Transforming “Could’ve, Should’ve & Would’ve” into “I Can, I Am, and I Will!”

Feel like you’re caught in a rut? Want to make healthy lifestyle changes but keep hitting roadblocks? There are several factors that can contribute to an individual’s struggle to get started with weight loss or keeping a consistent exercise program.

Unrealistic expectations and quick-fix approaches to weight loss can set individuals up for disappointment, making it difficult to maintain a consistent exercise routine or healthy eating habits. Successful and sustainable weight loss often requires a holistic approach that addresses both physical and emotional aspects, incorporating gradual lifestyle changes and fostering a positive mindset.

We recently asked our Personal Trainer, Smantha Alphonsus, from our Mayfair Parkway location to answer some of the most common questions she receives from Members who are looking for advice with their lifestyle transformations.

Sam is a Certified Canadian Gold Standard Personal Trainer with over 12 years of experience, serving the Markham-Stouffville Community. She graduated from York University with a specialized honours degree in Kinesiology. Sam specializes in full body transformations including body re-composition, fat loss, toning, muscle building and mobility training.

How do I maintain my diet and achieve weight loss?

The biggest and most important factor in weight loss is to be in a caloric deficit. Although you may be working hard in the gym, 96% of your day is spent outside the gym, with your diet potentially haunting your thoughts. If this is the case, too much of a caloric deficit, not enjoying the way you are eating, and feeling in a constant state of deprivation, will create a lack of adherence to your eating plans. In this scenario, I would recommend a reverse tactic. I’d suggest increasing your caloric intake as this may actually improve your ability to stick to your diet. As a result, your true calorie intake will decrease because you may no longer be having overeating episodes, and you might see faster results!

Woman With Digital Tablet Checking Calorie Intake Using Digital Tablet | Source iStock by Getty Images.

I like to track my food, but I keep eating outside my plan, how do I avoid this?

Yo-yo dieting or crash dieting and putting weight back on can happen to beginners as well as advanced gym goers. Tracking your food intake is a great strategy, however some individuals might find they are bingeing outside of their tracked food. If this is the case, I would suggest bringing yourself up a few hundred calories to maintenance levels. This tactic can help stop you from going off your plan.

Some may feel that if they are not aggressively dieting then they are “unproductive” or “aimless”. In these cases, I’d recommend setting other performance goals or new personal records in the gym. In order to feel good, have minimal cravings and good energy levels, you must keep in mind that weight loss is a marathon not a race.

What are your thoughts on weighing or tracking your food?

Food scales, macronutrient or calorie tracking apps are great tools to create self awareness about your daily intake. They help us form an understanding about portion sizes or what your food is made out of. It’s important to gauge what a normal day for you must look like and make improvements accordingly – similar to tracking your steps on your fitness watch for the day.

These tools have been extremely instrumental in laying intuitive groundwork for daily habits. For example: What does 1 tbsp. of peanut butter actually look like? What does a 4oz steak look like? How does 6,000 steps a day feel?

However, measurements and numbers cause more food issues for some people. For these individuals, it’s important to take more of an intuitive eating route even though it can appear ambiguous. It’s better to focus on things that are absolutely fundamental, like, are you getting a fist sized amount of protein with every meal? Are you eating enough fiber?

Man taking a break from exercising in the Gym. Source iStock by Getty Images.

How can I avoid getting burn out in the gym or quitting too soon?

Sometimes when we are feeling ready for a new exercise regiment, we set goals that are too ambitious and that require to much from us, too soon. We lack the ability to fully understand how difficult or how uncomfortable the situation may be for our future selves.

For example: the idea of going from working out zero times a week at the gym to waking up at 5:30am 7x/week, may seem like you can handle it at first as motivation is high. However, you may forget that two weeks from now, you could be crashing. Getting up and driving to the gym in the middle of the night may be last thing you want to do.

At times we lack empathy for ourselves. When setting a goal, ask yourself if you will be able to keep the commitments you’ve made during a hectic work week. Understand that it takes time for behaviour change, growth & recovery. We will not get immediate gratification. The most fit people do not have an abundance of willpower but rather the ability to create circumstances that are realistic for their situation. Don’t go from zero to hero. Set small, achievable goals and build from there.

How can I get my elderly parent, child, spouse, or sibling to adhere to an exercise regiment?

Some people genuinely hate exercise. Do not coerce, force or push someone into it. I’d recommend getting onto the same page with them first. If they are interested and able to exercise, ask them what is the minimum amount of exercise they’re willing to do? Ex. Dad are you willing to workout 1/day per week with me for 30-40 minutes?

You may feel this is less than optimal, especially if their doctor has recommended exercise for their health condition, mental health or it would benefit their future. Keep in mind we can only help out with the process, but we cannot control the outcome. We also cannot control how someone may choose to respond to our behavioural interventions. This minimum negotiation is still better than nothing because even on their worst week they can still do this with you or their trainer.

Allow things to take form or shape before you rush them, this way they’ll be feel comfortable with the changes and they will come to their own conclusions. Little by little they will be headed in the right direction!

Sources: Loewenstein, G. (2005). Hot-cold empathy gaps and medical decision making. Health Psychology, 24(4), S49-S56.

About Smantha

Sam has been a Certified Canadian Gold Standard Personal Trainer for over 12 years, serving the Markham-Stouffville Community. She graduated from York University with a specialized honours degree in Kinesiology. Sam specializes in full body transformations including body re-composition, fat loss, toning, muscle building and mobility training.

Her approach is fun & effective using science and evidence-based protocols. Sam is a published fitness model by Inside Fitness Magazine and an award-winning regional level bikini body builder. Sam enjoys health & wellness practices such as cold plunges, breathwork, & meditation.

Specialties: Weight management, functional training, weight training and functional mobility.

If you’d like to get started with Personal Training at Mayfair Clubs Parkway and West, please email Andrew at

If you’d like to get started with Personal Training at Mayfair Clubs Lakeshore, please email Sabine at

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