“If I can do it, you can do it.”
You’ve heard this fitness tip. You may even have said the words yourself.
(Raises his hand in embarrassment.)
And it’s time that stereotype ended.
Especially when it comes to fitness, nutrition and health.
It is not true.
Only because she can do something does not mean someone else can do it.
More importantly, this phrase backfires and people feel worse than before.
Here’s why and the fitness tips you might want to offer instead.
When we use these fitness tips, we usually have the best of intentions.
Maybe we’re trying to establish a relationship with a customer: “Hey, I was there!”
Or maybe we felt inspired by a variety of messages. Think: blind man climbed Everest.
But there is a problem.
No two people are exactly alike.
As coaches, we might think that we are comparing apples (our lives) to apples (our clients’ lives). But ours is more likely Customer knows that he is an orange… and feels misunderstood and alienated – mostly for one (or all) of the following reasons.
# 1: A person’s background affects their health.
Things like where we were born, how we grew up and what we do for a living shape our diet, exercise and our lives. They also affect our ability to change for the better.
These factors are called technical social determinants of health. And they can affect us positively or negatively.
Examples of social determinants are:
- Job security
- working conditions
- Access to food and security
- Housing and the environment
- Early Childhood Development
- Social community
- Neighborhood environment
- Access to affordable, quality healthcare
Social determinants can be more more important than lifestyle choices in influencing health, they said World Health Organization.
So this can be done with customers.
You tell someone to go to the gym. If you can find the effort of going to the gym with a busy schedule, so can your client, right?
Well no, not necessarily.
Especially if they work long hours and don’t have childcare.
Or maybe you suggest “more vegetables” to a virtual customer.
You don’t like vegetables either, you say, but when you do she Can find a way to eat them, your customer will surely find out. Unless your customer lives with his mother-in-law, who cooks all of his main meals, which usually contain few vegetables. In your customer’s house, everyone thanks the chef, whether he likes the food or not.
Does your customer have any options? Sure – but not as many as someone who has more control over their plate.
There are thousands of ways that social determinants of health can make what is possible for you (with a little hard work) impossible (or much more difficult) for someone else. Some social determinants of health are really hard to spot – especially if you haven’t walked in that person’s shoes. So keep this universal rule of thumb in mind: Don’t make assumptions.
# 2: Every person’s body is unique.
Let’s assume that you and your customer have the same social circumstances.
Is it okay to say, “If I can, can you do it?”
Spoiler alert: No.
Because genetics also play a role.
Suppose you are a person who builds muscle easily. For you, maintaining a lean, athletic body means working hard in the gym and keeping a close eye on your diet.
These two things, of course, take effort. Maybe a lot of effort.
But a person who has a harder time building muscle and, thanks to their genes, has a tendency to store fat in the middle?
They won’t get the same results as you do – even if they eat and exercise the same way. These are the genetic cards that were dealt to them.
So no –they cannot “do” it just because you can.
# 3: Some people are luckier than others.
Most people who have worked hard to get where they are don’t want to admit that the universe may have helped them a little.
Imagine this: You are an athlete participating in the CrossFit Games.
The final workout – the one that decides who wins – focuses on deadlifting, something you are particularly good at. (If it had been a bargain, it would be a very different situation.)
If you win the CrossFit games after this last workout, it doesn’t mean you haven’t worked hard. But did you also benefit from the luck of the draw? Yup.
Perhaps a more fitting example: Perhaps you met a coach or friend – just when you are ready to make a change – who is revolutionizing the way you think about nutrition and fitness. And that puts you on the path to a healthier lifestyle.
In an alternate universe where you didn’t meet this great trainer at the right time, it might have taken you quite a while to get to where you are today.
The point: don’t overlook the “right place, right time” effect.
3 better ways to help your customers
Use all three together – or choose what works best in a particular conversation.
1. Use limited reliability.
Suppose someone goes through a divorce and their trainer went through one too. It might be tempting to offer advice like:
“I know this is a difficult time for you. My divorce was brutal! But I’ve managed to keep track of my diet, so I know you can do it. “
There’s a better way to leverage that shared experience with a customer without Make assumptions about their situation.
It’s called limited assignabilitythat helps you to identify yourself and at the same time make your customer feel heard and understood.
Use this simple two-step formula to help you master the technique.
|Share your experience:||“I know something [fill in the blank] looks like it does for me. “|
|Arouse curiosity about your customer’s experience by asking an open-ended question:||How about you? “|
Translated into a real-life coaching conversation, you could say something like:
“That sounds tough. When I was struggling with binge eating, I felt so powerless and frustrated. What are she Feeling at this moment? “
2. Notice and name the light spot.
This strategy is about taking a moment to appreciate and applaud what your customer has just shared.
You could say:
“You know what? It actually takes a pretty amazing self-esteem to realize and acknowledge that this is a barrier for you right now. How does it feel to have your situation so tightly under control?”
“We can talk about problem solving in a second, but before we do that I want to pause and tell you it’s amazing that you identified this as a problem. I don’t know if you would have done that six months ago! “
This can be very effective as the client is not expecting to pause. They expect ways to move forward. You give them a moment to pause, take stock, and reflect on their greatness before taking action.
3. Inspire them with their own accomplishments.
Let’s say your customer is concerned about the idea of shutting down earlier to get more sleep.
Instead of the old “if I can, you can” advice, try to highlight your achievements so far. It could sound like this:
“You know what? You told me the exact same thing about the gym a few months ago. And now you go regularly! We can talk about specific strategies to make going to bed easier, but also remembering how far.” You came. “
Instead of saying, “If I can, you can,” say, “If you can do one thing, you can do the other!”
You show them that you can see their hard work.
And most importantly, because of all that hard work, you believe in them.
If you apply the above strategies to your customers, you will achieve something that the phrase “If I can, you can too” cannot:
They help them feel heard, seen and valued.
This will go a long way towards strengthening your relationship – and ultimately, helping your customers get better results.
If you are or would like to become a trainer …
Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes – in ways that are tailored to their unique bodies, preferences, and circumstances – is both an art and a science.
If you want to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.
Thank You For Reading!