I bet you that I can guess your number one frustration in working with coaching clients? It is helping them break through their weight loss and health plateaus.
One of the biggest struggles any coach will face is client plateaus. This can range from weight loss resistance to chronic digestive issues, to many more, but helping clients break through their sticking points will help set you apart from the rest of the field. Most coaches don’t have the right set of tools, let alone, the know-how to even begin to accomplish these tasks but, that is exactly what this page is about to change.
Now, that is a pretty darn good list to start with, and I could have probably even added in a few more, but that is not the point as I just want to give everyone a good list to start with. However, I would venture to say that even some of the most seasoned health and nutrition coaches in the world today would look at the above list and say WOW, many of those scenarios are way over my head and to that, I would say no way, I think that none of them are over anyone’s head because they are all conditions that are lifestyle-related and are most likely due to a person not sticking with a plan long enough or doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.
Many times, the root of the problem needs to be identified, and I have a whole page on how to do exactly that on this site, but in most situations, all a client needs is just a new plan to follow and a fresh perspective on the problem and most importantly the willingness to put in the work.
And that leads us into the next potential cause of client plateaus. Clients not buying into your plan!
“How Healthy Are You” Questionnaire
Just as no diet will work for every person, not every plateau is caused by the same issues as all people are different. But the cold hard facts about client plateaus is that many are the result of a client not being willing or ready to put in the work or to take things to the level that they need to be at. When a client wants to get below 10% body fat, they better be ready to eat clean and regimented and exercise more than they are at the current moment. For example when a client wants to have better skin and not get bloated after meals, they better be ready for an elimination diet or something similar!
So, with those ideas in mind, as a coach, before you attempt to give all that you have to a client, you need to recognize where that client currently is on their motivation scale, and if they are not at a 10/10 in terms of motivation and drive, how are you going to get them to that point?
To start, you should identify where they currently are and slowly ramp them up or get them warmed up to the idea of the change and that they may have to make some possible sacrifices. Precision Nutrition actually did a great write-up on this topic and classified clients into 3 motivational categories:
Every one of the above types of clients will respond differently and will require different forms of motivation to get them on-board with your coaching plan, however it is possible for a client to transition from a position of high compliance and high results to high compliance and low results, but we obviously want to flip that scenario around for the better. Therefore, step 1 is going to be to identify which of the above groups that your plateaued client falls into and then use the appropriate means to show them the light or educate them as to your new plan of attack with them. If you can do that, then they will be much more willing to try some new things, and their eyes will be more open to what might be holding them back or what might be causing their plateau in the first place. However, many will fall into the high compliance and low results group. And if they do, that is where you as a coach will really be able to put what is shown on this page into action.
But how do you ensure that they get on board in the first place, and after that how do you determine what is holding them back? Well, there are a few aspects that really need to be focused on as health coaches put on the proverbial health detective hat:
For example, if you don’t personally believe in vegetarian diets, do you always discount their use right away because of your own personal experiences with them? Or do you really listen to your clients and look to connect anything that is off, such as symptoms that relate to all possible health angles? Perhaps the high-protein diet that you have clients on is making their blood too acidic, and that could be possibly causing issues with their digestive enzyme production and the resulting digestive problems that they are having.
(2) Well, if that happens you might not know if you don’t first open your ears and just actively listen.
As active listening (3) requires that you be fully present in the moment with clients—and is not the same as just having a conversation with them—as coaches will need to first engage their clients and they can better do so by practicing the following methods:
“How Healthy Are You” Questionnaire
What are some of the most common symptoms, both mentally and physically, to be on the lookout for with clients that can help you catch a plateau before one ever hits?
Well, the following list is a good place to start and be mindful of and if they do appear with clients. If so, then sit down with that client and figure out if there is a trend that is forming or if they possibly just had a bad day or a bad week.
The path to having optimal health is never a straight line although most clients seem to or would like to think that it is. Life throws challenges at every one of us in our own separate ways. That is exactly why it becomes so important that any good coach sell clients on the fact that having a coach by your side throughout your weight loss, health or wellness journey almost always requires a long term, sustainable plan. The reason in which this is so important is so the client knows what to expect and does not leave the working relationship with you the first time that they experience a low point, or the first time they lose their motivation and or the know how in terms of sticking through their progress stalls or when times get tough from them. Just like in life, if anything that is ever worth a damn then it most likely isn’t simple or if it was then everyone would be doing it.
Therefore as a coach you must do a few consistent things with clients time in and time out such as:
All clients should be viewed as long term clients and all long term clients need a long term plan and that plan will need to be periodized if you expect the client to see the results in which they are looking for—whether the client is a high level athlete or a soccer mom looking to lose 40 pounds. Assume that they are committing to at least a 12-week or even longer of a plan in working with you as their coach. By doing so it will allow you to formulate your own plan for the client, that maximizes all of you skills and expertise as a coach.
There should be a rigid structure to the plan, but not so rigid that it pushes clients away. Below are some important steps that should be included in any solid client plan and or health journey.
Remember the plan is only a piece of the puzzle and as a coach you have to also be intuitive in the moment and know when and how to make adjustments and teach your clients how to work through the hard times. Sometimes those adjustments may be on a weekly basis or they can be on a daily basis. Because if that doesn’t happen then a client will bail at the first sign of trouble and the failure will be on you as a coach as you did not get them fully onboard with your plan from the get-go. Always remember that fact!
“How Healthy Are You” Questionnaire
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