I turned away a client today.
She came to me for personal training/fitness classes. She was exhausted, stressed, unmotivated but desiring change, and generally just feeling lost. After discussing what it was she was looking for in terms of fitness, we started talking about the rest of her life. How well she slept, how much stress she had and how she manages it, what her diet was like, etc. It was clear that none of those factors were being met in a healthy way.
Fitness is the first thing people turn to when they feel like they need a change. When in reality, it should be the last. We must have a solid foundation before we can build upon it. A foundation is created by eating well, sleeping enough, and controlling stress levels. If those factors are out of balance and you add exercise on top of it, your body will respond negatively. You won’t get results, you’ll feel even more exhausted, you’ll create food cravings, you’ll increase your cortisol even further, and eventually you’ll quit.
The first place you should start is with sleep, get as much as you possibly can. Protect your sleep like your life depends on it, because it actually does. Once that is in order you may feel that your stress levels automatically improve, if not, you need to come up with a way to channel that stress and manage it. No, exercise should not be your main stress reliever! (Unless of course it’s a casual walk, or some light stretching). Meditation, journaling, deep belly breathing, visualization, talking with a friend. These are all excellent stress management tools. After that is under control, then look at your food. And surprise surprise, when you’re well rested and your stress is low, you will find that making healthy food choices is SO much easier! Then, and only then, should you pursue fitness. If you tackle these 4 pillars of health in that order, I promise you, positive change will happen.
So I advised my potential client that it wasn’t wise for her to begin her health journey with an intense kettlebell class or any strength training at all. It would most likely flatten her for the rest of the day, leaving no energy for her family responsibilities and ultimately adding to her already high stress load. I gave her a few suggestions for supplementation along with some simple dietary changes, told her to walk when she could, and gave her some suggestions on stress management. She left feeling relieved and a little more hopeful that she will get through these tough times.
So I didn’t make a sale today, I didn’t talk her into a package that I knew she shouldn’t do. What I did do was listen. I helped someone get on the right path to health because that’s the most important thing to me. My job is to empower people to make healthy choices. Your health and happiness should be a priority, and I make it my priority to help you get there. In whatever way that looks like.