When to Say “NO” to your Trainer

It happens every day.  Trainers give their clients recommendations for their diet and/or exercises that are not actually in the best interest of their client’s health.  This scenario seems far too common today considering “Health” is the primary motive for hiring a trainer in the first place.

If you are hiring a Personal Trainer and/or Diet Consultant you need to understand that YOU are still your number one health advocate.  This means that YOU need to educate yourself.  You need to know what questions to ask. You need to know your personal limits and set boundaries.  You are responsible for the execution of your plans.  You are responsible for what you put into your body and what you put your body through.  You need to know when to say “No, I will not do that.”

While I do believe that all Personal Trainers and Diet Consultants genuinely want to help you achieve your fitness goals, this doesn’t mean that all advice is good advice… no matter how good their intentions.

When to Say “NO!”

  1. When you get a workout plan that doesn’t have a single rest day for the entire week.

Your body needs rest.  6 days a week should be more than enough to get all your intended workouts in.  This may not do damage short term but week after week without a break will hurt your progress and lead to over training.

  1. When you are given a diet plan that has less than 1,200 calories a day (women) or 1,600 calories a day (men).

Below this is starvation! These numbers are really only acceptable for relatively small people who still have weight to loose.  Be cautious of this because these even numbers could be too low for you!

*Warning Sign: When your trainer doesn’t even know what your calories for your plan are at.

  1. When you are expected to work out for more than 3 hours in one day.

Over-training is real.  The damage it can cause your body is worse and can even be irreversible.  More than 3 hours should never be necessary to lose weight.  Even if you want to achieve extremely low body fat percentages.  I would honestly be wary of anything more than 2 hours, especially sustained for a long period of time.  If you are an endurance athlete and training for something like a marathon and your endurance needs to be pushed to the extreme you may exceed this.  Just know that your training time should increase gradually, it should never be daily, it should never be “regular” and that high duration should never be permanently sustained.

  1. If your calorie deficit is set for more than 1-2 pounds weight loss in a single week.

Don’t worry, you can lose weight faster than this and still be healthy.  Substantial weight loss (more than 1-2 pounds a week) is common with people who are just starting new plans, making huge lifestyle changes, or have a lot of weight to lose.  What you don’t want is to be below a deficit of 500-1,000 calories a day from your basal metabolic rate (calories your body burns).  This will cause metabolic damage.

*Warning Sign: When your trainer doesn’t even know what a 1-2 lbs calorie deficit means or what your basal metabolic rate is.

  1. If you are expected to work out or do cardio more than twice a day.

Once again, over-training is real and the damage it can cause your body can be devastating!  The exception to this would be if you actually aren’t working out for that long but your schedule is so crazy that you have to interrupt your workouts and fit bits of them in throughout the day.

  1. If your carbohydrate intake drops below 25%

Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy.  Almost all food is a carb or has carbs built into part of its genetic structure.  The only food that is carb free is meat.  An all meat diet is not healthy or sustaining.  You should be able to reach any physical goals and even achieve extremely low body fat percentages eating carbs.  You really should be cautious of any diet that is less than 40% carbs daily.

  1. If your fat intake drops below 10%-15%

Eating Fats doesn’t make you store fat.  They are also a necessary macro-nutrient. Fat’s actually help your body absorb protein.  Diets too low in fat can actually cause your body to store more fat! Recommended daily fat intake is actually 15%-30%.

  1. If your calories drop too drastically in a short period of time.

If your trainer writes you one plan at so many calories then updates your plan by drastically cutting the calories down (300 or more per day) this is not healthy for you or your metabolism.  If you are on a weight loss plan then your calories should be gradually reduced in accordance with your weight loss and program compliance.  The only exception to this would be if you have a compulsive over-eating or binge-eating disorder.  In this case your daily calorie intake may have to be reduced drastically just be consuming a healthy amount of food.

  1. If any movement you are asked to do hurts you.

Now don’t be a wimp; all exercise can hurt your muscles, fatigue you, make you sweat, out of breath, and sore.  This is not what I mean.   There is a difference between pushing yourself and hurting yourself.  You have to know how to sort out good pain and bad pain.  Even the most talented trainer in the world cannot do this for you.  Bad pain is if it hurts in your joints or bones, causes swelling or inflammation, injuries, sprains, strains, long term wear and tear or degeneration.  If you do not communicate this bad pain to your trainer and continue on with the movements this is your fault.  If you do communicate it and your trainer tells you to keep doing it… Just say “NO!”


Selecting a Qualified Trainer

            You should be able to trust the information you are given by your Trainer.  After all you are paying them for their services and literally putting your health in their hands.  But you have to understand that titles don’t always come with credentials and there aren’t a lot of legal systems in play that actually regulate this.  Even gyms hire trainers with no education, experience or certifications.  You need to know what your needs are because even certified, educated, and experienced trainers have their limitations.

Qualifying Questions: What are your Trainers Credentials?

Credentials that are often used but DON’T MAKE TRAINERS QUALIFIED!

  1. Appearing very physically fit or having “Life Experience.”
  2. Having previous “successful” clients.
  3. Working at a gym/supplement or nutrition store.
  4. Working as a personal trainer/nutrition consultant at a gym or nutrition store.
  5. Having the acclaimed title of “Nutritionist” or “Personal Trainer/Coach” or other.
  6. Being the author of a fitness related book, having a website, blog or just a lot of followers on a fitness page.
  7. Being an Athlete, whether High School, National Level, Division 1, Professional, Record Holder, Marathon Runner, Triathlete, Olympic lifting, Power-lifting, Bodybuilding Competitor, Pro Card Holder, IFBB Pro!

Note: Even if a Trainer/Coach has all of these things, it does not make any of the information they are relaying true.  It also does not give them the ability to give you best healthy advice for you.  However, all of these things can be great additions to a truly qualified trainer with actual educational credentials.

Personal Trainer Qualified Credentials (listed from least to greatest)

  1. PT Certification (ANY) *These can be extremely basic and limiting
  2. PT Certification (Nationally Accredited)
  3. Associates Degree (Exercise Science, Health Education etc.)
  4. Bachelor’s Degree (Exercise Science, Health Education, etc.)
  5. Master’s Degree (Exercise Science, Health Education, etc.)

Diet Consultant Qualified Credentials (listed from least to greatest):

  1. Nutrition Certification (ANY) *These can be extremely basic and limiting
  2. PT Certification (Nationally Accredited)
  3. Associates Degree (Nutrition, Health Education etc.)
  4. Bachelor’s Degree (Nutrition/Dietitian, Health Education, etc.)
  5. Master’s Degree (Dietetics)

I understand that you are really committed and willing to do anything it takes to reach your goals.  But “ANYTHING” should not sacrifice your long term health.  I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken with people who have developed severe food allergies, eating disorders, metabolic damage, health conditions and even hospitalization because they didn’t know when to say “NO” to their trainers.  I promise that taking extreme measures does not bring your closer to achieving your long term goals, but farther away.

There are so many wonderful qualified Nutritionist and Trainers out there I hope this article has made your better equip with tools to find one that is right for you.

For Personalized Registered Dietitian Certified Plans feel free to Contact me at healthandfitnessmeals@outlook.com or http://healthandfitnessmeals.com/contact 



*About the Author: Ashley Edward-Hansen received her associate’s degree in Exercise Science, then transferred to pursue nutrition and currently holds a bachelor’s degree in Health Education at the University of Utah. Ashley holds over seven years of personal experience, education, and certifications in personal training and nutrition.  Ashley is a Certified Food Safety Manager as well as the primary Personal Trainer, Nutritional Adviser, and Manager for Health and Fitness Meals.  Her personal interest is in competitive bodybuilding.  She has competed and placed in 6 different NGA and NPC Shows.  She is currently a Nationally Qualified NPC Figure Competitor.