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I'm a Trainer, Not a Judge

Do you feel guilty when you're eating something unhealthy? Don't expect me to punish you for it.

I’ve only been a personal trainer for about six months. I don’t do it full time, and . One thing I do know is that I still have a lot to learn.

So far, I’m really liking it. I enjoy coming up with new routines to challenge my group-training clients and I love the fact that a client recently told me she got “huge compliments” for the weight she’s lost so far.

As with most jobs, though, there are some negatives.

One of the things I didn’t expect, and I’m having a bit of trouble with, is that friends and acquaintances sometimes act differently around me. It can make social situations awkward — I find that people don’t want to eat in front of me, or, worse, they constantly comment on what they are eating.

This happened to me a few months ago when I was at , having a beer with some friends. (Yes, I drink beer. Not many, not often, but sometimes there’s nothing like a cold beer). A few people were eating wings or something, but as soon as they saw me, they started to make excuses. I felt really uncomfortable.

When I see people out in a social situation, I’m not judging what they’re eating. Even when I’m working with clients, I’m not judging. My role as a trainer is to give people the tools they need to get in better shape, to get stronger, and, yes, in some cases, to lose weight. But I’m not the food police.

Nor am I a dietitian. My view on food is that it is fuel. The better the food, the better the fuel, and the better your body will run. And, as I’ve written before, . I truly believe you should eat whatever you want, in moderation.

I also believe in personal accountability. I can teach people exercises all day long, but those people have to do the work themselves. I can’t do it for them.

When I work with clients, I discuss healthy eating plans that allow for some flexibility and some treats now and then. But, if you see me out at a barbeque or at Dairy Queen this spring, please don’t hide from me. Don’t give me an excuse, don’t apologize for what you’re eating, and don’t feel guilty about it.

Instead, take the guilt out of it. Acknowledge the guilty pleasure. Own it. Then, work a little harder the next time you exercise. 

Renee Bolivar April 11, 2011 at 04:53 PM
Love the DQ, love the wings at the Chat and whats better than an ice cold beer. You're great!
bonnie morrissey April 11, 2011 at 06:16 PM
1. You can't go to The Chat unless you're drinking beer so you can really feel like you're in college again, and 2. I often get the ol', "Don't look in my cart!" when i run into people at the grocery store! It's never just, "hey, bonnie, " it's "The chips and soda are for my husband!, etc.." And Jeanne, i totally agree, that as a trainer, people now confess to me instead of just saying hello...but i know i do the exact same thing when i see my friend, Sue, who owns a yoga studio! I start spewing how i've been meaning to go but haven't! I love your fresh, funny, witty writing style...always a pleasure to read! keep it up, and good luck with your personal training ventures!
Jane April 11, 2011 at 08:02 PM
My motto has long been, "Run. Then eat ice cream." Yesterday I ran in Chicago's 8K Shamrock Shuffle. There were two strong, fit, healthy women running near me wearing homemade t-shirts with "I run, so I can eat" printed on the back. After the race, we headed to the beer tent. It was a very good day.
Jenny Harding April 12, 2011 at 12:24 AM
As a diabetic, I constantly feel guilty about what I eat, especially in front of other people. No matter what my doctor has taught me about moderation and how I can eat any kinds of food since I have an insulin pump, I still feel very judged everytime I eat a dessert at a family holiday. I guess feeling like you are being judged is just as bad as being accused of being the judger. If a client said to you that they felt judged for what they ate in public, what would you say to them? Would you tell them not to care about what those other people said because their food choice is their own and no one elses business? So I say to you, my friend, if you think people are feeling judged by you, pay no mind to what they say because their food choice is their own and they do not need to include you in their business.
Jenny Harding April 12, 2011 at 12:26 AM
By the way, love the picture! Isn't eating ice cream with your face a healthier option? ha ha
Laura Byrne April 12, 2011 at 04:57 PM
I certainly see where you are coming from and as I person who fights weight gain pretty much as a way of life, I can see this happening! That said, I agree with everything you said - if you deprive yourself all the time, you will just want it that much more! I will go to the Chat, or anywhere else for that matter, for a beer/food any time I can! I like the "I run so I can eat" mentality! Thanx
Jeanne Brown April 14, 2011 at 03:27 PM
Thanks all for the comments. I think the overriding theme here and from other emails I've gotten is that we all run/workout so we can eat what we want. This, to me, is a simple and cute way of saying that we want a balanced, healthy lifestyle and that we have to allow ourselves splurges from time to time. I mean, really, what is life without cake or beer (just not together)? I think the tricky part is when you feel that you have to hide it. That's when trouble starts (binging) and why I wrote that you should "own" your choices when you make them. If someone is dumb or shallow enough to actually judge you, dismiss them. As Jenny said, it's their problem, not yours. Thanks again for the discussion. I'm learning so much from you all!
bonnie morrissey April 14, 2011 at 06:15 PM
Yes, you shouldn't "hide" what you're eating...for all of those people that put the Halloween candy wrappers in the BOTTOM of the trash! I mean really...who are you hiding it from??!!! We're all guilty of it!!!

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