1. Fat Prejudice

It’s not that often that I have a client taking a complete rest during a session. I prefer active recoveries (particularly for weight loss clients). It was during one of these rare breaks in one of our sessions that Belinda was approached by a gentleman in the gym whilst I was setting up for our next circuit. He said: “you know, you can just say: ‘no’,” referring to the fact that he felt she was overdoing it a little bit. Belinda, who had no intention of saying ‘no’ replied politely and let the gentleman know that she was ok. Not just ok, but feeling great and ready to continue. This was not bravado. This was the truth. After Belinda relayed the details of the brief conversation to me I was left pondering: “would he have said the same thing to one of my clients who looked exhausted that are of a normal weight?” I don’t think so. I’m sure that he was well intentioned and was only watching out for Belinda’s well-being but this is beside the point. You see, we all have this idea that people who are overweight can’t and shouldn’t train hard. I would never advocate training unnecessarily hard but that is why conditioning and steady progression are so important. If you are able to get the balance right, someone who is overweight can have conditioning and fitness well beyond an individual of a lower weight with very little training – and we need to remember that before we pass judgement on an individual’s level of health.

2. The Elephant and the Rider

There is a story that I will summarise here about an elephant and a rider making their way along a trail in Africa. The rider represents our conscious mind and the elephant the subconscious. Our conscious mind plans and thinks logically to lead the elephant in the best direction. Our conscious mind thinks it is in control of our subconscious mind, but just like the rider of an elephant, the rider cannot completely control the elephant. The elephant is far too strong and if it did not obey the rider’s instructions, there is little that the rider could do.

Sometimes our subconscious mind can get out of control when we are not thinking consciously. This is why exercise and eating mindfully work so well. In the past few weeks there have been a few times where Belinda can feel the elephant wanting to take it’s own path. This is where we need to train our ‘elephant’ to fall into good habits subconsciously, or give the rider a break to recover and rejuvenate so that he doesn’t become completely exhausted. It is easy to let the subconscious take over when we see a negative result on the scales or after one glass of alcohol or a poor food decision but that is the time to put the rider back in charge. You’ve had your fun, now get back to the plan – the long term plan.

3. The Can of Shaving Cream

The tricky thing about a can of shaving cream is that you never know when it is going to run out. There is no warning, no measure, no time limit. Our will power operates in a very similar way. It is well established in the scientific literature that will power is finite. It is limited. Our ability to make decisions even over seemingly trivial matters like what to wear and what time to wake up and what route to take to work all take a toll on our will power as well as the BIG decisions. This explains why when we are completely exhausted at the end of the day or on a Friday afternoon this exhaustion can precipitate some really poor decisions being made before we can top up our will power again. It is important to develop strategies that will support you when your will power is low or exhausted. Taking the time now to implement a strategy to prevent this can save you from making some big mistakes and undoing all of your hard work in the future. It is one thing to come up with a healthy plan that works. That is hard enough. But to come up with a plan that can be repeated over and over and over again without exhausting your will power is beyond difficult. If you can create a psychology to match your physiology, then you are on a path to success. It is always a good idea to consult a professional to help you devise this plan and to keep you on track.

Well done Belinda! 30kgs are now gone and a few more valuable lessons have been learned.

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