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What I Didn’t Know Before I Became A Trainer

What I Didn't Know Before I Became A Trainer

After 5 years of personal training, I laid down my trainer hat (in the traditional sense) last Monday. Though I’ll still be training, it will be virtual instead of in-person like I’ve done for so many years.

It’s a bittersweet feeling, as I know I’m going to have much more time to devote to Strong Inside Out and create better, more helpful content for you all, and hopefully be able to help you further than that, too. That said, I’m going to miss my clients and the comfort of routine!

When I started training, I had a very basic, magazine-educated stance on health. I thought getting healthy was getting skinny, and meals were to be eaten every 3-4 hours and a host of other “truths” that had been sprinkled throughout the media.

When I started training, a lot of those ideas were turned upside down. Not all at once, mind you. It took years to develop my personalized approach based on the newest exercise and nutritional science.

I’ve learned a lot in my 5-year stint as an in-person personal trainer, and I want to share with you today the bits and pieces of information that I either had wrong, or just had no clue about before I started training.

Protein is essential, and you’re probably not getting enough

Back in the day before my first NASM certification, I knew protein was important, but just never knew how much I really should be getting. I figured that if a protein bar was called a “protein” bar, it must be adequate, right? I mean, why would they lie to us?

Oh, Amy. Naive little Amy.

Most of the protein bars on the market that don’t have “Extreme” in the name have 9 grams of protein or lower. Bad news: That’s just about 1/2 of what I recommend a lady eat at a meal. It’s at most 1/3 of what I’d recommend for guys.

And those extreme bars? They’re loaded with chemically nonsense that’s more worthy of your cleaning supply cabinet.

Now, don’t get all up in arms because my recommendation for protein intake is more than the daily allowance on My Plate! This is strictly from a fitness point of view, which means for optimal performance, weight loss, and lean muscle gain and maintenance this is the amount you want to aim for.

Check the labels on the backs of protein bars… or better yet, put down the effing bars and eat some real food! Your body will process it better and your tummy will likely be happier without all the sugars and chemicals.

You can time your opportunities to be not-so-naughty

This was an enlightening lesson for me. Did you know that you can actually time your sugary 10% meals for right after your workouts and ease the blow of the not-so-healthy foods you’re eating?

Right after a tough weight, interval or sprint workout, your body’s insulin sensitivity is flying, just looking for more sugar to transform into glycogen so that your muscles don’t starve.

Though your opportunity will still count toward your 10%, eating them right after workouts will minimize their blow if you’re on the path to fat loss. Yippee!

Don’t take this as a free ticket to go Yogurtland it up after every workout you have, though. A solid meal of clean lean protein, veggies and some whole grain carbs post-workout will better fuel your body than any sugared-up junk will.

Bad news? If you’re a savory craver, this method doesn’t work quite as well for you. The fats from foods like chips, fries or other fast food mainstays will slow down metabolism of the food you’re eating and may actually hinder your muscle gain/fat loss. Stick to higher-carb meals chocked full of protein right after a workout, and you’ll be stellar.

Two sets of 15 reps is soooo early 2000s

This eye-opener may hit many of you girls below the belt. I used to think that 2 sets of 15 reps of light weight, followed by 10-60 minutes of moderate cardio was the ultimate way to lose weight without bulking up.

Ladies, I’m so sorry to burst your bubble, but this just ain’t the truth.

First of all, those light weights won’t cause enough stress on your muscle tissue to promote adaptation (change). You have to actually challenge them to create any change at all! You know what that means? Toning is going to take a little more than your 3-pounders.

Secondly, that long slow cardio may actually be upping your cortisol levels, making it harder for you to lose weight. One thing it surely will do is heighten your appetite, making it so much harder to stay on plan.

The best workouts I’ve found for people across the board are HIIT workouts like the Full Body Cardio HIIT video. For another example, check out The Mindful Workout.

Girls, don’t be afraid of the weights. They are not your enemy. You know what is? Eating beyond hunger, chemical-laden processed faux foods/drinks, and stress. Eat real and clean, and meditate! You’ll be golden.

Stress prevents you from losing weight (or gaining it)

Stress can either make your goal a lot harder to achieve or even make it impossible! I’ve seen it so many times.

If you stress and stress about not being able to achieve your goal, you may be doing more harm than good. When we are over-stressed, our bodies go on lock-down because stress creates a sort of war zone within our hormonal system. We’ll hold onto everything because our bodies think we need the extra energy for battle!

That storage mode unfortunately only goes to fat cells, so I’m sorry to say that you Strongies out there looking to gain mass are out of luck on the stress front, too. Bummer.

You can read all about good stress and bad stress, and how it affects the body in this post.

I’m telling you, it’s worth it to take 5 minutes a day to meditate, ground yourself and return to what’s important. All stress is manageable because you are never locked down to anyone or anything. Remember that you control what you take on. Be responsible and say no every so often!

Science + Attitude = Your goal realized

This is a fact I just didn’t understand in the past. Growing up with scientists as parents, I never thought that any thought we’d have would be able to manifest itself into an actual condition. I just thought that the body acts as science tells it to and that’s that.

You know me now, so you know that I’ve evolved far past this perspective of mind and body acting completely separate from one another. I’m actually an advocate that we in health and wellness take into account that they are undeniably connected. When you work on one area of your health, you can’t help but improve the other as well.

By working on your positive thinking and affirming your goals with mantras and self-encouragement, you will:

  • become less likely to give up as you learn to diminish doubt with positive affirmations
  • deal with pain better and, therefore, be able to push your body harder
  • handle setbacks better because with a positive attitude, nothing determines the end for you accept your decision to call it quits.

Many of these fitness myths are ones I’ve covered loosely before, but I wanted to go into a bit more depth with you all here today. I hope it’s helped you understand why these “facts” are no longer part of my foundation… and I hope I’ve chiseled them out of yours, too!

Even though I’ll miss my in-person fitness training, I’m extremely excited about all the possibilities for Strong Inside Out now that I can focus all my attention on this message.

I’m in Bali now, and just starting to get used to the 15 hour time change. I’m brewing up some good ideas here on this jungle island, and I can’t wait to share them with you all soon.

To new beginnings for all of us,

Amy

P.S. If you’re at all wondering, here’s a list of some of the things that have happened so far in my 2 days on Bali: a monkey jumped on me and stole our water bottle; I’ve tried coffee that was pooped out of what I think is a minx-type animal; and I’ve decided that when I birth a baby, I hope it will magically be Balinese (their children are beautiful here!). More updates coming soon! :)

2 Responses to “What I Didn’t Know Before I Became A Trainer”

  1. Simone says:

    Great post Amy! I really need to learn how to get my stress under control…

    Also, I’m a devoted omnivore, but I’m one of those people who eats because I need to, not because I enjoy it (most of the time), so I struggle to eat enough to gain. Any tips on getting that extra protein?

    Hope your honeymoon continues to be an adventure! :)

    • Amy says:

      For you, my friend, protein powders wouldn’t be the worst idea. Lots of shakes and eating very often, even if you have to go by a schedule to start.

      Thanks so much! Honeymoon is going wonderfully. :)

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