When I was in college I taught aerobics and had some devout followers to my classes. One evening I was at Ben and Jerry’s with my boyfriend (now husband) celebrating our monthaversary. Our first date was Ben and Jerry’s on October 19, 1993, and we have gone on the 19th of every month since. Not daily or weekly, once a month. One of my class participants saw me there and proceeded to drop out of all my classes to find an instructor she could ‘look up to’. Fast-forward to now and this has happened more times than I can count. Because I have always been involved in the health and fitness field in some capacity, I have been judged by what I was eating, how much, and even how I ate it. Of particular interest is why I eat the diet I do, how much I eat, assume that I starve myself (WRONG) or comment (loudly) in a group situation ‘that’s your second plate of food!’ when all of it was roasted vegetables, the only thing available I would eat, and still probably only consisted of about 300 calories! I could have easily eaten two more plates if I didn’t have to share.
The biggest one over the years has been my lack of interest in alcohol. I haven’t drunk a drop since I was 14 because I have no interest in it, not because it is against any beliefs I have or that I disagree with drinking. It doesn’t smell good, it didn’t taste good when I had it and I know enough alcoholics that it just doesn’t appeal to me. That’s it. You? Drink up if you want to. I truly don't care.
Then there are the people who feel as if I am judging them. I have been told that I wasn’t invited out for pizza because the person wanted to enjoy their pizza (I love pizza BTW), I know people have not ordered what they really wanted because I was with them or felt self-conscious about what they were eating. Then there are those who feel like they have to justify to me what they are putting into their mouths within moments of meeting me and finding out what I do. I sat down at a business networking lunch once after everyone else had ordered and upon finding out I was a coach, shoulders slumped, looks of guilt crossed faces and one of them said ‘Can I change my order?’. Within one minute of meeting them, they felt I would judge them. I don't even remember what any of them ordered.
Here’s the thing….there is a difference between caring and judging. If you think I would judge you, then you are insulting my ability to be an effective Personal Trainer and Coach. If you are a client, my friend or family member, I care because I’m invested in your health and/or I love you and want you to be healthy. The closer you are to me, the more difficult it is to express that and be received in a caring way. As a Trainer/Coach I want you to choose a healthier option because I have inspired you to choose it, not because I have guilted you into it. I can’t make you feel guilty, only you can do that. I also believe there is no ‘perfect diet’ or ‘perfect person’. Eating clean 100% of the time is not only unrealistic but also not very fun! I don’t know where you are on the wellness spectrum and I believe health is a progression.
I used to be a bad vegetarian and have changed my eating habits over the years….not days, weeks, or even months. My eating behaviors may seem rigid to you, but I genuinely like to eat this way. I only have sweets on the weekends or a holiday because that’s what I want to do and it works for me. If that behavior doesn’t work for you it doesn’t mean I will think less of you. Maybe a goal for you would be to only have one sweet a day because, in your spectrum of wellness, this is an improvement to your health.
When you are looking for a Trainer/Coach, whether it is me or someone else, you should feel supported and comfortable and not chastised for imperfection. You are a partner in health, celebrating successes, and improving on your progression. Small changes impact by creating big results. So, the next time you are with me, order what you want because you want it, not because you want my approval, and if you see me at Ben and Jerry’s on the 19th of the month, let’s talk favorite flavors ☺