Have you ever had one of those clients where no matter what you’ve tried with them their weight just never seems to budge?
(I mean, it’s basically at the point where you wish you could get them to check to see if the batteries in their scale need to be changed…)
How could this one plan have gone so wrong, you think.
…and to boot you have your coaching call with her in 45 minutes…what the actual hell are you going to pull out of your butt to convince her that you have this all under control?
Panicked, you start scrolling through facebook groups and crossing your fingers that someone has experienced something similar and has the answer you’re looking for.
You text a couple friends who are online coaches as well and open up to them about the difficulty you’re having with this one client (which takes a lot of courage because it feels like you’re risking sounding like a dummy to them in the process…)
But every random thing you’ve thrown at her already… from working on their digestion to checking their hormones…cycling their macros to intermittent fasting……is the same stuff that’s getting regurgitated back to you no matter who you ask or where you look.
In the next 5 minutes I’m going to share with you exactly why this client isn’t losing the weight she (technically) should be, and how you can easily start to get the scale to move by focusing on a few simple (but key) areas.
If you can get this right your clients are going to look at you like you’re a damn jedi…
And if you totally mess it up you’re actually no worse off…so open your minds and let’s jump in.
What works for one person doesn’t work for everyone
When we’re working with weight loss clients, the first thing to remember is that everyone is unique. Their physiology – yes. Their goals – of course. But also how they relate to the world around them, what they believe they need to do to change their body, what change actually means for them, and how their identity is shaped by their current habits and behaviours.
Think about it like this…when someone isn’t able to lose weight using the same plan that worked for every other client before them, we can safely say that the plan isn’t the problem. It’s the past patterns of the person executing the plan that we need to zoom in on (or in other words – their beliefs). Beneath the macros and the recipes, the portion sizes and the meal timing…is a person with needs and beliefs and emotions that govern every decision they make, and every outcome they get.
Very simply, people make decisions that we *think* will meet our needs. This allows us to subconsciously move away from pain and towards a certain amount of pleasure. So when our clients are deciding what to eat or how to act, they will usually choose the path of least resistance away from pain.
For example, if a client can’t stop eating cheeseburgers because they absolutely love them (and they feel sooooo good when they’re eating them that they forget about their problems in the world around them)…and we tell them to eat salads instead of cheeseburgers and to exercise 3 days a week (something they hate, is painful for them and they feel embarrassed doing …)
How long is this person going to stick with the plan we gave them?
Initially they will try because they feel motivated and they know that the long term outcome is the pleasure of reaching the goal they want to achieve…
But remember in the short term the choice that takes us away from our pain the fastest is often the one we go with. So eventually they’re going to give into the behaviour that removes pain in their life (instead of the one that they think actually does the opposite – eating salads and going to the gym!)
The way to truly evoke change in someone on a deep level is to first figure out what they are currently doing that they perceive to be a vehicle away from pain in their life.
If you can do that? You have everything you need to make any plan work for them.
Learn To Trust Your Gut
You know how sometimes when you’re talking to your clients they say something that sets your coaching spidey senses off? There’s that feeling in your gut that whispers to you “this is important, there’s more here”…but you uncomfortably push it aside because your judgey evidence based voice takes over with “how would you even know where to help them with that”, or “there was nothing about this in your textbook”…
Think of it like this…by learning to trust our gut and follow the trail of breadcrumbs our clients are leaving for us inside of every conversation we have with them is how we begin to shed our beginner skin and evolve into the confident pro we all have inside of us. In other words, to feel truly confident as a coach and to be able to guarantee results for our clients, we must learn to use our textbook as a guide and our gut as the gospel.
Most coaches, up to this point, have been using them the other way around (or ignoring their gut altogether). To begin to trust our gut means we must first recognize it’s presence and practice tuning into what it’s telling you with your clients. Understanding that the ideas you get, the thoughts you have and the questions that bubble up probably aren’t being taught in many (or any) certification programs.
And that’s okay.
The art of coaching isn’t pre-defined. It’s empowering yourself to find your own flow with your clients – not to simply model what everyone else is doing. Sure, in the beginning this is how we build initial confidence and reassurance that we have the science figured out – that we’re good enough to help others get to an end goal. But with time, as your skills evolve, so too will your methods.
Stepping outside the lines of what was taught to us to explore a new way of doing things that feels more aligned with us is powerful. We have the chance to help so many more people by giving ourselves the space to explore what is already naturally there within us – something we all have. But if we shut ourselves down to thinking creatively or uniquely about how to meet them where they are at, we may never feel like pros. We might forever stay trapped in the box our certifications place us in.
Most often it’s our fear of what others will think that stops us from trying unconventional strategies or talking about controversial topics. But if by doing so you are able to get your clients to their end result in a way that leaves them feeling happy and able to sustain the change…does it really matter?
Your Clients Know Best
Our clients know so much more than we do…about their life, what will work for them, what won’t work for them…what they like and what they will resist. They have been living this life that we only just entered as an “expert”. They hope that what we have will elevate them and make them happier in their lives. But we can’t assume we know the full story – we need them just as much as they need us.
The very best thing we can do as a coach is to place our clients on a pedestal from which all our decisions are governed. By this I mean, before solidifying the approach you’re going to take with them, what you’re going to work on with them, and how you’re going to navigate the changes they expressed were important for them…you must remember to ask this one very important question:
“How does that feel to you?”, “What do you think about this”, or “Tell me more about what you think we should try here”.
Even if their suggestions aren’t going to bring them closer to their goals and you end up taking things in a different direction altogether, bringing them into the conversation gives you 2 main advantages. (1) It brings them onto your team, it shows them that you respect them, that their opinion matters and that it’s not only safe, but welcomed, to give it. And (2) It ensures that you’re not just taking shots in the dark hoping that something will stick. It actually establishes you as more of an authority in their eyes because you are willing to customize their plan to the point where they feel entirely involved and confident in the process. Their adherence will increase, your retention will increase…and so will your results, referrals and reputation.
So then why don’t more coaches do this? The main reason I can see is that they are worried that by asking questions like these the assumption to their clients is that they don’t know what they’re doing, that they’ll look like an amateur, or that they shouldn’t trust you.
I get it, I totally used to feel this way too. I used to give super scientific answers to questions, which I realize now was done to impress, not to serve. I used to make assumptions all the time about what I thought was best for my clients, which a lot of the time turned out to be entirely wrong. And I used to struggle with accepting when my clients stopped because I wasn’t getting them the results I had promised them – I would blame it on their adherence, their consistency, or even that they were lying to me.
But none of that was true – I just wasn’t willing to put myself in a vulnerable position, to lower my perceived status, or to give the allusion that I wasn’t “smart enough” to help them. And in doing so I missed out on so many amazing opportunities to help others thrive in their lives.
He Didn’t Eat For An Entire Year
I’ll never forget this one news story I read years ago. There was this guy who wanted to lose something like 200lbs. He felt like it was easier to just not eat than it was to say “no thank you” to the foods he loved, to navigate his social life, and to re-learn how to eat “healthy” (and actually enjoy it). So he committed to not eat for an entire 365 days – true story. (Important to note here: he supplemented with necessary vitamins, minerals, and everything essential to his physical needs).
“Beginner-me” judged this harshly – “how is this healthy? He will never keep the weight off, he didn’t learn new habits, he wasn’t taught anything about protein, or macronutrients, or how to eat out at restaurants. He will for sure go back to his old patterns and regain everything he had lost…”
But he didn’t.
He has kept the weight off to date.
Now I’m not saying to get all of your clients to just not eat! But what I want you to understand is that this was entirely non-conventional and rooted purely in what he knew would and wouldn’t work for him. He trusted his gut, he educated himself on what “really* mattered. And he saw strong adherence and success long term.
Remember this story the next time you have a reaction to an idea you have or something non-conventional you see another coach doing with their clients. Ask yourself instead, what can I learn here? What opportunity could be here to help me expand as a coach? Could I use this, or some version of this, successfully with any of my clients?
By keeping an open mind you give yourself the gift of growth, and you give your clients the gift of better results because of it.