I felt like I'd been taught to sell a lie - Why I quit being a trainer



I was a trainer and nutrition and wellness coach for about eight years.


Canadian Trainer of the Year, even. The image above was from when I was repping BSN, and got featured in Muscle Insider magazine for the win. So, you could say I was fairly successful. ;)


Looking the way I did on the right, didn't make me a better person than the one on the left.



I literally built an entire brand around my body and my own weight loss transformation -- because I didn't just lose some weight, I completely transformed my entire body.


I became a trainer because when I first lost weight on my own, I had done it completely the wrong way and hated how I looked.


When I started learning about how to build muscle and how much of a difference our food choices make in how we look and feel, I was amazed and wanted to share that with others.


I struggled with my weight for years so finally losing it (and the attention that followed for my "success" and "how amazing I looked" felt incredible. And I had never been athletic or strong, the opposite actually. I had exercise-induced asthma my entire life so moving much caused suffocation and was something I avoided at all costs. So, when I actually got in shape, it felt amazing. I had no idea how much the human body (my body) was capable of and it blew my mind.


I wanted to share those feelings with other women who I knew were struggling with the same things - I wanted to help them learn how amazing it felt.


Transforming bodies became my specialty and I was GOOD at it.


I pumped out meal plans (*it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle! I'd tell clients) & workout programs with passion, love & excitement. I knew how dramatically the tools I was giving them would transform how they looked and felt and it excited me every time I had a new client start. They'd start with me HATING their bodies and feeling like they were helpless to change them, while I could see how much possibility for change they had, knew that I knew exactly how to accomplish it and I loved watching bodies transform.

(Side note: A "meal plan" always just ends up being another fad diet for people, no matter how much you tell them "it's a lifestyle")


The thing is, like most people in the weight loss and fitness world, I didn't fully understand "the problem". I thought lack of knowledge and "motivation" were the problems. Like most people, I thought those were the reasons we're all walking around hating our bodies and struggling with weight our whole lives.


Wrong.


And I felt like I was taught to sell a lie.


The lie that if only you get motivated enough, you too can: LOSE WEIGHT and GET FIT and when you do you'll LOOK AMAZING, GAIN CONFIDENCE, BE YOUR BEST SELF and live happily ever after.


Well, now I call bullshit and that message actually makes me gag. I spent most of my life chasing happiness and self-worth through what my body looked like - spoiler alert: it doesn't work. I do not currently look like those transformation photos above but I'm happier and more at peace with myself than I've ever been in my life.


Weight loss doesn't magically create those things in your life.


You don't have to lose a single ounce to be your best self or gain confidence and in fact, that message does way more harm than good.


The notion that losing weight is the holy grail of health, happiness and success is a lie perpetuated by diet culture and rooted in fatphobia and weight stigma. I want no part of perpetuating that message anymore.


Having smaller thighs doesn't automatically make someone healthier, or a better person and we only THINK it makes us happier because we feel good when people tell us how amazing we look.


The truth, that most people won't admit is that even if you miraculously do lose weight, you're not REALLY happier - you're still obsessed with food and weight because the fear of putting the weight back on starts. And often, you're not even really comfortable in the smaller body. You still stand in the mirror criticizing every inch, every iota of loose skin, every ounce of fat that still exists and if you lost a lot of weight that you had carried most of your life, it doesn't feel quite right to live in a body that looks and feels so foreign.


Being our best selves has nothing to do with our size - that's a lie we've been sold by the diet & fitness industry.


And waiting until we lose weight to be happy and confident is keeping millions of people stuck in the losing battle of chasing weight loss and hating themselves for failing at it, literally their entire lives.


Second, here’s what they don’t tell you – dieting and working with trainers is a complete waste of time and money for the majority of the population.


First, because the vast majority don't actually follow or stick to the plans they're given and ultimately just quit.


And second, because we've been trying to "fix" the wrong "problem" with the wrong "solution" all along.


What I didn't know when I started was that the weight loss, nutrition & fitness industries are FULL of revolving door, on-again, off-again clients -- of people who pay you to transform them, start, spin their wheels and quit or start, make great progress and quit only to have it all reversed within a few weeks or months.


That's the norm. I mean, I suppose I knew on some level that many people often quit but I didn't know how bad it was, nor did I understand why. I didn't understand the flaws in the system that are causing the failures in the way that I do now.


In the beginning when clients quit (which most tend to do - something like 70% of people who start an exercise program or "fitness journey" drop out within a few months), part of me thought what we all think - oh well, people are lazy and exercise is really hard so they just weren't ready to really commit to the change required and stick to it yet. They'll be back when they're really ready.


Because that's what we all believe, isn't it?


Again, wrong!


Sure, a few listen, follow, stick with it and have jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring outcomes and change their lives, but they are a tiny exception, not the norm.


The current system is failing on such a colossal level that failure is cliché at this point.


Failure is the norm.


It’s the expected outcome.


It’s a running joke.


Despite having about a billion different ways to lose weight and get fit available to us, the population is growing and getting less active.


98% of people who go on a diet will regain the weight they lose and a large majority of them with regain even more than they lost. About 70% of people who start a new fitness routine quit within three months.


Those harsh realities have made me miserable being a trainer for several years, but for quite a while, I struggled with knowing what to do about it.


And for a long time I thought, it's okay because as long as I help 2 or 3 people out of ten, that's 2 or 3 more changed lives and that's good, right?!


Absolutely, that's good. It's wonderful for the few for whom it works. But ...what about the majority?!


What about the 7 or 8 out of ten who quit and waste their entire lives in that cycle of starting again every few weeks or months? They're just collateral damage, the price of helping to reach a few? That's what the fitness industry wants us to believe.


I call bullshit on that too.


Here's the thing, if the current system were working for MOST and it was only a small percentage for whom it didn't, I may believe that.


But when it's only a small percentage who are actually successful, isn't it time we start looking at the system and start blaming THAT rather than the people struggling with it?

100%.


"Food is the hardest part for me" is what I've heard more times than I can even begin to count, every single day.


"I've been dieting and exercising my whole life and I'm heavier now than ever," another one of the most popular statements I've heard every day.


The worst thing about that is I KNEW every time someone quit they were blaming themselves -- feeling like they failed me, themselves and the process. “I quit, again”, they think, “like I always do” they tell themselves and the entire process further reinforces their deeply ingrained habit of struggling and quitting. And there was always a little part of me that felt like I failed them - like I failed to keep them motivated enough.


Again, all wrong.


They're not failing - and neither was it.


The truth is it’s a fundamentally broken system that needs a dramatic paradigm shift.


Because it’s not like this is the case for just MY clients - it's the weight loss/fitness industry as a whole.


Don't get me wrong, I'm not crapping on personal trainers. There are a lot of really great ones out there and there is definitely a need for them. But only a small fraction of the general public is ever successful long term and it's just not a pattern I could keep watching get repeated by the vast majority of people every day.


It was soul-sucking and my heart was just not in it anymore.


At first, I thought I could do both. I thought I could sell them what they wanted (diet and exercise) and at the same time, give them what they needed (thoughts, beliefs, habits & behavior modification at the brain level). A few clients over the years let me help them with those things & they were always the ones that made the lasting changes.


But that also didn't work because most people who wanted diet and exercise, just weren't ready to even look at the deeper issues - they shut down to that part of the process entirely - even if they also knew they needed it.


So I was left in this place of needing to make a decision. Was I going to continue doing something I no longer believed in just because I knew I could keep bills paid that way? Orrr... would I take a huge leap and try to figure out how to change the world with what I now know and believe?


It took time for me to get the guts to say, I quit and go against the crowd to actually do something completely different.


But I had to follow my heart. So, I quit.


I quit because I wanted to make real, lasting change not just in people's lives, but to the entire system. I want to change the way the world views healthy eating, weight loss and even fitness - by focusing not on how we look or what the scale says but on how we FEEL and how we treat ourselves.


I took a certification course in mindfulness-based, cognitive-behavior coaching because those were the tools I used to heal my own weight and food issues and created Cognitive Eating.


And I'm just getting started.



WHY IS IT NOT WORKING?


Most people come into a new fitness program with very little prior exercise experience or having not exercised in a long time.


Working out is NOT fun or rewarding for them.


On top of that, they’re already unhappy, overworked, don't much like, trust or believe in themselves anymore.


They're stressed, overwhelmed with life and taking care of everyone but themselves. It's completely unrealistic to expect someone in that position to make regular exercise a life long habit. It just becomes another chore they resent and don’t have the energy for. They hire trainers expecting the simple act of hiring and paying someone to "whip them into shape" will magically create the motivation they've been lacking.


Of course people quit.


PLUS, they have years of self-destructive food habits, behaviors and beliefs that have created patterns that they’re “stuck” in.


And they’re trying to “willpower” their way through controlling it all. Which NEVER works.


Giving diets or meal plans doesn’t do a damn bit of good because they (understandably) can’t follow them.


That's why so many people end up living on a roller coaster of “on track” / “off track” behaviors, making up some frankendiet version of what they think they’re supposed to eat to “be good” and if they stray or eat something "bad" they end up completely off the rails.


If they eat something they’ve been told is “bad” they believe THEY are bad and self-esteem begins to erode.


And they quit everything when they're sick of the struggle and just don't want to think about it anymore.


The current paradigm is so broken because the struggle we have with ourselves, our weight and body image issues (that we keep trying to solve with years of failed diets and fitness routines) goes SO much deeper than just food or exercise.


It's WIRED into our brains.


And because typically we start dieting and/or exercising because we’re unhappy -- with our weight, how our clothes fit, our life, our fitness level, etc -- but dieting and *exercising makes us even unhappier – and often, ultimately heavier. (*exercising actually makes people happier but that's usually only after you've been doing it for a while. In the beginning, it really, really sucks and if your life is stressful and busy already - it just becomes one more chore that's easy to skip long before you have a chance for it to start making you feel better)


OF COURSE everyone is quitting all the time.



WHAT'S THE SOLUTION?


To start, let go of the need for that perfect number to appear on your scale one morning and just start being kind to yourself - no matter what you weigh. Even if that's ALL you do, life will change for the better. But in order to REALLY achieve lasting, life-changing transformations we need to treat the root causes at the deepest level – habits and beliefs that are wired into who you are, at the brain level.


We have to understand WHY we're making self-destructive choices and repair our relationship with ourselves and our bodies so we learn to WANT to make nurturing ones - every day, rather than for a few days or weeks every few months when we "get motivated" for a little while.


That’s how what I do now is different.


It’s a deeply transformative approach that rewires your brain - it helps you reconnect with not only your body and what it really needs, but also with your mind in a way that rewires old programming (thoughts, beliefs and habits that are keeping you stuck) and treats your mental and physical health from the inside out.


Everything you need is IN you already and what I do know is give you a specific, step by step system that's been meticulously designed to help you find it -- to support you, to guide you, to put YOU in control, teach you to FEEL, to connect with your body, with your mind, with how you want to feel in your skin and how to actually rewire your brain for success and happiness in every aspect of your life.



---- If you can relate to being one of those revolving door people or are struggling with weight and food, email me, I want to hear your story. There is hope for change, when you start implementing the right tools.


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About The Author

Roni Davis
Cognitive Eating Founder

Writer, Producer, Host - It's All In Your Head Podcast

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Roni Davis spent over two decades struggling with weight, food (mindless, emotional and binge eating), an eating disorder, depression, panic attacks, and an anxiety disorder. She's also been a nationally qualified champion figure athlete, written for bodybuilding websites, was featured in a national fitness magazine, by Bodybuilding.com and spent almost a decade helping people transform their bodies as an award-winning personal trainer and nutrition and wellness coach.

 

After over two decades of her own personal weight & food struggles and almost a decade in the weight loss/fitness industry, Roni left the fitness industry and bundled everything she learned from her own recovery, from her time as a trainer & nutrition & wellness coach with everything she learned in her mindfulness-based cognitive behavior coach training, to create Cognitive Eating.  This allows her to guide and support people to live healthier lives through behavior and habit modification at the brain level, where it counts and will actually stick.

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NOTE: While counselors or therapists often use CBT to deal with mental illness or a patient’s mental/emotional conditions and/or processing trauma, MBCT & cognitive eating does not. My roll as a coach, in its most simple form, is to encourage, coach and/or act as a facilitator of a client’s self-reflection, decision making, planning for the future, and creating life changes. As an MBCT & cognitive eating coach, I am obligated to refer clients in need of mental or physical health therapy to an appropriate licensed professional.  

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