Here’s What I’ve Learned Working with Personal Trainers

Over the course of the last decade I have had the privilege of working with several trainers, who’ve collectively coached models, like Natalie Pack and Ali Michael, the past two Miss USAs, NFL players, world-renowned M.D. & brain disorder specialist, and political well-knowns like Lara Lea Trump.

It wasn’t until recently as I was reflecting over these experienced that I realized I’ve gained cumulative knowledge from working with these professionals. Each has their own approach to fitness and even nutrition, but it is interesting to note what is *common* amongst each of them and what I have benefited from understanding and implementing the most.

Resistance Train: I remember being surprised at how little cardio each of these professionals recommended on my initial plans. I began to understand that resistance training not only burns calories, but is the tool to shape and strengthen the body. Depending on your genetics, there are methods of resistance training that will not make you look overly “bulky,” depending on your preferences. My favorites include body weight, ankle weights, resistance banks, bosu balls, and steps. I personally don’t life heavy weights or do HIIT. Experiment and find what works best for you, but don’t neglect resistance training in your routine.

Heal Your Gut: You are what you digest and absorb, not what you eat. When we aren’t digesting well, not only is it uncomfortable physically (think bloating, belching, etc.) but it is inefficient. Our food needs to be converted to energy efficiently in order for us to function and think our best. Probiotics, avoiding foods you’re sensitive and allergic to, and simply chewing your food 10-30 times per mouthful can make a huge difference here.

Food Quality Does Matter for Fat Loss: 200 calories of fresh, vitamin- and nutrient-rich fresh squeezed vegetable juice will do more for you than a 0 calorie toxic, mold-inhibiting, acidic Diet Coke. Being toxic is a thing and it does impede body composition changes, make us feel sluggish, impede our liver from properly detoxing our bodies, and more. Thinking of food as medicine will change everything. That bag of chopped apple slices soaked in a preservative from Target is not the same as a fresh, organic apple from Whole Foods. Plain and simple.

Rest: We train and eat healthy to live, not the other way around. Rest days are restorative to the body and crucial in seeing progress. You shouldn’t feel burnt out or exhausted entering the gym. The body needs time to repair, recover, and rest in order to avoid stress (cortisol) and see the best results.

Diet is Everything: You can be in the gym for two hours, seven days a week, but if you’re not eating well, it doesn’t matter. No one wants to recognize that the accidental 3 TBSP of ketchup on your burger takes about 10 minutes to jog off. I’m not at all saying you need to be restrictive, but rather be very conscious of your intake, understand portion sizes once and for all. Be honest with yourself about your intake and picking/snacking if you’re not changing. You can also look into weight loss injections such as b12 injections for faster results.

Avoid Stress like the Plague: The idea that stress is the enemy of all things good for our body became real to me when one of my trainers shared that nutrients literally float around in our bloodstreams when we are stressed, and are later stored as fat. Take walks, soak in a hot bath, detach from your phone, breathe deeply, take an extra rest day if you need to. Stress will get you no where aesthetically. It ruins your skin, your relationships, your wellness, your sleep. Do everything you can to avoid stress. I highly recommend counseling if you’re going through something particularly challenging.

It’s a Lifestyle: Dieting is terrible. I repeat, terrible. Food is one of the most enjoyable things in our human experience. It’s also such a social part of living. Dinner with friends, first dates, coffee meetups with friends, happy hour. It’s not about following a specific diet perfectly for weeks on end, it’s about a healthy, lasting lifestyle. To me, this means developing healthy habits (one cup of coffee with light cream per day rather than 3 lattes or learning to enjoy fresh, vegetable-rich salads with lean protein) you love rather than restricting your food and ultimately restricting your joy. Find the healthy foods and habits that you genuinely love and stick with them forever.