It can be quite confusing trying to figure out the right road to take on your fitness journey. You could of course go it alone, sorting through the myriad of information out there, do some research to find out which information is valid and then put together a resistance training program that fits your needs, balance it with a proper nutrition plan and then work on behavior modification to help you turn these new habits into a healthy lifestyle as well update your program monthly to ensure you continue to get results.
Sound confusing? It is. That’s why there are professionals out there to help you on this most difficult road.
But who is it you should be seeking for help on your weight loss journey? Here’s a quick rundown on what you can expect when working one on one with each these professionals.
Personal trainers will develop a resistance program for you and take you through the workout. Before you begin your program, you should be taken through a fitness evaluation and health history to ensure the program written is aligned with your starting point as well as your goals. An experienced trainer will know how to progress your program over time in a way that not only gets you to your goals but also addresses any underlying issues; such as muscle imbalances, instability or lack of mobility. Your time with a trainer will be spent doing the actual workout.
What personal trainers don’t do?
Provide nutrition counseling
Conduct coaching sessions that focus on behavior change and take into account your entire lifestyle.
In the past few years the title of health coach has become popular as people are realizing the benefit of coaching in all areas of life. A health coach educates and motivates individuals to make healthy lifestyle choices. Some have certifications, and others have merely gone through the process of losing weight themselves.
Your time with a health coach will be spent discussing your goals, strategies and struggles. A good coach will provide you a safe environment to discuss the emotional side of your weight loss journey and hold you accountable to behaviors you agree to move forward with. They also take a look at your entire lifestyle as a whole rather than just the workouts and nutrition.
What health coaches don’t do?
Design workout programs
Give specific meal plans or review the specifics of your nutrition
Nutritionist is a very vague title. Your nutritionist could have a college education, a certification, or may have no formal training at all. Your sessions with a nutritionist will strictly focus around the topics of meal planning, healthy food choices and how to make those changes. A good nutritionist will look at the details of your diet, making sure you are progressing and making changes along the way as work towards your goals.
What nutritionists don’t do?
Design workout programs
Provide overall health coaching for all aspects of your life.
Regardless of whom you decided to see, make sure they are certified through an accredited or reputable organization. Unfortunately there are a lot of certifications that aren’t worth the ink they’re printed on and individuals that believe they can help you lose weight or get fit by doing exactly what they did. And as we know, one size does not fit all.
Here are a few organizations that are highly respected
ACE - American Council on Exercise
* accredited by the National Council on Certifying Agencies
NASM - National Association of Sports Medicine
NSCA - National Strength and Conditioning Association
AASDN - American Association of Sports Dietitians & Nutritionist
Cornell University - Plant Based Nutritionist
NSHC - National Society of Health Coaches
I’d also recommend you look at the number of years this person has been working with clients similar to you. Having the certification is crucial, but so is experience. It takes time to learn what works and what doesn’t work with different types of people and the more experience some one has the quicker they will be able to recognize what changes need to be made to keep you moving in the right direction.
So where do I fit in all of this? Basically, I bring all of these professions under one roof. I have over 30 years of experience and am certified through the American Council on Exercise for personal training, health coach as well as an orthopedic exercise specialist. I am also a certified nutritionist through AASDN.
If you’re looking for someone who can handle all aspects of your weight loss journey, fill out this form or schedule your complimentary Fit After 50 Coaching Strategy Session. This is a great way to find out if working together would be a good fit for us.
Lisa Swanson is an ACE Certified Health Coach, Personal Trainer and Orthopedic Exercise Specialist as well as a certified AASDN and PN level 1 nutritionist. With over 35 years experience helping people turn their lives around, she is on a mission to provide relevant and useful knowledge to help women in midlife reach their goals.
Check out my interview with the Magnificent Midlife podcast on staying fit and healthy long-term.