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Wendy Buckingham / Creator, Life Coaching Professionally
Often when clients are deciding on their big career or business goals for a coaching series they slip in the personal goal "and I could do with losing some weight". And if you are a health life coach then this scenario is almost a given.
What can be frustrating for the coach and the client is, more often than not, this seemingly simple outcome turns out to be the one goal that has been set and failed numerous times.
The truth is that a goal to have a weight loss success story to brag about requires more discipline and behaviour changes to achieve than most other goals.
So, to help coaches work with clients in this area, I've adapted these six tips from my book Mastering the Art of Goals Coaching to specifically help with goals to lose weight.
That is Specific, Measurable, Realistic and Achievable and Timed. And It needs to be about more than the amount of weight to be lost. I add in Exciting and Yours to the basic SMART acronym to give it more power and certainty
For instance, "I’m going to lose 10kg as a goal", is not really that inspiring. But "I’m going to lose 10kg or l0bs by my holiday in August and look gorgeous in a swimsuit again", is far more exciting and motivating.
And Yours is to make sure the client can own the goal as their own - not because someone else has told them they could lose a few pounds
Make sure one motivating reason is included in the goal that will really inspire them to keep going when the going gets tough and that piece of cake beckons.
And make sure they write the goal down!
The weight loss goal above is a SMART goal because it is:
Specific - Going to lose 10kg or lbs
Measurable - You can measure progress
Realistic - It's a realistic weight loss goal
Achievable - It's achievable
Timed - A time for its' achievement has been set. (watch out here for where it may be achievable but not realistic - like losing 10ks in 3 weeks )
Exciting - the benefit of losing 10k and looking fantastic
Yours - check the client really feels the need to lose that 10k and can own the goal
As well as the one “reason why” included in the goal itself, get the client to make a list of all the benefits and other good things about getting the weight off – no reason is too small or too stupid.
Looking at that list, and being reminded of it regularly, will keep them on track when temptation comes along. It will help them get back on track when they confess they have weakened to that chocolate brownie.
Suggest they post their list of reasons on the fridge or keep them in their wallet so they can refer to them easily and often - especially when temptation strikes.
An old favourite of mine is to have the list of "why's" for any goal laminated and posted in the shower. Something inspiring to read in the morning!
This is perhaps the most important question to ask your client.
Are they really willing to commit to limiting or giving up their consumption of cheese, chocolate, alcohol, chips or whatever it is they know is their weakness when it comes to dieting?
If the answer is "no" or "not sure" for whatever reason, then you could suggest to them they might as well forget about achieving that the goal.
It's obviously not important enough to commit to going without and doing what needs to be done to achieve it.
It is well known fact, and not really a secret, that keeping a record of everything you eat each day without cheating - yes including sly nibbles and snacks can be an eye-opener. I've done this, and it can be really confronting and disappointing to read at the end of the day.
If you want to be really tough and with their agreement hold them accountable, you can get the client to share their diary with you each day by text or emails. Then you can both see what could be keeping on the kilos and what they could do without.
Encourage the client to make the shopping list temptation free by not including anything that they are likely to pig out on. (For example, when I need to lose weight I don’t buy cheese as I know I can’t resist eating too much of it).
This can be difficult when cooking for a family any may require extra self-control. However, if friends and family can be enrolled in the importance of the goal and why your client wants/needs to lose weight hopefully they will get co-operation and be able to plan meals mainly around their weight loss needs.
Often one of the real weight loss goal busters is not being able to say no when offered that large piece of cake, second dollop of ice cream or pile of butter laden delicious potatoes for fear of offending the cook or host.
Tell the client to get over it! (Nicely of course!!). The person insisting on giving them more that they want is just being inconsiderate and sabotaging their efforts, for whatever reason. (Maybe the sabotager is overweight and likes company). When they are invited out for a meal they should let the host know they are on a fitness regime and may not be able to indulge in her baked potatoes, desert or whatever.
And when eating out be quite firm about insisting on say salad instead of the chips that come with the meal or passing on the bread roll that automatically appears or the rich sauce.