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The Hardest (and Happiest) Conversations of Weight Loss Coaching

“I know what to do, but I just don’t do it.” I would estimate that 9 out of 10 clients start their weight loss coaching journeys with this self-blaming perspective. The common over-simplification too often responds to the mistaken “eat less, move more” approach to weight management, which we know isn’t correct. Once we get past the initial discussions about "what" to do (e.g. embracing the Healthy Way of Eating), the more salient and tricky question becomes, “Why don’t I do it?” I have had the honor of having hundreds of people allow me to be a part of their transformation journeys. As we start addressing the “why” together, perspectives change, and the conversations take on a different tone. In the midst of talking about societal trends, family patterns, personal habits, lifestyle influences, and hormonal issues, we inevitably encounter emotional highs and lows. Below are some of the most common positive and difficult discussions I encounter with my clients in their journeys.


When learning about optimizing metabolism and hormone balance, clients inevitably have to face the following fact head-on: if they had started earlier, they could have spared themselves months and sometimes years of excess weight, mental fog, poor mood, cravings, insomnia and low energy. The frustration of what feels like wasted time is valid. You might think, “Why didn’t anyone tell me before?” The good news is that we can work together to pivot this perspective. 


While in a sense it might have been possible to feel better earlier, look at the giant turnaround and joy in life that is being gained from the amazing journey you are on now. Have excitement, anticipation, and expectation for what’s to come! Instead of continuing with a potential downward spiral of health, you are able to actually change the trajectory of your health and fitness to aim for prevention, health and vitality with a lesser focus on managing conditions that may have developed. 


Learning about food quality is eye opening. When the truth is learned about certain conventional farming practices, the impact of many pesticides on our internal health, and concerns about GMO’s, it’s easy to feel shocked, tricked and cheated. I have even had moms feel guilty for how they ate when they were pregnant years ago! It’s critical to realize that we can only make choices with the information we have at the present moment. Use your new knowledge as a way to leverage your progress moving forward.


Knowledge is power! It’s amazing how you begin to see food differently. You don’t have to resist processed food with the same willpower because you actually aren't as drawn to it once you know more of what goes into these products. If/when you eat processed food on occasion, you realize it genuinely doesn't have the same taste appeal anymore. It’s amazing to be able to grocery shop like a pro, confidently identify where your food came from, and know exactly what to look for to strategically fuel your body. As a bonus, it’s fun to actually be excited about going to the farmer’s market


It’s amazing how weight loss coaching is about so much more than weight loss. In fact, it’s much less about actual weight lost than most people think. During a true, healthy transformation, actual weight loss from a numbers perspective does not happen the way we often see in the popular commercial and televised gimmicks. This truth can create frustration - at first.


Liberation from the scale! I use the “lead and marshmallow” analogy to illustrate this. When you transform your body into an efficient fat burning machine, you lose a lot of size from fat, which is relatively light. You’re losing marshmallows. (Stick with me.) As you fuel your body and have a progressive strength training program with ample protein, you steadily add on muscle. You’re gaining lead. You might be completely transformed, several sizes smaller, and see a shockingly modest change in your actual weight, since you’ve lost a bunch of marshmallow and gained a bit of lead. What you will see, however, are positive changes in your mood, complexion, hair, skin and nails as well as a leaner, smaller body. 


When starting a health and fitness journey, most of my clients are confident that they have support from their family and friends. However, when the tangible changes show up in the grocery bill, dinners served, and happy hour routines, it’s often a different story. Now there’s possibly an uphill battle to get quality foods in the house, to handle a spouse or child complaining about the buttered broccoli and lack of pasta, and the need to defend yourself to friends and insist that you are still fun even if you’re not drinking or eating the restaurant appetizers. While none of these situations are rooted in malice, they also don’t feel much like support. It’s easy to become jaded and feel like you are alone. 


You are inspiring those around you. Don’t roll your eyes yet! I know of a client who almost lost several friends when she decided to shift her focus from partying all the time to working out. Now, several of these friends are in a large T.E.A.M. class together and are more fit than they have ever been, but it took months! Change is hard, but keep in mind that you’re the motivated one leading the charge. While it’s not always a comfortable place to be, slowly most loved ones do come around. Then celebrating the path you are on as a group is incredibly rewarding! Another bonus is that you gain more friends from your new environment and healthy experiences. I have absolutely loved watching close, lasting and solid friendships develop among members who have met in some of my healthy living classes. You can have a life that includes regular 5K signups and healthy barbecues with other like-minded people you meet on this leg of your health and wellness journey. Now that’s a high! 
Weight loss coaching is a process that helps you change your body, health, metabolism and mindset for the long haul. No journey is without its challenges, and how you choose to address them when they come determines your ultimate success. Nothing beats the highs you reach with the incredible positive changes you can see in your life. I think I speak for nutrition coaches and dietitians everywhere when I say a heartfelt “thank you” for letting us be a part of your journeys!
What highs and lows have you experienced in your weight loss and transformation journey, and what attitudes or changes have been helpful for you in meeting them? Share your feedback, and thanks for reading! 

Written by Samantha Bielawski, Registered Dietitian

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.


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