Does your doctor provide healthy lifestyle counselling?

I’ve recently come across a really interesting article titled ‘Are obese physicians effective at providing healthy lifestyle counselling?’. This is a reflective piece of writing by an American physician looking at how important role modelling behaviour was for doctors in influencing the behavior of their patients. Specifically, 40% of the American population are obese but 44% of American male physicians are overweight and 6% are obese according to the article. So can these overweight doctors still be effective in providing their patients with healthy lifestyle advice?

Similar cases do arise in the personal training industry – can an overweight personal trainer still be effective in helping their clients improve their health and fitness? While it is important that we are positive role models for our clients, getting ‘real’ with them, sharing the challenges that we have and the ways that we have tried to overcome these challenges can serve as a big source of inspiration for clients to make changes in their own life. This means ‘mastery’ of our own health is not essential, rather the commitment to continue ‘work in progress’.

The key ingredient that personal trainers need is to place high value on their own health (even if we sometimes make poor choices which don’t improve our health!) and be passionate about sharing this value with clients. This should include appropriate disclosure of the personal trainer’s own successes and failures with respect to health to encourage clients and demonstrate understanding of real life challenges.

-Kristin Lewis

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