SELF-SABOTAGE SERIES: WHY DO YOUR CLIENTS SELF-SABOTAGE?
PERSONAL TRAINERS AND FITNESS INSTRUCTORS: WHY DO YOUR CLIENTS SELF-SABOTAGE?
Improve your clients’ results by understanding how self-sabotage is created.
The pathways along which information travels through the neurons (nerve cells) of the brain can be compared with the paths through a cornfield. Let’s say you live in a house surrounded by a thick cornfield. When you come out of your house, there is no-where to go except if you dare walking on the corn. You start stepping on it and, as you walk through the field, the corn bounces back up behind you. The second time you step on the same path, the corn bounces back up but it breaks a little and doesn’t come all the way back up. The third time, the corn is weakened even more and so on until, one day, you have a perfectly flat path in front of your house that leads to where you are going. The same goes for our thoughts and memories: the more we review them in our mind, the more deeply they are etched in our neural pathways. That is how habits are created and formed.
The Neural pathways in our brain are responsible for our self-sabotage.
Unfortunately, when thinking about fitness and nutrition, the only paths that most people know are reminding them of past failures. When they hire you to train them or they start coming to your classes, they, most likely, have tried previous methods that did not necessarily work. Their pathways are leading to deceptions.
If everyday they get up and look at themselves in the mirror and think or say: “I am overweight, I am out of shape, I have a big belly…” – and all that nasty self-talk that humans are capable of – they are programming themselves to stay that way. Our brain is always listening and always creating pathways, using our most frequent thoughts to pave our internal highways leading to the results we program ourselves to reach. Their internal personal assistant is delivering exactly what they want. When someone is programming himself or herself everyday to be chubby and out of shape, it is no wonder why when they start an exercise program that is actually working, their personal assistant goes into panic mode. Their inner-self is thinking: “Oh no! What is going on? They said they wanted to be overweight and tired all the time and now they are starting to lose weight and get stronger. What can I do? I need to do my job right. They programmed me to make them overweight…. Oh… here is a chocolate bar, I’m going to make them grab that and tonight, I will make them sit on the couch instead of going to the gym!” And here goes the old self-sabotage again.
How do we create different pathways and avoid self-sabotage.
Your job is to help your clients step onto a new path, which may feel hard at the beginning, as they have to break the corn to create it, but once it’s created and they have been there several times, the path will be clear and wide. With time, the old path will grow new corn and will not even be a path anymore, they will soon forget about the old route.
Help them having a clear goal of what they want, instead of what they don’t want. Our brains don’t process negations. If I tell you to close your eyes and to NOT visualize Mickey Mouse wearing a yellow tutu standing on top of an elephant, did you see it? Your brain did process the image anyways even if you read DO NOT visualize… When asked what they want, most of your clients will tell you what they don’t want. “I don’t want to be fat anymore”, “I don’t want to be tired all the time”, I don’t want to be out of breath when I run with my kids. Their brain ears and programs their pathways towards fat, tired and out of breath… If you were a contractor, it would be like them asking you to paint their kitchen NOT blue! Ask them: “What do you want instead?” And help them write up their positive outcome.
The same way their internal dialogue is responsible for their own self-sabotage, the words you use with them are also very important. If while you train them, you continually tell them “encouraging” words like: “push through the pain”, “don’t give up”, “no pain, no gain”, “don’t stop”, etc., you are programing their brain with pain and giving up. Use positive words instead like: “keep going”, “feel your muscles getting stronger”, etc.
Learn more about self-sabotage and brain programming at Nathalie’s session THINK Yourself™ THIN at World Fitness Expo in Toronto in August.
This article was published in the July-August Edition of canfitpro Magazine.