Many personal trainers have their own story of body (and life) transformation. This is true at Strand Fitness. Pam Strand, owner, and Bob Peterson, personal trainer, have lost a combined total of 110 pounds in their journey. (Pam lost 70 pounds; Bob lost 40 pounds) Asked to look back and share their secrets of success, here is what they said.
#1: It all starts with a shift in your mindset
Both Bob and Pam had their own personal “moment of truth” where they looked at themselves in the mirror and said, “Really, is this how you want to live your life?” For Bob, as a father of two young children, he realized how important it was to him to be around for his kids and to be able to be an active father. He knew that the way he was taking care of his body was not going cut it.
For Pam, a “more than slightly burnt out” business professional, she still remembers hearing that inner voice telling her it was time to “pull herself up by the boot straps and get on with life.” She could feel the desire deep down in her body – she wanted to be in the best shape of her life; that was the path forward. She finally listened and took action.
This mindset shift is not about writing out a goal to ” lose ten pounds” or “eat healthier.” This mindset shift is a deep down change of perspective that you are going to change how you take care of yourself and your body! It is not a resolution. It is a commitment and a life change! And it only comes about when you are really honest with yourself and heed what your heart is guiding you to do.
#2: You have to put forth the effort. It takes dedication and commitment.
Losing significant amounts of weight and transforming your body requires work. That is the truth, and there is no way around it. The tricky part is that you can quickly become overwhelmed and give up (or not even start). So Bob’s suggestion is to start small.
The easiest and most accessible place to start is moving your body with exercise. Whether you start with getting out and walking or signing up for a fitness class, getting the body moving gives you energy. For Bob, this was a crucial first step. He first felt positive changes happening in his body that encouraged him. When he started to see the changes, he was even more motivated and could then tackle the nutrition piece of the weight loss formula.
Pam was already very active; in fact, she was training at a highly competitive level. She swam with a masters swim team and practiced intensely 4 times a week. She also practiced yoga twice a week. Yet she was 70 pounds overweight. For her, putting forth the effort had to deal with making significant life changes. For several years she knew her profession was not for her and she was not living the lifestyle she wanted to live. Her way of coping was to eat. After her “moment of truth,” she put new, healthy boundaries around her job, which gave her the space and energy to put forth the effort to begin the change process. Putting the boundaries in place was the first step. The next step was dealing with what was making her overweight in the first place – trying to keep a smile on her face while she was miserable. She eventually quit her job, went back to school to get her personal training degree, and the rest is history, as they say!
#3: Nutrition is 80% of the Game
When they began their journey, neither Bob nor Pam realized the profound impact that nutrition would have on their success and their lives. Sure they knew it was important to eat well and “cut out the crap.” But they did not see how transforming proper nutrition is. Not only do you lose weight, but you gain a whole new body and new life along with more energy, endurance, stamina, health, performance, and confidence – all by changing for the better what you eat and how you eat.
Looking back at her initial efforts, Pam would now say she was naive. It is not about controlling what you eat (which is what she did at first), but rather finding your way of eating that supports your fitness, health, and life goals. It is mind-boggling to Pam now to think that for years she trained at a competitive athlete’s level and she still managed to be significantly overweight. As soon as she started to focus on improving her eating (quantity and quality), the weight flew off! And with some help from her swim coaches and personal trainer, she swam better (at age 44) than she did in her entire swimming career that started when she was 5 years old. Much to her surprise, she beat swim records and personal bests that she set in her teens.
It took her slightly less that 8 months to lose 70 pounds. The athletic results came about six months later.
Bob’s nutritional changes started with his son’s diabetes diagnosis. To help manage the diabetes, he and his wife began to eliminate certain foods from the family diet (like bread and pasta). The nutritional changes began to positively change Bob’s body, and he began to work harder at it. It is still a work in progress for him. Bob loves sweets. While he thinks he will always have his sweet tooth, he works on saving the sweets for special treats and makes sure he is getting the right foods in his daily intake.
Little did either of them realize, but their initial diet changes have led to a life-changing overhaul of how they eat.
Their meals are structured around lean protein, colorful fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and slow digesting carbohydrates. For each of them, these nutritional changes happened over the course of several months. And they don’t always get it right. But they keep at it. Even years later (10 years for Pam; 18 months for Bob), they are still fine tuning their nutrition as their bodies and needs change. They encourage people interested in losing weight and transforming their bodies to start small. It is important to make gradual changes, build your skills, tailor your nutrition to your fitness and health goals, and keep at it. When you “mess up,” don’t be afraid to wipe the slate clean and start over the next moment.
#4: Build your muscles
Strength training is a key element to weight loss and body transformation. Muscle tissue boosts your metabolism and gives your body shape. Three to four times a week is the ideal. Add in two quick bouts of cardiovascular intervals (15 – 20 minutes), and you will see significant changes to your body.
But remember – you can never out train a poor diet!
Don’t let the fact that you exercise give you “permission” to eat what you want. That is a waste of your effort in the gym. And path towards failure in losing and keeping off weight.
#5: Continuously build your knowledge and skills
In looking back over their journeys, Pam and Bob can see where they have gained new knowledge and skills. Some of the knowledge is academic – understanding the importance of various foods and how the body uses food to function. Some of it is intrinsic – understanding your emotions, how your body reacts to your lifestyle, seeing where you help yourself and where you may be holding yourself back. Tuning into their bodies and being aware of “what is working” and “what is not” has been key to both Bob’s and Pam’s success.
Pam and Bob encourage people to assess their skills in three important areas – exercise, nutrition, and mental strength and fortitude. And then take action to develop these skills. There are many books, courses, and professionals who can help you in these areas. Knowing what they wanted to accomplish, staying focused on that no matter what, and seeing no shame in asking for assistance helped both Bob and Pam achieve their goals.
Bob actively researches and studies in the areas of exercise and nutrition. He does this for personal and professional development. And even though Pam is a personal trainer and nutrition coach, she works with a trainer (who happens to be Bob) and has recently enrolled in a year-long nutrition coaching program. Taking these actions keeps their knowledge fresh and up-to-date, but it also keeps them focused on their own fitness and health goals.
Both agreed that developing knowledge and skills has enabled them to fine tune their goals over time. It is interesting to know that both started their journey with a weight loss goal, but feel they would have failed if that remained their goal. Wanting to lose weight got them focused and started in the process. But as they gained experience, became more knowledgable, and developed new skills, they were able to dig deeper for answers and create more profound change in their lives that has enabled them to keep the weight off. The journey is now about being at their best and living a fulfilling life.
#6: Your mind and heart are the two strongest things working for you
Bob says it best…
“Sometimes it takes a life altering event to help us come to terms that we need to change how we look at life and to motivate us in reaching our goals. My path and decision to make a change in diet and exercise was made for me by changing our way of eating to meet my sons diabetic needs. Working out and getting in shape was a huge part of it and completely changed my life. The nutrition classes that I took helped me in making the needed changes to help my son. I realized that to help my son I needed to totally change my lifestyle and the way I looked at eating and exercise. Whatever it takes to meet your goals, you need to find something to push you and keep you on the path of change. Your mind and your heart are your strongest weapons that you have, use them to your advantage and don’t give up. If you can do that you will be able to reach your goals and realize your dreams.”
To your fitness and health!