Working with a personal trainer can be life-changing. It’s wonderful to have someone in your corner to push you further than you ever thought possible, remind you of your goals, keep the positive reinforcement alive, and connect you to a community of other heavyweights. Constantly up-leveling your fitness routine is impressive and accomplishes many things: You get to do drugs made by your very own body! Your social media is off the chain! You get the highly coveted gratification of winning things! Now let’s talk about the real sh** your trainer isn’t telling you.
7 Things Your Trainer Will Never Tell You
You Are Avoiding Important Things by Working Out Excessively
The fabric of your life will undoubtedly improve as a result of becoming fitter: you’ll probably sleep better, have less anxiety, feel more confident, and maybe even meet a special friend who is sweating and grunting as much as you. However, there are things in life, alas, that won’t improve relative to your VO2 max.
Ask yourself the very frank question: Are there things I’m avoiding by spending more time on my physical health? Do I need to call my brother to patch up that ugly goodbye? Am I avoiding my financial planner like a needy spotter? Consider taking real inventory and allocating a fraction of your workout time to other areas of self-improvement.
Winning Isn’t Everything. In Fact, Forget About It Completely
Winning is actually a very dangerous proposition. With winning can come higher expectations than before, fear of failure, fear of success, and the potential for one-dimensionality. As Michael Phelps told the world last year, he became suicidal after the 2012 Olympics, where he won four gold medals. How is this even possible?
When you’re working so hard to achieve something, it can be devastating to achieve it. Who are you now that you’ve suddenly shed the person you’ve been for so long? While it can be liberating, life-enhancing, and nothing but magical, it can also spiral a person into the depths of identity crisis and present debilitating inertia.
Before you reject this notion, saying, “That’s not me; I’d be grateful and joyful if I won,” ask yourself why you want to win. What precisely does it provide and is there a chance it will clear the way for a desperate gaping void to open once that box is ticked?
Your Intuition Is Better Than Any Trainer on the Planet ... But Don’t Fire Me
Sometimes I get texts or calls from clients asking me about a change to a workout or if they can skip one due to lack of time or fatigue. For example, “I woke up absolutely exhausted this morning so I missed my tempo run. Should I take today off or try to run on the break between my two jobs?”
The answer to this question can make or break the arc of someone’s fitness cycle. If I push and they’re suffering from overtraining, they may experience a severe setback and miss their target. If I say, “stay home and take a nap,” they may not push through the slog and find their next level of performance.
This is where intuition comes in handy. The general rule is keep going, be consistent, work through the slog. However, you are the only one who knows when the alarm is red and not orange, when your body is screaming for a moment to clear some lactic acid, when your brain cannot handle any more stress. This is the best mental tool you have outside of believing in yourself. Use it. But don’t fire me.
Napping Counts As Cross-Training
On that note, take a nap. Life stress affects our minds, bodies, and spirits. Plugging away at the body can certainly assist in uplifting the others, but it can become unhealthy. If you are unusually fatigued, redlining with life stress, and your workout feels like just one more thing on the list, consider referencing #3 and scrapping it for a day and taking a nap. Grab a cat, practice some deep breathing without visualization and allow yourself to drift into sweet sweet slumber.
Let’s Bring the Bagel Back. #Imbringingbagelback
I know, bagel mania ended in the early 2000s alongside wifebeater tank tops as casual wear, CDs, and Friends. However, your green smoothie likely has more sugar in it than a wheat bagel. Green smoothies, unless made with very little fruit, are sky-high with sugar—some near the level of soda. Sure, it’s natural sugar, but your blood doesn’t care much what package your glucose came in. Unless a doctor has prescribed fewer carbohydrates, don’t add stress to your life by avoiding an easy-to-make snack just because it’s cool to hate on bagels. Grab one, throw some hummus on there, a few cucumbers, some avocado, olive oil, salt and pepper, and boom. You’ll be ready to out-lift cocky, smooth-legged Jeff at lunchtime.
Related: 5 Breaks You Should Take Every Day
Let’s Talk About Your Sex Life
Sex is a natural and important part of life and we simply don’t talk about it enough. Particularly for those who treat their bodies as temples, being realistic about how all body parts are working is important. So, like, I mean, how’s it going? Are you an endurance athlete? Has your sex drive crashed recently? Are you a male cyclist? Are you having any numbness? Listen, it’s OK if something is up down below. Recognize it, accept it, and get some help if needed. Are you an elite female? You may actually have improved sexual function, as one 2010 study found in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Whatever the case may be, get real with this part of who you are to ensure it’s getting the same attention as those biceps.
I Swapped Leg Day for Volunteering
The thing about training, setting goals, and achieving them is that it’s a self-centered cycle. Obviously it’s an important self-centered cycle because we can’t be good in the world if we don’t first work on ourselves. You’ve worked on yourself a ton and that is why, as your trainer, I’m now swapping Tuesday’s leg days for volunteer hours.
Find an organization, preferably one that has more than just ‘gram appeal. In fact, leave your phone at home. Volunteer and do something completely selfless. Clean stalls at the animal shelter. Spend time in a classroom of screaming middle-schoolers. Stuff envelopes at the food bank. Don’t post about it; don’t make it about you. Just mark it on your training log as “complete” and experience that special fullness that results from giving yourself to something without the metrics of time, weight, distance, reps, or podiums. You’ve got this.