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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. 


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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The “Hidden” Benefits of Physical Activity in Youth

Guest Post by Dave Johnson, MS

In 2010, a study published in the International Journal of Obesity sent shockwaves through the public health community. According to the authors of the study, researchers found that 20% of people born between 1966 and 1985 were obese in their 20s, an obesity prevalence milestone not reached by their parents until their 30s or by their grandparents until their 40s or 50s[1].

That means more Americans are getting heavier earlier in their lives and carrying the extra pounds for longer periods of time, which suggests that the impact for chronic disease and life expectancy may be worse than previously thought. In short, this generation may be the first not to outlive their parents!


It’s not news that we have a growing problem in the United States but this particular news came as a shock to many. Based on recent data things haven’t really improved, either:

  • The percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s.
  • Data from 2015-2016 show that nearly 1 in 5 school age children and young people (6 to 19 years) in the United States has obesity.
  • Children with obesity are at higher risk of having other chronic health conditions and diseases that influence physical health. These include asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, type 2 diabetes, and risk factors for heart disease.
  • Children with obesity are bullied and teased more than their normal weight peers and are more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem.
  • In the long term, a child with obesity is more likely to have obesity as an adult. An adult with obesity has a higher risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and many types of cancer.[2]


What’s odd about all this is that people are well aware of most of the benefits that come with regular physical activity (improved muscular strength and endurance, improved heart and lung function, improved blood lipid profile, etc.), yet inactivity remains at an all time high. Perhaps, then, our message should shift to some of the “hidden” benefits of physical activity in youth.


One area of key interest for parents relates to academic performance. In an era where standardized testing is “normal” and academic rigors have never been higher, parents should be made aware of the cognitive benefits of physical activity. A multitude of studies has shown a positive correlation between physical activity and cognitive skill development (perceptual skills, intelligence quotient, achievement, verbal tests, mathematics tests, developmental level/ academic readiness, etc.). Further, researchers in California consistently found that students with higher levels of fitness scored higher on the SAT-9 (their standardized tests). There was a positive linear relationship between the number of fitness standards achieved and standardized test scores[3]. The evidence is clear: increased physical activity equals increased academic performance!


Another area of interest for most parents revolves around mental health, particularly conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). CDC data estimates that, as of 2016, Approximately 9.4% of children 2-17 years of age (6.1 million) had ever been diagnosed with ADHD[4]. A study from Journal of Abnormal Child Psychologyshowed that offering daily before-school, aerobic activities to younger at-risk children could help in reducing the symptoms of ADHD in the classroom and at home[5]. Symptoms of ADHD typically include inattentiveness, moodiness and difficulty getting along with others. This is yet another positive outcome associated with regular physical activity.


One final “hidden” benefit of physical activity lies in a child’s social health. In a society where social media dominates our landscape and digital interaction occurs far more often than physical interaction, physical activity provides an outlet for children and adolescents to collaborate with their peers to develop important interpersonal skills such as cooperation, teamwork, empathy, and leadership. These skills are imperative for helping young people build self confidence and self efficacy, two traits that have a direct correlation with personal and professional success.


The youth fitness demographic remains largely untapped. Most parents who actively seek fitness assistance are interested solely in specialized athletic training, but they only represent a fraction of the parents with children. Most parents are well aware of the traditional benefits of physical activity, but these “hidden” benefits carry significant weight and can be used to successfully market to a significant demographic. If you’re interested in learning more about this exciting topic, including specific training techniques for children and adolescents, check out our Youth Foundations courses!


[1]Warner, J. (2010, April 09). Baby Boomers May Outlive Their Kids. Retrieved from

[2]Obesity Facts | Healthy Schools | CDC. (2018). Retrieved from

[3]Sattelmair, J., & Ratey, J. J. (2009). Physically Active Play and Cognition: An Academic Matter? American Journal of Play,1(3). Retrieved from

[4]Data and Statistics About ADHD | CDC. (2018). Retrieved from

[5]Michigan State University. (2014). Exercise before school may reduce ADHD symptoms in kids. Retrieved from

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Top 5 Secrets to Weight Loss Success in 2019

A decade or so ago, we all believed that most of our calories should come from whole grains and other carbs, and that eggs and other saturated fats gave us heart disease. We were also sure that longer bouts of cardio would yield greater reductions in body fat. But times have changed, and the jury is in. New research shoots holes in just about everything we thought to be true about successful healthy weight loss. 

Here are five weight loss secrets, backed by clinical evidence, to help you succeed in 2019:

  1. Close the window: We once believed that eating small meals and snacks several times throughout the day was a great way to stabilize blood sugar and silence hunger pangs, thereby facilitating weight loss. Not surprisingly, few people who followed that advice actually lost weight. Giving your body a steady supply of energy negates the need to tap into fat stores. Instead of eating around the clock, practice intermittent fasting by eating all your calories within a six to eight hour window, and stop eating at least three hours before bedtime. Watch your energy soar as your fat melts away. Study
  1. Burst out of your plateau: Long bouts of moderate-intensity cardio lasting 60 to 90 minutes will help you burn fat, but it is a huge time commitment that most people cannot sustain. Burst training, aka interval training, speeds up fat loss while giving your metabolism a boost that lasts for hours. To begin, try walking for two minutes, then running all out for 30 seconds; repeat that cycle for a total of 20 minutes, three to five times per week, and watch your body shed its fat layer. You can adjust the walking to running ratio as your fitness level improves, spending more time in sprint mode. Study
  1. Lift heavy objects: There is no doubt about it, resistance training is one of the fastest ways to whip your body into shape and shed unwanted pounds. Use good form, and push yourself beyond your comfort zone. You will be amazed at the transformative results. Study
  1. Manage stress and sleep: Sleep deprivation and stress make a double-edged sword that elevates cortisol levels, encouraging your body to hang onto fat. Your body needs sleep to maintain a healthy immune system and refresh your brain. Chronic stress leads to metabolic disease and weight gain. It is nearly impossible to lose weight when you are always stressed and sleep deprived. Study
  1. Fatten up your diet: A diet low in carbs and processed foods, with moderate amounts of protein and high in healthy fats encourages your body to use fat for fuel, all day long. Avocados, coconut oil, nuts, eggs, salmon, sardines, olives, cheese and other foods high in fat will cut your hunger pangs and give you plenty of energy for your workouts. Study

Losing excess body weight can be a positive step toward better health. However, the scale should not be your only tool for measuring your progress. A well designed fitness program will help you reduce your body fat percentage, lose inches, and increase your overall strength and endurance. Obsessing about the numbers on the scale can undermine your progress and kill your motivation. Instead of zeroing in on a specific body weight, think about your energy level and how well your clothes fit. Looking and feeling your best spells success!


W.I.T.S. has all the tools you need to keep pace with the fitness industry and stay informed about the latest research. Increase your value and tap into a growing market with an Older Adult Fitness Certification. Help your clients manage stress and lose weight with Lifestyle Fitness Coaching. Hone your business skills with our Online Business Management continuing education courses. Stay on top of the latest industry trends and watch your business grow with W.I.T.S.!

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5 Nutrition Myths You Should Stop Believing NOW!

The field of nutrition is constantly evolving, with new research emerging daily. As we understand more about the relationship of food to human health and physical performance, some longstanding beliefs have been proven false. Yet these food myths persist, and they may be harming your health.

1. A Calorie is a Calorie

A calorie, or more correctly a kilocalorie, is a unit measurement of energy. It represents the amount of energy derived from a certain quantity of food. Calorie counting is one way to achieve energy balance by subtracting calories consumed from calories expended. However, not all food calories are created equal. Some foods have “empty” calories, meaning they provide energy but little else in terms of nutrients like vitamins, minerals and enzymes your body needs to stay healthy. Consuming empty calories can leave you depleted, and your body will quickly convert them to fat.

2. Grains are Essential

In the old Food Guide Pyramid of the 90’s, grains and other carbohydrate foods formed the base, with recommendations to consume 60 percent or more of your calories from carbohydrates. Our current obesity epidemic bears witness to the fallacy of that advice. Livestock are fed grains to fatten them up, and that applies to humans too. Grain based foods like flour, rice and corn should be eaten sparingly. Get your carbohydrates from fresh whole vegetables, and fruits in moderation.

3. Saturated Fat is Bad

Since the 1950s, naturally saturated fats have been demonized because they were thought to contribute to heart disease and arterial plaque, yet no concrete evidence has emerged to support those claims. In fact, the demonization of natural fat has led us to change our diets from protein-based to carbohydrate-based, and we know where that got us. The real demon, it turns out, is trans fat, derived when plant-based oils are artificially infused with hydrogen to make them solid at room temperature. Processed peanut butter, margarine and shortening are examples of hydrogenated fats. Trans fats are often hidden in processed foods, snack foods and baked goods. Nuts, seeds, coconut oil, egg yolks and avocados are all good sources of healthy saturated fat.

4. Low Fat Milk Does a Body Good

This may be a hard nut to swallow, but mounting evidence suggests that low fat dairy products are harmful to your health, and may contribute to obesity. Low fat milk is loaded with sugar, and most commercial brands contain antibiotics, pain killers, growth hormones and traces of other harmful pharmaceuticals fed routinely to dairy cows. Dairy milk is intended to feed baby cows, not humans. If you can’t give up dairy, mounting evidence suggests that full-fat milk is better for you. A 2016 study published in “Circulation” found the consumption of whole fat milk to reduce the risk of diabetes.

5. Margarine is Better than Butter

For decades, Americans have been slathering a goopy yellow substance from a plastic tub on their toast, thinking they were making a healthful choice. Now we know that margarine is loaded with trans fats and chemicals that are far more harmful than the naturally occurring saturated fat in butter. A 2015 study published in the “British Medical journal” revealed that saturated animal fat does not increase the risk of heart disease, but trans fat does. Choose European butter to avoid drugs and chemicals.

Ask Yourself This

Before buying into the latest nutrition fad, ask yourself a few questions: Is it a whole natural food, or has it been altered and processed? Does it provide nutritional value other than energy? Is it laden with chemicals or tainted with pharmaceuticals? Has the color or texture been altered to make it look more appealing? As much as possible, stick with whole organic food. Eat more plants, and if you eat meat or animal products, choose grass fed pasture raised animal sources.


Healthy nutrition goes hand-in-hand with physical fitness. As the saying goes, “You can’t out-train a bad diet.” Whether you want to learn the basics or keep up with the latest, W.I.T.S. has course offerings to meet your needs. Bite into the basics with Certified Personal Trainer or Lifestyle Fitness Coaching. Take a stab at Nutrition Concepts. Sink your teeth into Fundamentals of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Dig into Pregnancy Fitness or Older Adult Fitness Foundations. Feed your brain with continuing education from any of our awesome CEC bundles!

References and Credits

de Souza, RJ et al. (2015). Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. British Medical Journal, 351.

Yakoob, MY et al. (2016). Circulating biomarkers of dairy fat and risk of incident diabetes mellitus among US men and women in two large prospective cohorts. Circulation, 133(17), 1645-1654.

Images courtesy of

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Fuel Deficiency: Nutrition and Older Adults

Food for Thought
For older adults, healthy balanced nutrition can be a major factor in determining overall quality of life. Yet for many older adults, getting all the necessary nutrients for optimal health can be a challenge. According to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Aging, malnutrition in older adults is highly prevalent amongst older adults living in their own homes, in long-term care facilities, and in hospitals. A 2013 study published in “Osteoporosis International” found malnutrition, especially inadequate protein, to be a major contributing factor to muscle wasting, and loss of strength. As fitness professionals, we need to be aware of the nutritional obstacles faced by our older adult clients so that we can help them achieve peak health and optimal daily function.

wits oa grumpy
Physical Factors
Many physical changes take place as a direct consequence of aging that can affect nutritional choices. Dental problems can make chewing difficult, causing older adults to steer clear of foods like meat and raw produce. Diminished senses of taste and smell can make food seem less appetizing. Poor prostate and bladder function, combined with reduced ambulatory function, can be a deterrent to staying hydrated, as every trip to the bathroom becomes a challenge. Reduced strength and diminished reaction time can make cooking and food preparation a chore.

wits oa medicine
Environmental Factors
In addition to natural physical changes, many other factors can keep older adults from eating well. Medications can affect the taste and smell of foods, making them seem unappetizing. Chemicals and preservatives in processed convenience foods can interfere with digestion and vital organ function, and microwave ovens can deplete nutrients. Antibiotics in animal products and medications can disrupt digestive intestinal flora, causing upset stomach, constipation and diarrhea. Poverty among older adults is also a critical component of malnutrition.

organic eggs
Simple Solutions
Despite the many obstacles faced by older adults, getting essential nutrients can be simple. A daily smoothie made from whole ingredients like bananas, berries, greens and organic Greek yogurt can provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and protein. Ingredients can be prepared and frozen in meal-sized portions, ready to be blended. Organic peanut butter on whole grain bread can provide protein and healthy fat. Organic free-range hard boiled eggs are a rich source of protein and nutrients. The yolks contain lutein for eye health, and egg yolks are a rich source of vitamins A, B and D. Plain organic yogurt is an excellent source of protein and digestive enzymes. A probiotic supplement may help improve digestion.

Understanding the needs and physical limitations of older adults is important for trainers who wish to tap into this lucrative and growing market. As always, W.I.T.S. is on the cutting edge, providing quality education to help you grow as a fitness professional. To learn more about training older adults, explore our Older Adult Fitness Specialist, Older Adult Fitness Foundations, and Able Bodies Balance Training courses, all available online.
References and Credits
International Journal of Nurse Practitioners: Why are elderly individuals at risk of nutritional deficiency?

National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Aging: Malnutrition and Older Americans

Osteoporosis International: Impact of nutrition on muscle mass, strength, and performance in older adults.

*Images courtesy of

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Trainer’s Lunchbox: Tools for Managing Your Clients’ Nutrition

by Michelle Matte, MSEd, CSCS

Fitness and Forks

Challenging and effective exercise programming is the foundation of fitness. But for optimal performance and successful weight management, nutrition plays a critical role. As the saying goes, you cannot out-train a bad diet. In a perfect world, you would be present to monitor every morsel of food that passes your client’s lips. But in the real world, your client must make his or her own decisions about what, when and how much to eat. The best you can do is to hold them accountable, and educate them as you go. Fortunately, you do have some tools available to help.

smart fitness

Dear Diary

Requiring a daily food and activity diary is perhaps the most effective tool you can employ to hold your client’s feet to the fire. A 2008 study of approaches to weight loss published in the “American Journal of Preventive Medicine” found that subjects who journaled lost nearly twice as much weight as those who did not. The more frequent and thorough the journal entries, the greater the weight reduction. For maximal results, don’t wait until your next session to review your client’s food and activity log. Require them to submit a daily log electronically at the end of each day. Knowing that the log will be reviewed will make your client more mindful of their food and exercise behaviors throughout each day. Encourage them to add comments about their thoughts and feelings. Emotionally charged journaling is more impactful.


What’s the Plan?

If you ask your typical early morning client what they plan to eat for the rest of the day, they will probably tell you they have no idea. Therein lies the problem. Without a plan, eating becomes random and your client often ends up eating too many calories from the wrong types of food. Here’s the strategy: Have your client submit a detailed plan for healthy meals and snacks for each day of the week, and then work with them to create a grocery list from their menu. When you have a plan, and you’ve stocked up on all the groceries you need to execute it, there are no excuses for making unhealthy choices. Offering some recipe suggestions and creative ways to use leftovers will help your client make the switch from SAD, the Standard American Diet, to FAB, the Forever Awesome Body.

healthy food

Healthy App-etite

Fitness training and technology have followed a similar growth curve over the past decade, and there are now a plethora of useful apps and online tools that can help you manage your client’s nutrition. Sites like and provide tools that will count calories and give you a breakdown of nutrients for virtually any food eaten. They will also calculate calories expended for a wide range of activities. For tracking tools, daily food plans, menus and recipes, also try With your client’s permission, set up an account on one of these user-friendly sites so that you can both access and track their progress.



Nutrition and fitness are rapidly evolving fields, and new research is constantly contributing to our understanding about how the body uses food for fuel. You cannot rely on the latest nutrition fads to help your clients achieve results. To be a top trainer, nutrition education is an ongoing requirement. W.I.T.S. is here to help you succeed with our Nutritional Concepts available online.

References and Credits

Hollis, JF et al, 2008. Weight Loss During the Intensive Intervention Phase of the Weight-Loss Maintenance Trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 35(2):118-126.


Livestrong Foundation


MyFitnessPal: Lose Weight with My Fitness Pal


United States Department of Agriculture: Super Tracker


*Images courtesy of