Confessions of a Personal Trainer

I am going to be honest.

The past few weeks I have felt overwhelmed. Anyone who knows me will not be surprised by this. I definitely have a tendency to overdo. It’s just my nature.

But what’s different at the moment is that I am currently training to become a certified Martha Beck Life Coach. And as a coach I need to “live it to give it”.  And the past few weeks I have not been a great example of livin’ it to give it  – at all.

When I get tired and frazzled I have some nasty little habits that start to surface. My sweet tooth kicks in and I go on a mad hunt for chocolate or ice cream. As a personal trainer and weight-loss coach I am well aware that these items should just be “occasional foods” in my diet…so then I start to look for something that’s “organic”…but still sweet. I try to convince myself that “hey…I’m eating organic!” – which we all know is just crazy. Sugar is sugar is sugar.

Then there is wine.  I am not a huge drinker. I know too much is not good for me, but I appreciate fine wines and a high quality margarita (again…occasional foods!) but when I am tired and out of sorts it seems a whole lot easier to pour a second glass of wine at night. I tell myself it’s good for my heart so it’s gotta be OK to go for that second glass! Really? No. Too much alcohol is just too much alcohol.

And while I am being honest how about I just throw in that I start to crave hamburgers when I am tired. Junky, greasy stuff. I reason that I don’t eat them that often so I allow myself to eat a hamburger and french fries. Hey! Hamburgers are OK occasionally! French fries too! But – whoa – wait a minute. How did that occasional food slip into my diet more than once in the past two weeks?! But I reason – it was ORGANIC – so it must be OK for me! And so were the fries! I bought them at Whole Foods so they must be OK to eat!

Whew…got that off my chest!

So can there be a silver lining to this story? I suppose the only silver lining is that in a way I am truly “living it to give it” as a new coach because I am allowing all of you to see that no one – not even a Personal Trainer with fancy certifications and numerous marathons behind her – is perfect. I am human. I make mistakes. I sabotage. I get out of sorts. I overdo. But now – because I know stress is bad (I am a Personal Trainer and Life Coach afterall!!) I dig deep into my tool kit to get back on track.

Have you been in this place? Full of overwhelm and feeling derailed from your health, exercise and healthy eating routine? Here is how your can regroup:

REST: Don’t even think about going all extreme on yourself if you are out of sorts. What I mean is don’t hammer yourself with extreme exercise and deprive yourself of lots of food in an effort to make up for less than ideal choices. Instead, take a breather. Rest. Your inability to make better choices is your body’s way of telling you that it’s been pushed too hard. Your body is exhausted. Time to really give your brain and body a break. Low lay for a few days until you start to feel some renewed energy and can feel ready to get back on track.

DON’T JUDGE: Why beat yourself up? It does you no good and in fact will just add to further exhaustion. Recognize that you are human and that we are all prone to periods of feeling overwhelmed. Even the most disciplined people have periods where they get off the exercise and healthy nutrition wagon. Brush yourself off and forgive your inner wild child for taking over.

TAKE TURTLE STEPS: If I am really overwhelmed I find it difficult to jump right back into my regular rigorous exercise routine. Instead, I take smaller steps toward getting back on track. Martha Beck calls these turtle steps. One small, slow step at a time – but at least you are making progress and turtle steps can lead to big changes. After I have rested and found renewed energy I introduce some easy walks or light jogs into my schedule. I begin to refocus on my wellness by taking a step each day to make some better food choices.

All of us have periods of feeling overwhelmed, overtired and out of sorts. The key is to recognize that periods of overwhelm are temporary and to not allow that time to completely derail your exercise routine and healthy eating habits! Get yourself back out there. You can do it!


  1. Wow, I love how open and frank you are about your struggles. It helps me feel better in my skin, knowing that you, a personal trainer, lives part time in my shoes (or is it my brain?). I have similar thought patterns…
    Thanks Abbe!

  2. curtis

    Great post Abbe! I face this challenge as well and, like you, am feeling overwhelmed at the moment.

    The word that comes to my mind as I think about this in my own life is “purposeful.”

    So much comes down to choices we make and if you do not have a plan/mission with clear priorities, pretty soon everything is an equal priority and you can’t focus on the most important things.

    I also think we are hard-wired to do too much. It takes discipline to pick that small number of important things and say no to others. To stay focused on your priorities means you must say “No” to other things (and people!), which is uncomfortable for many of us. Just like business, where strategy is as much about what you *don’t* do as what you do.

    Lastly, I think that even with the best intentions and choices you sometimes go into overdrive and make a conscious choice to get out of balance because an opportunity comes up or you want to go the extra mile to do something important.

    I think that is ok too as long as it is a conscious choice. And when it happens, we have to cut ourselves some slack!!

  3. Sherine Tully

    Thank you for your honesty Abbe. Your words hit home; some days I think “Overwhelmed” is my middle name. I find myself saying, “When I get this one thing done, life will become saner and I will have time to work out.” Every time this one thing is done, another ten come along to replace it. It is embarrassing.

  4. Thanks for your feedback, Sherine! I completely understand how you feel. Just take little turtle steps every day! Good luck and let me know if you ever need any help!

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