Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An education in the uneducated..


A while back I "friended" a personal trainer on a social networking site. I saw him on the news and thought he had sound advice and was a friendly guy. Man, what you see in that little glowy box called the boobtube is not always true. Every time I post an update about my workouts he has some back-handed compliment about how I am doing things wrong..seriously? I mean really, c'mon man. I must be wrong because I lost weight without help of a man that has never needed to lose weight. He must know that in the beginning I couldn't even walk a brisk pace at 5 minutes let alone jog. He must know the emotions I had that drove me to eating. He must know about the 4 ice packs I have in my freezer to ease the pain or the pain killers I had to take to make it through my first triathlon. Why must he know?!?...BECAUSE HE THINKS HE KNOWS EVERYTHING!
Now I appreciate a good trainer as much as the next person and I admit there are some employees at my gym that have helped me more than they will ever know. But this guy is so cold and condescending if he worked there I would of never been back.

When it comes health and fitness, there's certainly no shortage of information out there. Unfortunately, a lot of it is false or misleading. And so much of this false information (like high reps for toning) has been around for so long and is so entrenched that it's accepted as undisputed fact by many. Lately, wherever I go, I invariably run into someone who talks like they're an expert. They speak with absolute confidence and the people who listen never seem to question what they're being told. But a lot of times, this so-called expert will say something that I know is flat out wrong. Most of the time, I'll just roll my eyes.

Now I don't pretend to be an expert. I think I know a lot about the subject, but I think it's important to always be a little humble, to keep an open mind, and to be willing to admit that you might be wrong about something or that you have a lot more to learn. Some people are pretty closed-minded. They think their way is the only way and react harshly if anyone challenges their opinions. This is probably true in general, not just in the area of health and fitness.

Have you run into or do you know such know-it-alls? I don't mean the person who you know is right. I'm talking about the person who's either badly misinformed and doesn't know it or the person who's conned everyone around him and perhaps gets a thrill from holding himself up as an expert. How do you usually deal with them? Do you correct them or do you just let it go? And what sorts of things have you heard them say that you knew were wrong?

I know what's right for me, and I'm willing to listen to what others have to say. I can use or discard any information as I see fit.

I can tell people about my experiences. I'll leave it up to them to determine what's right ... for them. It's no skin off my nose.

Weight Loss is so personal that unless you have been there you really don't know..and still then you only have your own experience.My husband said it best the other day. He said he would never try to be a weight loss counseler or weight loss trainer because he cannot emotionally relate. I think there should be a distinct difference between a personal trainer and a weight loss coach. Because being obese is a whole different monster than just being out of shape.

It's all good to instruct someone to do this many reps of this weight, do this much cardio and eat this many calories out of these certain food groups but honestly no one can live like that. We are not robots. We don't all run on the same program and to help someone for the rest of their life you need to know who they are and how they got there. This takes listening and an open mind coupled with knowledge of nutrition and physical fitness. If you can find that in a trainer, coach , counselor or buddy then you are doing well. Mr. Know-it-All Personal Trainer may know how to burn calories and build muscle but most people need more than that.

6 comments:

Aimée said...

Yay! I was waiting for this and I'm glad you posted it. You should also post the wise comment that your husband made...it definitely sets the tone and tells the truth regarding the subject.

ShellyD said...

"I think there should be a distinct difference between a personal trainer and a weight loss coach. Because being obese is a whole different monster than just being out of shape."

I really loved these sentences. You are so right. The journey is personal and what works for you might not work for me and vice versa. I'm learning that there is NO quick fix. A PT may have some but not all of the answers. And the one I'll trust is the one who admits that.

I'm learning that I need to support my body in my crazy efforts to cycle a huge race and lose wieght in the process - so finding a dietician who specialises in Sports Nutrition became priority for me. I have days when the mind is willing and the body not. Horrible feeling! Like she said to me on the phone it is about eating the right food at the right time. So after a heavy cycling/training session what you put in your body is very important, as well as what you do before.

My journey started with WW's, then gym, then a PT, spinning/cycling, and now a Dietician specialising in Sports Nutrition. Each time when many would have given up I've been determined to find answers but the person I'd avoid asking for the answers is the one who considers him or herself a 'know-it-all'. The best answers have come from those who give guidance and suggestions, have openly admitted that what works for one doesn't work for another. These people are a rare find. There are 3 people I can count on for advise and guidance at my gym. April my PT, another PT who is also a friend and my yoga/spinning instructor. All woman by the way. :-) There are many others who love to push their ideas on me - I just smile and escape as quickly as I can.

By the way I'm loving your posts lately. :-)

Hope I haven't rambled on to much - tend to do that.

Mich

Anonymous said...

Well said, as always!

Michelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donna said...

" I invariably run into someone who talks like they're an expert. They speak with absolute confidence and the people who listen never seem to question what they're being told. But a lot of times, this so-called expert will say something that I know is flat out wrong. Most of the time, I'll just roll my eyes."

I see this all the time... and do my share of eye rolling. People tend to get very defensive about what they've learned and how they practice, and I find that they struggle to accept new/alternate/correct ways to make improvements. Strength training, specifically, is an area in which results so much is dependent upon how a person is training -- and what works for one person doesn't always work for another. That said, there are some fundamentals that one should know before they "proclaim" they are a reference on the subject. So I hear you loud and clear.

My former trainer and I used to giggle aobut the gym rats would did all this upperbody work, but then had these skinny little chicken legs. I mean, it's a widely known fact that your leg muscles are the largest and that working them is always going to benefit you. But, instead, they waste their time, trying to chest press the bigwheels over their heads, while I can outdo them by 500 lbs. on the leg press. It's all so silly.

You're doing awesome and you know what works for you. You are "humble" and open to new ways of doing things and that is so important. I see you as very balanced, and not a know-it-all in the least. I see you as successful.

Rock on girl and always share your info!

Fab Kate said...

I recently was talking about the credibility issue on another blog as well. More people really need to check out who they're listening to before they follow (or disregard) the advice. Some of these trainers have very little training themselves, and these days everyone seems to have an opinion on what's right and wrong when it comes to working out.

I've also become an eye roller, although I do, on occasion, cut loose on someone. I went into a GNC after having bypass surgery looking for protein supplements, and a very helpful ((cough... cough)) customer decided to tell me about the fabulous diet products they have there and how they'd be just right for me.

It's amazing how many people who don't know you (or your situation) have all sort of ideas about who you are and what you need!

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