What I Learned From The Dog Trainer

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I have a nine-month old doberman named Titus. He is an eighty-five-pound bundle of energy and joy. He comes to work with me every day; everyone loves him, and he them. But he’s still a puppy—just a very big one. So he does all the things a puppy should do: he jumps on people, chews on things that I want, and then there is the occasional trip down the street or around the neighborhood without me. So to fix this, I enlisted the help of a very talented dog trainer to help me get Titus under control. After several lessons, I still had little to no control over my dog. After several more mishaps, where Titus was in harm’s way, my trainer chastised me for my lack of commitment to what needed to be done to get the outcome I wanted. It seems that the outcome I got was in direct correlation with the amount of effort, time, and commitment that I had given. At this point, I had to consider if I really deserved my loyal companion, since I seemed to be unable to give him what he needed so that he could be an active part of my busy life.

As usual, this made me reflect on the similarities between the dog trainer and myself. She feels that Titus should be my main priority and that my whole world needs to change so that Titus can get what he needs. Sound familiar? This type of thinking is not so unique. In fitness, my assumption as a trainer is that you are in it to win it, to get the body, the energy, and the feeling that only fitness can give you, and that you’ll do whatever it takes to get it. So when people don’t do everything they need to do to achieve their goals, I don’t get it either. When the dog trainer suggested that I needed to spend more time with Titus to reach my goal, I became angry and told her she didn’t understand how busy I am and how much I had going on. This happens to be the very same things that clients have told me my entire career when I would say they need to train more often, get more sleep, and cook at home instead of going to restaurants so often. The resistance is almost identical to what I had given her.

I understood her frustration much better after I had walked a while in her shoes. As she was trying to come up with a solution for my issues, I met her halfway by putting in practice time where I could. Once I started taking responsibility for my outcome and putting in the appropriate amount of time and effort, my results have started to change. Much is the same with fitness. Most of our frustrations are about not getting the outcome we want with the time and effort that we put in. But much like with Titus, the real question is did we really put in the appropriate effort in all phases to get the outcome we were looking for? The best results are found in the details. The dog trainer explained to me some of the subtle things that I needed to do on a consistent basis in order to get Titus to do what I want him to do. The same is true with fitness; being consistent with the small things will make all the difference in you reaching your goal.

Having a clear goal is equally as important, it’s really hard to have a good outcome without clear goals. Having a dog that could handle the basics seemed like a good goal, but I really didn’t know what that meant and I didn’t know what it involved, so it’s understandable that I was having problems. Along with watching videos on YouTube and reading stuff online, I was able to make a big mess. Now that I’m starting to get trained by a trainer, I have a better idea of where I’m going and what I’m doing. I think it holds true in fitness also, that we all need coaching in order to get the results we want. Someone to give us a plan, to help us though the things we don’t understand, to be there when we’re not quite sure what to do, and then to help us keep pushing when thing aren’t going well. Just like with my dog situation, trying to train on your own is a bad plan and normally ends badly. Getting proper help is the key to success.

I understand what it’s like to have a goal and to not quite know how to get there. Dog training is not one of my specialties, but fitness is.  If you have questions or need help, I’d be more than happy to help steer you in the right direction.  You can email me directly at bill@successtudiopt.com.