As we head into Christmas season, it’s time to make a cup of tea, get cozy on the couch and read a good book. Here are 3 of my top-picks to help improve your and your client’s health.
As trainers, we’re constantly exposed to a wide array of complex and conflicting information. On top of that, it can be challenging to effectively communicate the right information to our clients. We also forget what it’s like to be a ‘beginner’ at something. So, figuring out what kind of information is most useful to someone just starting up, is not always intuitive.
I spent a lot of time finding books that make fundamental concepts easier to understand for clients.
I zeroed in on three key topics exercise, food and mindset.
The following three books really helped me re-discover the fundamentals of these key topics – and how to communicate them effectively. Not only do they provide a great way to get back on track with your own health and goal setting, but they also double as a solution to help your clients with their struggles.
1) Exercised – Daniel Lieberman
Daniel Lieberman’s book provides a foundational – and somewhat underappreciated – insight into a key reason why we have so many health issues today. Simply put, our bodies are not evolving as fast as the world around us – we are overloading our primitive system with modern stimuli. This “evolutionary mismatch” ties together modern-day stressors and our declining health.
Importantly, exercise (on its own) is not the answer. In fact, our bodies were never designed to exercise, they are designed to “move” – something that is increasingly absent from our lives.
This book holds great information for yourself but also for your clients who might be struggling with motivation, stress and the resulting issue of prioritizing their tasks (going to class vs. working an hour longer). There’s a common misconception is that we (or our clients) should always feel up to working out, because “it’s good for us” and “we have no excuse” as there really is “a class for everybody”. However, motivating ourselves to exercise can be hard since it’s not what we are designed to do as humans. Knowing that – as trainers – can change how we interact with our clients for the better.
2) In Defense of Food – Michael Pollan
If you ask ten trainers, you will get ten different ideas on how to best fuel your clients body, lose weight or speed up metabolism. Michael Pollan has a great way of simplifying nutrition in this book. Instead of starting with “what’s the latest on offer” he takes it back to the basic approach of “what do we actually need?”.
His answer is surprisingly simple: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”.
Food represents an important connection between the outside-world and our inside-world, e.g our organs. If you want our inside-world to thrive, you have to pay attention to what enters from the outside. Unfortunately, just like our environment has quickly evolved over the past century, so has our food. The best nutrition plans only work if we are actually ingesting real food with nutrients in it. However, grocery stores these days are packed with “edible foodlike substances” (according to Pollan) that have nothing to do with the food our ancestors once planted, harvested and consumed. In order to achieve any goal, we (and our clients) need to re-learn how to fuel our bodies properly.
3) No Sweat – Michelle Segar
Michelle Segar highlights what motivates people (or doesn’t) when it comes to exercise.
One psychological difference she points out is that people, who want to adopt an active lifestyle, set different goals. Instead of simply focusing on ‘losing 5lbs’, they focus on an ongoing goal, such as ‘feeling more energized at the end of the day’.
Seger also highlight the importance of the nature of our relationship with exercise. If a person has experienced exercise as ‘bad’ or ‘punishment’, they’re less likely to implement it on a daily basis.
Instead, if we cultivate a good relationship with exercise and have fun, it can leave us energized and wanting more.
After all, who wants to “punish” themselves every day? We’ve all been there! It’s the “I have eaten one cookie, now I need to run on the treadmill for 30 minutes” mindset.
Motivation (positive mindset) plays a crucial role in whether we keep exercising or not.
Segar’s prescription is simple: Find something you like doing so you can keep doing it for a long time.
In conclusion, these three books take exercise, food and mindset back to the basics. Moreover, it helps guide your clients through their own challenges.
Knowing how our bodies function at the most basic level helps find a better, more clear path to long-term success.
What were your favourite books this year? Let me know below.
Jessi Schlegel is a fitness trainer and educator. She draws from a versatile background with a degree in Sports Therapy from Germany and in-the-field business experience as co-owner of a gym in Vancouver (Canada). She currently works as a Personal Trainer, Group Class Instructor, Yoga Instructor, Holistic Nutritionist and Online Coach. With over 18 years of experience, she aims to pass on knowledge and share her passion and experiences with clients and trainers around theworld.