Why Black & White is a Red Flag
Beware the One-Size-Fits-All Trainer/Coach. These are trainers and coaches who make black & white statements like:
"Paleo/Vegetarian/Keto is the best diet and everyone should follow it."
"Cardio is bad. You should only lift weights."
"Lifting weights will make you bulky. Women should never lift more than 3 lbs."
"You should always eat breakfast."
"You should never eat breakfast."
"Never eat past 7 p.m."
"Processed food is toxic. You should only eat clean foods."
Sound familiar? You probably read statements like these daily on the interweb when you're scrolling through Facebook or Instagram.
The One Size Fits All Coach
You've just come screen to screen with what we call a "One-Size-Fits-All" Coach. (OSFA for short.)
The OFSA coach has found a program that *they* like, that got them - and yes, maybe some of their clients - good results. They've created a system and learned to replicate it. They sell you a program, tell you to follow it and you will get results.
But what happens when it doesn't work?
These coaches will typically put the blame on you and say you weren't compliant, you weren't trying hard enough. They may even have some cherry-picked data and studies to prove that THEY ARE RIGHT.
"Hey - it's working for me and it's working for everyone else* (*not actually true), so you must be breaking the rules."
For the OSFA coach, it has to be your fault because he/she can't accept that their perfect program doesn't work for everyone. Maybe their bias is so strong that they are blinded by their own belief system. They don't yet know or accept why different approaches to training and nutrition don't work for everyone. They may literally believe that their way IS the only way.
If this is your coach, or you're considering hiring someone like this, grab your running shoes (and your wallet!) and sprint the heck away from this coach as fast as you can, as they are more interested in preserving their ego, status, and bank account than your results and success.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I'll tell you right now, there have absolutely been women who've worked with us that didn't get the results they wanted, or the results weren't fast enough or big enough. It happens. And if a trainer/coach tells you they have a 100% success rate, that is also a huge red flag.
Fat Loss Isn't Black & White
There are some definite TRUTHS when it comes to fat loss. For example, in order to lose weight/fat, you must create a caloric deficit. There's no way around that. (#BecauseScience)
But there are a lot of gray areas, too. Things that might work in some cases, under certain circumstances. Different strategies you can try, that may or may not work. A skilled coach knows there are different "switches" they can flip. They know how to read feedback (your results, how you feel, how compliant you are) and adjust the plan accordingly.
When your results are stuck, a good coach asks lots of questions and makes changes to the plan. They also know what is realistic based on your actual life RIGHT NOW. They don't blame you and tell you to just try harder.
A Metabolic Moving Target
Just like a good coach, the metabolism's job is also to adapt and react, so even if you find something that "works" - that doesn't mean you've found the Silver Bullet. The final answer for the rest of your life. Because the metabolism is not a fixed point, no program will work forever and at some point, will need to be modified because our bodies are always changing.
You are better off investing your time and money in a good coach (or program) that teaches you about YOUR metabolism and body and hormones. Instead of a cookie cutter program, a guided process of trial and error.
The question then becomes not, "Will this program work for me?" but "What can I learn here and can/should I integrate any of this - knowing what I know to be true about my own body."
BUT I JUST WANT RESULTS NOW
I know. I get it. This is all incredibly frustrating to read when you just want some freaking results. You feel desperate. You feel a sense of urgency. You just want someone to tell you exactly what to eat, how to exercise, etc.
We all crave certainty and it's so much easier to outsource the thinking and hard work (i.e. buy a cookie cutter program and follow it.)
But what you want is not what you need.
To master your body, you have to take the time to learn how it really works. It's a lifelong process, especially for women, because our bodies go through so many changes and phases: monthly menstrual cycles, pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, peri/post-menopause. Each one of those phases requires a different approach - some of the changes are big, and some are small.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by the massive weight of it all, you can start with where you're at today. Start educating yourself on the female body, metabolism, hormones. So many programs out there treat us like dudes, so starting to learn your body IS A HUGE STEP forward and gives you an advantage.
The X Factor
Like most things in this world, fitness and nutrition is nuanced, and while there are definitely some things that are always true, that are an equal number of things that depend on X.
X = your body, metabolism, personality, workouts, goals, schedule, experience level.
The X is YOU and you are unique. Don't ever buy into the idea or program that tells you otherwise.
Ask questions. Take ownership of your process and don't settle for canned explanations like, "Because I said so," and "Trust the process," and "This has worked for everyone else."
When you hear absolutes, words like "always" and "never" and "must" - it should get your attention, trigger immediate questions, and send up the red flag.
One-Size-Fits-All coaches will always exist, and many of them have thriving businesses because the idea of following a black & white program is so appealing to so many people. They have just enough "before and after" photos to convince you that all their clients experience dramatic results. They are an expert on their singular approach, so it may even feel easy to trust them.
They are smart, but you can be smarter by educating yourself. Some of our favorite science-based resources on fitness and nutrition include: