How I Improve My Client's Nutrition Habits Without Making Them Hate Life
It’s that time of year again. As the weather gets warmer and the skirts get shorter, more and more people are focused on dropping some el bees. (That’s lbs for the uninitiated).
Naturally, fat loss is somewhat more of a focus just prior to the summer for most people, and my clients are no different. Given that a good many people have common goals, I frequently find myself answering the same questions and covering a lot of similar stuff throughout the weeks leading up to July 4th Weekend.
With that in mind, and in an effort to help everyone drop just a few more pounds before the Big Reveal, I wanted to give a little insight into how I deal with my clients with regard to fat loss goals.
One of the biggest things I touch on is diet, of course. Now, obviously, it should go without saying that single biggest factor in weight loss is what you’re putting into your body.
However, since I’m an overly verbose person, I don’t let anything go without saying, so listen up: The single most important factor in reaching your fitness goals is changing your diet.
There. Said it.
Before I discuss my clients specifically, a few words about dieting (and diets) in general. Dieting sucks, but a lot of diets are actually pretty decent.
Frankly, there are a lot of great diets out there, and most of them work at least passably well. The main thing is that you actually have to follw them. Obviously, you already know that. Everyone knows that.
Still, there is a difference between knowing a thing and doing it. And the getting going on the doing is the real trick. One of the hardest aspects of starting any diet is really the transitional aspects of it. Those major changes that you have to incorporate into your life in order to make the diet work.
But, again, you knew that.
Now that we’ve gotten the redundancy out of the way, let’s move on to something a bit more ‘real’ — practicality.
You go from eating like a regular person to eating like an insane one.
The beginning phase of most diets looks like this:
SUNDAY: Bagel and coffee, maybe some juice. Later on a sandwich. For dinner some chicken cutlets and fries.
MONDAY: 1/2 cup oatmeal and 5 almonds. Then 3/4 cup cottage cheese and a small apple. Then a protein shake. Then grilled salmon and steamed asparagus.
WEDNESDAY: 1/2 cup oatmeal and 5 almonds. Then 3/4 cup cottage cheese and a small apple. Then a protein shake. Then grilled salmon and steamed asparagus. Wait, you sauteed the asparagus? WTF!? That’s never gonna work. Throw it out, you just ruined your whole diet.
THURSDAY: I hate my life.
Not exactly what I would call “user friendly.”
As much as I like a lot of the diets on the market now, I honestly don’t believe that vast majority of them are livable for people coming from a ‘regular’ place.
For someone who is trying to lose weight for maybe the first time ever, just the decision to go on a diet may have been a big deal for them. And then they have some jackass with a six pack telling them that they have been poisoning their body for 20 years and they need to change every aspect of their life if they don’t want to die of a heart attack in the next 7 minutes.
Well, outside of the extreme douche-baggery inherent in that approach, I think it fails because it simply is not reasonable for most people to make that level of change for any length of time.
It looks a little something like this.
When I start with a client, I have them keep a food log for about two weeks. During this time, as we meet during our training sessions I ask the occasional probing question about their food intake and general nutrition. At the same time, I talk a bit about what I do for my own diet.
Over the course of this two week time frame, they are keeping this log and getting great workouts, so they are losing weight. Encouraged by they, they push even harder.
At the end of the two week period, I ask to see the food log, and I simply say, “Okay, let’s go over this. We’re going to find 5 things that you know you shouldn’t be doing.”
Let me qualify this by saying that I truly believe that for the most part people know a lot about what they should and shouldn’t be eating on their diets to lose fat. Most people just need to get called out on it.
When I ask them to go throug the log with me and pick out mistakes, people are always a bit surprised; they come in thinking that I am going to point out little things and try to convince them they need to give up carbs. Instead, the onus is on them to point out things they’re doing wrong. Things they ALREADY know they’re doing wrong. By making them part of the process, I help educate them and make it more likely that the changes they will make to their habits will stick.
So, we go through the log and pick out a few mistakes. Usually there are more than 5, but let’s start small.
Then, I say, “Okay, now all you need to do is stop THREE out of these 5 things for the next two weeks, and you’ll start losing a lot more weight a lot faster than you have been already. Just three. You can keep doing the others.”
A lot of times people are so shocked that I am letting them keep some bad behavior that they respond with, “What? No, I can stop all five!” Which is, of course, the point.
Getting people to want to prove they can make the changes–and have it be there idea–will always be more effective than having to convince people to make those same changes on your terms.
So I tell them, “I’ll tell you what. I think you can probably go pretty hard. Let’s try all five changes. In two weeks, we’ll replace those five bad habits with five things you need to start doing, and those things will help you lose even more”
People leave the gym psyched, ready to re-commit themselves to their nutrition plan; because of the dedication and acumen, they make incredible progress.
In addition, I’m setting up a series of small goals and milestones that they can reach while they are losing weight. Whenever they hit one, they are rewarded with new information that will help them take it a step further.
Over six weeks, my clients learn to make 10 small changes, and the result is an average of 13 pounds of fat loss in that time frame. It might not be as impressive as they guy who loses 30 pounds in his first week on the Grapefruit and Baking Soda topped with Maple Syrup mixed with Cayenne Pepper Diet, but it is certainly more livable.
With this method, my newer clients are educated slowly while losing fat quickly, all while making changes they can manage for the long term.