding board when needed.
The second group wants one-on-one help inside the gym, in addition to their own implementation of the lifestyle changes I suggest. In most cases the second group always gets better results. This is because I am constantly reviewing their efforts. During training for example, I can quickly see whether someone has recovered from the previous workout or from life in general and whether or not they are in fact ready to have their homeostasis disturbed yet again. If the person isn’t recovered due to any of several possible causes like bad food, dehydration, lack of sleep, deadlines, etc., there won’t be any training. Instead, we will do some mobility and recovery work. Adding stress in the form of exercise to an already- stressed body is not going to help that person reach her goals any faster; in fact, it can contribute to some unsightly developments in the abdominal area.
Things go south when someone refuses to acknowledge his or her own responsibility regarding health and body composition, and much of this responsibility has to do with what we put into our bodies. You cannot out-train a bad diet. At the end of the day, I cannot MAKE someone follow the recommended lifestyle changes. This goes further than avoiding processed foods, preservatives (Read your labels people. Those crazy E numbers and words you do not understand have a negative impact on your body!), sugars, Trans fats, soy, dairy (depending on the person). It entails a clean diet that allows your body to heal itself, good training and good recovery. Disregard one of these and you will not get the results you desire.
Imagine that you are someone who is always tired, you have trouble with bowel movements and you keep on waking up in the middle of the night. This is not normal. You may be so used to it that you think it´s normal, but it´s not. Your body is ringing the bell and telling you something is up. More often than not, your hormones are all over the place or your food choices are irritating your bowels.
Do we listen to our bodies? Nope. Although we all know that if we do not fuel our car properly it won’t get us too far, most of us fail to make the connection between body and food, and body and rest. In fact, we choose to take a pill (why not just mask the symptoms, right?) and keep on running in the crazy rat race. Great. Now you’ve just added pills to the equation. Have you bothered reading the contra-indications? Why not try and establish WHY the body is giving you all these signs?
Then, there are others who will decide to starve themselves for a certain period while punishing themselves by doing aerobic exercises for at least 2 hours a day in the hope that if they “just lose that weight” all other problems will also magically disappear.
At the end of the day you may lose that weight (today I won’t get into what you may be in fact losing and whether you should be happy about it), but you are constantly hungry and tired. Chances are you are now skinny, bloated, tired and still not sleeping too well. You may also have developed an injury from all that repetitive movement. When you fail, you blame it on your own lack of perseverance or even strength of character. Oh brother…
Just how long do you think you can keep that going? Until your body’s survival instinct takes over and makes you eat everything in sight? Until there is a complete system failure, i.e. your body decides that enough is enough and steps on the breaks?
As a trainer and guide, there is only so much I can do when someone keeps on coming back with excuses like “I am too busy to concern myself with what I eat “, “I forgot to eat lunch or dinner and then ate a whole pack of cookies” or “I am too busy to sleep – sleep is for the weak”. I do not know what to say to that person. Nobody can care more about your health than you do. Nothing frustrates me more than to see people eating all sorts of junk, depriving themselves of sleep, doing crazy cardio in the hopes of losing weight and then complaining about how tired they are, how bad their skin looks or how much weight they are putting on. All these things will throw you out of (hormonal) balance.
If you get sleepy after eating or you get brain fog, it means you’ve just had something your body cannot handle well. If you wake up with a flat stomach and find yourself bloated at the end of the day, then stop to think about what you’ve been feeding yourself. If running half marathons on a daily basis isn’t helping you lean out and feel energetic and healthy, then you should at least question your methods. Or you could just keep on “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. This was Einstein’s definition of stupid.