by Michelle Matte, MSEd, CSCS
Fitness and Forks
Challenging and effective exercise programming is the foundation of fitness. But for optimal performance and successful weight management, nutrition plays a critical role. As the saying goes, you cannot out-train a bad diet. In a perfect world, you would be present to monitor every morsel of food that passes your client’s lips. But in the real world, your client must make his or her own decisions about what, when and how much to eat. The best you can do is to hold them accountable, and educate them as you go. Fortunately, you do have some tools available to help.
Requiring a daily food and activity diary is perhaps the most effective tool you can employ to hold your client’s feet to the fire. A 2008 study of approaches to weight loss published in the “American Journal of Preventive Medicine” found that subjects who journaled lost nearly twice as much weight as those who did not. The more frequent and thorough the journal entries, the greater the weight reduction. For maximal results, don’t wait until your next session to review your client’s food and activity log. Require them to submit a daily log electronically at the end of each day. Knowing that the log will be reviewed will make your client more mindful of their food and exercise behaviors throughout each day. Encourage them to add comments about their thoughts and feelings. Emotionally charged journaling is more impactful.
What’s the Plan?
If you ask your typical early morning client what they plan to eat for the rest of the day, they will probably tell you they have no idea. Therein lies the problem. Without a plan, eating becomes random and your client often ends up eating too many calories from the wrong types of food. Here’s the strategy: Have your client submit a detailed plan for healthy meals and snacks for each day of the week, and then work with them to create a grocery list from their menu. When you have a plan, and you’ve stocked up on all the groceries you need to execute it, there are no excuses for making unhealthy choices. Offering some recipe suggestions and creative ways to use leftovers will help your client make the switch from SAD, the Standard American Diet, to FAB, the Forever Awesome Body.
Fitness training and technology have followed a similar growth curve over the past decade, and there are now a plethora of useful apps and online tools that can help you manage your client’s nutrition. Sites like livestrong.com and myfitnesspal.com provide tools that will count calories and give you a breakdown of nutrients for virtually any food eaten. They will also calculate calories expended for a wide range of activities. For tracking tools, daily food plans, menus and recipes, also try choosemyplate.gov. With your client’s permission, set up an account on one of these user-friendly sites so that you can both access and track their progress.
Nutrition and fitness are rapidly evolving fields, and new research is constantly contributing to our understanding about how the body uses food for fuel. You cannot rely on the latest nutrition fads to help your clients achieve results. To be a top trainer, nutrition education is an ongoing requirement. W.I.T.S. is here to help you succeed with our Nutritional Concepts available online.
References and Credits
Hollis, JF et al, 2008. Weight Loss During the Intensive Intervention Phase of the Weight-Loss Maintenance Trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 35(2):118-126.
MyFitnessPal: Lose Weight with My Fitness Pal
United States Department of Agriculture: Super Tracker
*Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.