One thing I’ve really come to enjoy doing these last couple of years is helping others with their fitness goals. Most of the time it’s people who are either just getting started or who want to do well but are unsure what to do or how to stick to a plan. That’s not always the case but I’m willing to help anyone who thinks I can help them. I suppose it makes sense though, as people who aren’t sure what to do are going to be more likely to need help than someone who is more experienced.
I have learned a lot in my time helping others and hope that sharing my experience can possibly help even more. One thing I have discovered more than anything is that you really have to learn what the other person is trying to accomplish and work with them together as a team. I initially had really high standards for others, probably because I have really high standards for myself. I’ve learned, however, that expecting others to be as diligent as I am isn’t always very realistic. Not everyone is willing to give up all unhealthy foods and train hard every day. Maybe in time after they start seeing results they could get there, but it’s not going to happen overnight.
I’ve come to realize that expecting others to flip a switch and do everything I say (regardless of how confident I am it will bring them great results) when it’s not something they are willing to do will get us nowhere fast. They’ll get frustrated, I’ll get frustrated, and it’s sure to fail. This doesn’t mean you can’t let them know what you think would work best. I think it’s in theirs and your best interest to educate them to the best of my knowledge for what truly works. All I’m saying is expecting perfection out of someone trying to make significant changes is probably not going to work out very well.
One of the most difficult realizations I’ve come to is that you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. This is very tough for me sometimes, especially when it comes to the people I really care about. The fact of the matter is if they don’t want to be helped and they don’t want to change, you won’t be able to do much for them. The person has to want it, and if they don’t your attempts to help them will fall on deaf ears. I don’t think many people want unsolicited advice anyway, but that’s for a different article.
Another challenge can be sometimes someone does want help but won’t say so. Or possibly they have started and stopped and are having trouble getting going again. How do you know if they just need to be pushed or if they are unwilling to try? I don’t mean to oversimplify anything, but it really comes down to trying and seeing what happens. Just like with fitness it’s about trying things and finding out what works. Perhaps sometimes people just put up a front because they are afraid of the unknown, but deep down inside they are begging to be helped.
So what can you do for people who are going down a destructive path with their health but don’t want your help? I personally think the best thing you can do is let them know you are there for them if they do decide they want help. Check in with them from time to time and encourage them to make positive changes without being forceful. I like to make sure they know why they can make changes and all the reasons why they’d be so happy if they did. Ultimately it’s up to them to change but some people need a little nudge and some encouragement to get started.
This is another one of those very difficult things for me. When it comes to someone you care about you don’t want to upset them, but you want to see them healthy and happy too. I’m usually willing to take the risk of upsetting someone in hopes it could change their lives for the better. I’m willing to run the risk of upsetting someone I care about as it seems well worth the risk. After all, if you are my friend I want as much time with you as possible here in our limited time together on earth.
It wasn’t always this way. Let’s face it, it’s not easy to talk to someone about losing weight and getting healthy. However, ever since I promised a friend I would say something to them if they started going back to their old habits and didn’t, I decided I’d never make that mistake again. It’s just not worth being polite to stand by and watch someone destroy themselves. Maybe I’ll be a little annoying to them for a while, but if in the long run it helps turn their lives around, they’ll thank me later. If it never helps them turn things around, I at least hope they realize I do it because I care.
Each person is unique and finding ways help them takes time and patience. Sometimes they need tough love, other times they need a pat on the back and encouragement. Sometimes you need to push, sometimes you need to back off. It takes time and it’s still something I’m figuring out. I’ve made my share of mistakes but just like in fitness where you have to learn from your mistakes to get better, the same goes for helping others. One thing I know for sure, I’m not going to stop trying.
I’m still learning as a coach and each “student” brings new challenges and new opportunities for me to learn and grow. I hope I am able to reach them and maybe, just maybe, be an inspiration for them to change their lives and become the people they want to be. I do it because I’m very passionate about fitness and I want to see people succeed but it’s also rewarding. I can’t lie, it’s a wonderful feeling watching someone you’ve been helping reach their goals. I love watching someone’s face light up with excitement because of what they are achieving with their fitness goals. When I’m a part of that journey it makes it all the more special.
Sometimes I think this would be one of the really truly fun things about personal training and other fitness related jobs. Finding ways to reach others and watching them make progress and changing their lives. What a rewarding job that could be, despite the many frustrations that would surely come with it as well. It would be a challenge, but I love challenges. Maybe someday, but now’s not the time. In the meantime I’ll continue to get my fix helping my friends, as long as they’ll let me. Possibly even if they don’t want me to!