Sometimes I wonder when I start working with a new client: What exactly is this person looking for from me?
Part of my job – as I see it – is to acknowledge my clients’ goals, and to help them achieve them; but also to establish my own goals for them. Does it make me happy when they lose the 10 pounds, or run the 5k? Of course. But somehow I think the goals I secretly set for them are more life changing than those things. They are more rewarding, and can last a life time.
I’m on a bit of a high these last few weeks because of my client J. He started with me over a year ago and, while he has seen some movement towards his weight loss and endurance/energy goals, it has not been the steps forward I’m sure he was expecting. We’ve discussed it and we both know why – the work and personal stress is heavy, the sleep is on and off at best, the diet is a far cry from perfect and his commitment to exercise was, well, nonexistent.
Until a few weeks ago. As a trainer of many years, I know that actually enjoying exercise takes time. It is an acquired taste, if you will. When J. started with me, he had never even participated in a sport-like activity. A friend of his had referred him to me and told me about the many stressors in his life. She said he needed an outlet.
I am not a trainer like the ones you see on The Biggest Loser. I don’t yell and I won’t make you cry. J. needed an outlet and I tried to give him one. We worked out, and saw small gains, but I knew he wouldn’t make strides forward until he chose it for himself. I’ve seen it before – exercise can have an enormously transforming effect on people. It takes time, but one day it all just seems to fall into place.
More than just working out – we talked. I am not his wife or boss or sister or daughter. I am his advocate. I want nothing for him except what he wants for himself. After a year of talking and working out, working out and talking – I am seeing in J. what I have seen in so many clients before. He has taken hold of the things he can control in his life and is moving forward, towards being a healthier, happier person.
Yes, he’s working out more and taking part in more and different activities and yes, he will see his health and fitness goals come to fruition so long as he keeps it up. But he has already reached the goals I secretly set for him: to find his inner strength, self esteem and self motivation. I am so proud. In my experience other things will fall into place for him now. Life might not be perfect, but if I’m right, he’ll have the inner strength to enjoy the good and shrug off the bad. What more can we really ask of ourselves?
When I launched this web-site, J. was on a trip to China and struggling to exercise while on vacation. I bargained with him and told him that if he took a picture of himself exercising while there – I would post it on my blog. I’ve held on to that picture since then waiting for the right time. You can see it above.
I am so proud of you J. Now… what will be my next goal for you??