Weight Loss Lessons from a Child Protection Worker

by Tara Fitness

I’ve been a Personal Trainer for a few years now, but prior to that, I worked in Child Protection and Juvenile Justice. My expertise is in counselling and positive change; skills that were refined as I supported people to become better parents and better role models for their children.

It’s interesting though, because in 4 years as a Child Protection Case Manager I never, ever told a parent to simply “be a better parent”.

Why didn’t I do that?

Well, it won’t work, because I didn’t tell them how to be a better parent.

I also never told a parent to simply “be a better parent by doing X, Y and Z”.

Why not?

Because it just won’t work to give someone a list of what they should do.

Finally, I realised I never told a parent to simply “be a better parent by stopping A, B and C starting X, Y and Z”. It just won’t work.

But why?

Because simply telling someone to change their life will never work, even if you tell them what to stop doing and what to start doing.

How many times have you…

started a new plan / diet / blast / blitz / thing that looked amazing because you got a training plan and a meal plan (aka a list of what to do and what not to do)? I’ll be honest, as a newer trainer with less experience and understanding, I sold them myself… and often they didn’t work.

With experience, I’ve come to understand that the beginning of a healthy lifestyle is not the day you decide to start the training program or the meal plan. It’s the day you start your emotional commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

This is the difficult part for two reasons:

1. While you have a responsibility to look after you, let’s be honest, you spend all of your time helping others so you’re often the person who you put on the back burner, because everyone else needs you more, right?


2. You asked for help, but most fitness professionals will say you need to be committed, and if you’re not showing enough commitment or motivation they ‘fire’ you. Blaming you for their failure to understand that providing exercise and nutrition guidance simply isn’t enough to create true emotional commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

As a Nutrition and Exercise Professional, it’s my job to show you what being put first feels like.

Then it’s my role to help you believe that you deserve a little time for yourself each day.

After that, it’s my task to show you how you can take that time for yourself without everyone else falling apart around you.

Then, and only then, does it become my job to provide you with exercise and nutrition guidance. It’s my responsibility to support you in developing this emotional commitment first.

That’s why my weight loss clients all spend the first 6 weeks working on nutrition tasks that teach nothing about what you should eat to lose weight. That’s why the first week of workouts involves an assessment process, rather than a list of exercises that may (or may not) be appropriate for you.

It’s also why the entire focus of weeks 1 and 2 are to simply take 5 minutes, and do something that’s good for you.

Now 5 minutes may not sound like much, but when I’m working with;

– The mum who never puts herself first;

– The dad who works all the time and doesn’t find time to train; and

– The grandma who’s being pulled from pillar to post constantly meeting everyone else’s needs;

5 minutes can feel like forever.

What 5 minute action could you complete today to start creating a healthier life?

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