When I first got serious about taking my body to the next level earlier this year, I was smart enough to know that I didn’t know everything and regardless of how much research I did on my own, I just wouldn’t be able to reach my goal physique on my own. I had a good grasp on the lifting, exercises, and workout routines, but certainly didn’t know enough about the nutrition part of the equation. At this point, I had to seek out someone to help me along the way so I began to look for a coach that would hopefully teach me the proper way to get things done. So began my search…
I emailed at least 10 people/ prep coaching “teams”. It was important for me to ask about about their philosophy on nutrition and their basic training program and EVERY single one of them basically said the same things upon my initial email. Surely because they ALL said the same things, this had to be the only way to achieve my own goals right? “You will need to increase your cardio. You will need to cut the amount of food you are eating. You will need to increase your protein and cut your carb intake. You will need to commit to eating 100% clean.”
I called BULLSHIT… on all of them. I was already passed the eating clean phase of my journey so I knew better.
This was a sample meal plan from one of these guru’s (copied & pasted directly from email):
So many flaws in ONE proposed meal plan… but some of the most important things I want to point out:
- Not once did we discuses MY weight, age, current AND past nutrition or training, nor was the state of my metabolic health even considered.
- NO discussion of macro/micro nutrients.
- When calculated, this plan would bring me to approximately 1,269 calories (37% carbs, 27% fat, and 36% protein)
Did you read that correctly? Let me type it again.
SERIOUSLY? Just calculating it right now ticks me off.
How dare this person try and give me a meal plan with such low calories that will not only inhibit my fitness goals, but moreover inevitably ruin my overall LONG TERM success. How dare this person consider even taking my money without knowing the current state of my health. How dare this person put the health of their clients on the back burner with the SAME exact daily caloric intake for everyone. Would a meal plan like this work for me to lose weight? Maybe. But how could this one cookie cutter plan given to ALL of their clients produce the results that I was looking for?
It can’t. End of story.
I kindly thanked this person (as well as the others) for their time and passed on every single one of their “customized plans”. When a rice cake is considered a treat and the highlight of my day, I have to drawn the line. So what are specific things I would look for in a trainer or prep coach?
These would be a must for me when placing my health in someone else’s hands:
- they ask me what my age, weight, height, current training & nutrition plan are
- they ask me about my dieting history (including approximate caloric intake or at the very least what an average day of eating is for me)
- they ask me what MY goals are in detail
- they will NOT diet me down if my metabolism is already at risk or damaged. I would hope they would encourage reverse dieting PRIOR to beginning a stricter fat loss regimen.
- they must know what a macronutrient is
- they must NOT drastically cut carb intake
- they do NOT put me on a meal plan where certain foods are forbidden and off limits (even something as simple as fruit… yes there are coaches who don’t allow fruit on their plans)
- they must NOT push daily or multiple cardio sessions (over an hour each time twice per day), fasted cardio, intermittent fasting
- they must NOT push certain supplements or brands that are “needed” to achieve my goals (this includes cleanses, detoxes, fat burners, Beach Body programs, etc.)
And a few other things I would consider and keep in mind when working with a trainer or coach that may seem obvious but I still feel the need to point them out:
- always try to go with someone you have been referred to by a friend or relative or from someone in the industry that you trust. It won’t guarantee a good trainer, but it’s better than nothing.
- prior to beginning a program with them, find out what their credentials are. What personal training education and/or certifications do they have? Are they licensed dietitians or nutritionists?
- ask what type of clients they typically work with. If you are looking for a bikini prep coach, you will want someone who has competed and specializes in competition athletes.
- if you do not feel comfortable with an exercise or some aspect of the nutrition that has been set up for you, voice your concern and ask WHY they have included it in your plan. They should be able to back up their ideas with facts, references, etc. and not simply say something to the effect of “Well, this is what I did to get XYZ so this is what you should do!”
- if at any point you feel like you are being pushed too hard, putting your body at risk for injury, OR your mental well being is beginning to suffer as a result of diet or training, re evaluate your plan and your trainer/coach and voice your concerns. They should be their to support & encourage you on your journey, not tear you down.
- if you are working with someone online, you should be able to contact them by email at the very least. I know quite a few girls who are able to utilize text messaging which is great. Your trainer/coach should be doing regular check in’s (preferably twice per week) and ask for progress and update pictures.
- know up front what their rates are. The prices can range drastically but ultimately you need to work with someone in your budget BUT that you still feel 100% comfortable and safe with.
Bottom line for me (like always) is that you must not only think about your short term goals and achieving the maximum amount of fat/weight loss in the shortest amount of time. Love yourself and be smart enough to know that there is a better and healthier way to achieve ALL of your fitness goals that doesn’t include depriving yourself of foods you love, hours and hours at the gym, missing out or fearing family functions because you will not be able to “stay on track”, and living a life of yo yo dieting. If you don’t feel like you can achieve your goals on your own and need the guidance and expertise of a trainer or coach, set yourself up properly with someone who truly believes in you and your health (short and long term).
I’m not sure how other everyone else feels, but I assure you that I NEVER feel like I’m on a “diet”. I train hard when I lift. I’m eating for my goals. I don’t consider ANYTHING I eat a cheat meal even though I do have pizza, pasta, and/or treats almost daily. I’m healthier (mind and body). And most importantly, I’m happier and more comfortable with my body than ever in my life and please note that I haven’t even come close to achieving all of the goals I have set out for myself. This speaks volumes about how educating yourself, getting to know your body, and properly feeding & fueling yourself all work hand in hand to creating a much better YOU mind, body, and spirit!