One of the most frustrating and complex issues I find myself tackling on a daily basis is motivating clients with their weight loss goals. This isn’t always due to people losing motivation through family issues, work commitments, frustration, self esteem or dozens of other reasons either. These ones by comparison are quite easy to tackle and to put people back on track. The hardest ones to deal with are clients who have unbelievably high expectations of themselves, can never see the positives and are solely focussed on the negatives without ever acknowledging how far they have come.
Far too often I have clients who want to lose weight and expect the results to be instant. By instant I am referring to the clients who look at themselves a week later and start questioning why they have only lost 1-2 kilo’s rather than 10? Or the client who has lost 30-40 kilo’s and are beating themselves up because they still want to lose another 10 and stop focussing on just how far they have come and turn totally negative because their bodies have shed so much body fat that ‘self preservation’ mode kicks in and their bodies starts to hold onto the last few kilo’s because evolution has taught us to do so in case of famine.
Around 6 or 7 months ago I did a pre health screen on a client who wanted to join the army but was told he had to lose some weight prior to being accepted. Our first move was to check his current fitness level, measure his body fat, work out his BMI and break down his percentage of body fat compared to lean muscle mass. All of this information collated then allowed us to make a plan for his weight loss goals.
It was revealed that in order for him to be at an acceptable level of fitness he was required to lose 19 kilo’s in total as at the time of consultation he was significantly overweight. The next thing he said made me just stop and stare at him because I thought he was joking…. Quite literally.
He mentioned that the army was taking in graduates in 2 weeks time so he needed a plan that would allow him to drop the 19 kilo’s in 14 days otherwise he would have to wait a further 12 weeks until the next induction.
Obviously my first response was to tell him that apart from being practically impossible without starving himself and exercising for 12 hours a day, his best option was to formulate a plan that could be implemented over the 14 week period that would allow him to be ready for the following induction as this was very achievable, safe and would have permanent results. He did not want to have a bar of it however as he had his mind set on being accepted in 2 weeks time. It was at this point he started telling me that he was going to exercise 4 hours a day at an extreme intensity and not consume anything for 2 weeks other than lemon water. Again I explained the improbability of that plan along with the obvious dangers associated with it. I then showed him just how effective the 14 week approach would be if he could just accept the fact that he was not going to reach his goal in 14 days.
Long story short…. I recently had this client come back to me and he was extremely down on himself because in the past 6 or 8 months he has gained an additional 9 kilo’s because he actually attempted his plan and when it didn’t work out he felt like a complete failure, went into depression and just continued to eat. He then went on to mention that he still wanted to join the army and has since adopted a (26 week plan this time) to lose the weight to help him reach his goals. 4 weeks in and 7.2 kg’s down, he is starting to regain his confidence and seems almost unstoppable.
On the flip side of this client I have the ones who accept the long term approach and are willing to lose the weight over a longer period of time. They understand the importance of mini goals and recognising that the journey ahead is a lifestyle change and not some overnight fad. They set up their mini goals (focus on losing 5 kilo’s etc at a time rather than looking at the whole 40), and celebrate each achievement as a massive accomplishment (as they should) and reward themselves with something like a new top, a night out, hair cut or anything that they like.
This type of client will either go one of two ways, they become ecstatic or become frustrated, and unfortunately they more often that not go the wrong way. In the beginning they will show before and after photo’s, comment on just how good they feel, relish the fact their fitness levels have soared, love the new them and all of the new things they can now do that the extra weight either prohibited or made difficult. But then when the journey is coming to an end, they start feeling like a failure as the last 5 or so kilo’s are just not budging. They focus on what is not happening rather than what they have achieved. They focus on the scales and forget about how much better they look and feel. They get frustrated and upset because in their minds how far they have come doesn’t matter as it now becomes a case of total necessity that they look like a super model or the image that society says we should look like.
Understanding your achievements, acknowledging how far you have come and allowing yourself the time to reach your goals are all paramount to achieving success.
If you are battling a weight issue it is important to remember that the weight was added slowly. I know it may seem like one day you just woke up overweight, but if you look back you will more than likely see that you’re referring to yourself several years ago or even a few children ago. Just like it takes time to pack on the kilo’s, it also takes time to remove them.
It is also important to note that the closer you get to your ideal shape, the more difficult it will become to get to the end because your body will fight you all the way. All that needs to be done is a shake up in both diet and exercise to keep the changes coming. That in addition to the mindset that things will inevitably slow down and allowing yourself the time to get the last few kilo’s off.
Make a plan, stick with it, set mini goals, reward your efforts, acknowledge your achievements, allow yourself to suffer some hurdles along the way and you will reach your goal.