COACH: n. 1. A person or private tutor who trains athletes, athletic teams, leaders, executives, individuals, or students to increase knowledge, skills, abilities, awareness, integrity, relationships, craftsmanship, and mastery in order to excel and win at the chosen games of life.

Coaching to me is more of a mental approach rather than a physical one. It’s more about establishing a mental connection and less about counting reps or running clients through drills.

Everyone has a story on “where” they are and why. Understanding my clients personalities and why they exhibit certain behaviors whether good or bad, helps me coach them to new heights physically and eventually mentally, improving overall wellness.

Lisa Marie wanted to enter a 12 Week Transformation Challenge and sought me out to coach her. What I knew of Lisa Marie at the time was: she is a wife, a mother of 3 young adults, she works a full-time demanding job and studies in the evenings working towards an advanced college degree. She is obviously very driven and at the age of 40, very determined to transform her body after prior failed attempts to do so.  Lisa Marie is also a Latina which translates to the possibility of stubbornness and/or argumentative behavior, impatience, and bossiness. It’s a cultural “thing”. No disrespect meant (defensiveness ranks high up with Latinas as well).  So to sum it up, my new client was a feisty busy Latina on a mission! Given all of this information and realizing “where” we were at and “where” we had to go, would most certainly pose challenges. Armed with a better understanding of Lisa Marie, I was ready to coach her through this journey.

Reflecting on my three months of coaching Lisa Marie, there were three major obstacles that we were faced with and worked together to overcome. The fact that Lisa Marie shared she had previous failed attempts at "losing weight" alerted me that educating her on healthy lifestyle eating habits had to be a priority. Next, the fact that she lead a busy and hectic life day in and day out was concerning to me as I knew rest and recovery would be key in helping her reach her goals. Lastly and oddly enough, was her drive and determination. Both are qualities that are necessary when striving to reach new physical heights but can also pose problems if risks aren’t weighed out such as overtraining or training with injuries. Of course there were minor speed bumps along the way but these were the three mountains we climbed.

“You are what you eat”...everyone can say they know this, yet comprehending it is a whole different animal. Lisa Marie, like most women, had tried “everything”, so they say, to lose weight. After years of this, she finally came to the conclusion that quick weight loss diets and fat-loss gimmicks were not going to get her the body she was after. One of our first meetings was only about nutrition and healthy eating habits. The challenge was both in teaching Lisa Marie a whole new way of eating and breaking habits that were instilled in her for years. Apart from learning how to eat, was the additional challenge of having meals prepared, which was a feat within itself considering the schedule she carried. Lisa Marie stepped up to the plate and made it work by planning and cooking her meals every Sunday for the entire week, no excuses. She was diligent and precise with her portions, meal times and keeping a food log. Having to break eating habits that she’s had for most of her life was difficult but we devoted time to it almost on a daily basis to ensure she would adopt these habits for life.

“There’s not enough time in a day”...most of us can attest to this statement and Lisa Marie certainly could. By day she is a full-time police detective, which honestly never “clocks out”, then  goes on to juggle her household, college studies and caring for extended family members. Now add to that Lisa Marie’s new training regimen which included three days at Fit Camp, training sessions at the gym and her prescribed cardio sessions every week. With this nonstop schedule she was not getting enough rest which could potentially hinder our efforts on building the physique she was in pursuit of.  At one point during the 12 weeks, Lisa Marie was assigned a homicide case that lasted 3 weeks and during that time she averaged 2-4 hours of sleep a night. On several occasions I would not allow her to train and sent her home to get rest recognizing that she was running on empty. Since Lisa Marie possesses a drive second to none and will literally drive herself into the ground before she would think of quitting or not showing up for a workout, it was hard for her to swallow.  However, we always took the time to discuss it and although she wasn’t always comfortable with the decision, she abided.

The same determination that can propel an athlete to the next level can also sideline him/her. There are athletes that train or compete with injuries and not because they have to but because they choose to. Although this is admirable, it’s not always the brightest approach. I have to admit that I’ve been known to do this more than once and admit it wasn’t the best idea. Coaches are put between a rock and a hard place making this call and must always keep the athletes best interest in mind. With Lisa Marie, her knees had begun to ache and cause her pain towards the latter part of the 12 week challenge. Even as close to the end as we were, I had to reduce her training and on a few occasions give her complete days off to heal and recover. Lisa Marie would protest but again after communicating the risks, she obeyed.

Lisa Marie did win the Transformation Challenge but more importantly learned about herself, adopted a healthy lifestyle and inspired her family, friends, co-workers and most everyone who has read her story. Coaching Lisa Marie in this challenge was not about more push-ups or more lunges, it was about understanding the woman she is, what she needed to get to the next level and given that, providing her with the direction to get there.

By Liza Hughes RN
Lifestyle Coach to Women

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