Hiring a coach can be an intimidating process. Not unlike having a hair stylist, accountant or financial advisor you spend many years working with, it’s based on a relationship. That relationship requires a give and take of both leading and following.
It stands to reason that this relationship you’re looking to forge is determined by hiring someone who has a degree of expertise you may not have or, can help provide a blueprint making it easier for you to reach your goals or desired endpoint.
Just like those aforementioned other industries, there will never be a shortage of people available to you who have the qualifications to help. However, as it’s said from the mountaintops in my industry: The perfect program means nothing if the client can’t stick to it.
There is also a complementary sentiment that a mediocre program can get you a lot further if you can stay consistent with it versus a more advanced one that you cannot.
All that aside, before you decide to spend your time, effort and money on a coach, here are five signs that perhaps now is not the best time to do so:
- You’re financially strapped. Hiring a coach is typically not a cheap expense. If you find that you’re rubbing your pennies together just to afford one, that’s a sign to wait. Your coach, upon signing you as a member, likely has a long term plan for your success. This is not remotely synonymous with a 21-day fix or whatever snazzy title has been marketed to you. The change that most (not all) people want, whether it’s weight loss or strength gains, take time to see occur. Yes, there are some very aggressive things that a coach can do to help you lose weight but the rebound for those endeavors can be less than appealing. If you can’t see yourself financially prepared to spend at least 3 to 6 months committed to a training plan (on the low end), you may need to wait until you can. This is as much for the benefit of yourself and your habits as it is for the coach you hire since they are looking ahead to the results they can help you attain.
- You have unrealistic timelines. Can I help you drop 10 pounds in 2 weeks? Probably. Should I? Probably not. When you see clickbait headlines like this, it gives an unreasonable expectation of what the human body can and should do to reach a given goal. With regard to weight loss, an adage you may have heard is that: you didn’t gain the weight overnight and you shouldn’t expect to lose it that quickly either. A responsible coach is going to try and help you change your relationship with food so that you have a lifetime of healthier eating habits. A coach who cares only about their bottom line is going to give you false promises and blow a lot of smoke out of their photoshopped ass to get your money. Similar to the point made in #1, put yourself in position to commit at least 90 days to a plan. If you can follow the dietary and training options for that amount of time, your results should be commendable. This advice is not applicable to athletes who may have to “make weight” for a given sport. They operate under different rules and may be willing to do more aggressive things to achieve a certain weight class (albeit temporarily before they rehydrate and replenish glycogen stores).
- You’re unwilling to stay off the internet. This is a dicey one, since, you’re reading this article on the internet and, I’m trying to give some helpful advice. However, just because you see something on a website or written in a book does not make it true (and you’re invited to read my words with skepticism too). In addition, what works for one person may not work for another because of their own respective characteristics they bring to the table. This is why a vegan diet is fantastic for some, keto is fantastic for another and someone else out there has absolutely no business whatsoever doing either of them. Your neighbor is likely not a credible source for nutrition and while I’m on that topic, neither is Gwyneth Paltrow, Dr. Oz or Tom Brady (and I love Tom Brady…he just needs to stick to playing quarterback). If you hired a coach to help you break through the relentless nonsense that exists on the internet, it will help both you and your coach if you follow their guidelines. This is assuming, of course, that they have real results, with real people, and no snake oil shenanigans.
- You can’t be honest with yourself. There are exceptions to what I’m about to say so take this with a grain of salt. There are essentially two types of fat loss clients: The ones who tell you every single detail of their diet and the ones who will do everything they can to only tell you the “good” parts of their diet. There are pros and cons to each of these extremes. That being said, the client who is only willing to share the “healthy/clean/virtuous” sides of the diet can be some of the toughest ones to help succeed. It’s the coach’s job to flesh out the problem areas of the diet to help you achieve your results. As I’ve been known to tell clients: I’m less concerned with what you’re eating and more concerned about how much of it you eat. So, if you eat a couple of forkfuls of your kid’s mac-and-cheese and you snag a couple of handfuls of trail mix, that counts! It can be easy to forget those things if we’re not cognizant of the behaviors. This is where some degree of short-term tracking/food journaling can be insightful. Think of it like this: I pay an accountant X amount of money to show me things like my debt-to-income ratio on a given month. If I mistakenly don’t tell her about a couple of credit cards that are on my credit record which have balances on them, she can’t do her best work for me. I have to lay all of my cards out (pun intended) if I want her to do the best job she can that I hired her for. This is the same principle that applies for fat loss. The more I know, the more I can help.
- You can’t have difficult conversations. Like my financially inspired example in Point #4, there are two things that I find most people are VERY sensitive about: their food and their money. Most couples I know generally have to discuss candid details about their finances. These aren’t easy conversations to have and they can absolutely become heated discussions. Food is no different. It is necessary to our lives and vital for our survival. However, if you are trying to lose fat and you plan to hire a coach to help you, the coach can only do so much. The true test happens outside the doors of the gym. If you are not ready to have conscious, serious discussions with your family members about how food is affecting your life and how grocery shopping and cooking may need to temporarily or permanently change, now may not be the best time to hire a coach. Eating for fat loss requires deliberate change. Sometimes, these are small changes, like reducing the creamer in the four coffees you drink each day or swapping regular Coke for Diet Coke. More often than not, there are far too many tempting food options in your home that you cannot currently regulate. If you decide that chips aren’t allowed in the house for the foreseeable future, who else in the home is affected by that decision? That’s why these changes not only require the positive influence of a coach but making sure the troops at home can rally behind the decision process.
And of course, since this is not a one-way street, I have three tips for the fat loss coach looking to make a positive impact on their client. Bear in mind, that everyone who comes to you is in a different place when it comes to readiness, willingness and ability to change. In addition, it’s our job to either give them the skills they’re seeking or improve the areas that are already trending the right direction.
- Keep an open-door policy. There is no conversation that is off limits to me. I have heard and seen more about the human body than I thought I’d ever know. The more I can keep an open mind and ear to what is happening with my clients, the better work I can do for them. I need my clients to know that I am willing to listen to any concern they have on their plate which might be holding them back from better results. There are a lot of things I can’t relate to (like menopause) but it doesn’t mean that I can’t have good resources for my clients to help them reach their goals. In fact, having a strong network of people to refer out to when I’m out of my depth has been one of my greatest professional assets.
- Realize that movement may have to precede dieting. Well over half of the clients who train with me are here for fat loss. I know that an energy deficit is what makes that possible. However, some clients need to gain confidence in movement, consistency with scheduling/showing up for their workouts, and need to feel stronger before they can even attempt to focus on their food intake. I don’t force the issue and I realize that sometimes life gets completely screwy (kind of like the vast majority of 2020) and trying to be in a deficit is just not in the cards for now. Focus on other areas to improve and some non-scale victories before you wage the battle with calories.
- Allow room for the ebb and flow. Let’s face it: motivation will not always be high and skill-sets take time to develop. Many clients are motivated when they begin and 3 weeks in, they hit a lull. Be patient and continue to nurture whatever good things are happening at the time. It’s not uncommon for a fat loss client to lose some weight, gain some back and recommit to the process. This is normal and it should be treated as such. One client isn’t better than another because they can white-knuckle the ride. Some clients need space to breathe and learn what works within their lifestyle at that moment. Changes in work environment, family stressors and relationship woes can have a dramatic effect on how someone eats, sleeps and trains. Be prepared for those shifts in behaviors and refer back to Point #1 of keeping an open-door policy. Foster open, kind, honest communication until your client is ready to push forward.
Below is my client and friend, Amy C. She has had spectacular weight loss, incredible increases in strength and been committed to the plan for the last four years. Also within that four years, she has seen her weight increase from her lowest and has experienced many dips in motivation and consistency. That being said, she has turned a recent corner with her progress. She remains one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever worked with. The beauty of a coach/client relationship isn’t always in the numbers, it’s in the impact. Amy inspires others no matter what the scale says and no matter how life may be trying to dictate otherwise. That’s why we play the long game with health, nutrition and fitness.
“We Make Great People Greater”