I’d be a rich fitness coach if I had a nickel for every time a new client said:  “I don’t know how this happened!  I’m eating and exercising the same as I have for years, but now I’m fat!  My metabolism is slow!” Some of what I’ve heard new clients say they’ve done to lose weight lands in the “UCMSTU” file ~ never to be spoken of again. (Ok, one guy ate only cherry licorice and sugar-free Red Bull for a week to lose weight. He didn’t.)

In my practice, 80 percent of clients say that weight loss is their primary goal. Guess what? Weight loss is big business.  The weight loss industry is a $60 billion-plus annual business with more than 26,000 companies vying for your dollars. Weight-loss companies market to consumers with quick-fix, one-size fits-most solutions.  “Eat this food, or exercise like this and you’ll be thin!”  But there’s  more to the story when it comes to achieving and sustaining a healthy body. Dazed and confused by slick marketing laced with “myth-leading facts” and over-simplification of how to lose weight is likely why many consumers lose and find the same 10 pounds over and over again.

Which is why I focus on  the Big 7 Key Lifestyle Influencers that must be in balance, or even the best weight loss or fitness plan is doomed.They are: 1. Stress 2. Sleep 3. Nutrition 4. Movement 5. Supplementation 6. Hydration 7. Caffeine

When I meet with a new client, I focus on their Living Hours ~ the 165 non-exercising hours a week (or so) when they’re doing what’s normal for them.  Experience has shown me that most people explain (in great detail) what exercise machines they use, how fast they set the treadmill, or how many days they week they go to the gym.  But, that’s not where the magic happens. The foundation of a sane, sustainable, and successful fitness plan is understanding all the influences impacting a client’s body. 

After consulting with thousands of clients and discussing their goals, it became clear that most people under-estimate how their poor (or simply uneducated) choices with any or all of the Big 7 influencers can sabotage virtually any goal.

Here’s a great example.  A client came to me wondering why he wasn’t losing weight even after committing to a five-day-a-week boot camp class.  He’d been faithfully attending for almost two months and had lost a couple pounds at first, but had since stopped losing weight.  As the consultation continued and I focused on hearing him explain his Living Hours, it became clearer to me what the problem might be.

His job as an attorney was, in his words, a “9” on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the worst) in terms of stress.  He commuted to the city by car (if you’re from Chicago, you know the pain is real) and he worked 12-hour days, and into the evening after he got home.

I explained that exercise is a form of stress that, when done properly (correct intensity and volume) elicits changes in our body.  However, he’d unintentionally doubled-up on the stress on his body, then coupled it with too little sleep, and poor nutrition and hydration.  I asked if he could commit to cutting back on boot camp to three days weekly instead of five, adjust his nutrition, hydration and sleep habits.  He could only commit to cutting back on exercise which was, in my opinion, a great start.  Baby steps.

Six weeks later, he had lost five pounds, was able to commit to more of my recommendations including a blood test to see to what extent his long-term stress was disrupting his lipids, blood glucose, sex hormones and gut health. Boom!

And there you have it. The foundation of achieving long-term health and fitness begins with a thorough inventory of how you spend your Living Hours, and what your relationship is with the Big 7 Influencers.  A successful fitness plan incorporates all aspects of you and your 168-hour a week life.