This is an installment of the Happy and Fit: My Journey with a Personal Train series. Learn more about it here!
Meeting with Kayla the first time was a little intimidating, but I quickly got over my nerves when I realized how enthusiastic she was about helping me. We only spent about 20 minutes of that first session doing any type of exercise. The rest was spent taking my weight, determining body fat percentage, body type, and discussing the best approach to achieve my goals which, in order, are: lose body fat, increase strength, increase endurance.
She also clearly defined what it is that she does. So, I’m sure you’re wondering:
What does a personal trainer do?
A personal trainer guides another individual through fitness routines and often helps establish better nutrition plans. The ultimate goal is to help that person reach their own goals and an achieve an overall healthier lifestyle.
Before working with a Personal Trainer:
Check out their background. Are they actually certified give nutrition advice? Do they have a degree or background in sports nutrition and personal training? Don’t just pick out the beefiest guy at the gym and ask for tips (although no harm in getting pointers from someone who obviously knows his stuff). Also, if you have any serious medical conditions, make sure you meet with your doctor before starting any new fitness routine.
So what’s the deal with my food?
Finding the right balance of calories has been a struggle in the past. On days when I didn’t binge, I was eating 1,200 calories, if that. Hunger followed me all day long, so I snacked constantly on low-calorie fruits that would temporarily satiate my hunger pains. I tend to consider myself a relatively smart individual, but at 27-years-old, I learned for the first time that fruits are carbohydrates.
I have no personal vendetta against carbs, and indeed our bodies need carbohydrates, but approximately 60-80 percent of my daily caloric intake was coming from carbs. Not only unhealthy from a purely blood sugar perspective, but also wildly inefficient for weight loss and muscle building.
Changing focus, one food at a time.
The three main macronutrients our bodies use are fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. All of these nutrients help our bodies perform vital functions that keep us moving and healthy, but it’s important to get the right balance as related to your own personal level of activity and lifestyle. For two days of weight lifting and two to three days of running per week, I have a daily goal of 40% fats, 35% protein, and 25% carbohydrates. I still enjoy my fruit, but in more reasonable amounts.
Also, I’m building muscle, here! Which means I’m eating a much more reasonable and healthy amount of calories. On days that I train I reach closer to 2,200 calories, while on days that I run average close to 1,800 or so. I was astonished at the difference 600 calories a day can make. Goodbye headaches!
Getting a baseline of my abilities.
That first session we didn’t step foot in the weight room. Instead, we used suspension straps, which can be found at most gyms. Can’t find them at yours? Ask the front desk, they’re always happy to help.
Using the straps we move through regular and wide squats, modified push-ups (can we all admit that we hate these?), and suspension strap pull-ups. I greatly encourage you to try a suspension strap pull-up, as I had no idea the muscles in the upper back could actually be sore until I woke the next morning.
First thought: What the heck is going on back there?
Second thought: Hello tank tops, my back is ready.
Sessions quickly became more intense after the first one, and I’m learning where my strengths and weakness are, but I know for sure that I’m happy, I’m fit, and I’m on the way to reaching my goals.
Current weight: 188.8 lbs
Goal weight: 140 lbs
48.8 pounds to go
Caitlin Lane is a writer and runner who lives in Tucson, Arizona with her husband and 2 kids. When she isn’t brewing coffee or buying more books than she can read, she blogs at All About Growing Up and Becoming a Famous Author and tweets @ifyoureadreamer.