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Bariatric Fitness – Is it a pipe-dream career path?

Desperately Seeking SlenderWhen I am sad, depressed or stressed out I get withdrawn and quiet. Like most of you, these are emotions I don’t deal with well. When I start to experience these emotions I instantly think, “I have to be really careful that I don’t start feeding my feelings.” Because, if I don’t, I know I am just a few Twinkies away from weighing over 400 lbs. again. It might seem like a drastic leap. But, for a recovering food addict like me, it’s an easy leap to make. My commitment to my own post-operative bariatric fitness program is the only thing that saves me from regain. That’s a true story.

Things have been difficult for me lately. First I was dealing with the strange and new grief of my ex-husband passing away. Almost exactly a month later, I starting dealing with a different sort of grief. The grief of a job loss. It’s not that I lost my job. I’ll always have a position as the Head Trainer at GoGirl Fitness Studio, so long as it is in business. But, this loss is the loss of my salaried position as the General Manager. The grief I feel is interesting. I’m sad, not just for myself but for my community as a whole.

This sounds strange at first I am sure. Why does my losing my position as a General Manager effect the weight loss community or the weight loss surgery community at all?

It doesn’t. That is exactly the part that makes me sad.

GoGirl When I began working at GoGirl Fitness Studio a little over a year ago, one of the stipulations of my taking the job as the General Manager and Head Trainer was that the company had to provide me a way to reach the population that I was most passionate about helping. The weight loss surgery population. I wanted to help other bariatric surgery patients like myself discover the mighty tool of fitness and how much it helps in their pre-operative, post-operative and weight maintenance phases of their journey. Bariatric Fitness. This was going to be my specialty.

I had dreams of being the Chris Powell of the weight loss surgery community. My goal was to become a leader in Bariatric Fitness. My passion was to make fitness fun. To make it exciting and affordable for a population that I feel the fitness industry often mistreats. Since this was a passion of mine, and the ability to chase this goal was of paramount importance to me, when GoGirl Fitness Studio hired me, they invested in a state of the art remote training system to make this possible.

Because I believed in myself, and in how I could help this population, the company threw it’s marketing money into helping me get the word out about this program. In the first couple of months we ran focus groups to work out the bugs. Next, we signed up as a sponsor for the Bariatric Foodie Pledge. The company flew me off to San Antonio to run a vendor booth at the WLSFA event. But, no matter what we did, the concept of Bariatric Fitness and remote training for a bariatric population just didn’t take off.

I believed they key was to make Bariatric Fitness affordable.

Financial objections always seem to be the biggest issues for prospective clients. “I can’t afford personal training.” – To answer this, I developed GoGirl Resolve, a personal training program specifically designed for those effected by obesity. A group personal training program that specifically catered to bariatric fitness. I priced it reasonably, and even offered huge discounts to the weight loss surgery community. $119 a month for 12 sessions a month. Less than $10 per session for a personal trainer to help keep you accountable on your fitness journey. Under $10 a session for a personal trainer to design workouts that keep things fun, exciting and to help motivate you into doing something that every single one of us knows we should be doing after weight loss surgery, exercise.

Yet still, the objections were that people could not afford it. It’s so heart-wrenching to me. To hear someone tell me they can’t afford a reasonably priced fitness program that will help them not fall into the pitfalls of regain. Yet, if I followed most of the people who tell me they can’t afford it on social media, I’d watch them post about spending money on all sorts of other non-essential things. It’s not that most people can’t afford it, it’s that most people don’t make it a priority.

We don’t initially see the value in paying for a bariatric fitness routine.

Bariatric Fitness - Personal Training for Weight LossI did the same thing. Told myself I could do it on my own. I’d pay $20-$40 a month for a gym membership I swore I’d use and then never had the accountability factor I needed to actually go. Accountability goes a long way. Knowing that you’re paying someone else to be there tends to make you actually go.

But these are hard things to overcome in a sales consult. Do I practice empathy and be understanding? Or do I practice tough love and ask hard questions?

“Will a fitness routine be valuable when you’ve regained 30-60 lbs. and realize that the fact that you didn’t listen when your surgeon told you to exercise might be a contributing factor to that?”

“What kind of value will a bariatric fitness routine hold when the honeymoon phase of your surgery wears off? When you can eat like a relatively “normal” person again? How about when you start to realize that the only way you will maintain your weight loss is with exercise and activity?”

“Is it more valuable to spend a third of what you would pay for a specialized bariatric fitness program where you have the accountability and motivation factor to actually show up for a gym membership that you might use for the first 30 days and then will likely stop prioritizing?”

Watching someone slide down the slippery slop of regain breaks my heart.

When it is happening, we are acutely aware of why it is happening. We stopped eating as healthy as we were. We aren’t exercising. We’ve fallen back into bad habits. The carb craving monster reared it’s ugly little head. Sound familiar? I know it does, because I’ve been there. Remember, I lost over 200 lbs. and gained it all back. I’ve been there too. I firmly believe that the only reason I don’t fall prey to this downfall is because I have a solid bariatric fitness routine implemented into my life.

Yet, even when we know that it is happening. We don’t see the value in hiring someone to help us. We’d much rather come up with the reasons why we can’t.

“I can’t afford personal training.” “My schedule is too hectic. I just can’t make the time for the workouts.” These are by far our favorite barriers. The reasons we give for not making a commitment to a bariatric fitness routine. Rational reasons we use as an excuse for the truth; that those of us that are effected by obesity seem to be highly predisposed to choose inaction over action. Why? Because it’s a hard habit to break when we have been doing it for such a large portion of our lives.

We’re so use to being sedentary, it’s hard to choose to be active.

Remote Training Bariatric FitnessThis is a harsh, sad reality. A reality that has truly made my dream of bringing fitness to the weight loss surgery community a challenging task. Perhaps I set too lofty of a goal for myself.

I’m honestly not sure. What I am sure of now, is that chasing that goal cost the company I work for a lot of money. Money that didn’t convert into clients in our remote training program. Funds that didn’t convert into my training schedule being full of clients searching for a trainer that specialized in bariatric fitness.

I believed in myself. Believed in the value of what I was doing. I was passionate about helping the population I was attempting to serve. Even now, I wholeheartedly believe in a bariatric fitness program. A program for people effected by obesity designed by people who have been effected by obesity.

Before I started this, I constantly used to hear, “I wish I lived closer to you so that I could work out with you.” I spent a good deal of blood sweat and tears developing a program that broke the confines of distance and location. But where are all those people now?

Now, I’m sad. I feel defeated. In fact, I feel like a failure. 

Not because my dreams didn’t pan out. Not because my program wasn’t successful. I feel like I failed because I took someone else down this path with me, the owner of GoGirl Fitness Studio. I overestimated my reach and potential in the weight loss surgery community. As a result, I focused on the population I was most passionate about helping rather than building up the business within a population of people who already see the value in fitness, activity and exercise.

I encouraged the owner to put our marketing efforts into the weight loss surgery community and a bariatric fitness program that yielded so little results in its first year that the company isn’t making enough money to be able to afford the salary they pay me to run it for them.

Now, I’m back to a part-time job in the fitness industry. Only getting paid for the time I spend training. I feel defeated. For the first time in the eight years since I started chasing this dream of being a Personal Trainer for people fighting obesity, I am honestly starting to ask myself if this is all just a pipe dream. If I can’t make a decent living working with the clients that I want to specialize in working with is it time to find a new career path?

Is Bariatric Fitness a pipe dream?

I dunno right now. I’m trying to figure out how to get back up on this horse and keep riding. Trying to persevere and get back up despite the fact that I feel like I’ve been knocked out of the saddle. Right now, I’m dealing with a huge pay cut, and the challenge of standing on my own to feet on a 19-25 hour a week paycheck. I don’t how I am going to pay my bills. It feels like Christmas has been canceled. I’m sad, I’m depressed, and there is a weight of uncertainty on my chest.

I’m struggling. Usually when I am struggling I am silent. But, when I returned to blogging this time I promised myself and my readers that I’d be writing through the struggles. Sharing, being transparent and being honest. Honest right now is, I’m struggling with my emotions and it is taking everything I have not to feed my feelings right now.

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and Cooper Institute Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies. Her training and coaching services are offered exclusively through GoGirl Fitness Studio.

Barriers in your Wellness path Do NOT Translate to – THE END

 

107672563As a Bariatric Fitness enthusiast and Motivational Coach I find that often time’s people who talk to me about their weight loss journey usually have some sort of barrier in their way when it comes to their current wellness path.

Before we get too far ahead let‘s talk about your wellness path. A wellness path is one of the most effective starting tools I have found in helping other people realize where they currently are in their own wellness journey and most importantly, where they want to be.  A wellness path is a never-ending journey. It begins the moment you want it to and it is a constant work in progress. When we talk about wellness, we’re no longer talking about one aspect of our health we’re not talking about just nutrition, or just exercise; Nope, we’re talking about the whole kit and caboodle. (I had those when I was a kid did you?)

When we talk about wellness it encompasses everything, the physical, mental, spiritual and social-emotional aspects of your currently lifestyle choices, situations and influences. When we start thinking about Wellness, I have found that the easiest place to start is with where you want you are. Find a relaxing environment and spend a little time thinking about your current Wellness path. What are you currently physical activity levels like? What are you current eating habits like? Is there a lot of stress in your life, do you make the time to relax and find mental clarity? Do you surround yourself with people who follow the 4H – Rule? (Do they help you, hinder you, heal you or hurt you?)

Once you have done this the fun part begins – establishing where you want to be. I like to do this exercise in a hot bubble bath with a cup of coffee and a good “For fun reading only” book next to me for when I am done. Personally I like to scoot all the way down in the tub, feeling warm and an embraced by soothing fragranced suds like lavender or sage. Then I close my eyes and I envision that wellness bath again…. This vision should illustrate how you wish to be living your life.

143921332I’m running down a long wooded path, dirt not paved, and there are lush green trees all around me. I’m not running fast, but I am running at a comfortable and steady pace.  Food is one of my fuels, and the choices I put into my body follow the same 4H-Rule that I follow emotionally. It either helps or heals my body rather than hindering it or hurting it. I’m not stressed out, I am calm, my life is not chaotic and there is very little drama. I’m surrounded by supportive, loving friends; I have a healthy emotional and sexual relationship. Exercise is a miracle drug for me; it’s my major coping skill. So while I am exercise an hour to an hour and a half a day 4-5 days a week consistently, I may throw in an extra work out here or there on a day I need a little emotional boost. This is my goal wellness path.

Next, we need to evaluate where we are verses where we want to be and evaluate the distance between those goals. Let’s say for example that I am in a phase where I am having a hard time maintaining my weight and I am letting those sneaky unhealthy, simplistic carbohydrates back into my diet. I might decide that I need to replace any simple carbs I eat with complex carbs instead. When accessing your wellness plan and deciding how to get where you want to be, we want to tackle one issue at a time. Identify the problem, find a proposed solution, set a S.M.A.R.T. Goal that focuses on this change and start moving towards it.

Recognize that there WILL be barriers. Barriers are the events, thoughts and feelings in your life that make regular physical activity, regular healthy eating and weight loss or weight maintenance hard for us.

Let’s say for example I am stressed out about those complex carbs I am eating. When I asked myself, “What is my biggest barrier?” my answer is; “I don’t feel like I get a lot of support at home when it comes to healthy eating.”

Now it’s time to come up with some solutions to this barrier, because every obstacle we come across is really just an opportunity for us to challenge ourselves to find a way around it. Maybe I consider looking for others that want to eat healthy, like a lunch buddy at work. Or maybe it is time to find a weight loss support group and attend a few meetings. Perhaps I want to talk to my nutritionist and get a plan and some ideas for what I can eat instead of the unhealthy carbs I’m craving.  Heck maybe I want to take a cooking class that focuses on healthy foods.

What I really want to do is make sure that I recognize my barriers and that I am not only coming up with healthier solutions or alternatives, but that I am following through with them.

110_F_46597639_k8RaReOk8MAvYdI0ZOqCmqMLNq3TExGoThat’s why it is very important to pick one aspect of your Wellness path to focus on at time and that you set a S.M.A.R.T Goal to get you there. I usually suggest that you try to identify one specific form of action that you are going to stick with, remember; keeping our promises to ourselves boosts our personal integrity and helps us grow our confidence in ourselves.

Remember a goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed. Often, you will usually see a little 2 by the R in S.M.A.R.T. Goal – because while it is important that your goal is realistic it is also extremely important that your goal is rewarded if you achieve it. I often use this simple fill in the black format to set my S.M.A.R.T. Goals.

Starting __________, for ____________________, I will ____________________________________, ___ Days/Week as measured by _____________________________________. If I complete this goal I will reward myself with ________________________________________.

So if I was setting a S.M.A.R.T. Goal to get past my unhealthy carb eating problem it might look like this.

Starting tomorrow, October 7th, for one week, I will replace eating pretzels and potato chips with eating fruits and vegetables, 7 days/Week as measured by my food journal. If I complete this goal I will reward myself with a new book.

Living your life paying attention to your Wellness path and setting small self-improvement goals for yourself is my opinion a necessary key in both your weight loss journey and your weight loss management (Maintenance) – If you find yourself struggling with barriers, obstacles or healthy life style decisions it might just be time to consider talking to a trained Lifestyle & Wellness Coach.

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.
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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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