Why you (might) need Coaching.
Updated: Jul 4
Today's topic is one I've often been asked throughout my Fitness career. This one may also seem counter-productive as I am after all a Coach applying myself the question: do we really need a coach or personal trainer?
To put it simply or in a word, it depends. I've thought long and hard about this one and can honestly say it is a difficult one to answer as it is very much context dependent. So let's also be real for a second, perhaps not absolutely everyone can or is in a financial position to hire a fitness professional simply to lose weight right?
It's probably no secret that some of the most elite in the industry will also charge premium rates for their services deterring some individuals to continue trying to successfully or in most cases unsuccessfully lose weight on their own.
How often are we presented with weight management solutions that we know work however we always end up stopping ourselves with: "sorry I'm real busy atm", "Money's a bit tight right now" or the most infamous "let me get back to you when I'm ready?".
If you're reading this chances are you've tried just about everything under the sun including social media, netflix documentaries all the whilst forking out hundreds if not thousands of $$ just to unsuccessfully delay the inevitable or get nowhere.
Let me tell you this is not what the Fitness Lifestyle should be about nor should the journey of getting there be non-achievable.
Now with some minor context there are a LOT of merits in enlisting the aid of certain professional individual(s) whom understand both the 'in's & outs' of dieting and the importance of establishing healthy internal & external relations.
So without further adieu, I've boiled down 6 simple reasons on why you (might) need Coaching.
1. Breaking the Diet Train.
Now, this probably isn't your first 'dieting' rodeo. Nor should it be according to a past survey conducted by the D.A.A. (Dietitions Association of Australia) finding close to half (~46%) of Australian adults attempting multiple bouts of dieting in the past few years. Many of these 'diet' attempts for most individuals will usually consist of quick-fixes, fad diets to food & alcohol restrictions for brief periods of time. Whilst 'dieting' is more common in obese or overweight individuals, dieting in normal-weight groups i.e. adolescent females & males is also on the rise.
Whether if one perceives themselves as 'fat', overweight to weight-specific sports, eager to establish a professional online image or if one is otherwise in fact overweight. The role of psychological body image and disordered eating tends to play a key pivotal role behind most individuals looking to lose weight in the first place[3,4,5].
We now know that fat gain is strongly predicted by the number of weight loss & weight gain cycles. According to research, there may be a correlation between dieting frequency & bf% gain per dieting period throughout the course of someone's life.
In other words most individuals attempting to diet for a certain weight, gain more fat through the course of their life compared to those whom simply don't.
Most of the phenomena is largely attributed to the body's awakening 'self defense mechanism'. Much of the 'Physiological' changes that typically occur when dieting will include:
👉 decreased metabolic rate
👉 decline in total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)
👉 decreased basal or resting metabolic rate (BMR)
👉 decreased non-exercise adaptive thermogenesis (NEAT)
👉 decreased physical exercise & daily activity
👉 decreased fat oxidation & fat loss
👉 hormonal adaptations
👉 increased hunger signals etc
One way to start promoting a positive body image and incorporate healthy eating habits can be from seeking an industry qualified health professional.
Enlisting the aid of an industry qualified professional whom specializes in nutrition i.e. Dietitian or Sports Nutrition will likely be of great benefit to begin breaking the constant 'dieting' trend.
We know exercise much like diet is an important component for successful weight management. In today's society various weight management programs are easily accessible to the general public not just in a face-to-face manner but also online.
Many of these online exercise avenues are proving to be not only a great supplement to face-to-face sessions but even as a great alternative to most individuals in amongst an ongoing pandemic. Now let's ask the question; how far can one really go with their fitness goals without paying a single cent?
Some of you at some point in time will no doubt have acquired free resource manuals. Whether it be educational, self-help ebooks or a sample exercise overview. Whilst many of these may help individuals initially get motivated and excited, much of the novelty soon begins to fade.
One key element where most individuals generally falter in the long run from 'free' is staying accountable. Non-accountability or rather the lack of personal responsibility from 'free' provides next to little financial incentive for individuals to adhere to an exercise program long term[10,11].
In today's age, various web-based services aka programs & coaching help facilitate greater initial weight loss and engagement via online support. Weight management intervention programs delivered in online format are also shown to not only be feasible in improving one's body image but help reduce disordered eating habits.
Based on the known number of the effectiveness of personal training in the scientific literature, regular intervention 'meetings', exercising regularly, targeted discussions, problem solving are all added benefits in weight relapse prevention & keeping you on track.
Now a good Coach (not to be confused with seated comfort & travel) is an individual whom not only understands the 'in's & out's of individual-specific goals, but how to apply them to any given individual(s).
In sports, coach(s) are heavily involved in the directing, instructing and training of daily operations for a specific sports team or individual. In fitness centers Personal Trainers are more generally involved in the daily operations of assisting the general public reach their fitness goals.
Now you're probably wondering what exactly is the difference between the two?
On the context of weight management a Coach or PT may likely offer similar modes of intervention methods i.e. Resistance Training exercise.
A key difference between a Coach and Personal Trainer however whilst vastly similar is where a PT specializes in certain areas of earned expertise with clientele i.e. weight loss, coaches will help direct an individual i.e. athlete on a more personal level.
Personal Trainers much like Coaches can also be teachers. Where Teaching contains ascending levels of rank i.e. Teacher > Assistant > Lecturer > Professor. Coaches or Personal Trainers also contain their own level of hierarchy i.e. Instructor > Personal Trainer > Advanced PT > PHD etc.
For most industry qualified professionals, their knowledge translation will greatly stem from their respective certification, networking prowess, fitness industry, mass media etc.
In most cases industry specialists holding lower levels of education are often known to refer to the use of mass media sources in providing basic advice. Industry specialists with higher levels of education regularly stay up to date in the latest evidence-based trends & resources through scientific journals.
Coaches & Trainers are generally great active listeners, a critical & required component to help facilitate transformations including assessing one's personal goals, past experience, time frame(s) & limitations[45,46]
Having said that whether you enlist in the services of a fitness professional with basic gender-neutral health advice or a more specialized & tailored focus, being pointed in the right direction for achieving your fitness goals is essential.
4. Managing YOU.
The Role of both Exercise and Physical Activity for Weight Loss and maintenance is still considered heavily significant based on the current literature. It's been shown Weight loss from specifically tailored exercise programs in most overweight & obese individuals greatly increases the overall likelihood for significant results.
Implementing caloric restriction protocols aka 'diets' can also have a considerable effect on weight loss when compared to exercise alone. In comparison, when combining caloric restriction and resistance training can lead to significant weight loss and other improved health benefits including: 👉 Cardiovascular disease 👉 Type2 Diabetes 👉 Cardiovascular fitness 👉 Improved Respiratory[19,20] etc.
Part of the lack of resulted outcome and where most individual's tend to go wrong is managing their own expectations. And what better time to make those habit changes or seek weight loss than New Years.
One of the most popular new year resolutions there is a focus on improving one's own physical health, mental well-being and eating habits. Individuals wanting to make a change in their lives will most often start at an important milestone date due to the "fresh-start effect".
For most people this can be anywhere from the beginning of the day, week *insert diet starts monday* to perhaps the biggest date of all, New Years.
New Years is often a critical period when an overwhelming majority of overly-motivated women revisit their current weight standing and enter a weight loss program. Unfortunately most are unsuccessful due to underlying mechanisms behind expected resolution and eventual outcome.
During most holiday seasons household expenditure increases by roughly 15% alongside increased calorie intake consumption of higher processed energy dense foods[22,23,24]. These small yet yearly incremental bouts of weight gain cycles (approx 2-4kg) often contributes to a larger obesity pattern when left untreated.
When it comes to managing expectation vs reality, there is no one single method for individuals to be 💯% satisfied with their own fitness endeavors.
As far as identifying the relationship between the hopes of New Year’s resolutions (weight loss) to the most common eventual grim outcome (weight gain), some evidence suggests the weight loss approach is relative to the rate of weight accumulation.
In other words, most individuals having accumulated a gross amount of weight quickly will more-so favor an 'aggressive' weight loss approach as opposed to a more conservative one. A seasonal metabolic risk may also apply and vary based on the starting point of most of the new year 'resolutioners', the aggressiveness of their approach, their environmental support system etc.
Whilst new year resolutions have grown in popularity, there is still limited knowledge on the topic. A past study looking at the relationship between resolutions and success rates found individuals using an approach-oriented method as opposed to avoidance-oriented were more successful at maintaining their resolutions.
Note: approach-oriented goals where individuals are positively motivated to look good and receive favorable judgment from others. avoidance-oriented goals where individuals are negatively motivated to try to avoid failure and avoid looking incompetent.
This study further reveals that New Year’s resolutions with the right methodology can have lasting effects in conjunction with scheduled frequent follow-ups at a 6 month, 1-2 year follow-up mark.
Having an external support system to tread the various phases of engagement, goal alignment, short term & long-term dietary intervention can be essential for long-term maintenance for new dietary habits.
The war on obesity is rapidly changing. In the last century the shift from what we eat, how much we eat & drink, household behaviors to energy in-balance has changed dramatically. In the last 50 years alone technology has advanced allowing companies to cheaply process most foods i.e. carbohydrates & dietary fats in the globalization for food supply.
Much of the war on obesity is still being blamed on fatty, increases in sweet or highly ultra-processed and preservation of cheaper higher caloric food alternatives. Given the dominance of a large complex chain of food handling from farm to consumer, processing of foods may be problematic due to the increased likelihood of induced overeating from ‘empty calories’.
The return to consuming basic commodities and wholesome food sources i.e. fruits, vegetables, poultry, lean meat, no ultra-processed foods (or very limited use of such foods) are often highly encouraged as earlier ways of obtaining food and preparing it. However a recent pandemic has caused significant changes in just about everyday life impacting individuals on a global scale in accordance with weight management. Enter the birth of the latest addition to the coronavirus family, 'COVID-19'. The latest in viral outbreaks to not only affect individuals already struggling with their health & fitness, but further impacting those suffering from obesity.
In a pre-pandemic world, obese individuals whom spent prolonged periods of time in any one location were more likely to graze or snack frequently. This was of great concern for most stay-at-home or part-time working occupants, as minors with Healthy and Active adult role models were identified as being up to 75% less likely to be obese according to research. March 11th 2020 was marked as the day the World Health Organization (WHO) officially announced to the world of the COVID-19 pandemic involving various physical health complications including lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome. However the pandemic not only effects the physical but is observed to impact various psychological components and mechanisms including: 👉 fear of catching the virus
👉 worrying about family & social isolation 👉 financial pressure 👉 rumors & misinformation
👉 the need to activate brain reward centers via food
👉 stress-induced eating & anxiety
👉 sleep disruption
👉 less tendency for physical activity
In a period where some if not most individuals are now confined to their homes, the need to mitigate some of the substantial or permanent weight gain is becoming essential due to extended periods of home confinement. In some countries with higher lockdown measures, prevalent weight gain is often observed due to excess eating & meal frequency. Some of the most common risk factors for weight gain during covid self-quarantine & lockdown include:
🙅♂️ inadequate sleep
🙅♂️ snacking after dinner
🙅♂️ lack of dietary restraint
🙅♂️ increased fast food consumption
🙅♂️ excess alcohol consumption
🙅♂️ eating in response to stress 🙅♂️ reduced physical activity
🙅♂️ increased depression
Whilst the various health & immune complications stemming from the virus has already claimed the lives of close to ~2 million with ~51 million recovering from the affected ~91 million. Those left in a current covid aftermath are left to overcome the impact of self-quarantine and behaviors associated with further weight gain.
Many of the weight gain predictors are closely tied to the obesity epidemic, 'covibesity' can be easily modifiable to one's individual situation to stave off the unnecessary weight gain. Studies looking at incorporating daily exercise activity, exercise programs, meal deliveries helped reduce weight gain whilst identifying 'snacking' as a risk factor for weight gain[41,42].
The need for dietary and physical activity guideline measures & intervention to prevent weight gain during the period of self-isolation is now more essential than ever. Targeting those with overweight and obesity (high risk) with physical & nutritional education is one sure way to not just win one battle against Covid but also win the battle with obesity in the long run.
Us physicians recognize that things have a tendency for change. From our environment, the biological (metabolism), behavior patterns, experiences & knowledge are all in constant flux. Preparing pathways of success for the future for any individual is vital to setup and maintain healthy relations & habits.
Some individuals may taper off from training or fall back into regular old eating habits. This is when follow-up Training, Nutritional or Coaching consultations (in person or online) are great options to keep you in the right Direction, added re-assurance and structure whilst holding you accountable.
For those whom are somewhat on the right track with training or diet but need further clarity, follow-up consultations are often good opportunities to ensure you are in an optimal position to reach any current unreachable goals or new ones.
These additional avenues i.e. program updates often provide further personalization, create further structure, direct support and progressive results for your journey. The duration of additional coaching services varies and is very individual often ranging from 6-12 weeks up to 20 weeks.
Note: an ideal minimum of 6-12 months is often encouraged to ensure long term results.
Some additional services & add-ons I personally offer at The Lab PT include: 👇
1 on 1 Personal Training
Personalized Resistance Training Programs, Tutorials & Exercise Videos, Cardio Protocols (optional)
Nutrition | Macro Coaching Dieting protocols
Complete Contest Prep (Reverse or Recovery Diet inc.)
Educated Dieting, eBooks, Exit Strategy etc.
Most individuals having completed a recent 'diet' or online program will also likely benefit from an Exit strategy. An often overlooked resource becoming more valuable to help improve the likelihood for individuals to successfully maintain their results.
Incorporating an Exit strategy is most often one of the best ways to avoid sudden spikes in:
👉 Weight | BF% gain
👉 Water retention | loss
👉 Muscle Atrophy (loss)
👉 Reversed Body re-composition
For most individuals (if not 💯% in most cases) life happens. Thus having the added additional support from Exit Strategies to regular program updates, supplementary sessions to educational resources & tools can mean the difference between short term and long term success.
Lastly, within our individual response & conduct also lies our own growth and freedom. Our duty as fitness professionals as always is to further aid your habitual response to certain influential episodes.
Effective action always requires evidence-based & evaluated programs and policies.
2. How dieting might make some fatter: modeling weight cycling toward obesity from a perspective of body composition autoregulation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7260129/