Personal trainer, Natalie Brainerd has agreed to take time out of whipping clients into shape (including our own Kevin Palmer) and write a series for The Clymb. She’ll share her experiences with getting healthier in body, mind and spirit. In her first installment, Natalie shares how she began to think differently about what it took to get her body where she wanted it to be… and then acted accordingly.
Whenever I sit down with someone new I will ask them a question to make sure we are on the same page. “Point for me where you go to get stronger and build lean muscle.” Their hand rises hesitantly and their finger points to the weight-room floor, and just to avoid miscommunication I restate, “You are pointing to the dumbbells, and not the recliner bike. Which would imply that one would go to the latter to get weaker. Correct?”
So the tone is set. Indeed most people want to look better naked and don’t want the same version of themselves just taking up less space. They want lean muscles, they want their abs to show, they want to feel stronger, younger and live longer. Unfortunately, the old technology of burning more energy and giving the body less energy to work is still the dominant philosophy with too many health and fitness practitioners.
Look at your home and your office. BluRay discs, iPhones, cars that park themselves, and other marvels of technology are a part of our lives. Additionally, pioneers in health and fitness have upgraded our understanding of exercise, nutrition, and on how to improve the human body. It is time to leave the ‘calories-in, calories-out’ idea where it belongs: in your attic with your audio cassettes and rotary phone.
So what if I do ‘more cardio,’(all ‘cardio’ refers to constant state) and I still don’t see any change? I can’t quit my job and just do hours of the elliptical, though some people do. I was a runner, but not with the hope or intention to become the best runner, or even getting faster. I just wanted my expensive jeans to fit again. I started running for 30 minutes. And it worked at first, and then it didn’t. So I added more time and 30 minutes quickly became 60, which became 90 and so forth. I just thought that this change wasn’t happening because I wasn’t doing enough.
Then one day I was sitting down with a future mentor who was listening patiently to my complaints and woes. When I came up for air, he asked, “If you continue to do the same thing over and over, more and more, why do you keep expecting something to be different in your outcome? Stop your cardio and read this.” He handed me a copy of strength coach Charles Poliquin’s German Body Comp Program. I read it and my mind was blown — along with my entire training paradigm.
This book was my ‘Pandora’s Box.’ Here was a guy who got results on the Olympic level and also trained the average person to their fat loss and performance goals. I felt like I knew nothing. But instead of quitting, I found a new passion. Learning. My workouts went from 90mins to 2 hours, down to 30min-45min. Constant state cardio turned into lifting heavy weights. The results were astounding. 26% bodyfat down to 16%. I went from being weak and frustrated, to being able to do full pull-ups, squat full depth my body weight, and then some. My energy went up, I was stronger, my hair grew thicker (a loss resulting from aerobic/oxidative stress) and I was happier.
As my body changed my eyes opened up and the horizon broadened. I thought I knew, but I had no idea. As I studied more I began to understand; the solution to all our weight loss woes was not simply just a physical one.
So I dug a little deeper and found the next step close by, waiting for me to be discovered in the refrigerator and in the bedroom.
To be continued…
Since making the leap from work as a paralegal to fitness coaching, Natalie has built a reputation for achieving a high level of success with clients with a variety of backgrounds and goals. Natalie has spent the last 5 years understanding the cutting-edge techniques required to improve the mental and physical health and fitness of her students. Her clients have ranged from elite athletes, famous artists and grandmothers all looking to improve their lives. In her free time Natalie enjoys cooking up new creations, and reading about nutrition and program design, which she shares on her blog Real Women Squat. Natalie currently resides in Portland Oregon.