Over the last 11 years I’ve trained hundreds of clients, many of whom wanted to lose weight. So I’ve built up a lot of experience of what works and what doesn’t. Those clients who’ve had the greatest weight-loss success have something in common. They mastered the following 10 habits:
1. 100% focus on every personal training session
Mobile phone switched off, kids and dogs banished to another room, TV turned off, total focus on the session. And ready to start training as soon as I turn up, not just getting out of bed or eating breakfast! Sometimes I’ve arrived at early morning sessions to find the client still in bed. These clients are not among the most successful in my experience.
Clients who are digested, alert, ready mentally as well as physically, are the ones who get the most out of their session. They put in 100% effort and intensity, they’re raring to go, they ask me questions about how they can improve, what more they can be doing during the week between our sessions. And they listen intently to my exercise instructions.
2. Low rate of cancelled sessions
The more consistently the client keeps to their weekly sessions, the faster they progress. Often it’s a question of priorities (see strength of desire below). Clients who are really serious about losing weight make it their priority, and other things have to work around the session, not the other way round.
3. Physical activity between weekly sessions
The clients who realise that they need to be exercising twice a week on their own, if they’re only training once a week with me, are the ones who burn off the most fat. Most clients underestimate how much physical activity is required to kick-start and sustain weight loss.
Not just exercise sessions, but more walking, more stair-climbing, less sitting for long periods.
4. Follow nutrition advice strictly
This one is massive, possibly the most crucial element of a successful fat-loss regime. I get my clients to complete food diaries, and also text me pictures of their meals so I get an idea of quantities and proportions. Those who give me plenty of feedback, and stick to my diet recommendations, are the ones who make the most progress of all.
5. Specific and realistic goals
I encourage my clients to set goals that are realistic (for example, to lose 10kg in 2 weeks is not realistic, 1-2 kg weight loss per week is more realistic), and to set a deadline for achieving their goal. The more goal oriented the client is, the more likely they’ll lose weight.
6. Monitor progress and make adjustments
I monitor the client’s progress by weighing them, measuring body fat percentage, and measuring waist and hips. If progress falls behind schedule, the clients who are prepared to make adjustments to their eating and exercise to get back on track, are the ones who achieve the greatest success.
7. Support group
I had a personal training client in Notting Hill who had a fantastic support group of husband, sons, and friends. They all knew what her weight loss goal was, and they supported her all the way. This makes a huge difference to motivation, and to practical things like going out for meals and eating at home, and making time to exercise.
The more support from the client’s family, the fewer cancelled sessions too.
8. Free from false beliefs
There are many false beliefs about weight loss which prevent some clients making the progress they could make. Some are convinced that zero carbs are the way to go. Others think that severe calorie restriction will help them achieve their weight loss goals. Clients who are not imprisoned by false beliefs have the best chance of success.
9. Strength of desire
The stronger you want something, the more likely you’ll achieve it. Most of my weight-loss clients say they really want to lose weight, but real desire is measured in the sacrifices they’re prepared to make, and how hard they’re prepared to work towards their goal. Arnold Schwarzenegger called this “want-power” which he said was more powerful than mere willpower.
One way to boost your strength of desire is to write down a list of as many reasons why you want to lose weight as you can think of, and to refer to this list when you get up in the morning, and when you go to bed at night.
10. Visualisation and Belief
Most clients really do want to lose weight, but some have a problem truly believing they can do it. A powerful way to tap into your subconscious mind and change your beliefs is by regular visualisation of the new you at the weight and shape you want to be.
The greater your belief that you can do it, the more resilient you become, and the more effort you put into your weight loss efforts. Belief gives you power and energy.
(Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London with over 11 years experience)