A List of my Personal Training Clients’ Worst Habits from the Last 13 Years (and Why it Affected their Weight Loss and Fitness Efforts)

After nearly 17,500 hours of one-on-one personal training sessions, here is a list of my client’s worst habits that have quietly affected their weight loss and fitness goals. Are you a prisoner of these habits too?

They eat the same amount as their spouses


Personal Trainer Wisdom: Your weight loss or fitness success will always depend on how well you understand your body, determine your needs, and set appropriate boundaries. It’s safe to assume that your partner in crime will have a very different combination (and need) from you. It’s as simple as this: You determine how much fuel you need….no one else. If you eat exactly the same amount as your partner, chances are that you may be eating too much or little.

They eat snacks


Personal Trainer Wisdom: Please keep in mind that “snacks” are really filler foods or indulgences that rarely meet your entire nutritional need at a given time (such a tease!). You’re probably seeking food because you’re hungry, and a small meal is most ideal (even if it’s only 100-300 calories). Since you now eat with intent, you want to choose a nutrient balance of vitamins, fiber, protein, fat, and more.

They depend on exercise for weight loss


Personal Trainer Wisdom: Never forget that usually, the one thing you're avoiding to do is probably the one you need to do the most. You can exercise 2 hours per day 7 days per week, but it will still be avoiding the dietary change you probably need to make. Eventually, you should figure out what you can get away with (drinking beer, restaurant dinners, etc.). Right now, though, you should figure out how you should really eat. And if you read Dr. Fuhrman’s book End of Dieting and begin disqualifying the claims, you should consider where those opinions stem from. Are they threatening your current habits? Would you rather believe a theory closer to your wants?

They eat too many simple carbs (and the good carbs at times too)


Personal Trainer Wisdom: Is more than 25% of each of your meals fruit, whole grains, and simple carbs? Ever wonder why vegans and vegetarians struggle with weight loss? It's most likely a result of their fruit sugar, whole grain, and simple carb (delicious Girl Scout cookies, ALL breads, rice, crackers, chips, candy, ice cream, and everything else devilish that you crave) consumption. Anything above 15 grams of fruit sugar per meal will spike your blood sugar levels...not ideal for losing weight and maintaining stable insulin levels (refined sugars have a worse, quicker acting effect). Simple carbs, as well as whole grains, can do the same. Disclaimer: The fiber in the whole grains will offset this effect in smaller amounts. What is the refined and fruit sugar breakdown of your favorite meals? Are there more nutrient dense alternatives than your typical fruit sugar, grain, and simple carb choices that will provide the fiber you need?

They drink more alcohol than their body can handle


Personal Trainer Wisdom: How many calories do you think you consume in a single week from alcohol? If you live in the Midwest, eating and drinking is most likely part of your culture (not your fault :) ). Since alcohol is basically a liquid grain packed with a lot of sugar (of course, there are exceptions), it will also spike your blood sugar levels. If drinking alcohol is part of your diet, what are you willing to exchange in return? In other words…when you order alcohol, what other simple carbs or sugars are you exchanging (i.e., 1 beer instead of 2 scoops of rice)? What low calorie, low sugar alcohol options are you willing to consider to achieve your weight loss goals?

They don’t develop an eating routine


Personal Trainer Wisdom: I’m sure you can imagine that a life on the edge of a cliff could be destined for trouble with a big enough wind. That’s exactly what’s happening when you don’t develop a healthy eating routine as a foundation. While most of us would like to think we shouldn’t have to think about food constantly, I have bad news: We’re human…and this is what we need to survive. Lucky for you, a solid, consistent routine with the right system in place will help you operate on autopilot (which means that you don’t have to consciously obsess over food). If you choose to do otherwise, any big event or binge will certainly send you into the weight gain abyss.

They believe that injury prevention begins inside the gym


Personal Trainer Wisdom: No matter what any personal trainer tells you, the greatest indicator of your success isn't what you do inside the gym-it's what you repeat daily. Your body is an amazing adaptive system that loves to learn quickly. Although you don't realize it, you've been training your body to handle a vast variety of movements and postures in auto-pilot over a lifetime (after all, your body doesn't have 10 minutes to fully assess your movement as you sit in a chair every time). How wonderful! Now you can think about the million other things you need to do instead!

While this ability is a great strength, it most likely has led to the weakness, discomfort, pain, or injury that you have experienced. Your body wants to work efficiently, and it also can be easily convinced. If you always drive your knee forward while lunging to pick an object off the ground, your body will most likely (automatically) guide you the same way the next time you do it without thinking (even though the movement overuses your quads and imposes additional force and stress onto your knees). Call it the "Fight or Flight System." It wants to learn quickly so that it can react quickly (when demand is placed on it).

"Fair enough, Michael...I appreciate your lecture. Can we just workout now?" Well, maybe. I could simply throw you into a circus act of a fitness program (a crazy Cross Fit, ballet, Cirque de Soliel, bodybuilding, marathon extravaganza), but do you really know your body well enough, though, to confidently say that it can handle this demand on the body? Have you ever studied the way you move? Have you identified all of your imbalances and weaknesses? Most likely, your answer is no. If you are like my 20-year-old self, you probably haven't stopped and listened to your body. Instead, you jumped into the hottest new program that Joey the Trainer (not real) is selling and ended up hurt 1-3 months later.

Nothing against Joey, but you don't need a personal trainer to achieve a lifetime of injury and imbalance. You can simply choose a new workout on Men's Health, Youtube, or anywhere and blindly attempt it. If you truly want to minimize ALL pain and tightness and achieve peak fitness, now is the time to NOT take a haphazard approach. It is the time to rewire your system. Understand you so that you can efficiently and effectively adapt ANY program to fit your needs. Look at the way you sit, stand, run, walk, sleep, etc. Become a human scientist and identify your tendency to move out of a neutral position. Your observations might shed the true narrative on your physical self and what you need to change.

Photo Credit:
Matt Armendariz (2015) and Whats Gaby Cooking .com–Are granola bars really healthy?

Article Credit:

Author: Michael Moody Fitness
A List of my Personal Training Clients’ Worst Habits from the Last 13 Years (and Why it Affected their Weight Loss and Fitness Efforts)
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