You might think that when I first start working with a client that I start by making a bunch of changes, throwing new workouts, macros, and habits at them. In fact I do quite the opposite. When someone signs on to work with me they spend the first two weeks getting to know themselves.
I believe the first step in addressing a problem is becoming aware of it, and not just being aware of the problem itself, but being aware of all the things that may be contributing to the problem.
For example, maybe the problem is lack of recovery from hard workouts, how would getting to know yourself better help?
During the first two weeks of working with me I ask the client to track and assess a number of things like food, sleep, stress, and exercise. While I use tools like fitness trackers, sleep trackers, and food diaries to help, I require each client to also journal about these aspects of their life. They write down how meals make them feel, what is contributing to their stress, how their workouts are going, and how well they are sleeping.
Why does writing it down help?
The goal is to help them become more intune with their body while at the same time giving me a baseline on their overall lifestyle. Putting pen to paper (or typing something out on the computer) helps make connections between outcomes and subjective feelings.
For example, let’s say you come to me saying you are struggling to recover from your workouts like you think you should be. You might write down in your journal that you had a very hard interval workout that went really well, and you hit their macros perfectly for the day, but were really hungry at the end of the day. The next day you woke up and wrote that your sleep was poor and that you kept waking up “for no apparent reason”. At the end of the next day you assess their stress as an 8-9 out of 10 because you were not able to focus on a big work project you were working on due to the lack of sleep. You also note that their lifting workout was garbage because you didn’t feel recovered from yesterday’s workout despite having a very high HRV.
By writing this all down you can go back and look and see…
“Oh WOW! Maybe I didn’t eat enough yesterday! This in turn caused me to not sleep well, which caused me to not be able to focus at work leading to a bunch of stress and ultimately not feeling recovered and having a crappy workout.”
Teaching my clients to be more in tune with their body is not something that is solved in the first two weeks of working with me, it might take a couple months until they start trusting their body. Once they learn this skill, it allows them to be more accountable for their own goals. This gives the client lifelong tools to continue to make progress on their own without the need for a coach.
Do you find yourself struggling to reach your own health, wellness, and exercise goals? Try journaling about your sleep, stress, diet, and exercise for a week or two. What kind of insights can you gain into your own struggles by doing so? At the end of the two weeks look back at your journal, can you make connections and insights from that data that might point towards reasons you are struggling? I am guessing the answer will be YES!
Let me know what you learn, post a comment below, or shoot me a message on Facebook or Instagram. Of course if you still need help apply to work with me directly. Also be sure to sign up or my newsletter to get articles just like this delivered to your inbox on a weekly basis!