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10 Tips for Setting Weight Loss Goals that Really Work

Despite the push for body positivity to combat body shaming, men and women of every age and persuasion are still in quest of the Holy Grail for weight loss and a lean physique, and weight loss continues to be a prime driver for personal training. But as we all know, helping our clients lose weight is one of the biggest challenges we face as fitness professionals. 

Some of our clients’ greatest obstacles to losing weight include:

  • Non-compliance
  • Lack of sustainable motivation
  • Chronic stress
  • Lack of a support system
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Misconceptions about food

Setting realistic goals is key to achieving weight loss success, but obtainable goals are more than just a random number on the scale. Follow these tips to help your clients succeed, and watch your business soar!

  • Keep it real: If your client’s goal is to revisit their high school weight, they are already setting themselves up for failure. Mature adult bodies have higher bone density and more lean mass, which adds extra pounds. Add 20 percent to your client’s best adult weight to set a realistic initial goal. You can always up the ante later on.
  1. Do the math: There are scores of reputable resources that support 0.5 to 1 kg per week as a realistic weight loss goal — thats about 1 to 2 pounds. Sit down with your client and your calendar and count out the weeks to set a realistic goal date.
  1. Get to the bottom of things: In most cases the goal is not really a number — the number represents how the client imagines they will look and feel at a certain weight. Ask open-ended questions to find out what they really want. A slammin’ beach bod, skinny jeans with no muffin tops, arms that don’t jiggle, or a butt you can bounce a coin off are all attainable goals that have no number.
  1. Zero in on lifestyle: Chronic stress and poor sleep hygiene are two common obstacles to weight loss, and they go hand in hand. Help your client find stress management tools like meditation or yoga, and discourage bad habits like watching TV or scanning social media into the wee hours.
  1. Prepare for fluctuations and setbacks: Weight loss is a bumpy road, and setbacks can be expected. Your female clients will have hormone-driven fluctuations over which they have no control, and life is full of events that disrupt our best-laid plans. Reassure your client that setbacks are temporary, and persistence wins in the end.
  1. Review goals weekly: Starting off each week with an informal goals review will help your client stay on track throughout the week ahead. Paint a positive picture, and let them know you are there to support them..
  1. Use other markers for success: Body weight is just one way to mark your client’s progress toward the body of their dreams. Reassess body fat and take measurements at the beginning of each month to frame your client’s journey in a positive light.
  1. Hold your client’s feet to the fire: At the end of the day, if you have done your job as a trainer, the client’s success rests on their own shoulders. Insist on daily food and activity logs, frequently review your behavior contract, and remind your client that success depends on consistency and compliance on their part.
  1. Don’t be crazy: Insanity is defined as repeatedly doing the same things and expecting different results. If your strategy is not working after a few weeks, use the FITT principle and other tools to change your approach. 
  1. Reward progress: Every pound lost deserves a celebration. Make a big deal of your client’s progress with a balloon, a card or simply an enthusiastic pat on the back. 

Resources

Keeping your clients on track can be a challenge, but the more you know, the more tools you have at your disposal. Dig into the psychology of weight loss with a Lifestyle Coaching Certification, or enhance your knowledge with continuing education courses such as Nutritional Concepts or Sports and Exercise Nutrition from our Health and Fitness series. Remember, a successful client is the best advertising for your business, and the best way to help them succeed is through W.I.T.S. education.

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