by Matt Weik
I ran into a scenario while my grandmother was in the hospital that sparked the concept of this article. We (I guess I can only speak for myself as I’m not sure your situation) are in the health and fitness industry. Some of us (like myself) are certified to work with individuals who are looking for exercise and nutrition help. Yet, many “professionals” in the industry are holding onto the goods, so to speak, and not educating their clients on how to properly train and set up workouts along with plan out and understand their nutrition.
As I mentioned, my grandmother was in the hospital. She has been a diabetic for the better part of her life. And I’m not going to sugar-coat the situation, but, she uses her insulin as a crutch. She eats whatever she wants and then balances her blood sugar back out by injecting more insulin – obviously, this is not an ideal situation. Regardless of how much I preach to her about nutrition and the things she should and shouldn’t eat, it’s in one ear and out the other.
Yet, while she was in the hospital, they were doing everything for her. They were managing her blood sugar and insulin injections, along with providing her with a low sodium, low fat, low carb diet. Perfect! Or so I thought. You would think that professionals in the hospital would be extremely knowledgeable and would want their patients to leave their facility and be able to manage their own life.
I spent every day in the hospital with her during her stay to keep her company and listen to what the doctors had to say. She doesn’t have the best memory, so I knew she needed someone there who could remember what the doctors told her. When the nurse came around to take her lunch and dinner order for the day, I wanted to know how many carbohydrates they were allowing her, as I thought they were a bit high for a diabetic according to what they were permitting her to order.
This is where things went downhill quickly. Asking how many carbohydrates she is allowed, the lady did some math in her head and told me 15. I must have had a facial expression like someone just crop-dusted me with a protein fart. She asked me why I looked confused. I asked her if they were giving her 15 grams of carbohydrates a day or if the number 15 is based off of a point system. She confirmed a point system. Obviously, my follow up question was what that equates to in terms of grams. She thought for a minute and said she didn’t know, that it was a proprietary formula.
By now, my grandmother’s blood pressure wasn’t the only one elevated in the room. If you know me, you know I don’t sugar coat things and I’m pretty much an open book. I asked her how she expects her patients to understand carbohydrates when their own staff doesn’t understand them? If I were to read facial expressions, her face would be telling me to shut the f*ck up.
I then asked her that if there isn’t a system in place to help the patients understand how to control their carbohydrates (especially as a diabetic) by looking at the nutrition labels on products and tracking them, how were they supposed to go home and be ok on their own? A point system does no good to someone if they don’t understand it, nor can they apply it when doing their own grocery shopping and meal planning. She eventually got frustrated with me and left the room – and I was left without an answer.
I notice the same thing happen with some nutritionists where they plan out the meals for their client, without them truly understanding what they are looking at. I understand the fact that if they teach their client how to do it on their own, they won’t need the nutritionist anymore, but maybe I’m weird and would just rather help them until they learn it for themselves through my help and move on so I can bring on another new client to help. I don’t want to hold someone’s hand forever. I want them to be able to go on without needing me.
Personal Trainer Secrets
As with the nutrition side of the equation, there are some trainers out there who won’t give their clients their workouts. If they want their workout they need to remember what they did and write it down for themselves. Some trainers don’t want their client to understand how to put together a workout, figure out their rep range, how to utilize different training methods to break through plateaus, etc. They want to collect their easy check and count reps. Again, maybe I’m weird, but that’s not going to be me. I want you to learn all of this and move on. I don’t want you to pay me to count – a 3-year-old can do that for you and put the money away for their own college fund.
Now, I understand there are clients who need to be motivated and pushed, but for those who just want to learn how to properly exercise and go to the gym with purpose, there’s no reason to be working with them for years. That’s overkill and, in my opinion, abusive. Help them understand what they need to be doing, spin them around in circles, and turn them loose into the world. If they have questions, leave your door open to work with them again. But, don’t string them along like they can’t make progress without you – at that point, you’re only stroking your own ego.
If you are reading this and you aren’t a trainer, nutritionist, dietician, strength coach, Superman, whatever… LEARN. Seek out the help you need in order to understand what you need to do ON YOUR OWN. Do not blow money over the course of five years working under someone’s supervision and not have the knowledge at that point to do things on your own. If that is you, you’re being taken advantage of. Fire who you are working with and email/contact me. I’ll get you fixed up and on your way. Don’t allow someone to rake you over the coals for financial gain. Seek out knowledge and when you don’t get it, move onto the next or do your own research. In order to reach your goals, you need to understand the WHY and the HOW.