January 12, 2017
When a Client Learns to Fish
WRITTEN BY Jesse O'Brien

As I watched my sister move gracefully through an American Ninja Warrior type obstacle course, I experienced a strong wave of emotion. Ashlie, my younger sister, was in the middle of her first fitness competition that she registered for without any persuasion from an outside source. As I watched her effortlessly climb over walls and move quickly across monkey bars, the nostalgia of her journey began to surface.

If you were to ask me five years ago where my sister would be today, I would have never imagined her training five days per week on her own, eating nutrient dense foods without my recommendations, all the while working full-time and going to school. She is healthy, happy and extremely motivated all through her own will.

Five years ago this was a completely different story. My sister used Adderall as a form of weight loss and cigarettes to destress. She loved takeout food and didn’t understand how the stove worked unless she was cooking store-bought pizza. Today she is new woman living a sustainable healthy lifestyle, full of self-confidence with loads of energy and fulfillment. She never has to “start over” again because she has created healthy habits that are sustainable and will last a lifetime!

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day but teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.” As a strength and conditioning coach, my mission is to teach my clients how to continuously work towards living a healthier and more fulfilling life. This does not happen overnight. When coaches change everything at once for their clients, the drastic changes do not last. These changes have not become an inherit habit they can continue on their own without the constant accountability of their coach.

Coaches have to stop fueling the quick fixes that don’t last. It is a familiar story that we see all too often. The same individuals who are signing up for every nutrition challenge are constantly looking for the next best weight loss program. Sure, they see progress in the beginning, but the habits don’t stick, and after a few weeks the old habits resurface. Then, weeks later, they are starting their weight-loss journey over again. How many times do people need to “start over” before realizing what they are doing is not working?

When I started coaching in 2012, I would persuade my sister to come workout with me on occasion. She got involved at the CrossFit gym where I worked, and would even sign up for local fitness events upon my request and persuasion. I loved to train and compete beside my sister, but it was never on her own accord. That changed when Central Athlete was born.

In 2015, I once again “persuaded” my sister to let me coach her and work with her remotely. At this point she had the discipline to workout on her own and even dropped her Adderall habit and ceased to smoke cigarettes. Fitness allowed her the avenue to make these decisions on her own as she began to understand the value and benefits of dropping her unhealthy habits. Her training was still inconsistent and her nutrition needed some work, but she was ready to lose weight in a manner that lasts.

Most people change everything at once when they are ready to make a positive lifestyle shift, but according to Leo Babauta, author of The Power of Less, demonstrates that long-term adherence drops to less than 10% when more than two things are changed at once. To increase my sisters’ success rate with losing weight and keep it off, we worked on implementing one small change at a time. Each change was methodically chosen in a specific order that produced the greatest physiological impact with the least amount of psychological resistance in the shortest amount of time. She focused on things like increasing water and protein consumption, adding cruciferous vegetables to each meal, daily sun exposure, along with stress management and sleep quality protocols. Every time she incorporated something new that supported her goals, Ashlie and I made sure that the previous changes had become a habit that would stick.

Twelve months later and she has developed a truly sustainable healthy lifestyle. The best part is that she is performing these habits on her own without the high touch accountability and check-ins that she needed in her past. As her coach, I still deliver specific workouts each week based around her evolving goals. Fortunately she has freed herself from having to “start over” because she followed the necessary steps that were unique to her in order to creating a change that truly stuck.

I have taught my sister how to fish and now she will be fed for lifetime.

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