Have you ever struggled to lose weight or succeeded in dropping some pounds, only to find them creep back on? If so, you are not alone!
The Sobering Statistics of Weight Loss
"Only about one in every six Americans who have ever been overweight or obese loses weight and maintains that loss,” according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers (1).
Further, according to Marshall S. Runge, M.D., PH.D., Dean of University of Michigan Medical School, “Roughly 90% of people who lose a lot of weight eventually regain just about all of it.”(2)
These are sobering statistics!
But they don’t have to be YOUR statistics.
The good news? If you identify changes you can stick with for the long haul, you can achieve the sustainable weight loss you’re after.
Where do you even start with identifying the best long-term changes?
This is where a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC) comes in handy. It can be difficult and overwhelming to simply find a starting point. Coaches believe in an individual’s capacity to change and help them determine the best path to achieving their specific weight loss goals.
Using powerful coaching techniques, we empower you to be self-directed and move through the stages of change in a way that complements your unique circumstances, values, and personality. It is a collaborative partnership model—one where you get real support and guidance every step of the way. We are trained in specific methodologies, but two of the most widely used in coaching are Motivational Interviewing (MI) and theoretical behavior change models.
What is Motivational Interviewing?
Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a widely used technique which enables positive behavior change in individuals and emphasizes personal growth, self-direction, and personalized support. MI has been used successfully in smoking cessation and other programs addressing addictive behaviors.
Using MI techniques, a coach helps clients determine their own reasons to change and helps them move through the stages of change effectively.
In a Harvard Medical School publication, Dr. Peter Grinspoon, MD says:
“The concept, which has been proven effective in many research studies, is that people who are changing for their own reasons, on their own terms, are far more likely to succeed when compared with someone telling them what to do.” (3)
This is a key element of the power of working with an NBC-HWC by your side on your weight loss journey—it’s done in a strategic, researched-backed way.
Understanding Your Readiness
For any change process to be successful, it is critical to consider your starting point, which includes your readiness for change and your personal circumstances and preferences.
Believe it or not, a lot of weight loss efforts fail right from the start. People try a “diet” that has worked for others, assuming they’ll share the same success. In some cases, it might work. But in most cases, the “diet” mentality will fail to deliver long-term results, leaving you feeling frustrated and ashamed.
This often becomes a vicious cycle of trying one thing after another, losing and gaining the same 10 or 20 pounds over and over again. This is humiliating, disempowering, and often leads one to just give up.
Can you relate?
This failure is not a reflection of the person’s inability to lose weight, rather a failure of the approach that is used and a mismatched stage of readiness. It is critical to identify your own reasons for change and how ready you are to approach it.
For example, the ketogenic (keto) diet worked well for your friend—she seemed to lose all her weight quickly and easily. You decide to try it… but it doesn’t work for you and you feel like you “failed” at it.
This failure may not have anything to do with your “will power” or the keto protocol. The more likely issue is that it’s not a good fit for your personal situation; you may not be ready for that size and type of change and it may not be a sustainable protocol for you long term.
Another common type of “failure” is trying a crash or fad diet without really thinking about how to transition from that diet to your regular lifestyle. If you are only making a temporary change, the results are also likely to be temporary.
Getting from Point A to Point B in your weight loss journey
Weight loss works very differently when you have a coach by your side. The process begins by helping you to understand your “Point A” –really digging deep into your current situation.
From there, we work on articulating your vision for what you want to achieve (your “Point B”). Finally, we create goals and an action plan … then your weight loss journey begins!
See the difference?
There’s a lot of really important, juicy work that has to happen PRIOR to taking any action toward change.
Sounds simple enough, right? It can be! Let’s dig a little deeper.
An NBC-HWC is trained in a variety of tools and methodologies to help you on your path to weight loss, health, and wellness.
One of the tools in the coach’s toolbox—and a personal favorite of mine—is a readiness ruler.
There are several ways to do this but here is one example. Early in the coaching relationship, your coach may ask you these two questions, which you answer on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is very low and 10 is as high as it gets.
Once answered, these questions will open up an interesting discussion and help to narrow down your starting point, which is largely about your personal readiness for change. Let’s look at an example of what your coach might do with this information.
In the example below, the client answered a 10 for the first question, indicating that she knows it is absolutely critical for her to lose weight. She is passionate about it and certain that her health and well-being are 100% tied to this outcome.
As to her confidence, she answered about a 3 or a 4. She has some level of confidence because she has lost weight before is a very goal-oriented person, but rated it fairly low because she has eaten poorly her whole life, has no patience for planning meals or cooking, acknowledges she is addicted to sugar, and has a high degree of stress and daily distractions.
Armed with this information, the coach knows to help the client focus on small manageable steps that will begin to, for example, bring more nutritious food into her daily routine and slowly “crowd out” the unhealthy sugary foods.
The client then picks a few goals each week, goals based on what she feels she can actually do, to help move her in the right direction. When the client experiences success each week, her confidence grows along with her continued willingness to try another new small step.
we problem-solve together to eliminate barriers & constraints standing in your way
We’ll not only look at what you’re currently eating, but we will problem-solve together to eliminate other barriers and constraints standing in your way of success.
A coach will help you look beyond what is on your plate, delving into whatever else is going on that may be hindering your ability to lose weight. Together, the coach and client problem-solve, break down barriers and constraints, develop successful strategies, and design achievable action plans, giving the client the confidence to tip the scale in the right direction.
A coach provides resources and information as needed, celebrates a client’s successes, and holds up the proverbial mirror to show the client the true progress. This all strengthens the client’s motivation to keep pushing forward!
Continuing Your Journey Through Weight Loss
Throughout your journey, you will choose steps and strategies that work for you and your situation. As you build upon your successes, your confidence will grow. Your motivation will deepen. Your coach will help you recognize and celebrate your successes. These may come in the form of on-scale and off-scale victories.
You will work through barriers and constraints that arise in your daily life, but now you will be armed with strategies that work well for you. You will be able to recognize triggers for emotional eating and have strategies to respond to them. Setbacks can and will happen — but you know how to bounce back from those challenges, as well as accept them. The end result of your weight loss journey will be when your “Point B” becomes your new normal and it feels as natural as your “Point A” did in the beginning of your journey.
STAGES OF CHANGE
We have worked through the understanding of your readiness for change through the readiness ruler. Now, let’s look at the various stages of change you will progress through on your journey.
This is the stage of change where you have no interest in changing. You aren’t even considering it as an option!
The second stage, contemplation, is where you are starting to see the value of change and you may be thinking about it. You’re weighing the pros and cons.
Preparation is the third stage of change. This is where you have decided that you are going to change and you prepare yourself to take action.
In the fourth stage you are doing it! You have set some goals and you are actively working on change.
Once you’ve made it to the fifth stage, maintenance, you are doing it and you have it down to a science.
The green X’s in the graphs above show your strength of motivation, which as you can see, gets stronger over time.
Your NBC-HWC will help you navigate through these stages and will be there for you at any time you may need support and guidance.
Note that the stages of change are not necessarily linear. There may be times when you fall back a stage or two, but then you move forward again. Maintenance can be a challenging aspect of your weight loss journey, and it includes setbacks.
You Reached your Goal...Now How Do You stay there?
Now that you have seen how the weight loss journey begins and moves forward, let’s look at what it means to achieve “sustainable” weight loss.
Once you reach your goal weight, the golden prize is being able to maintain it. Is this actually possible? Absolutely. Will you have setbacks? Probably. Are those part of the process of maintaining? Yes indeed!
I lost 60 pounds about seven years ago and have kept it off. I have also coached two year-long maintenance groups. So, I can tell you from my own personal experience and that of my clients, maintenance is a journey in and of itself with its own ups and downs. But, don’t worry, your NBC-HWC plays an important role here as well for as long as, or whenever, you need them.
During the early maintenance phase, your coach can continue to hold up this mirror, remind you of how you have succeeded to date, and continue to support you as the fear of setback can be overwhelming (you won’t need your coach forever!).
It is natural when you first hit your goal weight and start maintenance to experience a strong fear of failure. Your coach will help you learn that a temporary return to old habits and even some weight gain, does not mean you have failed.
Avoid the mindset: “now that I lost weight, I can have more treats, more wine, more often”
There is a new piece of the journey that begins here – new experimenting and strategizing – as you find the boundaries of your new lifestyle.
Many of the clients in my maintenance groups initially felt that maintaining was actually harder than losing weight to begin with! Having the support and accountability of a coach to help you navigate these new waters can be invaluable.
Putting Your Best Foot Forward for Life
Starting a weight loss journey with a coach will better position you for success. Your coach can help you launch effectively and will be there to support your efforts and help you see your progress, even when you have difficulty seeing it yourself.
There are so many ways that success can be measured in weight loss. So often our heads are full of negative chatter (“self-talk”) where we doubt ourselves, don’t give ourselves enough credit, and often miss the small pieces of progress that are truly significant.
Your NBC-HWC however, will call these out and help you understand how and why each of your successes are significant. As you internalize these positive experiences, your thoughts will continue to become more positive and it will become easier to continue to make positive choices that you have seen work for you.
A coach helps you through the stages of change so your new habits become your new lifestyle
Sometimes my clients think what they’ve experienced in coaching is “magic,” when in fact what I have done as their coach is help them successfully navigate change in their own positive way.
Sustainable weight loss IS achievable and working with an NBC-HWC will set you up for success and carry you to the finish line.
Are you ready to start your journey?
For a partner in your health and wellness goals, connect with one of our National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coaches.
To learn more about Marcie or book an appointment with her, visit her website or check out her VHC profile.
9/10/2020 07:12:10 am
Great article! Discussing a person’s readiness to change is overlooked in so many “programs” and you illustrated its effectiveness with your personal journey. Thank you!
9/10/2020 07:31:24 am
Thanks Jen! I have realized over the years working with clients that readiness is so key - and starting in a place that works for each individual makes a huge difference.
9/11/2020 12:18:05 pm
Marcie, great article, describing how to achieve success and to maintain healthy weight on a long-term basis! And you are a living example that it is possible!
9/11/2020 02:35:02 pm
Thanks Pat. Yes and it is so important to embrace the journey!
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