A lot of clients come to me telling me they have “done everything they can” when it comes to reaching their personal fitness goals - whether those goals are weight loss, disease prevention, muscle gain, or just all-around better health. While the average fitness consumer has more access to health information than she would have had just a decade ago, she also has access to an equally vast body of misinformation and poorly interpreted science.
Bloggers, unlicensed “experts” and bogus doctors (or worse, celebrity “gurus”) have made a significant impact on the way health information is disseminated and digested, meaning that the latest Instagram trend might carry more clout than the most recent research study when it comes to the decisions women are making about their health and wellness.
While there is a lot of opportunity in the fitness industry for professionals of all kinds, from certified personal trainers to registered dieticians to licensed physiotherapists, to contribute to the literature, there are a few books I find myself recommending over and over to clients looking to change their lives for the better.
When it comes to making a major lifestyle shift, the first consideration for any of my clients is mindset – the “ready, willing, and able” variable in the behavioural change equation. A client could have all the time and money in the world to throw at their fitness goals, but without the proper mindset, she would never reach them – or maintain them.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success is almost a prerequisite for people looking to make significant changes in their lives. This book contrasts the concepts of fixed (think: stubborn) versus growth (think: adaptive) mindsets and shares useful ways to achieve the latter across multiple situations and environments.
Besides readiness to change, another common client challenge is habit management – either phasing out bad habits, or trying to form and maintain healthy ones.
For clients that feel like they “know” what to do but have trouble actually doing it, I recommend reading Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness.
As a coach who believes in the power of incremental and cumulative change as the building blocks of success, the concept of “nudging” yourself toward a better – if not perfect – life is more digestible for most of us than trying to undergo a massive lifestyle overhaul.
For clients that come to me with all the practical tools necessary to lose weight but just need a little boost of mental and emotional confidence, I recommend YOU ARE A BADASS: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life.
Health and wellness changes must always start with the belief that you can be a better version of yourself. This book helps clients figure out exactly which parts of their lives are suffering from self-doubt and reframe their talents, habits, and thought processes toward overcoming those self-imposed limitations.
When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of exercise and diet, there are a few key reads I would suggest to anyone looking to get started with serious weight training and nutrition planning.
First is The New Rules of Lifting for Women, a necessary primer for any woman who has ever hesitated to pick up the heavy weights for fear of getting “bulky.”
For more advanced athletes, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle explains how to develop your body into a lean machine by creating an eating, exercising, and even sleeping program designed to do just that.
And finally, if you are looking for a major nutritional change, the three types of diet plans I refer to most often with clients are: The Plan (an anti-inflammation and food sensitivity-targeting program), The 8-Hour Diet (an introductory primer to the concept of intermittent fasting), and The 4-Hour Body (an aggressive guide to diet, exercise, sex, and life in general – and definitely not for the faint of heart!).
Whenever I recommend a book to a client it is because I have read it myself and I believe in it. The most important first step to achieving any sort of lifestyle goal is to educate yourself on what you need to do to get there, assess the trade-offs you would need to make in order to do those things, and create an action plan that helps you do those things in incremental steps.
While these books will never replace the expertise and knowledge of a certified personal trainer, wellness coach, or registered dietitian, they are a great place to start thinking about the next steps in your health and fitness journey.
Article contributed by Amanda Dale - a certified personal trainer, nutritionist and fitness expert with a decade of experience in the health and wellness industry. Hailing from California, Amanda specializes in weight loss, functional fitness, endurance, and has consulted for companies such as Disney, Toyota, 20th Century Fox in both USA and Singapore.