My “Secret” Weapon

So even though I feel like I still have a billion pounds to go before I hit my goal, I have already made a pretty significant dent in my fat loss journey.

Let’s compare, shall we?

Seriously, some cringe-worthy stuff here. First of all, how absolutely miserable do I look in those left-hand “before” pics?And let me tell you, as miserable as I looked, I felt about ten times worse.

But that’s starting to change now.  I’m starting to get smaller.  My clothes are getting bigger. My skin is clearing up, and I am feeling happier than I have in years.  

The question I keep getting as people are starting to take notice that something is different about me is some variation of, “What’s your secret?”

My “secret,” the ace in the hole that makes this time different than every single other time that I have tried to lose weight, is simple.

I am investing in a personal trainer.

I tell people this, and immediately, I can usually see them mentally check-out.  For whatever reason, a personal trainer doesn’t seem to generate the same pizazz and excitement that the latest supplemental fad diet does.

I should know.  I used to be one of those people that mentally checked-out after rolling my eyes at the thought of hiring one.  

I mean, seriously?  What can a trainer teach me about exercise that I don’t already know or can’t learn from YouTube videos, right?  Why should I pay a ridiculous amount of money for someone to stand there and push the button on the treadmill for me?  What makes me think scheduling an appointment with a trainer will get me to show up at the gym when it’s pretty freaking easy to just blow him or her off?  And last, but not least, a trainer is just going to judge me and pity me for how horribly out of shape I let myself become–who wants to subject themselves to that?

What can a trainer teach me about exercise that I don’t already know or can’t learn from YouTube videos?

This one makes me laugh when I think about it now.  I thought I was such an expert.  I mean, I’m ex-military.  I used to run cross-country in high school.  I have two functioning legs that allow me to walk on a treadmill without supervision. I can figure out how to use the machines at the gym, and I understand that I need to eat less calories than my body burns to lose weight.  So what, exactly, could a trainer possibly teach my genius self?  Turns out, pretty much everything.  Since I started working with a trainer, I’ve learned how weak and unbalanced my body had become.  I’ve learned proper form to lift weights.  I’ve learned there are many variations of the tried-and-true “walk on the treadmill” that will give me a change of pace and build up my butt while doing it.  

Maybe more importantly, I’ve learned what comittment is.  I’ve learned the meaning of the word “dedication.”  I’ve learned what positive reinforcement, proper instruction, and belief in my own abilities can accomplish.  Would I have learned any of these things if I hadn’t invested in a trainer?  Absolutely not.  Because I probably wouldn’t have made it past week two without one.  I would have quit the gym and given up on changing my horrible habits the second things got frustrating and difficult just like I have done every single other time before.

Why should I pay a ridiculous amount of money for someone to stand there and push the button on the treadmill for me?

This really is the million dollar question, isn’t it? (Get it?😂)

First of all, I was completely delusional to think that a personal trainer would just stand there and watch me workout. But let’s say, for the sake of argument,  I wasn’t delusional. Let’s suspend reality–like I just love to do–and pretend that all that these trainers do is push “go” on the treadmill for us and say “You can do it” a few times.  

So what if that’s the case? Have I been pushing “go” on the treadmill on my own? Not even close. I’ve been pushing speed-dial for my favorite pizza delivery service. I’ve been pushing the car into “drive” and cruising through the drive-thru at McDonald’s. I’ve been pushing the grocery cart around the aisles of the store and loading up on all the junk food I can carry.  

At no time during my fat-gaining period of life was I pushing “go” on the treadmill by myself, consistently.  

So, if nothing else, a super lazy trainer who just stands there and watches me walk on the treadmill is STILL getting me to do more than I’ve been doing all these years on my own.  

Reality is, though, that a good trainer does so much more than that.

The trainer that I have been working with for over two years, Joe, has been a trainer, a nutritionist, a drill sergeant, a counselor, a mentor, and a friend.

Every time I’ve doubted myself, he has been there with words of encouragement.  Every time I’ve felt like I just can’t do any more, he’s been there to push me to dig deep. Every time I’ve felt like giving up, I picture how much that would disappoint him.  Every time I’ve been lazy or offered excuses on why I’m not doing what I should be doing he’s called me on my b.s.  Every time I’ve been a little sick or injured, he’s figured out a workout that still makes me sweat and blast calories while protecting my body.  Every time I’ve stepped on that scale and been discouraged by the number, he reminds me of the big picture. And everytime I’ve stepped on that scale and been excited about what I see, he’s been even more thrilled than me.  

I would not be where I am today without Joe. He has truly changed my life for the better. And he’s worth more than I pay him if you ask me.

Do good trainers cost an astronomical amount of money each month?  Considering I meet with him three times a week for a half an hour each time, I can’t say the cost of a quality personal trainer like Joe is cheap. It’s not.  

But let’s look at reality again.  All that pizza and McDonald’s and junk food I was consuming cost me almost as much each month as three sessions a week with Joe.  

A few months back I cut pop out of my life for good and I estimate that I save $100 a month approximately on that alone.

This idea that healthy food is more expensive than junk food is a total fallacy. Especially when you consider the amount of junk and fast food it takes to gain as much weight as I did. What I save each month by rarely eating out, skipping fast food, and deep-sixing the majority of junk food from my life (goal is to eradicate it completely, but baby steps…) makes a trainer like Joe affordable. And if three sessions a week aren’t affordable to someone even after taking these steps, one or two could be.

Here’s the other thing to consider when thinking about the monetary cost of a trainer. What is your health worth to you?  What would you be willing to pay to lose your fat and improve your quality of life by leaps and bounds?  How far are you prepared to go to avoid or reverse obesity-related diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc?

Americans are willing to take on debt for all kinds of things:  education, homes, automobiles, campers, boats, atvs, vacations, and credit cards galore. Why aren’t we willing to potentially take on a loan for a personal trainer for a few years to get ourselves healthy if that’s what it takes?

I’m not advocating anyone take on debt, per se, but I’m asking people to think about where their priorities lie. I would sell my car and drive a clunker before I will give up my personal trainer at this point. I will take out a personal loan or rack up my credit cards if that’s what it takes. That is how strongly I value my personal trainer and the services and motivation he provides me. My health is worth it.

What makes me think scheduling an appointment with a trainer will get me to show up at the gym when it’s pretty freaking easy to just blow him or her off?

I so used to think this. The idea that hiring a trainer (who does not show up to my house to force me to workout) would get me to the gym when I wouldn’t go there on my own seemed really ridiculous. So what if I had an appointment? I can just blow that off. So what if my trainer calls or texts me to ask where I am? I can just ignore my phone.  Basically, my philosophy here always hinged on that premise that I had to do this on my own, no one else can do it for me.  

Which is true to a large extent.

But remember that thing we just talked about in the previous paragraphs? About how much money it costs to hire a trainer? Well it’s amazing what forking over that kind of cash will do to motivate a person. 

The trainer I had prior to Joe was very smart about how he handled clients who would blow him off. If you didn’t cancel within 24 hours prior to your workout, you paid for that workout–regardless of whether you showed up. I don’t know how many times the knowledge that I was paying for the workout, regardless, got me to the gym, especially in the beginning.  

And then, after a while, you develop this raport with your trainer and you start to not WANT to blow him or her off. You know they will be disappointed in you, and you will hear about it the next time you see them. Hell, you might even end up doing extra lunges (which are the devil) as punishment, uh, I mean incentive to not skip again.

There have been times that I’ve told Joe to do exactly that..if I blow off the gym or don’t do what I’m supposed to, make my next workout super hellish. Believe me, that kind of incentive puts the fear of God in me and can motivate me like nobody’s business.

A trainer is just going to judge me and pity me for how horribly out of shape I let myself become–who wants to subject themselves to that?

Sadly, I used to operate under this delusion as well. I thought trainers were these elite people with perfect bodies who must look down their noses at and feel sorry for fat people like me.  

But I was wrong. My trainer wants me to succeed. Sometimes I feel he wants it even more than I do, and the knowledge that he cares that much about my outcome keeps me going when I want to quit. My trainer doesn’t have a superiority complex. Not once has he ever made me feel bad or pathetic for being as fat as I am. I have no doubt that he only wants the best for me and to see me reach my goals, and he has taken on the job to supply me with the motivation and tools I need to make those goals my reality.

So if I can leave you with just one thought today, it’s this: consider investing in yourself with a good personal trainer. (Joe does virtual consultations if you live in a place where trainers are scarce!) What do you have to lose except pounds of fat?

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