As a fitness professional, you teach your clients to live a healthy life, one day at a time, one choice at a time. However, it is important to remind them that their efforts are about making progress, not about being perfect. Your clients are continually a work in progress, and often, many are stressed by the many demands from their work, family and even themselves, which causes them to eat or drink differently than what is ideal or what you have advised. In fact, keeping pace with life's demands zaps the energy of even the most highly dedicated and motivated clients. But you, as their fitness and health leader, and more importantly, as their coach, are the key in helping these clients make consistently better choices by teaching them to be incredibly purposeful about the attitudes and behaviors that drive their choices. Begin coaching your clients on how to make life-changing decisions, starting with these eight suggestions, so both you and your client can see results not only physically, but also mentally.
Focus on Being Intentional about Choices
Being intentional means behaving and thinking in ways that are thoughtful and are directed toward a certain outcome. Your clients need to make decisions that will improve the probability of reaching these outcomes. Have them focus on the choices they make each day for one week that impact their energy. Have your clients pay attention to every meal they eat, conversations they have, items they purchase, movies they watch or the books they read. It is important to have them take responsibility for their choices.
Your clients have limited resources of time, energy and money. When they say yes to one activity, they are saying no to another. This is how one's resources are used throughout the day. At some point, these resources will become depleted unless your clients take time for rejuvenation, renewal or refreshment on a consistent basis. In fact, poor choices are most often made when people are depleted. Ask your clients: What are your choices costing you today? What could they be costing your future?
Have Clients Live Congruently According to Their Values
Most adults identify their values while in the midst of the most difficult times. It is important for your clients to be clear now about what means the most to them. By knowing what their true compass is for making decisions, their choices in life will be congruent and authentic. However, until they clearly identify and articulate their guiding values and principles, they will make inconsistent choices that may, or may not, serve them well. Some days, the only way for your clients to make decisions is to choose based upon their highest, clearly identified values. Have them reflect on what is most important to them.
Have Clients Be Persistent and Patient, While Reaching Beyond the Comfort Zone
Some of your clients' personal goals are probably tied to taking risk. In fact, it is important for your clients to risk falling down. The best way to prepare them for these risks is by having them develop supportive relationships that will encourage them, stand by them and hold them up if necessary. Remind them to be patient and persistent with their journey. But remember to reiterate to them that the goal is progress, not perfection.
Have Clients Be Present in the Moment
If your clients can't do anything about a situation or person, teach them to intentionally let it go. Even if that means letting it go a hundred times a day. As they get better at being in the moment, letting go will become easier just like in their exercise routines. The best way for your clients to remain in the moment is to be aware of their inner chatter. Have them check how often they say things like, "I can't do this, or I'll never succeed." Thoughts like these lead to self-sabotaging behaviors. Instead, encourage phrases such as, "Up 'til now, this has been hard. Yet, I can do this." Have your clients be in the present moment by advising them to ask themselves what it will take so they don't feel out of control or like a victim.
Encourage Being Authentic
To be healthy physically, emotionally, financially or spiritually, your clients have to be authentic about who they really are. Have your clients recognize their own temperament and natural giftedness, and have them focus on what gives them energy, joy and pleasure. Make sure they express themselves without apology but with appreciation. Being authentic doesn't necessarily mean that they have to throw out everything that's not a fit in their life. Instead, ask them to honestly step back and review what has fueled them, encouraged them and fit in their life. Ask your clients the following questions: Who are you authentic with? What is it about that person that enables you to be authentic? How can you learn to be real even when it's uncomfortable? If you were to love all of who you are, how would that impact your daily choices?
Create Reserves/Margin in Your Clients' Life
The concept of margin is best described by Dr. Richard Swenson in his book, The Overload Syndrome: Learning to Live Within Your Limits. He writes: "Margin is the space between vitality and exhaustion. It is our breathing room, our reserves, our leeway. Margin is the opposite of overload and, therefore, the antidote for that vexatious condition." It's easy for your clients to overload their schedules, especially with work, family and every day responsibilities, not to even mention the maintenance of their health. However, in the long run, they pay a high price for keeping an unrelenting pace. Discuss with your clients what they need to do less of to create this margin. Ask them: What activity or person would increase your experience of margin? What would be the greatest benefit for you if you created that rejuvenating space?
To be physically healthy, it is important for your clients to remain flexible. Being limber prevents injuries, reduces tension and improves the postural and structural alignment. It is also important, however, to be mentally flexible. Some of your clients are spontaneous by nature and resist forms of structure while others require so much structure that being spontaneous creates more stress than it's worth. As with most things in life, being somewhat structured, yet also flexible, is the healthiest place to be physically and emotionally. Have your clients consider what structures need to be in place for them to be more flexible. And once these are determined, have your clients take the steps necessary to maintain this balance.
Kate Larsen is a professionally certified business and life coach. She is also the author of "Progress Not Perfection: Your Journey Matters," a self-coaching book designed to help others authentically walk their talk. For more information about these coaching techniques, visit www.katelarsen.com.