Career before health – the most common mistake my clients make


As I was about to meet with one of my clients the other day, I prepared myself to have a repeat conversation that I am becoming all to familiar with.

Me: Hi! How did the foam rolling and stretch exercises I gave you go?

Client: Well, I was really busy with work so I didn’t do any of them.

Me: Not even a little? I haven’t seen you in 4 days.

Client: Nope. I just couldn’t work it in.

Me: You’ve had 2 back surgeries and a hip surgery. Do you realise that if you don’t do the exercises I give you, you are putting yourself at risk of developing more back issues?!?!?!

Client: Yeah, you’re right but I just had more important work things to take care of.

I’ve been a personal trainer for almost 16 years and during this time, I’ve heard every excuse in the book. “I was too tired”. “I couldn’t find the time”. And my personal favorite, “It was really good wine so I had to have 4 glasses”. But recently, what I’m hearing more is how my clients like to rely on their jobs as their excuse why they can’t take care of their own health.quote

Business dinners ruin eating plans. Meetings interfere with gym time. Projects turn into cancelled doctor appointments. At what point will we, as a society, start to recognise that without our health, we wouldn’t be able to perform those jobs we hold in such high standards. Why is it we can be so dedicated to a job but we don’t value our own well being?

After having our repeat conversation, my client said to me “My job is so much easier than taking care of myself. Taking care of me is a long term commitment!” That seems to be the common theme with some of my clients. It takes time and effort to lose weight/get flexibility/rehab an injury. Gratification isn’t instantaneous. Could this be the real issue?

After giving it some thought, I’ve realised that it comes down to the difference between external and internal gratification. Doing well at your job brings status, monetary benefits, promotions etc. People tell you what a great job you do. People look up to those who excel at their profession. But what does taking care of your own health do? Eating well, exercising, stretching, keeping up on your doctors appointments: these can only bring about internal gratification. You feel good. Yet some put so little value on just feeling healthy and alive.

What is the cost of this lack of value in your own health? As we work our long days, sitting at desks eating take-out food again, do you think your job cares that you are obese? That your blood pressure is high? Will your job be as important when you have to start chemo because you put your mammogram off just one more time?

Unfortunately, most people only worry about their health when this is already compromised which in a lot of cases is too late. So what is the solution? I wish there was an easy answer to that. It’s really about changing the mindset of what is valuable to you. What is most important in your life? If you make your health and wellbeing a priority, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful in your career. In fact, you’ll probably be more successful and more importantly, happy.