THE BACK STORY:
Watching someone’s fitness journey is exhilarating.
While I followed Kerri around and listened to her talk with sincerity and respect about herself and her clients, I couldn’t help coming away feeling good about myself. She is empowered to make a difference. She not only has her own health journey to focus on, but the health of her clients as a personal trainer. She’s the kind of trainer that will lift you up, really listen to you, and push you forward.
When I first met Kerri, she has was pregnant and had just become a personal trainer. Now she is working towards her own fitness goals and has helped hundreds of lives. I love her passion for hard work and goal setting. I love that one of her favorite qualities about herself is friendship. She’s candid and dedicated and working on a life-balance just like the rest of us. She’s a mom, a personal trainer, and knows that we only grow when we fail.
Kerri is joining my community of Dynamos. This is a series dedicated to showing real people, real power-houses, who inspire me and people around them in their healthy living. You might not always think you do, but I believe that we all influence others more than we realize or recognize. That inspiration is empowering for others and ourselves. I believe in the good of every person and I believe that these stories can change our outlook, our personal dedication, and our perception of the people around us. Only through coming together can we move forward in love, acceptance, and power.
Introducing, Dynamo Kerri.
Have you always wanted to be a trainer?
I went to BYU for an exercise science degree because I thought I wanted to own a taekwondo studio. I got the opportunity to do so my freshman year and that quickly destroyed all love I ever had to for it. I ended up graduating with this exercise science degree and certification as a health fitness specialist that I didn’t really have any idea what I was going to use or have desire for. I never wanted to be a personal trainer. I thought that was a bunch of “meat-heads” who liked sports and didn’t know what else to do with their lives.
So I was tinkering around with the idea of becoming a cardiac rehab specialist and for most of the jobs that I was looking for, they needed at least a year of personal training experience. So I actually interviewed for the job here thinking this is the in-between job before I find my grown-up job that I actually want to do. I thought I was going to hate it here. Within two months I was absolutely sure I didn’t want to do anything else. I realized that many of my clients needed someone like me, who wasn’t doing is just because I had nothing else to do, even though that’s kinda how I started, but it was because I had the same experience. So there was a level of empathy I could give them. They could actually see me yo-yo-ing in and out. Six weeks after having my daughter Lizzy, I was the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life, almost 200 lbs. So I decided to put my money where my mouth is and put myself on the same program I put all my clients on. Apparently it works.
It’s funny, some of my clients will come to me and say, “Kerri, I totally messed up this week.” I’ll say, “Okay, tell me what happened.” They’ll tell me what happened and I’ll giggle at them and say, “I did the same thing this week.”
What do you love about yourself?
If there’s one thing that I’ve always been confident in myself, it’s my ability to be a friend and empathize. I definitely feel like with a very very close friend of mine, I had known this person for my whole life really, and I remember him coming out to me, “this is really hard for me to say, but I struggle with same-sex attraction.” It was a really tough tough time for him. He was 18 and a member of the church. He was afraid that I was going to shun him, ostracize him. I remember not feeling any differently about hearing that. I have definitely had friends in the past tell me things that they’ve done that they’re really not proud of and that they have lost friends over. They are still them to me.
Has this weight loss journey you are currently on has made you a happier person?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions about weight loss is that once you get to your goal, everything will be better. That’s part of the reason some of my clients (and myself) go on yo-yo dieting phases in their lives. They think there’s an automatic weight that they’re going to be happy. I think one of the reasons I’ve been successful this time is because I decided beforehand that I was happy with my life. I have a gorgeous daughter, a really supportive husband, and a job that I love.
What is one of your greatest struggles right now?
The biggest struggles I have is finding a balance and feeling guilty about it. For example, I am a working mom and with this job I can really decide how much I work. I feel like I have this catch 22 situation where I want to focus on myself and get to my goals, but that takes time from being with my daughter. It also takes time from things that can be with my clients, taking on more people, helping more people. When I’m with my clients I think I could be working out right now and focusing on myself or on my nutrition or I could be with my daughter. Usually I don’t feel guilty with I’m with my daughter, but I do think I could help out with our expenses by working more. So there’s this, no matter how much I’m spending each place, I’m feeling guilty about something else. I think as long as Lizzy knows I love her and that my husband knows I love him and would give up anything for him, I’m probably on the right track.
Do you have someone you look up to in the fitness world?
For my own fitness, it would have to be my clients. There’s a two way street. For Thanksgiving, I promised my client that I would be calorie deficit. That’s the first time I’ve ever been calorie deficit on Thanksgiving. And it was because of my client.
How was your FIRST day as a trainer?
My degree from BYU is in exercise science, but you also need national certifications to be a trainer. I had ACSM, though it is very well respected in the health and fitness community certification, both that and the degree were based in the physiology. I knew what was going on inside your cells when you exercise, but I had no practical application. My first day here as a trainer, my client took me to do TRX. I had never seen it before but because I had no practical application, I thought I was being really smart and told her she’s my trainer today. She’s like, “great, I want to do TRX.” I said, “what’s that?” So she takes me into the functional training area and I had to get another trainer to help me set it up because I’d never seen it before. It was just these weird little straps that we were using. I said, “okay, what did your trainer you had have you do before?” She said, “they’re called crocodiles.” She shows me this weird thing with her arms. I was supposed to lift my whole body up with that weird movement and she started going at it like it was nothing. I tried once and I failed. I almost cried.
I decided to fake it till I made it. I did a bunch of study on my own. I shadowed a lot of trainers. I decided it would be a great idea to make the highest level of commission I could get if I was going to work here. So I got the NASM, certified personal trainer and weight loss specialist. I blew through those in about two months, normally it takes about six. Because I had the degree and the ACSM, I now could apply it. Once I had my NASM, then I knew both what was happening inside the body AND could make it happen.
What’s the root cause of excuses people give you?
In the training business we talk about our clients excuses all the time. I think what is most important for trainers and clients to realize is that most of their “excuses” are actually them putting importance in something other than themselves. They don’t feel, for some reason or another, that they are important enough to invest in. It’s so much easier to say that “I need to take so-and-so here” and “I have to do this-that-and-the-other because that’s more important than me.” I think this is the root cause of excuses.
Can you tell me about strength and weight training?
The greatest success you have is failure in the weight room because the goal with weights is to try to cause trauma to your muscles. Once you’ve caused that trauma, during your rest, it can rebuild. It’s using the nutrition you take in to rebuild itself. Your body can’t afford to send the nutrition to storage, which is body fat. When you get your body to the point of failure, you’re sending that work order to your stomach, to say, “I need to rebuild, don’t store right now.” The same goes for body builders. As they get to failure, that’s why their muscles get bigger.
The definition of strength is you’re working a certain muscle at least 60% of it’s one rep max. The most you can possibly do with one rep and then you fail.
To get to the body fat percentage you want, train like a bodybuilder. To get small, you have to train like you’re building.
I love when people say, “I love how this hurts so good” because it means I know at that point they’re going to reach their goal.
What’s a hard part about your job?
The concept of “you can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” There is a point that I can motivate people and then a point where they just put up a wall and I can’t break through. Sometimes I have to sit those clients down and say, “it might be better if you didn’t keep spending your money on me. It’s not that I don’t want to help you, you’re just not in the place.” It’s a really hard conversation to have! Most of the time when I have that conversation it’s hard for me because I know that I’m losing them. I feel like I’m losing a friend. Most of the time they say, “I’ve been thinking about that and I think you’re right.” I’ve never had anyone feel offended or outed, they feel like it’s caring. It’s expensive and I can’t afford to give it for free. I don’t want them to spend a dollar a minute on me if I’m not helping them.
Do you have a go-to prescription for food that you tell your clients?
As a trainer, I’m not actually qualified to be a nutrition expert for them. What I do is put them on nutritionally certified software to find out how many calories they burn in a day and from there set a goal for how many calories they need. For the beginning, all I care about is calories and that they’re logging all of it. They have to look themselves in the mirror and say this is how much I’m eating. Most of the time from there they don’t like looking at a food log day after day after day that says pizza and soda so they tend to change it on their own just by keeping themselves accountable.
Once they get really good at staying within a calorie range, then all I talk about is proteins, carbs, and fats. They can fit whatever foods they want into that protein, carb, fat ratio. I’ll show them some of my own where I’ve actually had a perfect protein, carb, and fat day for my plan using pie, and pizza, and unhealthy foods, but it fits in there for now. They’re never changing what they eat until they’re ready. I want to teach portioning and not have people feel like they are cutting anything out yet. Most of my clients have gotten there if they’ve gotten to their goal, that’s because they like being in the weight room because they’ve felt the benefit in getting to their goal, even with the unhealthy food. And then they start trying healthy foods and they see how much better it is. It’s kinda the line upon line. I just need them to get to their goal and then maintain it. Really pizza and soda isn’t the problem, it’s the amount that they’re eating, generally.
I find that if they simply know what’s going into their body, they will take the steps they’re ready to take at the level they’re ready for. Rather than me saying I think they should step up. Making it their own program makes it something they can take on and not need me for.
What are 3 goals you have right now?
- Get to my goal of under 22% body fat by Valentine’s Day.
- Do a triathlon at Hagg Lake.
- Finish the Old Testament by the time my daughter turns 1.
My goal for this year after I get to my goal body fat percentage is to do a triathlon. I’m not doing the sprint, I’m doing the olympic. Not because I want to be a triathlon person, but maybe I will be. I hear that after the first it kinda bites you. It might. I just want to do something hard. I thrive on that.
I’ve lost 40 lbs in the last 4 months. I’ve been using metabolic armband to track my steps. I try to go 10,000 steps a day.
When something’s hard and you don’t want to do it, what do you tell yourself?
I go back to “if you don’t feel like praying, pray until you do.” I do the same thing with logging my food, weightlifting, and cardio. If I don’t feel like doing it, I’ll do it until I do and if the motivation doesn’t come, I know that eventually it will.
What advice would you give to someone ready to make the next step in their fitness?
The best piece of advice I can give people who are ready to start any fitness journey is “own it.” The best way to own it is to log what they’re doing. Whether that be through a calendar, just that there’s some sort of record of what they’re doing. It doesn’t have to be a food log, but a record of the workouts they’re doing and a record of how they change their food.
Do you have a mantra that you repeat to your clients?
Failure is your greatest success. It’s not just for the weight room because it’s building up muscle, but it kinda goes back to we’re here on this Earth to learn. Any failure you have, you’re learning something. One of the best quotes I’ve ever heard in my life is, “Success is not for those that quail, but for those that fail. And then with courage twice as great, take issue once again with fate.” Whether you’re trying to lift a weight in the weightroom and you hit complete muscle fatigue or if you completely binged on cosmic brownies all weekend, picking yourself up makes you stronger.
To read more about Kerri’s story, documented from the beginning of her weight loss journey, and get helpful tips for your own journey, go to her blog Lose Right.