COACHING THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL WEIGHT MANAGEMENT

Research tells us that having a weight loss coach is an important predictor in how successful an individual is in losing, and keeping off weight. Coaching has been shown to be efficient in allowing the patient to experience and achieve more motivation, more satisfaction, and a better sense of wellbeing. Furthermore, in the majority of randomised and cohort studies, significant reductions in weight and weight-associated measurements were seen.

But, here at Motivation, we don’t even need to look at those figures to believe it, as we see evidence of it daily in our clinics. It is a known phenomenon that individuals who embark on a typical ‘diet’ most often fail at weight loss; they may lose weight initially, but they then tend to regain the weight. Many who come to Motivation succeed, and this could be explained, in part, by the weekly support face-to-face meetings from a dedicated weight loss ‘coach’ or consultant, which all of our clients can enjoy (for those living abroad or unable to attend clinics, we do provide Skype calls or email support as an alternative but regular face-to-face contact is preferred for multiple reasons). Working with their consultants, clients change habits and attitudes that they have may had for their lifetime; aspects of their choices and their way of thinking that have actually impeded their weight loss.

Someone who Cares

Ask our clients how they succeeded and they will often say that having a weight loss coach is what made all the difference, in addition to understanding their triggers and habits/attitudes through our mental weight questionnaire. A lot of people claim to know what they must do in order to lose weight, but they still fail to make the right choices. Having a coach helps to clarify, direct, and support the client as he or she works toward identifying small and simple changes that will promote weight loss. A coach can help to trigger the internal motivation needed to change and sustain new behaviours (read more on behavioural change here).

This is what sets Motivation apart from anyone else specialising in weight loss. We assign you a personal weight loss consultant (coach) who you meet on a weekly basis (usually the same day each week, but we are flexible with days always to suit our clients who have unpredictable weeks and schedules). Meeting regularly is key to success: during sessions, progress is tracked, food diaries are assessed, challenges and successes of the week are discussed and goals are monitored and set.

Our consultants are non-judgemental, empathetic and motivating. Their goal is to assist and guide you through your weight loss plan, week after week, until you reach your goal. Then, when you hit that goal, they see you once each month to help you maintain your new weight. They are in your corner. They want you to succeed because happy clients spread the word and keep our business going.

Being Accountable Matters

Being accountable works. Who else will really care if you filled in your food diary? A recent study of 1,700 overweight men and women who joined a six-month weight loss programme found that those who kept daily food records lost – wait for this – twice as much weight as those who kept no records (see more here) so your personal weight loss coach will encourage you to keep one (if and individuals really does not want to keep a diary, they will discuss why not and come up with an alternative arrangement to suit the client).

Who will really listen to how your week went, and the challenges you faced (and hopefully overcame)? Your consultant is 100% interested in you and your progress, and it’s hard to match that consistent interest and willingness to listen. This is what our clients really appreciate and value. It’s about being accountable. It’s about being listened to. And it’s about being fully and genuinely supported in your endeavour to lose weight.

Your weight loss consultant gets to know you and your triggers, your background, your challenges and your motivations. Your weight loss consultant might know that your habit is to get a takeaway on your drive home from the office. Or they may know that you tend to go off the rails with the biscuit tin (or the wine!) once the kids are tucked up in bed. Once you – and they – know and discuss your triggers, a whole new way of looking at things can open up.

They also help you to discover your WHY by completing and understanding your mental weight report on a monthly basis. The mental weight report looks at habits and attitudes that may contribute to your current weight. They are the WHY behind your decisions and your extra weight. Once we unlock the reasons, together with you, we can then work to change your habits and attitudes so that they are helpful to you succeeding in your weight loss.

Finally, your consultant will help you set goals: these can be long-term (ie. I want to reach a healthy weight and then move onto a Maintenance Programme) and short-term (I want to be able to go out to dinner with my wife next week but order well and stay on track as best I can). Once a client says it out loud to their consultant, they are much more likely to follow through on that commitment.

Sharing Years of Experience & Knowledge

With over 250,000 success stories on record Motivation has the experience of what works and what doesn’t that is hard to match. Read one of our most recent success stories here.

Tips that consultants share include using smaller plate, eating at the table, healthy snack advice, finding an exercise that you love and learning how to read labels and guidelines on ideal portions, to name just a few of many. Also at their fingertips, consultants have advice sheets that range across all weight loss topics, from how to deal with a slip and what to do when you feel like giving up to how to use cognitive behavioural techniques (CBT) to overcome challenges or why to throw out or hide your scales while attending Motivation – the list of topics is enough to encompass every aspect of weight loss so that there is something for everyone and to address different challenges as a client progresses through their weeks and months of weight loss.

The Psychology Behind Behaviour

The psychological side of losing weight is crucial; this is where consultants can help clients overcome the psychological barriers that keep them from achieving their weight loss goals on a daily basis (bridging that gap between knowing what they need to do to lose weight and actually doing it). One of the most crucial aspects of weight loss is accepting that and individual WILL slip. The key is learning how to get back on track, without guilt (which can often trigger a binge or overeating). Consultants explain to clients how slips are not failures.

Setbacks are caused by insufficient coping skills and/or inadequate planning, which are issues that can be fixed.
Clients are also encouraged to challenge their thinking by looking at past successes. When individuals take an all-or-nothing approach, they are more likely to feel overwhelmed and abandon long-term goals in favour of short-term relief. We are highly aware of this, which is why we aim to highlight tendencies and personality traits that they have that may be unhelpful, such as perfectionism or excessive guilty thinking. We do this through the regular mental weight questionnaire.

Also, a lot of our thoughts can become skewed at times; examples include ‘all or nothing’ thinking, ‘worst case scenario’ thinking or ‘black and white’ thinking. These thought perspectives often trip us up in general, and certainly do not help our weight loss efforts. Your weight loss consultant will teach you simple, yet extremely effective, CBT techniques that can help to change thoughts so they become more helpful and rational. This affects everything from the ability to stick to the weight loss programme to how an individual feels about many situations in their life, helping them to choose a more positive way of thinking and a solutions-based approach.

Motivational Interviewing Techniques

All our our weight loss consultants are trained in Motivational Interviewing techniques, using Irish psychologist Paul Delaney’s training courses (read more here) or watch a role play of MI in action here.

Motivational interviewing is a behaviour modification method that helps people resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities about weight loss in order to find the internal motivation they need to change their behaviour. Time and time again the research shows us that people only truly change their habits (and their weight) if they are motivated – themselves – in a positive way to change their habits.

Motivational interviewing is a practical and empathetic process that takes into consideration how difficult it is to make real and sustainable changes to our habits. With this style, listening creates a safe environment in which clients feel heard and we discover what our clients really want, and what motivates them: this is what makes us so successful in treating the problems of overweight and obesity. We establish a comfortable relationship, build rapport, and aim to alleviate the stress and frustration with trying to lose weight.

Our weight-loss consultants learn to listen more and talk less, and to ask questions in place of giving advice. They help clients prepare for change, and offers strategies specifically designed for challenging circumstances. With motivational interviewing, it is the client who sets the agenda. They ask open-ended questions about eating habits and behaviours, thereby assisting them in designing an individualized goal for the week ahead that will work for them. When clients design their own goals – with their own schedules in mind – they are much more likely to follow through.

The Initial Assessment: Understanding You

Firstly, the main reason for the assessment is for us to get to know a potential client, and for them to get to know us (with no obligation to sign up for a full programme). The initial assessment lasts approximately 30 minutes and offers insight into a potential client’s mindset and help you determine a starting point. The consultant may start by asking what your ideal weight is. The client may have an idea of this themselves, but our consultants also have guidelines on healthy weights, which could relate to waist measurement or BMI. The key is that the weight is realistic and also healthy.

Next, the consultant will ask a number of questions. One important question at this meeting is to ask, “Why do you want to lose weight?” Typical answers include “to feel better,” “health,” “more energy,” “more confidence,” and “to look better.” Think about what your reasons are now. The next step is for the consultant to delve a little deeper into the real motivation why the person wants this. This is crucial as it is the thing that will drive them to succeed throughout their weight loss journey, regardless of their circumstances or challenges. The real reason may be to wear shorts in public without feeling embarrassed or to stop taking medication for raised blood pressure or cholesterol. Your weight loss consultant may say: “Tell me exactly how you’ll feel better when you lose weight?” or “How will your life look or feel better by reaching your weight loss target?” These types of inquiries will help clients get a concise visual of what life will be like, how it will be better, and how they’ll feel. Clients can use these visuals when cravings strike or when they’re about to participate in an exercise class.

Finally, the consultant will explain how our programme works, including information on the mental weight report and the type of eating programme we recommend (one that helps stabilise blood sugars so you don’t get hungry – read more about it here). As part of an assessment, a client will be weighed using our Tanita scales (only if the client is comfortable to do so, of course) which will give the consultant and the client crucial information in relation not only to their weight, but also so their BMI, the amount of body fat they have in their body, their metabolic age and the amount of visceral fat they have in their body (see more on metabolic age here and more on visceral fat here.)

A Long-Term Relationship

We don’t tend to see clients just for the duration of their weight loss; many also see us for a Maintenance Programme once their new weight has been achieved. Instead of coming to see us weekly, this spaces out into monthly check-up meetings to monitor weight and to oversee new eating plans that will be devised around their new total daily energy expenditure (TDEE); in other words, they amount of calories needed to stay the same weight based on their basal metabolic rate (BMR) and their currently level of activity.

These monthly meetings are crucial for weight maintenance, particularly since we know that old habits can sometimes rear their (ugly) heads! Clients often cite the fact of the long-standing and trust-based relationship with their consultant as crucial to their long-term success and their continued motivation to stay at a healthy weight. At a typical Maintenance check-in, clients will be weighed and their body fat and metabolic age will be assessed, in addition to taking monthly measurements and discussing how the weight maintenance plan (an eating plan individually designed for the client) is going and if any adjustments need to be made. These Maintenance appointments are incredibly popular with clients as they see the value in a one-to-one ongoing relationship with their weight loss consultant and many attend our clinics for many years after having lost the initial weight. Just like a dental check-up, many of our clients see the importance of prevention rather than cure.

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