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Motivating Your Weight Loss Client When the Scale Won’t Budge

It’s a Tough Job

As a fitness practitioner, there is nothing more gratifying than seeing your new client begin to transform their body. As pounds drop away and sculpted muscles appear, they are totally stoked and ready to do whatever it takes to reach their goals. But after the first several weeks, as gains in strength diminish and the scale won’t budge, they can quickly become discouraged. This is a critical point where they may begin to backslide, or even give up altogether.
Use Other Tools

When a stall in weight loss is causing your client to lose momentum, divert their focus away from the scale and use other tools to measure progress. Use a skin fold caliper to measure body fat and congratulate them on their success. A tape measure reveals inches lost, which can be a big motivator. Run your battery of fitness assessments and compare them to your client’s beginning baseline. Providing evidence that they are making progress will reassure them that they are on the right path.
Focus on Feelings

It is important during a time of low morale that you acknowledge your client’s feelings and do not judge them. This is also a good time to remind them of positive comments they have made during the beginning weeks of their program. Having more energy, feeling stronger, increased confidence, sleeping better and an improved mental outlook are all side effects of fitness that new clients often notice. Ask open-ended questions about how they feel now compared to how they felt before they began their weight loss journey, and listen attentively. They will most likely remind themselves that they are in a better state now than they were before starting their program.
Hold Their Feet to the Fire

No matter how empathetic you are to your client’s dilemma, this may be the time to show them some tough love. Your role as coach, mentor and motivator is limited to just a few precious hours a week. The rest of the time your client is on their own, and the onus of their outcomes rests squarely on their shoulders. A weight loss plateau is a good time to review their behavior contract. Are they doing the amount of cardio they agreed to? Are they drinking the designated daily amount of water? Have they been diligent in turning in their daily food and activity log? Have they been skipping sessions? Even a little laxity in agreed behaviors can trigger a plateau.
Break the Plateau

Weight loss plateaus are common, but they can be broken. Use your FITT toolbox to cook up a new approach. Changing the frequency, intensity, time and type of exercise is standard procedure for breaking a plateau. Also take a close look at your client’s food logs. Changes in portion size, types of foods and eating patterns may be in order. No matter how discouraged your client becomes, presenting new strategies shows them that you haven’t given up on them, and it will give them new hope.
To stay motivated as a fitness professional, you need to see your clients succeed, and professional growth and education will equip you with the necessary tools. To better understand what makes your clients tick, consider a certification in Lifestyle Fitness Coaching or Personal Training. Learn more about working with children or senior citizens with Youth Fitness or Older Adult Fitness certifications. Or keep your gym members motivated and coming back for more with our Fitness Management certification. At W.I.T.S., your success is our success!

Credits Ben Schonewille; nenetus; stockimages.

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