The Nutrition Coaching Process that Works for Sustainable Weight Loss
Hello to all my go-getters!! I’m so glad you showed up today! I want to thank all of you loyal followers who have been dedicated to reading every post and tuning in to every podcast episode. That’s so awesome and I am proud of you for taking the time to learn for the sake of your health.
I love that people of all walks of life and different stages of health are taking what they’ve learned and intentionally implementing it into their lives to be healthier and to grow in mindset, faith, and all the good things that we need. Let’s keep on trucking together my friends!
So, this post is going to show you how I coach beginning clients for sustainable weight loss and why it works more effectively than those fad or restrictive diets you’ve tried in the past. This post is not specifically geared towards athletes or body builders who are looking for a total body recomp because the process in which that takes place is way more tedious and structured.
I’m honing in on those of you who just want to sustainably lose some weight, feel better, and live healthier lifestyles. And this is actually something I’ve had to learn recently because I was once giving all my clients, beginners and moderately experienced people, the same kind of plan. Still customized to their goals, but with the same amount of effort and skill. I was wrong. That’s okay, because I’m growing as a coach, learning from failures just like you… hopefully.
What I’ve found is that a simpler, easier approach is what works best for those who are in the beginning stages and don’t have goals to do body recomp.
See, because those who want to just lose weight and be healthier aren’t the ones giving every thought or all of their time to the dieting process. You have busy lives, with husbands and kids and jobs and hobbies.
You just want to take care of yourself among those really important things in your life. So, I’ve had to transform the way I do nutrition coaching for those beginners, which is really who I wanted to help from the beginning. I’ve been a beginner before, I know the frustration of it. That’s why I truly want to help you transform just like I have.
So, what I’m going to share with you today is the process I currently use for those just starting out or wanting to start losing weight and getting healthier, but it’s also something you can implement for yourself if coaching is not an option for you right now.
Obviously, having someone to hold yourself accountable to is a plus, but some people just cannot devote their finances or commitment to it and that’s fine. So, I wanted to provide you with how I take clients through the system of losing weight in a way that is not overwhelming and that promotes lifelong health habits over time.
So, if you are looking to lose weight the healthy and sustainable way with long-term results here it is:
First Step: Be honest and take an inventory of your nutrition.
I suggest having a food journal and jotting down literally everything that you put in your mouth. Even if you’re sautéing veggies, you’ll need to track the oil that you cook it in and how much. What most people don’t realize is that they are largely underestimating the number of calories they’re consuming which could really hinder your progress even if you’re eating “clean.” Dressings, oils, butter, things like that often go unthought of, but your body will nevertheless process those calories and decide to either use it for fuel if you’re active or store it as fat.
Now typically, for most clients who are just looking to shed some fat and not get ripped, cleaning up your eating a little bit at a time is going to make some massive improvements. As a general rule, females should measure their protein as a palm size, complex carbs as a cupped hand size, non-starchy veggies as a fist size, and healthy fats about the size of your thumb. Ideally, you’d eat about 3-4 meals a day with a serving of lean protein, a complex carb, some healthy fats, and 1-2 fists of veggies. So, for most moderately active women it’s about 4-6 servings of each type of macro and that calculates to about 1400-2100 calories depending on if you have a total of 4, 5, or 6 servings of each. If you’re taller and heavier you’d be a little closer to the 6 servings and if you’re shorter like me it’d be more like 4-5. However, that’s an ideal meal plan and not a common one that I find most clients doing as they start the coaching process. That’s totally ok.
Now, I don’t suggest trying to be perfect and doing this ideal meal plan all at once. The goal is to build small actions that you can practice doing sustainably.
So, in the first week of coaching, the client and I agree on one habit that they can practice sustainably, and they feel confident in doing.
So, a goal for the first week might be to add a lean protein to every meal (1 palm size of chicken, ground turkey, lean beef, etc.). Or the goal could be to have one serving of veggies for the day if they’re not used to eating any veggies.
It’s just one small action that you should feel confident you can implement and practice doing every day.
See, because humans don’t do well at all with major restriction and trying to be perfect or doing multitasking… that’s a recipe for failure and then quitting all together. If you try to do all the things at one time (eating perfectly sized portions of all clean foods, exercising 4-5x a week, and hitting your 8-10K step goal every day, it’s going to overwhelm you.
If you can build one small habit and build more over time, you’re succeeding.
Notice we’re not just talking about cutting carbs all together, or cutting out treats, we’re focusing on adding a healthy habit that you can practice. This is what is going to lead to long-term success in weight loss.
We don’t need to fix you or fix your habits all at once. We’re striving to give one clear and goal-oriented task once a week or every two weeks, that gets you to that healthy lifestyle and healthy goal weight you’re trying to get to.
Cutting out carbs to lose weight isn’t necessary unless you have a medical condition and are told by your doctor to do so. Restricting fun foods is not necessary because that’s not the answer to weight loss. The key to weight loss is consistency of healthier habits over time.
This is something you should remind yourself time and time again…over and over and over.
We need to explore what is realistic, necessary, repeatable, and sustainable to get you to your goal. A necessity is adding in, over time, higher-quality foods that give you adequate nutrients, making sure you are moving more often, making sure you’re recovering and sleeping well, regulating your emotion around foods. These are the habits you’ll need to acquire to build a healthy lifestyle.
But we first need to understand what you’re eating and how you can eat better.
Are you eating lean proteins, healthy carbs and fats? How much of each are you eating and how can we adjust that to match your energy output? How much you’re moving through the day?
So, again, the first step is to take two weeks and do a food journal or log your food into MyFitnessPal to assess your eating habits. You’ll want to assess how many calories you’re actually consuming instead of just guessing because I guarantee that your guess is probably not accurate in the slightest.
So, first step is to assess the quality and quantity of your food intake and then see where you can improve. Those improvements need to be made in bite sizes. If you notice that you are lacking in eating complex carbs and you’re eating mostly processed, that’s a place to start! Look for swaps and practice that for a full week straight until you’re confident you can move to another action.
Which leads us up to...
Step 2: Plan, Prioritize, and Prepare
You can’t practice a new behavior unless you help yourself do that behavior by planning and preparing ahead of time. You can’t eat lean protein if you’re not intentionally shopping for it and preparing it.
Whatever your new action or habit you’ve picked is, it’s critical to take like 5 minutes to plan how you’re going to implement that habit. So, if your new action for the week is to eat complex carbs with your meals instead of processed carbs, look up the swaps (potatoes instead of boxed mac and cheese or homemade chips instead of regular potato chips, sweet potatoes instead of boxed mashed potatoes). Not saying that any food is bad, but if you’re wanting healthier with more nutrients, that’s the kind of swaps I’m talking about.
Then, Prepare your shopping list and the recipes that you’d like to make so you can implement this new action.
If you’re goal is to eat a veggie with every meal, shop for the veggies you like, go ahead and chop them up or whatever you need to do to ensure that you can stick with this action for a week or two until it becomes a habit.
Understand that action comes before motivation.
If you want to be motivated to eat healthier, start acting. Start planning and start preparing. Once you’ve successfully implemented the new action that is going to help you reach your goal, there’s going to be a sense of pride… like yea, I can do this. Then you’re going to be motivated to keep going. Exciting, right???
Now, over the course of months, if you’ve taken this approach to adding in one positive habit each week and building them up over time, you’re probably in a really good place. You’re starting to feel better, maybe your clothes are feeling less tight, you’ve got more energy, sleeping better.
Step 3: Identify old and new behavior patterns:
OK, so let’s say you’re a few weeks into building new habits. By now, you can see patterns of how you were eating before (and possibly why) and you’re taking note of how these new habits are making a difference. But you’re not going to be perfect in those few weeks and I don’t expect you to. You’re allowed to eat processed foods.
Again, it’s not about taking away everything, it’s about making substitutions and adding things in that promote a healthier way of eating.
So, for example, let’s say for lunch you’re prone to going through the drive thru or stopping at Subway. You love the convenience of eating a sandwich that is made up for you and that’s totally fine. But what you can do is maybe add more veggies to your sandwich. Have a water with your sub instead of soda this time. Or let’s say you love chic fil a like I do and you’re used to getting a 12pc fried chicken nuggets. How about next time, you order 6 grilled and 6 fried.
Or, what if you’re a late night snacker and you love sweets. How about you allow yourself to have a brownie or a cookie or whatever, but you have a serving of fruit before you do. You see what we’re doing here? Not restricting yourself but adding in substitutions or adding in some healthy stuff along with your unhealthier foods. It’s baby steps.
Look for ways you can add something just “a little bit better” for you. And if you continually do that, you’re on the right track and you’re not bingeing anymore because you’re still allowed to have your old foods.
You also need to identify your patterns of eating processed foods and why so you can consciously make better decisions.
So, for instance, maybe you reach for more processed food when you’re stress or tired. You want immediate comfort and that’s what you go for…chips, ice cream, whatever. That’s normal and again, you’re allowed. You don’t need permission but I’m telling you right now, it’s ok. But what can we do in those moments? How about when you know you’re getting stressed out and you’re craving something to make you feel better, go ahead and give yourself permission to eat whatever you’ve got your heart set on… but this time, eat a serving of fruit or a something with a little more nutrients first.
Then, if you’re still craving that thing, go for it. But make it a habit to eat something a little more nutrient dense first, so your body is getting what it needs and then make your decision. We’re looking for ways to eventually build up to eating that preferable meal plan of 4-6 servings of whole proteins, fats, and carbs every day. But it’s not going to happen all at once ok?
That’s what I’m doing with clients; building new healthier habits week after week so there is no overwhelm, no restriction, and ultimately there’s no failure. Just winning week after week. Once you’re eating within those calories, eating better and more nutrient dense foods, you’re going to feel better, weight loss is likely going to occur as long as you’re not overeating, and you’re going to feel so much more pride in what you’ve accomplished versus if you had just gone on a fad diet with shakes that made you lose 10lbs for a little while, just to go back to eating the way you were before and gain even more back.
See the difference?
It’s the same concept with exercise and movement. If you haven’t worked out in a really long time and you’re just starting out, I don’t expect you to be doing 5-6 workouts every week for an hour at a time. Let’s focus on making sure you’re just moving more during the day. Are you getting at least 8K steps in? Are you intentionally getting up from your desk to move around. See because it’s not the workouts that are going to make you lose a bunch of weight.
It’s the consistent movement you do every day. Once you’ve mastered the basics, moving and increasing your energy each day, then you should add on workouts for the benefit of either getting stronger or building endurance, not for weight loss. That is a very minimal part of the weight loss process and people give way more credit to it than it deserves.
Step 4: Change your environment to help meet your goals.
Many of our decisions are unconscious and automatic right? It doesn’t take any real thinking to grab chips out of the cabinet or the tub of ice cream from the freezer.
What we need to realize is that our environment can either habituate these actions or we can change our environment to help us make better decisions consciously.
If our environment doesn’t help support our goals and the choices that move us closer to the goal, we’re going to be fighting really hard. We’re going to struggle tremendously. So obviously, if we’re trying to live a healthier eating lifestyle, we’ll need to support that with the right environment. That means having the fresh fruits or the fresh veggies cut up and ready to go so if we have a craving for chips we can think, let me have a serving of these first and see how I feel afterwards. How can you make eating healthier an automatic thought just like you were with the unhealthier foods? Have it ready to go right? Make the unhealthier foods less easy to get by either not buying it (probably the easiest) or make a promise to yourself that you have to drink a full glass of water or eat a veggie before you reach for the chips.
So, in other words, make the whole process easier on yourself by keeping the healthy stuff convenient to you (prep by chopping it up and portioning it out) until it becomes a habit. Keep the unhealthier stuff out of the house if needed and if you just really want to have it, go ahead and go get it, but at least it’s not convenient.
We need to take a look at the immediate environment and how it helps or hinders our goal. Anything you feel like you can not regulate your emotions around, don’t buy it. Simple as that. The key is to make healthier habits easier for you to do time and time again so it becomes a habit.
So, as your friendly virtual coach, I want you to think about the simple steps I gave you today and ponder how you can start implementing them:
Here’s a recap:
1. Nutrition Inventory- What are you really eating every day? How many calories are you consuming and how much of that is processed versus whole foods? Be honest with yourself. There’s no judgement, it’s just data so you’re aware of what you’re currently doing and what ways you can make improvements.
2. Plan, Organize, and Prepare- You’re going to take one small action each week. Write it down, make sure you are confident in doing it consistently. It can be to just focus on hydration and drinking more water. It can be adding in lean protein to every meal or eating a serving of veggies with dinner every night. One small doable action. Write that down. Practice it for one or two weeks until you’ve mastered it and it becomes a habit. If you feel like you have mastered it and you can continue doing that sustainably, add on another healthy habit.
3. Take note of old and new habits and how you can keep moving forward. How can you tweak those old habits. Can you add more protein to your salad, can you add more veggies to that sandwich, can you promise yourself that you’ll have that serving of fruit before you reach for the ice cream?
4. Assess your environment and if it supports your goals. Make it easier on yourself to eat healthier and more satisfying foods. How can you make healthy eating an automatic thought just like you’ve been doing with processed foods?
Now I’ve got some resources for you guys to help you do this and I really want you to take advantage of this, because this is what I use in coaching my clients. I’m not giving away everything but I’m giving you some resources to help you start off on the right foot.
So, If you’re ready to start, If you’re ready to live a healthier lifestyle, make better choices, feel better, look better, be better… go get the resources.
You can do that by going to www.bridges2barbells.com/resources. Click on the meal planning guide where it says, “send me the PDF” and I’m going to send you the guide, but I’m also going to send you a few other sheets that are going to help you out.
If you’re unsure if this really works, if something so simple can make a difference, I want you to think about how many diets you’ve been on and failed. Think about all the restrictions you’ve made in the past and where they got you to. Are you healthier, do you have better habits because of those diets? I’d venture to say no. So, any diet where you were restrictive probably left you feeling like a failure because you couldn’t’ stick to it. So… why, why, why would you think that’s the answer?
Yes, they work in the very-short term IF you are able to hold willpower for several weeks. But you can’t enforce it much longer than that. So it’s not a diet that actually works because the results and the actions that led to the results are not sustainable.
So, I’m asking you to give this new way a try. Simple easy ways to start becoming healthier, fitter, and ways that are going to lead you to a longer life with more energy, never to be feeling like a diet failure again. There is no failing with this… only learning more about yourself and more about healthier eating.
Again, head to this page: www.bridges2barbells.com/resources, click on Send me the PDF under the Meal Planning Guide and get started today. And of course, if you think coaching will better your chances of staying accountable to your goals and having direction will encourage you to stay the course, I’d love to chat with you to see if coaching is a good fit for you. If you’d like to see how the coaching process works and what actions I would recommend for you, you can go to this page: www.bridges2barbells.com/plans , click on any link that says “schedule a consultation call,” provide your info and we’ll have a chat about your goals and lifestyle. Either way you choose…
You can do this my friend. It’s way better than cutting out entire food groups or banning yourself from fun foods. That’s not what I’m all about and it’s not the answer to life-long healthy habits.
That’s what I have for you today! If this post encouraged you today to try a better way of becoming a healthier, leaner, more fulfilled version of you, I’d love to hear about it and you can let me know by leaving a comment and/or sharing on your social media. I always appreciate your reviews and hearing about the impact these episodes make.
So with that, I'll leave you to it. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out, that’s what I’m here for. You can do that by following me on Instagram @Bridges2barbells and leave me a message. If you don’t follow me, I likely won’t see your message because it gets filtered out of the primary messages. But, I’d be happy to help you in any way I can, just reach out.
Thanks for being here guys. Keep on going!
Bye for now!