5 Bad Diet Habits to Stop Today

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This blog post originally appeared on Muscle is the New Sexy.

If you’ve been working out and lifting weights consistently but haven’t seen the scale or measurements budge lately, then it’s time to take a look at your diet plan.  As the common saying goes, “You can’t out-exercise a poor diet.”  As tempting as it is to say, “I’ll burn it off tomorrow” after we indulge in some cheesecake or donuts, it’s just not realistic to think one workout will help.  Take a look at these 5 Bad Habits and ask yourself if you’re guilty of one or more of them.  It could be the key to assisting you with your weight loss goals.

Eating at your Desk

I list this first because it’s probably one of the more unappealing and just plain gross habits we’ve become used to as of late.  In typical American fashion, we’re always in a hurry and no one seems to have time to sit down during the day and eat their meals.  This is why the grocery store aisles are loaded with quick and convenient “meals.”  But even if you have the best intentions and pack your meals everyday, there is still the problem of WHERE to eat your meal.  If you’re in a rush, your desk becomes the table.  With as many germs that are typically on a keyboard and office desk, this is not ideal to enjoy your lunch.  At the very least, choose a place to eat that is communal and intended to be eaten in, such as a cafeteria or break room.  Everyone is busy, and your job is important, but your health is much more important.  And getting crumbs in between the space bar is not attractive.

Scarfing Down your Food too Quickly

No one seems to enjoy their food anymore.  Not every meal needs to be an earth shattering experience.  But if you go to the trouble of cooking, or at least purchasing your food, why eat it like it’s going to be your last meal?  If you eat with intention and with purpose, you might find yourself eating slowly, thus, feeling fuller for a longer period of time.  Take time to taste every bite.  Some people even bless their food before they eat, ensuring they savor every morsel.  You know you’re going to eat again in a few hours.  There’s no need to rush!  Take frequent sips of water in between bites as well.  If you’re hanging with others, chat with them while you eat.  You should be too busy talking to eat so fast.

Skipping your Meals

There is still the misconception among dieters that in order to lose weight, you must skip some meals.  This is counterproductive.  Why?  Because if you start reducing your caloric intake so drastically, you’re just going to become even hungrier and most likely start gaining weight because you might double the size of your next meal.  If you are dieting, cutting back on the portion size is a better strategy than to skip a meal entirely.  The food you eat should be whole and natural as much as possible, not invisible.  An empty plate does not equal a lower number on the scale.

Drinking your Calories

Soda, pop, beer, wine, mixed drinks, juices.  All of these beverages would be considered poor options to hydrate you.  The best choice, of course, is water.  Even if you have a “stellar” diet, and you celebrate a few days a week with just a few drinks, you could be doing yourself a disservice.  For example, one Cosmopolitan has 145 calories in it, a Whiskey sour has 160 and a regular Beer has approximately 150.  Those calories really add up over time.  Reduce and cut back on these, and you might see a shift in your energy levels, better endurance in your workouts, and a change in the scale.   You should see an even bigger change when you increase your water throughout the day.  A good goal? Aim for half your bodyweight in ounces per day.

Opting for TV Dinners instead of Cooking

Boy Scouts aren’t the only ones who should always be prepared.  Adults need to have a plan.  It all starts with cooking.  Planning and cooking your  food might seem like a time consuming chore, but it really is the best way to ensure success with your health.  Maybe you know those tv dinners aren’t very good for you but you don’t know what else to eat.  And if you think those processed meals are “decent” for you, read the ingredient list.  There are usually more than 30 ingredients listed which is always a bad sign.  Learning to cook is worth it!  Take some cooking classes or have someone you know share some tips with you.  And cookbooks are cheap. I found one called “How to Cook” for $5. It really isn’t that difficult to bake some lean proteins and vegetables, cook up some hard boiled eggs, and heat up some leftovers for lunch.  You can even pick one day during the week to get all your cooking done so you’re prepared and ready to get on track with zero excuses.

If you’re guilty of one or more of these bad habits, make the decision today to stop and create better, healthier habits.  Pick one good habit to start and stick with it!   It might take weeks or even months to create the better habit, but it will be completely worth it and your body will thank you.

Bad Habits of Personal Trainers: When to Fire Your PT

“You’re trying to kill me aren’t you?”

This isn’t a line from the latest thriller. This is a line I heard from a client to her Personal Trainer at a gym I frequent.

And I smiled as soon as I heard it. Why? Because I’ve been told this same thing from my clients. Of course it’s meant in jest. But it makes me smile because the client doesn’t think I’m trying to hurt them. They know I’m giving them a great workout. And they are secretly happy about it.

“So…what do you want to do today?”

This isn’t a line from a parent to their child. This isn’t even a line from a boyfriend to a girlfriend. This is a line from a Personal Trainer to their client.

And my jaw hit the floor as soon as I heard it. Why? Because a client doesn’t dictate a session. That’s like going to the hairdresser as she hands you the scissors, saying “Here ya go, have at it!”

I’m gonna cut to the chase. There are a lot of bad Personal Trainers out there. And this is not to say they are bad people. I’m talking about being bad at their job. (I don’t claim to be perfect. But I cringe to see people out there spending a ton of money on a sub-par service. Think of this as the Consumers Report on Personal Training).

Here are some observations I have seen myself from PT’s as well as feedback from friends who have had some unfortunate experiences. If your PT has any of these habits, it’s time to leave them.

1. They try to sell you a scam/quick fix

This is a big one in the competition world but could also be seen in the non-competitive fitness world. If your coach is constantly telling you about the latest weight loss shake or pills that they are affiliated with, it’s not only unethical in my opinion, it doesn’t take you into consideration. They might just be out to make a quick commission on a sale for some sham of a product they endorse. Or maybe they are part of an MLM scheme. Decline once and they should shut up about it. But if you keep declining and they keep persisting, they don’t care about getting you results, they care about making a quick buck. Tell them to take that shake and shove it.

2. They aren’t certified, they just play one on TV

This is probably number one on my list of pet peeves. I don’t like when someone claims to be something they are not. My fellow PT’s and I have studied, taken the courses, paid for the CEC’s and renewed our certs and pay for even more certifications so we can stay updated on the latest fitness and nutrition research. This isn’t easy! The first question you should ask someone selling training is “Are you certified?”  I don’t understand why people don’t think it’s a big deal to NOT be certified. If your trainer actually claims to be certified, ask them which organization they are certified through. It should be from an accredited organization listed here.  If it sounds like they paid $50 for some random course they took over a weekend, run away.

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3. They have no interest in your personal life but they want you to be interested in theirs

I’m all for chit chatting during a session with a client, as long as they are actually working out WHILE they chat. But if your PT doesn’t care to hear anything about what’s going on in your life and only wants to talk about themselves, that’s a problem. So much of Personal Training is also therapy, I don’t mind admitting. I like playing therapist sometimes. And so much of dieting and fitness is about the mind and mentality of making these changes. Well, when it’s time to workout, you shouldn’t hear your PT talking about anything other than the exercise you’re doing. When they aren’t talking, they should be listening to you and reacting to what you are saying, not the other way around.

4. They say “I don’t know” too many times

One of my pet peeves is getting questions from random people once they find out I’m a PT that are better suited for a physical therapist or doctor. While no one expects us to diagnose you with anything, your PT should have at least some basic knowledge of anatomy and the most common ways to strengthen muscles that have been torn/injured. At the very least, they should refer you to someone who does if they are completely clueless instead of guessing or making something up.

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5. You wanted someone to train you, you got a cheerleader instead

While you are in a consultation with a trainer (and before you hand over your credit card you BETTER have had a consult) you should really make sure you two mesh well together. If you WANT or expect someone to be a drill sergeant or cheerleader or someone to yell “Yeah you can do it! Keep it up!” then you better tell them that’s what you want. I am very upfront with my potential clients by saying outright “I don’t give false praise. And I’m not a yeller. I’m the anti-Jillian Michaels.” I guide, I talk, I motivate. But I never sit there and cheer you through a session. It’s lame, it’s embarrassing to everyone and it just sounds like we’re both trying way too hard. “Go go go Away!!”

6. They lack communication skills

This could be anything from never checking in on days you aren’t training, taking a very long time to ask a question (very common with online coaches), they don’t give good feedback, they cancel on you or seem distracted, etc. I have had clients that like to keep to themselves. They didn’t want nor ask for anyone to check in with them on their off days. That’s fine for those who can survive on their own, but most people I train really appreciate a text or email here and there to see how it’s going. I’ve had bad coaches online who took over a week to answer one simple question. It should never take that long to reply. If you have an online coach, make sure you understand how they plan to communicate with you during your training. They should tell you outright when they expect to hear from you and vice versa. And if your current trainer cancels on you more than once a month, or they just lack general courtesy as far as communication is concerned, send them a text: “We are done.”

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7. Their clients look the same or rebound easily/They have zero success stories

If you haven’t invested in a trainer yet, if possible, ask for the contact information for their current or former clients. This is usually encouraged with online coaching since you can’t physically see them in person. But if you’re considering a trainer at a gym, take a look at how they train their clients. Are they paying attention or are they staring off into space? Are they engaged with their clients or do they look completely bored? Do they have their clients do the same exercises even though they are all different body shapes? Are they on their phones or are they spotting and instructing their clients with great detail? I think it’s easy to spot the red flags in these scenarios. And if their current or former clients have less than stellar reviews, keep PT shopping.

8. They talk the talk but waddle when they walk

Okay so I sorta just made that saying up. But you know what I mean: They don’t appear as if they take their job too seriously. Now, this is a touchy subject since I myself wasn’t exactly the epitome of fitness a couple years ago. Do I think it prevented me from getting clients? No…But I think if your PT is trying to tell you eat a certain way or gives advice on how to achieve a certain look and then turns around and downs a 6 pack of beer on any given Friday, is that really someone you want to look up to? Is this the person who is going to help you turn your life around and lose weight/transform your body? It’s something you should consider if you are looking for them to keep you motivated and inspired.

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9. They do the same workouts with ALL their clients

So let’s say you see a certain trainer always does the same metabolic workouts with their clients. They got all the cool tools like battling ropes and the big tire and the heavy medicine balls. “Hey that looks like fun!”  Of course it does! But you know what’s not fun? Doing the exact same workout every week. What about weight training or bodyweight circuits? Or what about some core exercises or implementing some balance and functional movements? If they are a one-trick pony, that might be a warning that that is all they know. It’s not to say they are dumb. They might just lack experience. But if you see this pattern repeated literally every week, time to find someone who has more than 6 exercises in their rolodex of workouts. (I stole that term from my friend Tess and I bet she doesn’t remember. But that’s the first thing she said to me when I met her my first day on the job as a trainer. Thanks Tess!)

10. They never explain WHY you’re performing an exercise

Some clients don’t really care about the why. Some just want their butt kicked and walk out of the gym sweatier than when they walked in. Fair enough. But most trainers SHOULD explain what the exercise is, what body part it works and why you’re training it. They should also be monitoring your progress to hold you accountable as well as explain the method to their process for training you. For example, when my client was about to run her half marathon, we took the lower body workouts down a notch and went with lighter weights and higher reps as opposed to lifting heavy. For a client who has a bad knee due to previous surgery and a tear, we don’t do exercises that put all the pressure on that injured knee. We do exercises to strengthen the muscles around it without causing more pain. So if you’re getting a bunch of “Here, do this” with zero explanation, ask them to explain why you are paying so much for a mediocre product.


If you have a trainer currently, ask yourself if they have engaged in any of these bad habits. Before firing them, you can have a conversation with them about these issues.

Heck, print this out and hand it to them if you want. Give them my name, I’ll set them straight. 😉 But if they say good riddance to you, I’m happy to take you on as a client.

Just don’t expect me to cheer.

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Michelle can be reached at @FromFitToFigure on Twitter; Michelle Piccolo Personal Trainer on Facebook and FromFitToFigure@gmail.com