ArticlesBehavior Change Psychology

3 Steps To Easily Overcome Why Your Client Can’t Stick To Their Diet

By January 29, 2021February 4th, 2021No Comments

Join ranks with the creme-de-la-creme of coaches and confidently know you do 90% MORE for your clients than almost everyone else out there…

Have you ever wondered why some clients get incredible results with us…while others just always seem to struggle? It can drive us crazy, especially when we 100% know that we give every client the same amount of support…the same detailed feedback…the same strategies and customization…yet it feels like we just can’t quite break through to some as easily as others?

Well…what if I told you that once you understand exactly how to access a little-hidden gem that is rarely used as an asset in coaching (let alone a strategy!), that you will be able to guarantee results for anyone you work with. Plus…by using this as the foundation of your nutrition programming moving forward? You’ll never hit a client roadblock again that you won’t feel equipped to move through.

So what is this rarity?

It’s actually not rare at all. It’s a little something called our PERSONALITY…aka: your new secret weapon to achieving true mastery with your clients in session (and with your own mind as well). And in this article we’re going to explore what it really is and how to use it to guarantee success for every client you work with (plus grow a little yourself in the process 🤫)


What It Takes To Succeed At Predictably Changing Your Clients Relationship With Food…

Think about it like this for a second.

When you strip away all our nutrition knowledge and coaching “protocols”…our customized programming…our bonus macro guides or recipe pdfs, our accountability, etc…what are we left with? Us…and them. Two humans collaboratively working to achieve a goal. Their goal. The thing is, when we rely on those things^^ to get to their goal? We’re skipping over the very foundation of mastering predictable change. It’s as if we willingly traded in our AK47 for a handgun with one bullet. And this risky game of russian roulette we’re playing? Means we have to be pretty lucky to unload that single bullet on the first try.

I mean, sure. Sometimes we pull the trigger and the bullet hits the target easily and effortlessly. But more often than not, we are left pulling the trigger over and over and over again trying to find something that “works”, am I right? And a lot of the time, when we fail to find anything that works to keep our client on track, committed, accountable or focused on doing the things they need to do? We feel like we’re failing them…and they feel like they’re failing us.

But. Is our bullet (read: our plan) really to blame? Or is there a way to always come to the table fully loaded? Well, when we look deeper into what the true issue is…we can see that even the best plan in the world wouldn’t work if the client can’t stick to it, right? That much is obvious. But if you take this one step further still…the reason the client can’t stick to it extends much deeper than simply layering on another accountability check in or “mindset hack”.

Our Clients Brains Are Hardwired To Fail

Basically, there are conditioned patterns deep in their psyche that keeps them stuck in a loop of thinking, feeling and behaving in very specific (often predictable) ways when it comes to food and the way they have learned to use it.

To come to the table “fully loaded”, then (or in other words, to be able to guarantee that even when the external plan “fails”, they will still see radical change 100% of the time)…means your approach must extend as deep as those patterns we’re trying to change. You can’t swim with the sharks, after all, by tanning on the beach.


By understanding the way your clients view the world, the meanings they attach to what’s happening around them (including you and your program) and how to evoke change there – in the deepest parts of their subconscious – is how I have been able to transform eating patterns of hundreds of clients without ever really talking about food at all. This is how you turn your nutrition program from “the entire plan” to simply the amplifier of a much deeper plan. One where the shifts taking place are occurring in their identity.

Accessing The Untapped 90%

Before we start to break down exactly what it is you need to do with your clients to evoke deeper change, I’d first like to help you see how limited we have been up until this point with the plans we’ve been writing and the way we have been coaching.

If you look at this pie chart 👇

You will see a small 10% slice indicating where we are “traditionally” trained to focus with our clients. This piece encompasses things like check-ins, customized plans, accountability, community, training programs…basically anything and everything you give them to help them make a different choice than they one they are currently making, or rather ↣ take a different ACTION.

However, you can see that there is a much larger area that we could be using to help our clients reach this same outcome faster, and much more permanently.

This 90% represents three core things:

  1. Our hidden subconscious triggers and the meanings we automatically attach to each scenario we find ourselves in
    (ie: imagine a house full of screaming kids, and thinking this means that you’re a bad mom who doesn’t have her shit together)
  2. The beliefs and thoughts we have about the situation and/or ourselves (i.e. “it’s impossible to take care of myself)
  3. The emotions we feel because of those ^^ thoughts (i.e. stress, anxiety, frustration, loneliness)

And it’s because of this ^ automatic pathway that we know what action to take (i.e. reaching for the ice cream sitting in her freezer after the kids finally go to bed)

Or more simply illustrated:



But the thing is, this is a pre-programmed pathway in your brain that runs automatically the millisecond your brain attaches that meaning to the triggering event. Which means (and this is massively important, so pay close attention):

Anything you do to change her decision to eat ice cream that doesn’t directly shift something at either the trigger, thought or emotion level is ALWAYS a temporary solution (aka: everything you’re traditionally trained to give them or do with them to elicit a different decision or action is not going to work long term). Unless you ALSO shift something in her at a deeper level, the pathway will never cease to exist, and she will continue to have the internal desire to cope with food under stressful situations.

So then, the next obvious question is, of course: how do we do this? How do we shift her trigger, thought or emotional reaction to the situation?

But before we venture into the how, there’s one more layer to this that we need to look at. The fastest way to access what is triggering someone, and their thoughts and feelings about it is to gain access to their core identity (or personality) as they relate to food, themselves, and the world around them. Afterall, if we don’t fully understand WHO we’re dealing with, how are we supposed to change them?


What Is A “Personality”, Really Tho?

When I say “personality”, what words come to mind? Maybe things like: outgoing, funny, shy, introverted, loud, excitable?

Now what about if you hear me say “identity”? Maybe you think of things that are important to you, your values and morals, what you like or don’t like, your beliefs, things like that?

Okay…now what if I said “ego”? 🤢🤢

What comes up for most people here is this idea of being self-centered, arrogant, or narcissistic even. We have been conditioned to attach a negative connotation to the word and what it means when we “have an ego”.

But the truth? Is that we all have an ego all of the time. In fact, your personality, your identity and your ego are all one in the same.

They are simply a cumulation of the meanings that you attach to the things you think, the beliefs you have, the emotions you feel, the environments you’re in, the people you’re around, the core needs you have and how you relate to all of it.

Our brain is a meaning-making-machine, nothing more. The way we know the colour blue is “blue” is because we were taught that it is so. Just like we learned that when someone interrupts you that “they are rude” or when the scale goes up “I am fat”. The tricky part is that most of the world operates completely blind to this fact. They believe every single thought they think, even though these thoughts are often subconscious patterns that hold no real truth or weight in the bigger picture.

For example, where our nutrition clients are concerned, a common thought might be: “I’m so stressed, I just need a little pick-me-up (aka: sugar)”

But is this thought really true?

Or have they simply been conditioned to cope with stress by eating sugar for a quick dopamine hit in the brain?

Don’t get me wrong, that sure feels good temporarily. But when it comes to helping our clients cut out their cravings and reach their goals, might it be more helpful to explore what it was that TRIGGERED the thought “I am stressed” rather than stack their nutrition plan with “guilt free treats” and extra accountability check ins?

100% of the time.


Help Them Out Of Their Armor

I hope this is all making a tonne of logical sense, but putting it into practice can often feel a little…intangible, right? That’s because it is. We can’t track or measure someone’s identity, or their rate of change here…we don’t have metrics to follow or industry standards to reference. But that’s what makes it so worthwhile and fun! When you strip away the black-and-white thinking we’re so used to operating within, you learn to rely on connection and communication as cornerstones to your coaching programs more so than any tactic or strategy your certification taught you.

But to be clear, you can’t just add the question “tell me about your identity” to your intake form and think that’s gonna give you what you need. Remember – most of what makes people “tick” happens entirely subconsciously (“Who are you?” is one of the hardest questions to answer, afterall) Which means that if we want to create really powerful change with every client we work with? We need to get comfortable doing a little digging in the beginning. Here’s where to start ⇣

Identity is very intricate. So to make it simple, I’ve chunked it down into the 5 most important areas you’ll want to be on the lookout for inside of your consultations and coaching sessions. This is the same pathway we went through already, just in a little more detail as we prepare to access areas of change opportunity:

  1. The associations that are made between something OUTSIDE of them (another person, object, environment or situation) and what that MEANS to them because of their previous experience with it (ie) My boss seems irritated with me today, I must have done something wrong.
  2. The beliefs they have about themselves and the world around them (ie) My boss always needs to be pleased with me and my work
  3. The invisible “rules” they live by because they hold those ^^ beliefs (ie) Stay late to show him that I am a valuable asset to the team and to feel recognized
  4. The thoughts they habitually have about themselves and food due to the associations their brain is making (see #1)…ie:I hate not knowing what he is thinking, did I do something wrong? What if he fires me, I can’t lose this job, I’m already so stressed financially, What should I do? Etc…
  5. The habitual emotional reactions they have to these thoughts (emotion is one of the most powerful parts of our identity that drives our actions. But remember — there cannot be an emotion without there first being a thought that triggered it…ie: Anxious, nervous, unfocused, and irritable)

AND THEN the resulting action: Maybe she eats 2 doughnuts left in the staffroom…or grabs takeout on the way home because she’s so “tired” from running mental and emotional marathons all day long.

This is a very simple, yet common, example that you will likely come across in your own clients. Can you see from the above sequence of events that the problem had nothing to do with the doughnut box someone left open in the staffroom? Or her lack of willpower on the way home? Yet this is where we usually try to strategize by telling her to “keep healthy snacks in her desk” or to “write herself a motivational sticky note on her rear-view mirror” to help her bypass the drive-thru on the way home. When the real issue at hand? Was the automatic association her brain made when she saw her boss in a bad mood and her reaction to it.

When we look deeper than simply stopping the action of eating the doughnut, we dive into the subconscious pathway that preceded that action and can unearth what it was that really triggered that action in the first place. Imagine you could unlink the association she is automatically making that if someone meaningful in her life is upset, she must have done something wrong? We would fundamentally dissolve this coping pattern under any other similar circumstances as well, instead of offering situationally specific surface level advice. In other words – if you dissolve their triggers, you dissolve their need to cope and you dissolve their unhealthy relationship to food without relying on your nutrition plan at all.


The 3 Steps To Engineering A Powerful Shift To The 90%

First, remember that the only way we know how to respond in any situation is simply because we have automatically attached meaning to it. Without meaning, the event is meaningless, and we would never feel the need to cope with food because it happened. What’s important to understand about meaning is that meaning is formed over the course of our lives based on experiences we have had, or beliefs that were imposed upon us. If we circle back to Becky, the mom from our previous example with a house full of screaming kids, let’s look deeper into why this event triggers her to feel so anxious and stressed.

  • It’s possible that when Becky was growing up, her mom was very strict and taught her how kids are and aren’t supposed to behave.
  • Perhaps when Becky was out in public with her mom, this was reinforced by her mom saying things like “Becky, please behave, don’t embarrass me” or “Becky, you’re being too much, settle down and be quiet”
  • Maybe her mom’s rigid rules around the home taught Becky that in order for her to get love, she needs to always be perfect, never messy, excitable or wild.
  • Now, when her kids are acting out, its triggering this pathway in Becky’s brain that was created as a child that tells her “this is wrong, I need control and order in my house, wild kids aren’t good kids, my mom would judge me for letting me kids be so rambunctious”
  • Yet, this anxiety is all stemming from a core desire to be who she needs to be in order to receive love and acceptance from her mom.

💥💥POWERFUL STUFF, right?!  

Here’s how you can begin to practice unearthing these deeper meanings in session:

Step #1: Assume in triggering situations that there is a deeper meaning they are attaching to what is happening (it’s NEVER just about the food)


Step #2: Start pulling on the string by exploring new perspectives. 

  • “What was happening in your environment in the minutes and hours before you overate on ice cream?”
  • “How did that environment make you feel?”
  • “What thoughts were you having?”
  • “How did you feel in your body? What emotions were you experiencing?”
  • “So what I’m hearing is that you believe that kids should not be so rambunctious and should always be calm and listen to their mother, is this true?”
  • “How do you treat others and yourself because you think this thought?”
  • “Who would you be without this thought?”
  • “Where did you first learn to believe this?”
  • “How did it make you feel when you were told to be quiet as a child?”
  • “Do you feel like you are being seen and loved fully by your mom/husband/children?”
  • “Is it possible that this scenario is actually triggering something deeper in you because of a desire to feel seen and loved by the important people in your life?”


Step #3: Explore a new meaning with your client

  • “The next time your kids are going crazy, how would you prefer to show up in this situation?”
  • “What do you think is really going on with your kids? Are they trying to be disobedient, or something else?”
  • “How do you want to make your kids feel in these moments?”
  • “How do you want to feel in these moments?”
  • “What will you tell yourself the next time this happens?”

Notice here, that you are not telling them what is happening. You aren’t making assumptions or trying to fix the situation by giving them a strategy or a tactic to try the next time they’re “craving ice cream”…your only role at this stage is to hold uncomfortable space and ask exploratory questions to allow your client to figure out for themselves what is truly going on.

Sometimes, this conversation is enough to radically shift them to the point where they will never feel the need to cope with food in that scenario ever again simply because instead of attaching a negative meaning to what is happening, they have re-attached a new liberating meaning. It  might even be helpful to have your client write this out as a mantra to come back to if these scenarios continue to feel triggering. For example:

“When my kids are being wild, they want my love and attention, I never want my children to feel like they are too much or that they need to be perfect to receive love from me. I forgive myself for hiding away my true wild heart and shrinking myself for so long, I choose to play, laugh, and be present in these electric moments with my family. This is how I receive true love, not the illusion of love I have been trying to create out of control.”

However, in some cases, this one conversation will not be enough to break the chain of subconscious events and we will need to practice much more awareness and presence in these uncomfortable moments with our clients to make the shift a permanent one.


Uncomfortable awareness and presence is the key

In order to arm your client to navigate a triggering event on their own, without needing you on SOS text standby to talk them off the ledge, use these steps;

🕵️‍♀️FIND IT:  help them to get out of their head and into their body to identify their “warning signs”. Their physical symptoms of being triggered is often the easiest way for them to self-identify that their mind is being “hijacked” and to remind themselves that conscious awareness is all they need to break the pattern.

💖FEEL IT: encourage them to try to identify where in their body they feel the emotion bubble up, what does it look like, feel like and tell them? By doing this, you are slowing down their reactivity and bringing them into the present moment with acceptance instead of judgement

🤸‍♀️FLIP IT: leave them with two to three of the most powerful questions that shifted things for them while you were on the phone together. Have them write these on a sticky note or keep them in their phone so they can reference them if they forget. The goal here is to remember the new meaning they are forming around this event, the thoughts they want to have about what is going on around them, and how this will make them feel moving forward. If you need to attach a new action to this step for them to take (instead of their pre-programmed coping action) this can be helpful as well.


In summary…

…in order to graduate from “just another nutrition coach” who only accesses 10% of the behavior change equation – and become a true transformational expert who is able to create powerful change in the untapped 90% ? It’s these conversations, connections and questioning strategies that must be mastered.

To help you do this faster? I created the Coaching Conversation Revelation for you to download for FREE.

With this, you’ll quickly be able to dig into the top 15 “make or break” client conversations without ever worrying about saying the wrong thing or suggesting the wrong strategy.


And lastly, when you feel ready, I’d love to help you with this more closely inside of TriggerMapping – my certification and mentorship program where I work hands-on with a group of nutrition coaches to show them how to graduate from “just another nutritionist”…and become known as the go-to expert for creating life-altering transformation at the deepest level in every client they work with…

…plus show you how this level of mastery organically allows you to…

🤑charge the kind of money the pro’s do (we’re talking 1K/month here, love)…

📣keep your clients for as long as you want so you can escape the revolving door of clients coming in and going out

🙋🏼‍♀️have a waitlist of people who will pay you in advance just to save their spot in line

🌟only work w/ the clients who are ready for the deep work you’ve always wanted dig into without battling resistance or pushback

💫align your coaching program with how you want to serve your clients and live your life

💖walk away from every single coaching session with a deep knowing that you left your client a different person because of what you just did with them…aka: coaching crack

I mean, just think about it like this for a second.

You know that old saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink?”

Well what really could make it drink?

That’s exactly what I’m going to be teaching you to do with your clients.

So if you feel ready to be so much more than what you were traditionally conditioned to think was possible for you?

👉🏼Just fill out this short 2 minute application form to let me know where you’re currently at. 

I’ll reach out to you and ask you a few questions to see if I can help…If I can, I’ll shoot all the details over to you.

Thanks for reading! And be talking soon.



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