Using Psychology to Reach your Fitness Goals By Owen O’Brien, Licensed Clinical Social Worker Central Athlete (CA) is different. Almost all fitness businesses, by definition, are quick to give opinions on how to get in shape. Many have something to say about nutrition. Not only do Central Athlete coaches specialize in effective exercise and food programming, but also, unlike most other fitness leaders, they intentionally and extensively educate themselves on human psychology. They know that all the fitness and nutrition knowledge in the world will not affect an ounce of change if they cannot help clients apply it in an effective and lasting way to their lives. CA coaches know that their clients want permanent change. They know that each client is different and needs to voice and explore their own reasons for change instead of getting handed a one-size-fits-all plan. They know that no program, no matter how evidenced-based, is going to work unless it takes into account the client's lifestyle, values, and preferences. This is why Central Athlete Coaches meet monthly for intensive trainings in behavioral psychology. They study motivational interviewing (MI), a way of speaking with clients that elicits a clients own motivation and reasons for change. They also learn cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques to help clients establish lasting habits. What is motivational interviewing? In their latest book, the founders of MI, William Miller and Stephen Rollnick, define motivational interviewing as “a collaborative conversation style that strengthens a person’s motivation for and commitment to change.” When using MI, your CA coach helps you focus in on a fitness goal or habit – such as lose fat, eat better, get stronger, place in a competition — and then helps you grow your commitment to the goal by guiding you in identifying and exploring all your reasons for achieving it. Why seek out motivational interviewing? MI is based on decades of research. MI started as a conversational method used to help people struggling with addiction cut back on their use or achieve sobriety. The pre-eminent book on substance abuse featured MI as the only individual counseling approach that consistently increased the chance that clients could make the desired reductions in their use. Due to its power, MI is now used by professionals in countless fields for a wide variety of behaviors, including engaging in life-saving medical treatments, quitting smoking, losing weight, and improving relationships. In these respective arenas, it is often found to be the only coaching approach to significantly boost the likelihood of clients achieving their goals. MI results in higher client satisfaction. Typically, clients of doctors, counselors, and coaches who use MI report feeling heard and understood instead of lectured or judged. These clients enjoy the feeling of working towards goals that they are intrinsically motivated to accomplish — NOT goals imposed upon them by an arbitrary plan or professional who does not know them or their lives as well as they know themselves. This emphasis on client autonomy and individuality is not only respectful and ethical but also effective: Generally, people are most persuaded by what they hear themselves say than by what others say. MI helps client gain momentum and get results. MI helps people get unstuck from the often paralyzing state of ambivalence — the sticky limbo of “Should I or shouldn’t I do it?” Because they are able to move past their ambivalence, make a decision to change, and feel genuine motivation to do so, they finally gain traction on the goals that have eluded them in the past. What does this mean for you? You tell us! How could MI help you achieve your health aspirations? The beauty of MI is that it is totally individualized to you, the goals you want to achieve, and your personal preferences. One of the primary values in MI ethics – and possibly the most important – is autonomy. In other words, it is always up to the client to make the final decisions regarding their goals, habits, and fitness/nutrition plans. You have many options in the world of fitness — running the trail, practicing yoga, going to spin, Zumba, boot camp, or Barre classes, Crossfit groups, or the individualized, research-backed approach of Central Athlete. If you decide Central Athlete is a fit for you, CA coaches are trained and waiting to guide you in making the changes you have always wanted to create in your life. For good. Have questions? Want to know more? Click here to request a free consultation with a CA coach. No pressure to join. Just real talk about whether or not CA is a match for your goals and lifestyle.