Fitness Quest is a weekly column in which the journey of losing 90 pounds is chronicled online in hopes of helping other people as well as providing a catalyst for motivation. This week’s column features an interview with professional personal trainer Mike Patota.

How can someone who is stuck at home all the time get in shape at home? How could someone build competitiveness into workouts?

For home type workouts, the best thing you can do in my opinion is finding some time to either run outside, or picking up a kettlebell and finding a challenge like KB swings or something to that nature that will allow you to post your progress. I don’t usually write home workouts for people and I cringe when I get asked that. Here is the problem, when you go outside or to the gym, you’re there for a reason, at home you have too many distractions. If you can get yourself focused enough to do a true workout at home that’s amazing but it doesn’t usually work that way. The art is trying to find time, there’s always time.

Fitbit has been helpful. Do you believe that tools like this have a psychological effect?

You’re able to see what you’re doing you get to track your progress. Rather than wondering if what you’re doing is really working you get to see that it does and on some running apps and devices allows you to see where you stack up against your friends and complete strangers. We’re all naturally competitive so these things so it is definitely psychological.

Do you think that any products out there like Fitbit are a universal solution?

It’s a definite step in the right direction for most people. Unfortunately there is no “one size fits all” solution. I think running long distance and walking is a pretty good start for people who do nothing but ultimately a combination of strength and some cardio tends to be best.

What is more important: eating healthy or exercising?

Diet will always be #1. Eating awful and doing a lot of exercise is like trying to swim against a strong current. Most people won’t get to where they’re going and the few that do will struggle greatly.

Why should people avoid Planet Fitness in their search for a gym?

Aside from them encouraging you to not reaching your goals under the guise of being “judgement free” while tearing apart “lunks” aka people who attained their goals.

I have a problem with the pizza nights. The gyms pack up with people who don’t even use the facility to chow down on all you can eat pizza. Same thing with the bagel mornings.

I feel like this place had a really good idea of what they should do and completely ruined it. At most of the gyms you can’t deadlift or shoulder press. Those are important moves in building strength and building that body that everybody wants.

I think that gym could be good one day, but for people aspiring to learn, become very healthy, and in shape, they offer more opportunities to not do that at all while encouraging you to be average.

As a personal trainer, what are the biggest pitfalls and obstacles you see your clients falling prey to?

Lying to me and themselves about what they eat while I’m not standing outside their kitchen window holding a gun mouthing “DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT”

But seriously, every client I’ve ever had has the same diet according to them. They eat “nothing but fruit and vegetables, meat no bread or pasta”. Which sounds amazing except for the fact that they’re lying.

Personal trainers don’t ask what you eat so that they can yell at you, we do it to find out what’s wrong and to help provide course corrections. The longer they lie to us the longer they lie to themselves and continue to eat their “perfect diet”.

This is why I have my own page, I know how people eat, I write everything I do knowing what they’re eating and not eating.

In the past, I have had some success with Weight Watchers and have lost up to 40 pounds. Then I hit a wall. When that happens, I find excuses to stop (“I’ll just take one day off”, “This plan is really expensive,” etc.). What do I have to do to get past that wall?

I was on weight watchers as well way back in the day. It’s amazing for promoting how you should eat and giving you incentives to workout. The  not counting points against fruit and vegetables, that’s incredible. The problem is the fact it’s kind of a broken system. It does work, but it can also turn some people into lunatics with what they eat and causes some to keep eating less and less.

The key is the quality of food you eat. You should never be hungry for periods of time or irritable. Load up on the fruit and vegetables.

What basic fitness and health tips do you have for some who is just getting started?

In general about a gallon of water every day, nothing else unless it’s green tea. Try this for at least a month, give it an honest try and tell me what happens.

For fitness. You should hire a trainer. Don’t take tips from your bud who thinks he knows what he’s doing because the program he got off worked for him. Every body is different and provides it’s own challenges. The more you can learn from a trainer the better off you will be independently.

If you can’t afford that, try to find 5 hours for the week to do at least some kind of activities in.

Finally, if you have any health advice or anything you would like to add, please do!

Read books, it’s the best thing you can do. Guys like Robb Wolf, Dan John, and Mike Boyle are great sources of info.

My page has a never ending source of info, I always try to write to the novice-intermediate type of lifters and dieters.

Starting weight: 278
Current weight 260.3