Archive October 2019

Detoxes, cleanses, and 30-day challenges: How to turn a quick-fix diet into transformation gold.

Detoxes, cleanses, and 30-day challenges: How to turn a quick-fix diet into transformation gold.

“Get rock hard abs in 30 days!” “Drop a dress size in three weeks!” “Detox your body with juice!” As a coach, you know these promises often fall short. So what do you do when a client wants a quick fix? In this article, we’ll show you five strategies to turn your client’s short-term diet into lasting results. 

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“A friend of mine just lost 25 pounds on a 30-day diet challenge. I’m going to try it!”

Sharon was by no means my first client to gleefully skip into a training session and announce she’d found a quick-fix solution.

I understood her excitement. After all, who wouldn’t want such fast results?

But I felt concerned for Sharon. I’ve seen lots of these “overnight” diet challenges and any changes are usually short-lived.

It’s painful to watch clients go through this predictable cycle (see below).

They often wind up right where they started, if not worse off. So as coaches, isn’t our job to put an end to 7-day detoxes, 14-day juice cleanses, and 21-day metabolism makeovers?

Maybe not.

Though every instinct might tell you to coach that “quick fix” mentality right out of your client, there’s a better way.

The best coaches can turn even the worst diet ideas into long-term success.

How? By being open, creative, and strategic.

In this article, we’ll show you five ways to transform your clients’ enthusiasm for diet and fitness “challenges” into rocket fuel for sustainable change.

Strategy #1: Celebrate their effort.

“I see a lot of people wanting to do the Whole30 or a juice cleanse or go sugar- or alcohol-free for a month,” says Jennifer Broxterman, R.D., a Precision Nutrition Certified Coach in London, Ontario.

And while these types of challenges have high failure rates, says Broxterman, don’t discourage them: “That’s a judgmental approach, and it creates a ‘me versus you’ mentality, which isn’t very good for building rapport.”

Instead, focus on the positives… even if it requires you to take a nice, deep breath first.

For example: “A challenge can be really useful if it gets your client excited about eating healthy and feeling good about the food choices in their cupboard,” says Broxterman.

It also shows they’re willing to make changes.

And with your help, clients can gain valuable insights that’ll help them achieve better results moving forward.

By supporting their efforts—instead of shutting them down—you’ll foster trust with your client and strengthen your coaching relationship. 

For a three-step process to help you reframe your coaching perspective and respect your clients’ goals, check out this PN coaching worksheet: Meet your clients where they’re at.

Strategy #2: Learn what drives them.

Your client’s challenge offers you a great opportunity: To better understand their health and fitness goals, their frustrations, and what really makes them tick, says Broxterman.

With non-judgemental curiosity, ask:

“How have diet challenges worked for you in the past?” 

This not only gives you background, it can also better set your client’s expectations (without you having to do so).

“Sometimes, they start telling you how they lost some weight, but not as much as they hoped, and that they gained it back right after,” says Broxterman.

Next, you might ask (in order):

  • “Why do you want to do this challenge?”
  • “What do you hope to get out of it?”
  • “Why is that important to you?”
  • “And why is that important to you?”

The goal is to understand your client’s pain points and true motivation.

That way, you’ll be better equipped to help them—not just during the challenge, but after it’s over, too.

What’s more, these questions might help your client discover a deeper purpose for change. One they weren’t even aware of. This can lead to much greater success, in the short-term… and the long-term.

To help your clients dig deep and find their real reasons for wanting to change, use our “5 whys” worksheet.

Strategy #3: Create a plan.

With any short-term challenge, your client is likely to make a lot of changes—all at once.

And in most cases, those changes aren’t meant to last. After all, people don’t go into a “cleanse” expecting to drink only juice for the rest of their lives.

This is where you, the coach, can really shine.

Help your client identify healthy habits that complement and intersect with the challenge they’re doing. 

That way, you can bridge the gap between the “challenge” and the rest of their life. The idea: to not only improve their likelihood of success during the challenge—but also in days, weeks, and months to follow.

Keep these habits small, simple, and behavior-focused. (Read: “Lose 10 pounds” is an outcome, not a behavior.)

Let’s say your client is committed to only eating whole foods for 30 days. A good habit to practice might be packing their lunch and afternoon snack every morning, to help ensure they stay on track.

Or perhaps they’re attempting a “no dessert” challenge. In this case, you might suggest they practice eating slowly and mindfully, and/or eat lean protein at each meal, both of which can help them feel more satisfied after eating.

And what about a 14-day juice cleanse? That’s a tougher one, to be sure. So get creative. You might suggest they:

  • Plan a social activity once or twice a week that isn’t centered around food and drink. (This is a highly underrated strategy for helping people adjust to a healthy eating lifestyle.)
  • Take 15 minutes each day to walk, foam roll, or stretch. A juice cleanse is not the time to start exercising intensely, but it can be used to establish a baseline daily movement habit.
  • Consciously recognize the feelings that come up when they’re hungry. It can even help to write them down. (Are they sad? Bored? Tired? See more ideas here.) Plus, they can learn to “sit with it,” too. Hunger is inevitable on a juice cleanse, which means it’s the perfect time to learn that “hunger is not an emergency.”

Ideally, by the end of the challenge, these habits are so ingrained it feels natural to continue them.

Bonus: If you and your client brainstorm more practices than can fit into the challenge timeframe, you have a built-in roadmap for what to work on once the challenge is over.

Use our “Outcome goals into behavior goals” worksheet to collaborate with your client on habits that will help get them closer to their targets. 

Strategy #4: Turn “failures” into feedback.

Imagine your client signs up for a Dunkin Do-Not Challenge (a.k.a. thirty days without donuts).

But just four days in, they come to you, shamefully admitting they had a Boston cream breakdown in the office breakroom.

Broxterman recommends using a three-pronged coaching approach: curiosity, compassion, and radical honesty.

Curiosity: Talk to your client about what led to their decision to eat the donut. For example, maybe they worked late the night before and skipped breakfast or didn’t prepare their lunch.

Compassion: Emphasize that they shouldn’t beat themselves up. Encourage them to treat themselves the same way they’d treat a friend or loved one in a similar situation.

Radical honesty: Give your client a chance to be completely upfront about what was going on when the “failure” happened. Maybe they were feeling:

  • a little stressed at the time
  • deprived of the foods they love
  • a bit like they “deserved” a treat

Now show them the upside: Perhaps the donut “failure” provides feedback about the importance of meal prepping lunches. That way, they don’t end up making less-than-optimal food choices.

It may also hint that completely eliminating food—especially ones they love—isn’t the best approach.

By reframing your client’s “failure” into a learning experience, you’ll prep them for future success (and minimize their guilt). 

Here’s another example: Suppose your client is trying to avoid sugar for 30 days, but they’re really struggling. Help them identify their roadblocks.

For instance, perhaps their partner keeps stocking the kitchen with cookies and ice cream. This crystallizes two frequent problems: Their environment is full of tempting foods, and their partner is showing a lack of support.

Together, brainstorm what might they do to improve their environment and/or strengthen their support system. This is how you coach them through obstacles, and keep the momentum going long after the challenge ends.

For a hands-on way to teach clients what it means to be resilient, sit down together and fill out this worksheet on “turning failure into feedback.”

Strategy #5: Explore their results

When a client completes a challenge, it’s likely they’ll have some positive outcomes. Maybe they lose a few pounds, stop craving sweets so much, or are sleeping better.

Naturally, they’ll want to maintain these results. But that rarely happens.

People tend to gravitate toward short-term diets is because it’s hard to fathom changing their eating and lifestyle habits for good. For a few weeks, though? That sounds doable

Here’s the problem: This line of thinking encourages all-or-nothing-ism. You’re either doing the most you possibly can to be healthy (an extreme diet challenge), or you’re doing nothing at all (back to your old ways).

But based on working with over 100,000 clients, we can confidently say this: The middle ground is usually where the magic happens.

Your client doesn’t have to keep all the habits they practiced during the challenge—just the ones that worked for them. 

Find out what those are, and discuss how they might continue them. Even if it’s not all the time.

For example, maybe they’ve discovered they really do feel better when they don’t drink alcohol every night but miss having drinks with their partner.

The middle ground might be limiting their alcohol intake to just one or two nights a week.

Or perhaps they love getting to the gym more frequently, but they don’t find cooking all their own meals practical.

The middle ground: They keep their gym habit, but only prepare dinner three or four days a week, which they feel confident they can do.

Here at Precision Nutrition, we call this “always something”—and use it to effectively combat all-or-nothing-ism. 

If practicing a habit at every daily meal is too much, how about at two meals? Or even one? Find out what feels doable for your client, and start there.

Instead of following through 100 percent of the time, what about 80 percent? Or 60 percent? We’ve even found that people can make real progress by being consistent just 50 percent of the time (or less).

Bottom line: Just because your client went all-in on the challenge, doesn’t mean they have to shut down entirely afterwards. Instead, show them how to “adjust the dial,” and keep benefiting from their positive actions.

Help your clients carry over their challenge changes in a way that’s sustainable, with our worksheet on “finding the middle ground.”

Leave your assumptions at the door.

The desire to embark on short-term diets, challenges, or cleanses isn’t going away anytime soon. Are they the best way to improve health and fitness? Probably not. But that won’t stop your clients from wanting to do them.

Truth is, short-term challenges aren’t useless. They don’t doom folks to failure. But most of the time, people start them with the wrong mindset—and without the right support network in place.

Meet your challenge-curious clients with compassion instead of judgement, and you might just be able to use their “summer body slim down” as a launchpad for meaningful change.

Not just for a month… but for a lifetime.

What if you could make a real difference in the lives of others—and never feel confused about nutrition again?

When it comes to better health and fitness, focusing on nutrition is the most important and effective step. But there’s a big problem: Most people don’t feel qualified to coach nutrition, especially in a way that helps clients develop highly-effective and sustainable habits.

That’s where we come in. If you’d like to learn everything you can about nutrition—especially how to use it to help yourself and others—consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.  The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to feel confident and qualified to coach nutrition with anyone.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients, the Precision Nutrition curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the PN Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results—for yourself and your clients.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 30% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 30% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in a matter of hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

The post Detoxes, cleanses, and 30-day challenges: How to turn a quick-fix diet into transformation gold. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

11 things I’ve learned coaching elite and professional athletes. Lessons from our work with NFL, NBA, UFC, & Olympic champions.

11 things I’ve learned coaching elite and professional athletes. Lessons from our work with NFL, NBA, UFC, & Olympic champions.

Precision Nutrition’s work coaching elite and professional athletes contributes to every innovation we bring to nutrition and fitness. Here are our 11 favorite learnings; ones you can use with any client, with any goal.

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At Precision Nutrition, it’s our mission to improve the lives of, and get results for, every single type of client, including our most elite ones (like NFL, NHL, NBA teams, individual pros and Olympians, top-ranked junior prospects, and more).

Interestingly, coaching elite and pro athletes has taught us a lot.

I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty cool to work with some of the most respected athletes in the world. But here’s what’s surprising: In a lot of ways, elite athletes are just like us “regular” folks.

For example: I’ve learned that certain coaching principles apply across the board, no matter who you are and what you do.

(Yep, middle-aged clients just trying to lose belly fat do have something in common with UFC legend Georges St. Pierre).

So, in this article, I’d like to share 11 of our favorite coaching lessons and stories, taken directly from our work with some of the top athletes in the world.

If you’re a health and fitness pro, these can be applied to your coaching clients, whether they’re athletes or they’re just getting started with fitness.

And, hey, if you’re just here as a sports fan—enjoy the inside scoop.

1. Shape the environment and you can get great results, even without intensive one-on-one coaching.

Coaching one-on-one is great. But sometimes it’s not possible. Like when you’re trying to improve the nutritional habits of an entire basketball team in a short period of time.

Precision Nutrition coach Brian St. Pierre has been a nutrition consultant for the San Antonio Spurs since 2014. And he’s seen the team thrive (in fact, they won the NBA championship the year he started working with them).

But when Brian started working with the Spurs, he was a bit concerned about whether he’d be able to help.

With the team’s crazy schedule, he’d have next to zero one-on-one time with each player. Would he still be able to get results?

After careful consideration, Brian realized that he could have the biggest impact by focusing his efforts, not on each individual, but on the environment they all shared.

Brian’s tactics included:

  • Start with a template. After meeting with the players and coaching staff, he developed a meal plan template — focussing on meat, seafood, cooked starch, cooked vegetables, salad, fruit, and nuts — for the chefs/caterers at the training facility, where players eat breakfast and lunch.
  • Make it tasty. He ensured that players’ favorite foods were included in the provided meals. (Brian advised the team’s coaches not to take away Tim Duncan’s beloved Cajun chicken and mashed sweet potatoes.) After all, if the players don’t like the food they’re being offered, regardless of how good it is for them, they’ll just sneak out to Chick fil A.
  • Keep it convenient. He gave the strength and conditioning interns some Super Shake recipes so they could whip up personalized shakes (specific to each player’s needs and personal preferences) and hand them out after training and practice. 
  • Make arrangements for travel. He provided healthy meal ideas for plane rides. (Sometimes coaches insisted on soda and cookies for the ride — for themselves — so Brian gave suggestions on where to hide their personal stash so the players wouldn’t be tempted.)
  • Have a plan for non-practice hours. He recommended meal delivery services as options for dinner. For married players with a spouse who cooks for them, he provided recipes and meal ideas to take home.

These kinds of tactics are pretty simple, and none of them require in-depth, involved one-on-one coaching. Nor do they require any player to engage in some heroic, individual project of personal change.

Whether it’s at a training camp, at home, or in the office, our environment has a huge influence on what we eat.

Shape the environment, and you shape the path toward change.

2. Skill in the gym (or on the field) does not equal skill in the kitchen.

Elite athletes put everything they’ve got into their physical performance. You might assume they bring the same passion for detail, refinement, and mastery to the food they eat.

Some do. But most don’t.

I first learned this in the early 2000s when I went to work with the U.S. National Bobsled team as nutrition consultant. The team asked me to kick off their training camp with a seminar.

Back then I had the notion that, as top-level athletes, these guys must give the same attention to their nutrition as they do to their sport. As a result, I built a full day of seminars on advanced nutrition topics and high-level supplement strategies.

I was all ready to go.

Then the group filed in late, holding bags of McDonalds.

I knew immediately I would have to change my presentation on the fly.

As I asked questions and listened, I realized these athletes still needed to learn the basics. They may have been advanced in their sport, but they were still, for the most part, nutrition beginners.

This is a good lesson for anyone doing nutrition coaching.

Imagine you’re coaching a middle-aged man who’s 50 lbs overweight and has never given nutrition a second thought. Then imagine a 25-year-old who’s 225 lb and 8% body fat training for the Olympics.

Yes, they might be very different physically. But they might also have the exact same nutritional skill level.

(In the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification we classify clients as Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3 eaters and have different recommendations for each level. In this case, both individuals would get recommendations for Level 1 eaters.)

So don’t make too many assumptions about your clients. Talk to them, test them, and find out where they’re actually at.

3. If you can’t make it better, make it less-worse.

Recently tasked with helping NBA team the Brooklyn Nets improve their nutrition, Precision Nutrition coaches Adam Feit and Brian St. Pierre worked together to create an optimal nutritional environment at the team’s practice facility.

Seriously, they’re making that dining room a work of art. Beautiful infographics demonstrating hand-size portions and Super Shake infographics; healthy, perfectly balanced menus. Great stuff.

But after training, it’s time to compete. And that’s when the team hits the road. They travel constantly.

Adam and Brian realized the biggest obstacle to maintaining the team’s nutrition was dealing with hotel food. Especially late-night room service menus offering pizza, wings, burgers, and so on.

Adam and Brian couldn’t exactly customize the menus of hundreds of hotels. But they could change the menus the players saw.

So they got ahold of the hotel menus in advance and created pared down versions of each menu — a customized version with some of the best available options.

This smaller, more selective version of the menu is what the guys would see in their rooms or get when the team sat down for dinner.

Sure, it might not be perfect, but it was still a huge improvement. And it made it easier for the players to choose a healthier option without even thinking about it.

One of our coaching mantras at Precision Nutrition is “a little bit better”. We encourage clients to abandon all-or-nothing thinking and look for ways to make even slight improvements to each meal or each workout.

Of course, you don’t have to be an NBA champion to realize that small improvements really do add up.

4. The best meal plan is worthless if your client doesn’t like the food.

A pro tennis standout contacted PN for some help with energy levels, performance, and general nutrition. Of course, we were happy to help.

Brian St. Pierre met with the athlete, discussed goals, taste preferences and other details, and then put together some guidelines including a meal plan template complete with recipe ideas.

The problem: The athlete didn’t like any of it.

Even in the pro sports world, there are self-professed picky eaters.

That’s when we realized that all of Brian’s nutritional expertise wasn’t enough. It was time to bring in the big guns. So we sent our full-time super-chef, Jen Nickle, to help.

Jen and Brian put together a taste-test session with the tennis star. They tried out all kinds of options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. They explored food combinations, preparation options, flavors, and so on.

Turns out, the taste-test day was fun. Jen and Brian were able to build rapport with the client and demonstrate our commitment to helping her. Best of all, Chef Jen could make food her client would really enjoy—and actually eat.

(Jen now travels with this athlete to big-time events like the U.S. Open to ensure the best nutrition during competition.)

While not everyone can afford a personal chef, customizing nutritional guidance (and meal plans, if you use them) to a client’s tastes is essential.

If your client is picky, don’t try to insist that they develop a taste for quinoa or sweet potatoes; find out what they do like and work with that.

5. You have to work the way your client works.

Health and fitness coaches: Think about online coaching for a moment. How do you get started?

Chances are you compose a nice email, and you attach an assessment form, maybe a food log for them to fill out, and maybe link to an article for them to read.

What if your client doesn’t have a computer?

In 2014, Brian St. Pierre started working with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Some of the guys on the team didn’t own computers. And if they did, they never used email.

And why should they? Their lives are spent on the field, in the gym, in film sessions, or enjoying some precious recovery time.

Since, nowadays, people can do almost anything on their phone that they can do on on a computer, they were usually only reachable via text.

At first, Brian admits he felt resistant. He’d been coaching using email for years. Now he had to relearn a new style of communicating and coaching.

But, using his client-centered coaching skills, Brian adapted his methods to his clients. He got over his personal bias, stopped emailing, and started texting.

Interestingly, the texting experience made Brian think more critically about what he was asking clients in the first place. He became more focused, narrowing down his assessments to the bare essentials.

Most importantly, his clients got what they needed.

How to be client-centered is one of the best lessons any coach can ever learn. As coaches, we always have to remind ourselves that it doesn’t matter what works for us.

What matters is what works for our clients.

6. Perfection is not required.

Since 2009, I’ve been helping MMA star / UFC legend Georges St-Pierre with his nutrition. Before I began putting together Georges’ eating strategy, I knew two things.

One, that he had a soft spot for McDonald’s and Subway.

Two, if you tell a client they can’t have their favorite foods, they might end up ignoring you completely.

Think about it. How well could putting my foot down and bossing around a professional fighter (and Welterweight champion of the world) possibly go?

So I gave Georges some suggested meals. These included a few main meals and a few Super Shakes each day. These would cover his nutritional bases.

Beyond that, I told him he could eat whatever he wanted if he was still hungry. I even suggested eating McDonald’s or Subway every few days. Daily, if he liked.

Georges was shocked. And delighted. He couldn’t believe his nutrition coach was basically inviting him to eat at McDonald’s.

Let’s face it: With Georges’ energy expenditure, one meal a day off-script isn’t going to tank his results. It also fit his goals: gaining muscle mass to fight competitors who were getting bigger all the time.

Of course, Georges is not your typical client, and this was not your typical eating strategy. But there is an important lesson here.

Perfection isn’t required for elite athletes—or for “regular” people.

For most people, aiming to get 80% of your meals on-point is an effective goal.

7. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.

Dietary trends tend to go in cycles. Ketogenic diets are among them, resurfacing now and then to grab media headlines. These can get the attention of top athletes who are looking for an edge—with varying results.

Here’s an example. For a while, there was a trainer who made a big splash putting NFL linemen on a strict ketogenic diet paired with high doses of certain supplements. Players/clients would come to his “camp” for about four weeks to learn how to eat this way.

One of these players was an offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons.

He heard about other NFL guys getting great results on the program, so he decided to give it a try himself. Within those four weeks, he saw immediate improvement: He got bigger, faster, stronger, leaner—all the things a lineman would want to see.

By the end of the four weeks, though, he started to feel a lot less awesome.

He was experiencing some major symptoms: everything from glucose control issues to hypoglycemia to brain fog to vertigo to anxiety and depressive moods. He even confessed to having suicidal thoughts.

But he had been so impressed by the initial results of the diet, he wanted to keep trying. He tried tinkering with it, cycling his keto days, but nothing worked.

So he called us.

We reintroduced carbs into his diet, recommending he eat 2-3 cupped handfuls of carbs at each meal (five times a day). At the same time, we decreased his fat intake a bit, which helped counter-balance the increase in carbs, calorie-wise.

Within 2-3 weeks, his blood glucose evened out, his anxiety went away, and his performance improved. Plus, the body composition changes he liked about the keto diet stayed the same: He maintained his leanness and his mass.

We found that he needs to be really consistent with his carbs in order to perform and feel his best.

That’s the thing about diets, protocols, and specific methods. Just because it works for one client doesn’t mean it’s going to work for another—even if they share the same goals, athletic ability and body type.

Plus, just because a particular approach can “work” (according to very specific metrics like body weight, for some period of time) doesn’t mean it’s going to work for every goal, indefinitely.

Individual needs should come before trends every time.

And outcome-based decision making should trump “this worked for some other guy” or “this should theoretically work for me”.

8. Bring important influencers (like family members) into the process.

For several years I provided nutrition consultation to Junior A hockey players.

(Here in Canada, Junior A is essentially one level below the NHL. These are the guys already drafted, or looking to get drafted, and become the next great NHL stars.)

While these players are already amazing athletes, they’re also young, usually teenagers. They still live with families, either their own or those they are staying with while playing for a team outside their home town.

When working with these future NHLers, I did some basic education, giving seminars and offering kitchen demos showing how to prepare basic healthy foods.

But I knew that wasn’t enough.

It didn’t matter much what I told the athletes. Because they weren’t the ones making the meals, or doing the shopping, or buying the food.

I had to get the family involved. So I would find out who prepared the meals at the homes where they were staying, then concentrate my efforts on them.

I gave them everything they needed, including:

  • Education about the needs of a young teenage hockey player
  • Cooking demos
  • Recipes and meal ideas
  • Grocery shopping guides
  • And more.

The more I could equip the family to cook well, the better the nutritional results would be for the athlete.

This relates to all kinds of clients, of all ages. Clients often tell us their biggest obstacle to eating better is other people: colleagues, friends, and most of all, family members such as spouses and kids.

Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Acknowledge the other influences in your clients’ lives. Help them work with loved ones and address any roadblocks together.

9. Intense training and strict eating will mess with your body. (But that’s OK for a little while.)

Precision Nutrition offers an elite athlete testing and coaching program which includes a battery of research-based physiological tests and assessments. These are designed to help athletes optimize their nutrition.

The tests include genetic, blood chemistry, food sensitivity, and microbiome analyses. To gather these data, we send a nurse to the athlete’s house or training facility, collect samples, and analyze them.

Then an interdisciplinary team (including our sports nutrition experts, our molecular genetics experts, and our physician) review and interpret the results.

We give the athletes a really comprehensive report of the findings. And then we use the findings to personally coach the athletes for the next six months.

A few months back, we tested a dozen track and field stars — some of whom just competed at the Rio Olympic Games — from the world-renowned Altis facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

In their lead-up to the games, we found something interesting.

Every one of the athletes had suboptimal sex hormone (testosterone, estrogen) levels and white blood cell counts. We discovered a host of other, more individual, things too. But this one was most interesting for two reasons.

First, it applied to both men and women.

Second, a few years back, when doing a pre-season training camp with NFL athletes at Nike HQ, we discovered some of the same things.

Of course, the results aren’t completely surprising. High intensity training has predictable consequences. It’s hard to get adequate calories, sleep, and stress management when you’re in an intense training block.

People who are training for the Olympics or for an NFL season are OK to make that trade-off. They know it’s temporary. And for most people, this kind of physical disruption isn’t dangerous if it’s for a short time.

However, it can become dangerous if you keep going at that level.

Most elite athletes take breaks after a training season, which provides a chance to rest, recover, and normalize. Its no surprise that many NHL athletes spend most of their off-season doing little more than lifting a fishing rod.

But many “regular” exercisers don’t respect the seasonality of sport. Which means, ironically, many of them are as much at risk of damaging their bodies through undereating and under recovery as Olympians.

So keep the long game in mind.

If a client is overtraining, bring the risks to their attention. If they’re making a sacrifice for an important goal, be clear about the tradeoffs.

And always be asking: What’s the goal? How do we get you there as safely as possible? When’s it time to back off and rest?

10. Just because a food is “healthy” doesn’t mean it’s good for everyone.

One client from our elite athlete program is Mikel Thomas, a hurdler from Trinidad and Tobago. Mikel was preparing for the Rio Olympics but was having some issues with recovery.

We conducted our usual battery of tests. In reviewing the data, we noticed he had a high iron saturation, and his UIBC (Unsaturated Iron Binding Capacity) was low. Both factors pointed to an excessive iron intake.

Pretty unusual for a vegetarian.

We also did a food sensitivities test, and noticed an intolerance to chickpeas.

(Note: While food sensitivities tests aren’t 100% reliable on their own, when used in the context of a full spectrum of tests and assessments, they can help give us extra clues about what’s going on.)

When we looked at Mikel’s food log we noticed that most of his meals were based around chickpeas. Giving thought to the data as a whole, we hypothesized that this dietary staple (typical for someone from Trinidad and Tobago, especially for a vegetarian) was actually causing a negative reaction in his body.

Fortunately, when we had Mikel replace chickpeas with alternative protein and carbohydrate sources such as quinoa, his recovery got better.

The moral of this story is not that chickpeas are bad. They offer carbohydrates, some protein, and various vitamins and minerals. They are a nutritious food.

But just because a food is considered “healthy”—or even a “superfood”—doesn’t mean it’s optimal for your client. Especially if it’s over-consumed.

11. Physiological markers don’t tell the whole story.

In 2011 and 2012, as mentioned above, I participated in Nike’s NFL Football Training Camp Pro. This camp brings together 10-15 high-level NFL athletes for a week-long camp of testing, training, eating, and learning experience on Nike’s campus.

The camp included athletes like Ndamukong Suh, Kam Chancellor, Patrick Chung, Jonathan Stewart, Steven Jackson, Greg Jennings, and more. And, at the camp, I delivered nutritional seminars and education to the athletes. I also ran some physiological testing for them.

Interestingly, I tested better than all the guys there on a host of standard markers of health such as sex hormone levels (testosterone, DHEA, etc), vitamin D levels, Omega 3 levels, and more.

Yep, when it came to these health markers, I dominated the NFL stars.

But you know what I wasn’t better at?

Playing football.

This was a great reminder that while physiological markers can be useful, they don’t give us the whole picture. And that putting too much focus on any particular non-sport performance indicator can lead you down a dangerous path.

At Precision Nutrition, we’re proud to be data-driven. We like numbers and tests and metrics of all kinds. But we also know it’s not the complete picture.

You have to look at the whole person to a real sense of what’s going on.

What to do next:
Some tips from Precision Nutrition

1. Don’t make assumptions.

Appearances can be deceiving. Just because someone is a star in their sport or looks the part doesn’t mean they have advanced nutrition skills.

Instead of making assumptions or guesses about where your client is at, ask questions. Listen. Observe.

Seek to understand rather than to prove yourself right.

2. Remember that in many ways, we’re all the same.

Elite athletes—they’re just like us!

Our lives may be very different but, in the end, we’re all human. We all want to enjoy our food and have some fun. We all have our favorite indulgences and the foods that make us curl up our lips in disgust.

Whether you’re working with celebrities, top athletes, busy executives or just neighborhood folks in your local gym, remember that at the end of the day, you’re coaching people.

3. Remember that in other ways, we’re all completely different.

What works for one client might not work for another. No matter how “super” the food or how “killer” the diet, there is no one-size-fits-all.

And what works for you might not work for your clients, either.

You may have spent years perfecting your intake forms, for example, but what happens when a client doesn’t have a computer? Or is constantly on the go and never has time to look at it?

Your job as a coach is to focus on understanding and supporting the needs of each client. This takes work and practice and, believe me, it is humbling sometimes.

But that’s what it takes to be a client-centered coach.

4. Screw perfection. Help your clients get a tiny bit better.

An all-or-nothing mentality won’t help your clients get anywhere, even if they’re top athletes who are used to aiming for perfection.

Looking for small ways to improve is the best way to keep moving consistently toward change.

That might mean letting a client keep her weekly supersweet Frappucino monstrosity. Or helping her choose the best option on a hotel menu. Or packing her own snacks for the plane.

You don’t need to get rid of everything a client is doing and every indulgence they have. Nor should you.

Find ways of helping them move forward, one tiny little bit at a time.

5. Seek out and celebrate your clients’ superpowers.

Whether they’re a gold medalist or they’ve never set foot in a gym, every single client possesses their own special superpowers.

One of your jobs as a coach is to help them figure out what they’re already good at and put those abilities to use.

Maybe they’re a data junkie and they can use their spreadsheet nerdiness to track their food like a pro. Or maybe they appreciate nature and will enjoy discovering local farms and farmers markets.

Maybe they lack information at the moment but have a great ability to learn. Maybe they routinely fall off the wagon—but they always, always get back on.

Help your clients recognize their own superpowers, and then put them to use.

Celebrate the good stuff. Call out progress every chance you get.

They might never be an NFL star, but you can be their cheerleader.

You can help them become their own superstar.

Want strategies to level up your coaching?

It’s no secret that master coaches develop over time, through education and consistent practice, usually under the guidance of a mentor or coach.

Precision Nutrition is the only company in the world that both works with thousands of our own nutrition coaching clients and teaches health, fitness, and wellness professionals our real-world methods for getting results.

And here’s some great news: Our next Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Master Class kicks off on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020.

Want to achieve total confidence in your coaching skills? Get (and keep) more clients? Grow and strengthen your practice? If so, the Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification is definitely for you.

It’s designed specifically for Level 1 students and grads who realize that knowing about the science of nutrition isn’t enough.

Part master class, part grad program, part mentorship, it’s the only course in the world designed to help you master the art of coaching, meaning better results for your clients and a better practice for you.

Since we only take a limited number of professionals, and since the program sells out every time, I strongly recommend you add your name to our VIP List below. When you do, you get the chance to sign up 24 hours before everyone else. Even better, you get a huge discount off the general price of the program.

[Note: The Level 2 Master Class is only for students and grads of our Level 1 Certification. So if you haven’t yet enrolled in that program, please begin there.]

Interested? Add your name to the VIP list. You’ll save up to 37% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Master Class on Wednesday, April 8th.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following VIP list which gives you two advantages.

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to get started and ready to gain mastery in their coaching practice. So we’re offering a discount of up to 37% off the general price when you sign up for the Master Class VIP list.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the PN Master Class twice per year. Due to high demand and a very limited number of spots, we expect it to sell out fast. But when you sign up for the Master Class VIP list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready to take the next step in becoming a world-class coach, we’re ready to share our knowledge and help you master the art of coaching.

The post 11 things I’ve learned coaching elite and professional athletes. Lessons from our work with NFL, NBA, UFC, & Olympic champions. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

10 things every successful fitness and nutrition coach does. The best coaches do them every day. How many are you doing?

10 things every successful fitness and nutrition coach does. The best coaches do them every day. How many are you doing?

What makes for a successful fitness and nutrition coach? It’s not just what you know… it’s what you do (every day). Here are some of the practices elite coaches use to get results. Keep track of how many you’ve mastered.

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You know the type. It’s the coach that seems to have to it all together.

They have a long waiting list of eager prospects. Their client results are always impressive. They make great money doing what they love. And, just to make us all a little more jealous, they make it look effortless.

Welcome to the elite coach.

What is it that makes elite coaches so special?

Is it their training? Their hard work and commitment? Their passion? Or do they know something most others don’t?

The answer to all of those question is… yes.

Elite coaches do know something most don’t. But it’s not just knowledge. It’s a set of practices they work on daily.

And this set of practices helps them get better at forming strong relationships with their clients, fostering change, and improving their craft.

Here are the active habits that set elite coaches apart from the rest.

1. Elite coaches practice the art of human connection.

Better coaches aren’t just better at customizing workout and nutrition plans. They’re better with people.

Elite coaches don’t limit conversations to “here’s what you have to do”; they speak to clients in a way that nurtures real human connection.

By asking sincere questions, expressing compassion and being a steady source of support, they help guide their clients around obstacles so they can achieve their goals.

To practice this approach:

Ask leading questions that help clients open up and explore, imagine, or build on past successes. For example:

  • If things were better with your eating/exercise, what would be different in your life? What would you do more of? Less of? Be proud of?
  • Imagine that you have the body and health you want. What did it take for you to achieve it? What did you have to give up?
  • What have you had success with in the past? How can we do more of that and apply it to your health and fitness?”

And once you ask, really listen to their responses. Let them sink in. Learn from them. (For more on this approach, check out: Effective coach talk: What to say to clients and why it matters).

2. Elite coaches ask ‘why’. (Again… and again… and again.)

You’ve probably seen it a million times.

New clients get a taste for how hard it is to change their eating habits, do the extra 10 squats, run another mile, and rearrange their lives for all of it… and suddenly they don’t want it so badly, after all.

Elite coaches have a way of inspiring their clients—in every single session—to want the hard work. They know how to unlock their clients’ deeper motivation, sense of purpose, and inner fire.

How do they do this? For one thing, they know how to ask their clients why.

To practice this approach:

Use the ‘Five Whys’ technique.  Here’s how it works:

When establishing goals with your clients, you ask them why.

Q: “Why do you want to accomplish this?”
A: “Because I want to lose weight.”

Then, whatever answer they come up with, you ask why again.

Q: “And why do you want to lose weight in the first place?”
A: “Because I used to be thinner and am embarrassed by how heavy I’ve gotten.”

Continue asking why for a total of five times. It’s surprisingly challenging—and amazingly effective at getting to people’s core motivations.

(By the way, elite coaches use ‘the Five Whys’ on themselves. Because they know that getting to the heart of their own motivation is the best place to begin.)

3. Elite coaches help the “competition.”

Want to know a secret? To an elite coach, there’s no such thing as competition.

Elite coaches don’t feel insecure about what other coaches are doing because they know how to use their individuality as an advantage in their careers.

Rather than hiding and hoarding their knowledge, elite coaches share that knowledge and facilitate conversations, and in doing so build a trusted tribe around them.

Find your tribe and help make those in your tribe successful, and you’ll be more likely to succeed, too.

To practice this approach:

Get engaged with other people’s content and social feeds.

Take the extra few minutes to leave iTunes reviews on their podcasts; review their books on Amazon; share their Facebook posts; and so on.

These simple actions will help them build their expertise and broaden their reach. As a bonus, you might expand your own social networks in the process.

To take this concept up a notch, consider starting a Facebook group or other social community to serve as a source of mutual support, discussion, and inspiration. You’ll be able to answer questions and help your peers—and position yourself as an expert, too.

4. Elite coaches do less.

“Doing it all” is a myth.

Spreading yourself too thin is a first-class ticket to disappointment and failure. Instead, top-notch coaches figure out what’s truly crucial among their particular market and clientele, and do that.

Elite coaches also know their clients can’t do it all. They know that giving clients just one small habit at a time is far more effective than throwing an ambitious project at them and hoping for the best.

To practice this approach:

Give the ‘one habit method’ a try.

Of all the things your client wants to do and achieve, work with them to figure out which goal is most important to them right now. Then, based on their goal, help choose just one habit to start practicing today.

The habit should be so simple it almost feels “too easy” and it should be something they can do in just five or ten minutes, every single day.

Have your client practice that one habit every day for a minimum of two weeks. Ask them to check back in with you regularly to let you know whether or not they’ve completed the task.

(If you’ve completed any kind of PN coaching, you’ll recognize this ‘one-habit’ method. There’s a reason we recommend it: it’s integral to our coaching method, because it works.)

5. Elite coaches practice the basics.

Bruce Lee said: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

Kick Guy never needed to have the perfect kick. All he had to do was focus on mastering the process and being excellent with all of the pieces. And that was enough to scare Bruce Lee. (Pretty scary.)

Elite coaches are like Kick Guy. They’re willing to practice techniques—even the basic ones—again and again so they can move towards true mastery.

They take this approach to their clients, too, helping them put their own foundation in place and acquire the skills they need to succeed in sustainable change.

To practice this approach:

Go back to basics with something you enjoy doing and consider yourself ‘pretty good’ at. Think back to the very first skills you learned to do that thing.

If you’re a boxer, for example, consider your stance, your hip movement, or your jab. Could you benefit from drills focusing on your core techniques?

Or, if you once struggled with poor eating habits, pay attention at mealtime. Do you still eat as slowly and mindfully as you once did? Would you benefit from paying more attention to how full you feel at the end of each meal?

Pick one elemental thing you could take from ‘good’ to ‘great’ or ‘great’ to ‘positively killer.’ Then work on improving that one thing. Solicit help from a colleague or peer if you like.

It may feel weird to act like a beginner again, but by doing so, you’re on your way to mastery.

6. Elite coaches listen for what they don’t want to hear.

Many coaches (quite logically) focus on trying to strengthen their clients’ motivation—the side of them that is interested in change.

But in the early stages of client development, it doesn’t work. Because that other side—the part that is scared of change and resistant to your efforts—is ridiculously strong. After all, it’s been preventing your client from changing for a long time.

In order to get your clients moving in the right direction, coaches have to do something that might sound a bit paradoxical: they have to hear out the resistance first.

Elite coaches listen for the resistance. They seek it out. Because they know they have to work with it, rather than against it.

To practice this approach:

Listen for your own resistance.

Think of something you’ve been wanting to change, but haven’t gotten around to yet. Tip: think of all the things you’ve been telling yourself you should or shouldn’t do.

Write down the thing you want to change. Then ask yourself:

  • What is GOOD for me about NOT changing? (In other words, how does NOT changing benefit me or help me solve a problem?)
  • What would be BAD about changing? What might I have to give up or lose?

Write down your answers.

How do you feel? Your resistance might feel a little calmer or quieter; you might feel a little more ready for change. Now that you understand your own resistance a little better, you can listen for it in client conversations, too.

7. Elite coaches know when to shut up.

Elite coaches have a lot of expertise, but that doesn’t mean they always vocalize it.

Think about it: When someone asks, “What should I eat after exercising?” an expert answers the question: “You should eat protein and carbs.”

But when a client asks “What should I eat after exercise?” a coach asks, “Tell me about your training program and what you feel you can manage?” Coaches even consider “What do you like to eat after exercise?”

A good coach doesn’t mind being quiet, asking questions or fading into the background a bit.

Many fitness professionals try to be both expert and coach at the same time. But that never works. You can’t talk and listen at the same time. You have to know how and when to switch back and forth between the two.

In other words: you need to know when to stop talking and listen.

To practice this approach:

Try using this ‘expert vs coach’ checklist on yourself:

With your clients, do you spend most of your time…

Expert Coach
Talking and telling… or Listening and reflecting?
Telling them what you know… or Sharing what you’re working on?
Answering questions?… or Asking questions?
Letting the client set the tone?… or Leading the client towards a decision or action?
Pointing and directing?… or Guiding and accompanying?
Taking the spotlight… or Fading into the background?

If you find yourself more on the ‘expert’ side of things, try actively practicing some of the actions on the ‘coach’ side.

8. Elite coaches practice being imperfect.

Lots of health and fitness professionals have high standards; most of us want to walk the walk. Moreover, we want to look like we walk the walk.

So we try to refine our own health habits, working practices, and self-presentation. We know that our bodies are often advertisements for our services, so we worry about looking our best.

But too often, we try to be perfect. And that becomes our downfall.

Sure, on the one hand, a little fire keeps you energized and sharp. But too much pressure is a parking brake on performance.

(Ever choked during a game or competition? You were probably overwhelmed by pressure. It happens to athletes all the time.)

So while elite coaches strive for excellence, they don’t try to be perfect—and they don’t expect their clients to be perfect, either.

To practice this approach:

Try sharing a little of your own imperfect experience with your clients.

When they’re fumbling with something, tell them about a time you felt awkward, embarrassed or uncomfortable yourself, either when working on your own fitness and nutrition journey or another time you were struggling to learn something new.

When they’re feeling like a failure, let them know everyone falls down sometimes: share one of your own mistakes—and maybe even how you fixed it.

9. Elite coaches keep it real.

If you work in the fitness and health industry, it’s easy to throw around a lot of ideas.

Stuff like this:

  • “Never eat processed food.”
  • “Always eat local, seasonal, organic food.”

On the surface, it’s hard to argue against either. But really? Unless you’re living in a yurt somewhere and growing all your own food from the ground up, I doubt you’re always eating whole, unprocessed, local, seasonal, organic food.

Which means those nutrition ideals aren’t aspirational—they’re impossible. Even for the world’s top experts.

Elite coaches are willing to do a reality check. They realize that people don’t need a nutritional deity to follow. They don’t need strict codes of conduct that includes words like “should”, “always”, and “never”.

Instead of coaching from a place of fantasy, elite coaches stay grounded. They help their clients make progress, bit by bit.

To practice this approach:

Examine the rules you’ve set.

Consider all the “rules” and expectations around fitness, nutrition, and health. Write down as many as you can think of. Be sure to include words like “should”, “always”, and “never”.

  • You should always…
  • You should never…
  • Being “fit” means you always…
  • Being “healthy” means you never…
  • Eating “nutritiously” means…

Now read your answers and think about whether a client could reasonably “always” or “never” do them.

10.  Elite coaches ask for help.

If you’re coaching other people, it only makes sense that you’ve experienced coaching yourself.

After all, if you’ve never been coached through something, you can’t possibly understand what your clients are experiencing, thinking, and feeling.

Elite coaches know this. They seek out mentorship and get coaching themselves. Sometimes it’s not even fitness related. It might be for their business, or their personal life (like how to be a better parent or partner), or a hobby they’re particularly passionate about.

The important thing is that that they are willing to ask for help, to make themselves vulnerable, to go through the process of change… just like their clients.

And they know how powerful that process of change can be.

To practice this approach:

Make your coaching checklist.

What areas of expertise do you seek?

  • Nutritional science?
  • Coaching psychology?
  • Business strategy?
  • Professional development?
  • General life wisdom?

What kind of a mentor or coach would you like?

  • What kind of a person are they?
  • What sort of reputation do they have?
  • What would you want them to show you or tell you in order for you to feel they were the “right fit.”

Now think about people in your life (whether paid professionals, colleagues or friends) who may fit your criteria. If someone springs to mind, great. Ask if they’d be willing to lend their expertise and support to the thing you’d like help with.

Or if you need to do more research, that’s cool too.

What to do next

Pick one of the practices.

Give some thought to which of these practices you’d like to try out for yourself.

Whichever you select, do you have the skills to incorporate them into your coaching style right now? If not, check out the PN approach to skill development for some inspiration to help you figure out your next steps.

Be an observer.

As you’re coaching, be aware of your style. Are you speaking and giving advice when you could be asking questions? Are you actually hearing what your client has to say, or rushing to find the answer?

Don’t judge yourself too harshly—just start building awareness, for now. That way you can start to get clear on what you’d like to improve upon.

Ask for help if you need it.

Moving from being ‘a good coach’ to being ‘an elite coach’ takes a lot of work, and it can’t be done alone. Look for people you can learn from. Maybe it’s a community member, an old mentor, or an experienced friend.

Want strategies to level up your coaching?

It’s no secret that master coaches develop over time, through education and consistent practice, usually under the guidance of a mentor or coach.

Precision Nutrition is the only company in the world that both works with thousands of our own nutrition coaching clients and teaches health, fitness, and wellness professionals our real-world methods for getting results.

And here’s some great news: Our next Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Master Class kicks off on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019.

Want to achieve total confidence in your coaching skills? Get (and keep) more clients? Grow and strengthen your practice? If so, the Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification is definitely for you.

It’s designed specifically for Level 1 students and grads who realize that knowing about the science of nutrition isn’t enough.

Part master class, part grad program, part mentorship, it’s the only course in the world designed to help you master the art of coaching, meaning better results for your clients and a better practice for you.

Since we only take a limited number of professionals, and since the program sells out every time, I strongly recommend you add your name to our VIP List below. When you do, you get the chance to sign up 24 hours before everyone else. Even better, you get a huge discount off the general price of the program.

[Note: The Level 2 Master Class is only for students and grads of our Level 1 Certification. So if you haven’t yet enrolled in that program, please begin there.]

Interested? Add your name to the VIP list. You’ll save up to 37% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Master Class on Wednesday, October 2nd.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following VIP list which gives you two advantages.

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to get started and ready to gain mastery in their coaching practice. So we’re offering a discount of up to 37% off the general price when you sign up for the Master Class VIP list.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the PN Master Class twice per year. Due to high demand and a very limited number of spots, we expect it to sell out fast. But when you sign up for the Master Class VIP list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready to take the next step in becoming a world-class coach, we’re ready to share our knowledge and help you master the art of coaching.

The post 10 things every successful fitness and nutrition coach does. The best coaches do them every day. How many are you doing? appeared first on Precision Nutrition.