Motivation and the Process of Change: Step 1

img_2897We have interacted with clients who succeed easily and others who struggle tremendously. The sad fact is seven out of 10 people who start an exercise or nutrition program drop out within a few months. If you know people who have been among those drop-out stats, the problem may not be with them– it may be with the method.  Most people attempt to do too much too quickly.  They do not do any planning and they don’t know how to monitor their progress.

This is where YOU come in! Over the next 4 weeks we will review the 4 steps that will help your clients dramatically increase their chances for success.

  • Step 1.  Determine how ready your clients are to make the changes.
  • Step 2.  Help your clients develop concrete internal motivation for helping them to adhere to their program.
  • Step 3.  Help your clients set SMART goals
  • Step 4.  Outline potential obstacles to success and strategies for overcoming them

We will spend the most time discussing step 1 because I believe it is absolutely critical to your success as a Personal Trainer.

Step 1.  Are your clients ready?

We generally know within a few minutes whether a client will succeed easily or not. If the client accepts our recommendations for changes to their exercise or nutrition program immediately and unconditionally, we know we will achieve success easily. If the client begins to make excuses or give reasons they feel they will not be able to adhere to the program, we can generally expect struggles throughout the process. They are not ready to make the changes required to see the results they want.  It is a good idea to use some type of “Readiness” questionnaire with your clients. This will help determine the approach to take with your client and will give you a good idea of they are truly “ready” to adhere to the programming you provide.

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Change is a good thing!

It is important to understand that change is a process.  When initiating any major lifestyle change, your clients will experience the following stages:

  1. Pre-contemplation: They have no intention to change their behaviors
  2. Contemplation: They are aware a problem exists and are seriously thinking of changing
  3. Preparation: They are intending to take action in the next month and have unsuccessfully taken action in the last year
  4. Action: They are presently modifying their behavior or environment
  5. Maintenance: They are working to prevent relapse and maintain their gains

This entire process may take up to two years to complete.  Do not be so hard on yourself or your clients if they are struggling with their program.  Recognize where they are in the stages of change. Because your clients have chosen to hire a Personal Trainer, they are probably at stage two, three or four. Don’t be surprised, however, if you find your clients shifting between different stages. For example, many people attempt to stop smoking numerous times before they actually succeed. Do whatever you can to help your clients take action and this will move them closer towards their goals. Consulting a Personal Trainer was an action step that has taken your clients closer to success!

Laws of Success:

We have noticed a number of characteristics that separate those clients who succeed and those who do not. Those who succeed buy into the “Four Laws of Success”. We discuss these laws with our clients and it is clear that they must be ready to accept these laws without exception if they want to succeed.

First Law – The law of possession.

Your clients need to understand that if they are going to achieve results, it is going to be up to them. The phrases “If it is going to be, it is up to me” or “If I think I can or think I can’t, I’m right,” ring very true.  Your clients have to take ultimate responsibility for success or failure.  Sometimes we’ll get a client who believes their personal trainer is going to be the one who makes it happen for them. We set them straight right away. We tell them we cannot do anything for them. All we can do is educate and guide. They must be willing to make and stick to the changes. Your clients can not completely rely on someone else like a personal trainer or workout partner to make it happen for them and likewise, they cannot blame their kids or their partner for any failures.

Second Law – The law of effort.

Anything worth achieving is worth working for. Exercise and healthy eating takes discipline, will power, character, persistency and a commitment to delayed gratification.

Third Law – The law of consistency.

A month-long effort is not going to get your clients where they want. In order to achieve any goal, your clients must stick to the game plan on an ongoing, long-term, consistent basis.  Getting off track for a week is no big deal if they are consistent in their efforts. But if they are regularly tempted away from the program, they will not succeed. Consistency and persistence are the keys to manifesting any goals. Remember that if your clients want to be 10 pounds thinner 10 years from now, it is not what they do over the next eight weeks that matters, it is what they do over the next 10 years. All the changes you suggest to your clients must be followed for the rest of their life. There are no short-term, quick fix solutions. Researchers have found only one characteristic common to those who succeed with exercise. All such people move towards their goal one step at a time. They are committed to constant, never-ending improvement. In practical terms, it means that regardless of anything else – busy work schedules, lack of energy, lack of time, feeling old, feeling lazy, hating exercise – they made no excuses!  They kept exercising, taking their long-term goals and splitting them up into smaller goals.  They took it one day at a time.

Fourth Law – The law of self-efficacy.

If your clients are already questioning whether or not they can actually make the required changes, they are going to have a difficult time with the program you have designed. Your clients must believe they can do it!  They must think of self-esteem as a bank.  Each time they keep a promise to themselves, the store of self-esteem gets bigger, making it easier to keep the next promise.  It’s all about “Results Momentum.” Each time a promise is broken, however, their self-esteem goes down, making it easier to break the next promise.  Reinforce this belief by introducing your clients to others who are doing or have accomplished what they’re attempting. Your clients will feel if these other people can do it, so can they!

So take the time to understand if your client is ready to make a commitment, understand what stage of change your client is in and then explain the Laws of Success to your client to ensure you are both on the same page.

Motivate the change, believe it will work and be patient!

Yours in health, fitness & business,
Sherri McMillan

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