As I see it, my role as a trainer is to take all my available education and information that has come to me from text books, science, mentoring, my own training, and time spent on the ground with real people in real situations, and be able to correctly individualise and apply that knowledge to suit the person in front of me.
It seems many trainers don’t take the same view.
As an industry, we personal trainers are our own worst enemies. It is not enough anymore to say that we believe in our own methods, we have to take cracks at anyone else who believes differently to ourselves. We can’t just go about the business of training people the way we see fit, we have to take side swipes at all other methods of training in order to prove that our method is better. Or at least the more insecure of us do.
You only have to follow some of the more well-known health and fitness professionals *gurus* who have conflicting opinions about either nutrition or training – or both – to see firstly just how many RIGHT ways there are to go about achieving a goal, and secondly, just how many proponents of these opinions will tell you that the first statement I made is flat out wrong. The arguments that ensue between these educated adults are at times hilarious and at times tragic. The howls of “show us your peer-reviewed article” compete with the squeals of “do you even lift bro”, all backed with a choir of nonsense from passionate guru-followers whose only source of information and education is, embarrassingly enough, peer-reviewed articles and Internet memes. And the words that fall from the fingertips of their beloved idols.
What is not funny is how so many people take these guru’s words as gospel, following their teachings with zero wiggle room for individualisation and sometimes destroy their own health in the process. And how much confusion these ridiculous arguments cause amongst general pop who are out there on social media looking for simple answers to basic fitness or health related questions.
And don’t get me started on those self-appointed ‘wellness’ gurus… That is a post for another day.
Let me clear up some commonly debated issues with a few quick sentences.
If you want to track all your calories, macros, micros, and daily steps, go for it. You may find the organisation of numbers comforting and find it less stressful to not have to adhere to a list of ‘forbidden’ food. You may find keeping track of these numbers helps you to eat more mindfully. You may like to know that you can ‘save’ some of your weekly macro allotments for ‘flexible’ foods. If you realise that you are obsessing over the numbers, self-restricting more and more calorically-dense food to hit stricter and stricter numbers, or filling up your calories with ‘flexible’ foods rather than nutritionally rich foods, then stop, this method is not for you.
If you want to eat food that fits into the modern paleo model, go for it. You may find it helpful to exclude certain foods you tend to overeat from your diet simply because under that model those foods aren’t eaten. You may find it less stressful to not have to look at food as numbers or to put everything you eat into an app. You may enjoy the reconnection with simple, home-cooked meals. If you realise that you are obsessing over whether or not something is ‘clean’ enough for you to eat, or filling up your plate with paleo cakes, paleo muffins, paleo biscuits, and paleo chocolate rather than nutritionally rich foods, then stop, this method is not for you.
If you want to train before you eat in the morning, or before you eat carbs in the morning, go for it. You may find you feel more alert and have more energy and consequently train up a storm. You may be one of those people who feel nauseous if they eat carbs – or eat at all – too close to a session. If you realise that your energy levels are lower, you are getting light-headed part way through your session, or your concentration is off, then stop, this method is not for you.
If you want to sit down to a pancake, oats, fruit, and syrup breakfast with all the trimmings before you train, go for it. You may find starting your day with a high carb hit helps you feel more energised and that you can hit the gym in hash tag beast mode. You may be one of those people who feels light headed part way through a training session with insufficient carbs on board. If you realise that your carb-rich breakfast is setting you up for carb cravings for the rest of the day to the point where carbs are eaten to the exclusion of the other macros, or that so many carbs are consumed your daily caloric surplus makes Dwayne Johnson’s cheat meal look like he wasn’t even trying, then stop, this method is not for you.
I could go on. But my point is this – for every right way of doing things there is an equal and opposite right way of doing things.
Rather than blindly following guru teachings that you have seen on Facebook, consider whether or not that the advice is right for you and your particular circumstance. And if you have been following generic advice and it is not just not helping you but actually doing you harm, stop. There are other ways.
“Be stubborn about your goals, flexible about your methods.”