On a recent Excellence in Training Course someone asked me what my biggest mistake as a trainer was. The question caught me off guard. Not because I think I am perfect. I have made a lot of mistakes as a trainer and actually mention at the start of the course that the Excellence in Training philosophy has partially evolved due to all the misstates I have made as a trainer. I freely admit that if you can make a mistake as a trainer, I likely have made it. It caught me off guard because i have never been asked that question before. I answered the question, but then continued to reflect on both the question and the answer over the next week or two. If asked again, I would reframe it and answer if differently.
I would reframe the question to my biggest regret as a trainer. My answer to that would be that my biggest regret as a trainer was allowing myself to get fat over the last few years of my career.
Why was that my biggest regret? Because I was being a hypocrite. I talked about the importance of fitness and the need for functional fitness. Yes, I worked out, but I still allowed myself to get fat. As a result I set a poor example for both the recruits and the in-service people I trained. A fat trainer preaching about the importance of health, wellness and fitness has pretty limited credibility. I was supposed to be a role model; instead I was a hypocrite. Within 6 months of retirement I had lost 45 pounds and now over 16 years later I am over 70 pounds lighter than I was at the end of my career.
Why did it I allow myself to get fat? It happened for a number of reasons, all of which were under my control. Some of those reasons include:
- The cumulative effect of poor eating choices. Overall I ate relatively healthy based on what I knew at the time. I eat differently today. I developed a bad habit of having at least one chocolate bar or bag of M&Ms a day. I justified it by telling myself, “It was just one treat.” Sometimes however, one turned into two, as it so often does. I ate too much, too many times every day and over too many hours. Today I eat within a 6 to 8 hour window every day and fast for 16 to 18 hours a day.
- I spent too many hours at work. For a variety of reasons I worked way too many hours in the last 8 ½ years of my career.
- Poor sleep habits. Those poor sleep habits were the result of a lot of things including my ignorance about the importance of sleep, the impact of sleep debt and sleep deprivation on the brain and the body and the elements of good sleep hygiene. I snored badly and developed sleep apnea. I no longer snore and no longer suffer from sleep apnea.
- Failing to understand the risk of metabolic disease I was creating for myself. I will guarantee I was insulin resistant and likely pre-diabetic. The research is clear that Type 2 Diabetes is a lifestyle disease and completely preventable and curable. The research also indicates that Alzheimer’s disease is 95 to 98 percent preventable.
Did I work out? Yes. Did I continue to read, study and learn? Yes. Did I attend conferences and training to make myself a better trainer? Yes. Did I surround myself with highly skilled trainers who challenged my thinking and made me better? Yes. Did I allow myself to get fat? Yes. Was that what was immediately obvious to everyone? Yes. Did that impact my credibility and as a result my effectiveness as a trainer? Yes. Do I regret it? Yes. Can I change the past? No. Can I learn from it and work to make sure it does not happen again? Yes.
That is how I would reframe and answer the question now.
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