Why I Quit Being (Just) a Personal Trainer: It’s (Not) All About Food

We are a nation obsessed with dieting, numbers, and measuring. Some of us, like me, inherited this from our mothers. Some of us fell (and continue to fall) prey to the media touting this or that latest diet that will bring us eternal contentment – and a great body. I mean one of the most popular fitness programs today is boldly posting your “zone” (against the person next to you) while you are exercising. Isn’t that encouraging? Think this company is onto something?

As Americans, we love to count, measure and compare. We count calories, macros, pounds, and inches. We measure our waistline, our pant and dress size, our bank accounts, houses and cars  – all in comparison to those around us. We just can’t help ourselves.

And no surprise, 99.9% of the 1,500 clients I’ve seen count calories. They’ve been barraged with so much misinformation about calorie counting by the government, the media, and from marketers worldwide. The calorie count is on the label of (almost) every food we eat.



Yet, most people do not understand the science of food and how it affects our weight.

So now you can see yet another reason I stopped being just a personal trainer. (I am still a personal trainer. Now, I work with women who crave real health and wellness, longevity, and contentment with their bodies, not just a hard workout.)

I am on a crusade to help women find lasting wellness with a holistic approach – one that is not all about the calories burned on your wearable device nor how much sweat you produced in an individual workout. Finding wellness is an individual journey where we search for the right strategies and tools that fuel us – not the person next to us or on a social media post – and not an approach that takes away, yet one that adds.



Many women are stuck believing cutting calories will directly result in weight loss. (Add to that the required pool of sweat, and the heart rate elevating, and you have what they believe is a recipe for weight loss success.)

You can thank Dr. Lulu Hunt Peters, the doctor known as the “The Queen of Calories” because she wrote the first diet book. Single-handedly, she created the concept that thin is beautiful (originally introduced for Hollywood actresses of the time) and that counting calories is the key to losing weight and to being thin – and yes, beautiful.

So we have cutting, thin, and beautiful all in the same concept. And it stuck. A reductionist approach to your diet, and frankly your life, has been the “norm” since Peters. With Peters, the weight of our bodies moved from being a health issue to one of beauty. Our “diet” shifted from meaning the “foods one ate” to a restrictive regimen aimed at reduction.

In her book, Diet and Health and Key to the Calories, Peters included beauty suggestions next to weight-loss tips, attributing attractiveness with thinness. She believed dieting required perseverance and discipline. While previous health writers emphasized particular diets for health, vitality, and/or long life, few made aesthetic connections between food, thinness, and beauty. After Peters, a svelte figure was an attractive one; after all, “no one wants to be overweight,” she said. Obviously, this message took a hold of Hollywood.

What does it mean to your body when you restrict calories, then indulge, then restrict, then indulge? You ultimately gain it all back, just like the large percentage of Americans who yo-yo diet every year. What does it mean when you lose weight, then gain it back?

The answer isn’t good. Both are stressful on your body, which is already busy fending off the stress of what it takes to live in our urban society today. We have people who need us, work stress, traffic, health, and money concerns, and so much more. Add to that a reductionist approach to your diet and you have a stressed-out brain and body – which will hold onto the excess weight because it is fending off the stress you’ve already place on it. Add to that your fitful sleep because your brain is stressed, and your brain holds onto the excess weight you so desperately want to lose.

Next week, I’ll be talking about what you can do that has nothing to do with food, yet is key to helping so many of my clients lose weight and feel better about themselves. It costs no money and yet so few women are using it. So, stay tuned! If you’ve been stuck in the yo-yo dieting cycle, or lose weight just to gain it back again, you can book a 30 minute consult with me here.



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Adrien founded Fitness on the Run in 2004 out of her home after a successful career in policy and public affairs communications. After spending 15 years developing her own personal definition of wellness and watching thousands struggle with theirs, in January 2019 Adrien founded Alexandria Wellness, the home for the Concierge Wellness Program and Corporate Wellness with Adrien Cotton. Over the course of 15 years, “FOR” was home to more than 2,000 clients, 30 instructors, and hundreds of inspirational success stories. Adrien is now, more-than-ever, passionate about helping women view their fitness as a journey, not a quick fix. Adrien’s recipe for success herself has evolved from a rigid training plan of sweaty and heart pumping workouts to some days getting in her 10,000 steps, consciously breathing, her 7.5 hours of sleep, and her beloved 5-Minute Flow. Adrien believes the most important ingredient is making small changes for big results, even if it’s one new habit formed each month. Still passionate about fitness, Adrien’s clients appreciate her ability to make sessions seriously challenging without a “beat down,” a healthy mix of strength and metabolic (cardio) work and ultimately helping her clients gain real strength in mind and body. She believes we all benefit from being curious about our bodies and that change, or improvement, is within reach despite what your “inner voice” or others may tell you. Adrien is bubbling with excitement to help women learn the importance of a comprehensive approach to wellness, weight loss, and contentedness with yourself, and that every person has the right to feel good about themselves. Most days, you can find her helping clients with their wellness, listening to success stories, and bragging about her twin 13-year-old children and “fittest man in Alexandria” Bill Cotton. Adrien prides herself on her practice of mindfulness, meditation, and putting it all into perspective.

Alexandria Wellness offers achievable answers for anyone who is tired of chasing fitness and health without a clear plan, someone who has struggled and is not satisfied with their fitness and wellness or someone who is open to maximized healthful longevity and fitness along with healthful weight loss. Adrien and her team offer help with food guidance, body acceptance, sleep and stress issues, and insist you have fun along the way.

Schedule your free 30 minute consult here!


Alexandria Wellness
215 North Payne Street
Alexandria, VA 22314




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