lifestyle choices

Lifestyle choices for trainers – standing on the tracks

Lifestyle choices advice from Neill Friedman, article by Kay Buckby.

These are my thoughts following Neill Friedman’s excellent session to our network group in June 2017.

I met Neill in December 2016, and was immediately struck by his energy, knowledge, and passion for nutrition. I was delighted when he said he would run a session for our members.

Trainers lifestyles can be a challenge to a healthy lifestyle:

  • Time on the road can mean early starts and late finishes. Keeping food fresh can be challenging, and relying on buying the food you want is not always an option
  • Delegates see training events as a treat, so the biscuits, cakes, chocolates and carbohydrate heavy buffets are all part of the trainers normal lifestyle choice
  • Fitting in exercise goals as part of a diary that changes weekly can be challenging.

I have known someone new to training put on a stone in weight within 12 months!

Neill promised us a talk that would challenge our habits, and he certainly did that!

More than two thousand years ago, the Greek physician and father of medicine, Hippocrates, said, “A wise man ought to realise that health is his most valuable possession”. This quote is just as true today as it was back then. Without health, the basic activities of life are restricted, or prohibited entirely.

Neill focused on making different lifestyle choices to these four areas of our life:


  • Stop smoking
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Eat a healthy diet, and
  • Build exercise into your lifestyle.
  1. Stop Smoking – get help from your Dr, use patches, do whatever you need to do, but stop smoking.
  1. Drink alcohol in moderation – it is better to have one small glass of red wine every evening, rather than drinking three glasses on a Friday evening.
  1. Eat a healthy diet – Neill advocated the 80/20 ‘Pareto’ rule for eating. Eat healthy choices 80% of the time and leave the treats for the other 20%.

If not, when we have a restricted food choice we are more likely to crave the desired food.

Neill works with each individual to design their unique nutrition plan, as each of us has different objectives, needs and lifestyles to account for. I loved his approach of having a ‘feed’ day once you have achieved a mini-goal, a milestone on the way to your larger goal – the one day when you can indulge yourself with some treats. In Neill’s experience, this helps maintain our motivation towards changing eating habits.

His bottom line was not to go on a diet, but to change eating habits. There is no such thing as a bad meal, just regular bad habits. It is what you do on average that matters.

  1. Exercise – Neill explained the difference between outcomes and process goal setting.

Outcomes goals are where we become so obsessed with the results, that we can forget about the process that will get us there. The very thing that initially motivated you to start taking action can end up programming you into a negative mindset.

For instance, if your outcome goal is to lose 20 pounds you become obsessed with “I need to lose 20 pounds.” or “I won’t be happy until I have lost 20 pounds.”.

The problem with outcome goals is there are many things outside our control which may affect the results, so instead start to value results over the process.

Process goals are much smaller changes to your lifestyle, such as being able to hold a yoga pose and breathe perfectly in the moment; walk for 20 minutes per day for 5 days a week, or swim three days a week for 30 minutes per session. They are bite sized, manageable, and within our control.

So small differences to lifestyle choices can add up to one very big difference.

  1. Stop smoking
  2. Drink alcohol in moderation
  3. Eat a healthy diet, and
  4. Build exercise into your lifestyle.

Neill spoke from qualification, experience and authority, and used case studies and research. His metaphor was that if someone you respected suggested you get off the train tracks, would you? Watch this near miss:


The session has already enabled one member to make changes to their daily lifestyle choices:

“I thought the meeting was great, especially Neill’s presentation.  He actually got me exercising again at the weekend!”

Kieron Murphy

Random Elements Limited

Neill can be contacted here 






One comment

  • Kay that is a super blog post and a great summary of my presentation.
    Keep up the great work with The Trainers Network Northamptonshire. I look forward to seeing you all again soon.

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