Why Your Clients Can’t Lose Weight: The Future of Weight Loss Coaching

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Why Your Clients Can't Lose Weight: The Future of Weight Loss Coaching

Helping another human being lose weight and keep it off in a natural and harmonious way is the holy grail of health coaching or weight loss coaching. That’s because it’s profoundly difficult to lose weight and keep it off. 

Did you know that approximately 96-99% of all people who lose weight on a weight-loss diet gain it back within a year?

That’s a stunning statistic.

The $500 billion per year global weight loss industry doesn’t want you to know this sobering fact. It’s not a good look.

It’s no wonder why so many dieters find themselves in lifelong frustration, and why so many professionals who work with weight have a truly minuscule success rate.

It’s time for us to humbly and decisively acknowledge that the way we’ve been collectively going about the business of weight loss doesn’t work. 

Here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, I’ve developed a way to work with weight that I teach to already practicing professionals and aspiring coaches. It’s a multidimensional, holistic, honest, and effective approach that’s based on over 40 years of clinical experience and a passionate curiosity. And it takes into consideration all of who we are as eaters: body, mind, heart, and soul. I call it Mind Body Eating Coaching and you can learn more about it here.

In this article, I’m going to give you a window into this approach, including:

  • Why the current model of weight loss simply doesn’t work.

  • Why you or your clients are struggling to lose weight (and keep it off).

  • Five faulty assumptions behind traditional weight loss coaching.

  • What the new model of eating psychology-based weight loss coaching is all about.

  • The 7 key strategies behind this transformational approach to weight.

Let’s dive in…

The Current Model of Weight Loss & Why It Doesn’t Work

If you hire a health or weight loss coach, nutritionist, dietitian, or fitness professional, or participate in any weight loss program, your path is quite predictable: 

  • Receive an eating plan. 

  • Be given an exercise plan. 

  • Follow those plans. 

  • Force yourself to eat foods that might not taste palatable. 

  • Push yourself to move past your hunger. 

  • Try to summon more willpower. 

  • Weigh yourself consistently. 

  • If you lose weight, applaud yourself. 

  • If you gain weight, punish yourself.

If the weight loss gods have found you to be worthy, you’ll hit your magic weight loss number.  

People compliment you. You finally fit into your skinny clothes. You can now be the real you. You feel the high of weight loss success, and all is perfect.

But then, life happens. 

You get busy. You get stressed. Perhaps you’re tired of dieting. Or maybe you want to reward yourself for all your hard work – by eating your favorite fun foods.

And gradually, the weight comes back on.

You feel bad about yourself, you return to negative self-talk, you dislike your body, and you vow to return to your magic weight loss number no matter what.

And then, you rinse and repeat…

Of course, there are so many fascinating variations here. 

Some people hit their magic weight loss number and feel no happier than when they began dieting. In fact, we might feel even more anxious the moment we lose all the weight because now we’re afraid to gain it back. We have something new to obsess about. The body has changed, but our internal fears remain.

Or, if you’re a health or fitness professional trying to help your client lose weight, you’ll have your own internal journey that will feel like a roller coaster ride. 

Your client will present you with their weight loss number. They’ll expect you to somehow “make” them lose weight. They want the perfect diet. Or exercise plan. Or drug. Or supplement. They want to be assured that you will guide them to the promised land. Perhaps they want you to “motivate” them.

If your client is losing weight along the way, you’ll feel good about yourself. You are worthy, and you are successful at what you do. But if at any point your client gains a pound, you will feel bad about yourself. Perhaps you’re not qualified to work with weight loss, after all. 

Your client may get angry or demanding if they gain weight. Clearly, you as the practitioner need to do something. Make it all better. Make the weight come off. Why isn’t this working? This is your responsibility to make the fat come off my body.

Perhaps most difficult of all, your client may come to you and say, “I know what you told me to do, I know what I’m supposed to eat, I just can’t do it. I sabotage myself. What’s wrong with me? I love food. I just can’t stop myself. You need to do something.”

If you’re like most helping professionals, when your client says “I know what to do, I just can’t do it,” you tend to go blank. 

You don’t know what to say or what to do. All you can think of is, my client can’t lose weight. You’ve hit your professional wall. You haven’t been trained to work with thoughts, beliefs, and emotions when it comes to unwanted food challenges. You haven’t been taught how to work with the mind and heart of the eater … their eating psychology. 

So it’s not your fault that your client can’t lose weight, nor is it their fault that they can’t lose weight. 

Everyone is operating within a limited model of weight loss that simply doesn’t work. That’s why people need to research and understand the psychological drivers of weight change. You and your client are doing the best you can, given what you’ve been taught.

And yet, the net result of all this is frustration, disappointment, and self-blame.

Your client becomes one of the 96-99% of all humans who lose weight on a weight loss diet and gain it back. 

Or, they’re simply one of many millions of people who diet and don’t have any meaningful results.

Whether you’re a client or you’re a helping professional, this has been going on since the business and culture of dieting gained popularity in the 1950s. This is what’s been holding back the field of weight loss coaching.

So let’s look at the underlying scientific, nutritional, and psychological beliefs that have put us in this unnecessary and unpalatable predicament. 

The 5 Old Assumptions of the Traditional Weight Loss Model 

Let’s get straight to it. I’ve identified five false principles that our collective weight loss approach has been built upon that have led to such a shaky foundation and poor results for both clients and professionals.

Here they are:

Assumption #1: Weight Loss Only Happens If We Eat Less & Exercise More

This has been the gold standard of virtually every weight loss approach for decades. It’s based on caloric theory – calories in, calories out. The concept is simply this: the less calories you eat and the more calories you burn through exercise, the more weight you’ll lose. Sounds absolutely great on paper.

The problem is, it doesn’t quite work. 

Every expert will tell you that obesity is increasing at a dramatic rate across the globe, while at the same time, hundreds of millions of people are following the golden game plan – they’re eating less and exercising more.

So why isn’t it working?

Most will say that people are lazy. They aren’t sticking to the plan.

But this is simply not true. If anything, this is a lazy observation.

I’ve worked with and met thousands of people over the years who have faithfully applied this model and truly worked hard at it. Lack of effort was not their problem at all.

The problem really is that the human body is NOT a simple input-output calorie-burning machine. This is simply incomplete and outdated science.

Here’s why:

  • Every human burns calories at a different rate.

  • Calorie-burning efficiency is influenced by thyroid function.

  • Calorie-burning is impacted by the health of our gut and its flora.

  • It’s influenced by your liver health.

  • The ratios of protein, fat, and carbohydrates in the diet will impact calorie burning – even when the same amount of calories are consumed.

  • In the presence of low-calorie eating, we often go into a survival response where calorie-burning ability wisely decreases – the body thinks it’s starving.

  • Meals eaten at different times of the day are metabolized differently – we burn most efficiently at high noon and least so in the late evening hours.

  • Calorie burning is negatively impacted by our level of stress and correlated with stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.

  • Calorie-burning is affected by insulin levels.

  • Our ability to calorie-burn is affected by exposure to sunlight, xenotoxins, estrogen-mimicking chemicals, poor air quality, and exposure to heavy metals and toxic mold.

  • Calorie-burning ability is affected by trauma, emotional challenges, and difficult-to-process life experiences

And the list goes on and on…

Can you see from this brief inventory how if you want to be effective at weight loss coaching, you need to expand your horizons and work with some of the many nuances of the weight loss experience? 

Yes, there’s certainly a place where the calories-in/calories-out model proves useful and is the reason why many people can’t lose weight.

But until we look at a comprehensive and holistic picture of weight and its loss, we can expect the same unhappy results. 

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Assumption #2: If You Aren’t Losing Weight, You Just Need More Willpower

This is the go-to assessment for people who unjustly judge people who have extra weight. They need more willpower. They aren’t trying hard enough. Something is wrong with their moral compass if they cannot control their appetite.

They just need to say “no” to food. Just say “no” to sugar. And while you’re at it, just tell people to say “no” to drugs, alcohol, gambling, porn, and everything else a human being can get addicted to.

Can you see how this is a one-dimensional and incomplete assessment of how the human mind and body actually work when it comes to food?

Many people who overeat, binge eat, emotionally eat, and find themselves constantly turning to food have been brainwashed to believe they have a willpower problem.

But willpower is not the answer.

Let’s take overeating for example.

People overeat for many different reasons that have nothing to do with willpower. We might overeat because:

  • We aren’t paying attention to what we’re doing.

  • The brain isn’t registering pleasure or taste – and so we are physiologically driven to eat more.

  • We’re simply eating too fast and our satiation cues have not had time to reach the conscious mind.

  • We’re turning to food to distract ourselves.

  • We’re eating poor-quality foods that have been engineered to addict us.

  • We’re eating while in a stress state which deregulates appetite signals and leads a majority of people to want more food.

  • And the list goes on…

So, we’ve taken one simple but profoundly common eating challenge – overeating –  and shown how it can be catalyzed by a number of different factors. Trying to summon more willpower when you eat under stress and the brain simply cannot register satiation in a healthy way is futile and misguided.

Your client is not a willpower weakling. They are simply learning how to decipher what their unwanted eating challenge is asking of them. Our food concerns are quite nuanced. 

As helping professionals, we need to get smarter when our client can’t lose weight. We need to pay attention, see the big picture, go deeper, and get the kind of training that takes into account all of who we are as eaters – body, mind, heart, and soul.

Assumption #3: Eat the Good Foods, But Don’t Eat the Bad Foods

This assumption describes the current field of nutrition quite well. Every expert has their list of good foods and bad foods. And of course, every expert’s list is quite different and often in vast contradiction to the others.

No wonder we have so many “nutrition refugees” wandering around, trying to figure out where to go and what to eat.  

I’ve come to the conclusion that if we followed the advice of all the popular nutrition pundits put together, we’d only be allowed to eat two or three vegetables and drink a bunch of water. 

Here’s the thing:

When you tell another human being, “Don’t eat this particular food, it’s bad for you”, what they actually hear is “I’m a bad person if I eat that food.”

And you know that at some point, so many of us will eat the foods on the “bad guy list” that our health coach or nutrition expert has given us. From there, we go into all manner of self-blame, self-attack, and self-rejection. 

Which stresses us out so much, that we eventually turn to our favorite pastime to help us feel better:


Can you see the problem here?

So many people who diet are living in a state of guilt around their relationship with food and body. They need to be spoken to with kindness, understanding, consciousness, and skill. This is so important for weight loss coaching.

So instead of giving food a “moral” value – it’s either good or evil – let’s consider looking at food as either potentially health enhancing, or health detracting.

Let’s help our clients find a middle ground with food – if they need it – and not give them nutritional absolutes that they simply won’t be able to follow. Yes, I know that some people have bonafide food allergies or complete intolerances. I’m not speaking to this subset of eaters. I’m looking at the majority of people for whom a little bit of a “forbidden food” won’t kill them.

A good coach sets their client up for success. They give recommendations that their clients can truly comply with. They help their clients have small victories and slowly build confidence around their relationship with food.

Assumption #4: It’s Okay to Bully Our Body to Make It Weigh Less

I’m happy to see that bullying is a topic that the media has been giving more airtime to. Bullying amongst young people can be deeply harmful.

But what’s fascinating is that there’s some “stealth bullying” that happens in the adult world as well. Specifically:

We bully our fat people.

Anyone that anyone judges as overweight becomes a fair target for attack. We make fun of those we see as fat, we assume they are “less than,” we conclude they have a character fault, and we often have harsh words to hurl in their direction.

I’ve counseled so many adults who still carry around the grief of being bullied by kids at school, friends, family, and parents because they were fat or chubby.

But here’s the real challenge:

We often take that bullying and we internalize it.

We become the bully. 

Meaning, we bully ourselves because of our weight. We engage in negative self-talk. We say hurtful things to ourselves. We somehow believe that if we are to have any success with weight loss, then we must hate ourselves to get there. 

When your client can’t lose weight, they tend to go on the attack. 

So, people will bully themselves with low-calorie eating, pleasureless food, exercise that they don’t really like, and self-hating thoughts that are somehow supposed to bring us to a happy ending. Guess what:

It doesn’t work.

I’ve never met a single person who’s said to me, “I spent so many years hating my body, attacking it in silence every time I looked in the mirror, I dieted like crazy, and punished my body with exercise, and then one day, I woke up, I’d lost all the weight, and I’ve lived happily ever after ever since.”

No body or no person responds favorably to bullying.

If you want to take weight loss coaching to a higher level, the best way is to help your clients let go of self-attacking strategies.

Assumption #5: If We Lose Weight: Celebrate, If We Gain Weight: Self-Hate

One of the unwritten laws of the weight loss world is that any amount of weight loss is a clear cause for celebration, while even the tiniest amount of weight gain must be met with self-derision.

Weight loss has become a place of reward and punishment.

Of course, the best way to determine if we are to be celebrated or denigrated is to let the scale do the talking.

So many people who diet use the scale to weigh the value of their soul.

If we lose weight, then we have permission from the little machine to celebrate. But if we gain weight, then we are obligated by the little machine to self hate.

The result is a lifelong roller coaster of emotion where we’ve given our power away to the scale. It alone determines how we ought to feel about ourselves.

By the way, most scales are inaccurate, with a natural built in variance, and if you move the scale to different rooms in your home, you can get different readings.

The point is, when we give away our power to a puny machine that spits out a variable number, we’re not living into our true potential. We keep ourselves emotionally small. We can’t appreciate the beauty of each moment in our lives if a one pound weight gain is cause for upset and self attacking thoughts.

To recap, the traditional model leads us down five wrong paths:

  1. Eat less and exercise more – it’s the only way to lose weight.

  2. More willpower is the best response to lackluster results.

  3. Foods are objectively good or bad (and so are you when you eat them).

  4. Bullying is okay – as long as you’re doing it to your body to lose weight.

  5. Reward & Punishment – make sure to clobber yourself if you gain a pound

We need an approach to weight loss that doesn’t take us into the primitive reward/punishment circuitry of the brain. We need an approach that elevates us, and that inspires both the client and the practitioner. 

The good news is, there is a better way.

Let’s see what that looks like…

7 Principles from Eating Psychology for a New, Holistic Approach to Weight Loss Coaching that Actually Works

I’m happy to say that after four decades of obsessively studying and working with weight, I’ve found some light at the end of the tunnel. There’s a far better way to approach weight and its loss than most people realize.

Consider this:

If you want to find innovation in any field, you need to go to the outskirts. The leading edge. The place where possibilities are abundant and creativity is given room enough to find new and pioneering solutions where none previously existed.

Working with weight in a new and successful way takes an inquisitive mind.

It requires openness, curiosity, intellectual courage, and a willingness to step into the unknown.

I’ve been teaching professionals to work with unwanted eating challenges for over 20 years now – physicians, dietitians, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, health coaches, life coaches, nutritionists, fitness professionals, and more. 

The feedback we’ve received from these graduates is always overwhelmingly positive and inspiring.

It’s impossible to convey in an article everything I cover in our Mind Body Eating Coach Certification Training when it comes to weight.

And with that said, here are some important highlights of what a leading-edge approach to weight loss coaching actually looks like…

Weight Loss Coaching Key #1: Consider Eating Psychology, Not Just Nutrition

Could it be any simpler? If you want to help another human being shapeshift their body, then you not only need to work with nutrition, but you need to understand the mind of the eater.

Meaning eating psychology.

Meaning our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Meaning our “food story.”

We need to understand how our inner world impacts our eating choices.

So many well-intentioned people go into the fields of nutrition, health coaching, dietetics, and others, thinking that “If I just learn all the secrets of nutritional science, then I can solve my unwanted eating concerns and the concerns of others.”

This sounds good and seems to make sense.

But what we eat is half the story of weight loss.

Who we are as eaters is the other half.

When I first started out as a health coach back in the 1980s, I had an office on Wall Street in NYC. I worked with some of the most well-educated and highly motivated people on planet Earth. I quickly noticed that no matter how much great dietary advice I gave my clients, a majority of them couldn’t comply. It was some version of this same story:

“I know what I’m supposed to eat, I know what you told me to do, I just couldn’t do it.” 

I soon surmised through simple logic that nutrition knowledge was not enough to help most people lose weight, and wisely concluded that I just needed to learn eating psychology. So I looked for a book or course or training.

And there was absolutely nothing.

To me, this was shocking.

There was a huge gap in our collective knowledge, in our global conversation around weight and eating challenges. Yes, you could learn about eating disorders back then. But what about the other 98% of humans who don’t have an eating disorder? The people who simply want help with weight, overeating, emotional eating, binge eating, constant food worry, and endless dieting. 

A significant part of humanity was being underserved when it came to these concerns.

I decided from there to eventually write the books I wanted to read, and create the training that I wish I could take.

The days of making weight loss coaching a purely nutritional affair are over. It’s time to catch up with the times. We have a mind and we have emotions. And these greatly impact our relationship with food. 

Could it be any more obvious?

Weight Loss Coaching Key #2: End Chronic Dieting

Dieting doesn’t work.

How do you feel when you read that? What do you think? What’s the conversation inside your head?

For many people, dieting is a profoundly confusing paradox.

Here’s what I mean:

If you’ve done a bunch of dieting in your lifetime, chances are, you’ve had some success. You ate less, maybe you exercised more, and you actually lost weight.

You see, dieting DOES work!

But then, something happens, life goes on, stress this, not enough time that, I went off my diet, I got tired of it, I lost my motivation, the weight crept back on, so I need to return to dieting because it really did work and I felt great when I was keeping the weight off! I just need to diet again and find the motivation. I just need more willpower.

Welcome to the world of yo-yo dieting and chronic dieting.

It works until it doesn’t.

And that’s because this strategy is simply not sustainable.

Let’s get down to metabolic business here:

Dieting trains you and your body how NOT to eat.

Meaning, dieting does its best to train you to resist the food, suppress your appetite, eat as little as you can, don’t enjoy food too much otherwise you’ll want more, and certainly stay away from the fun and forbidden foods because you’ll definitely want to eat lots of those once you get started. 

Dieting is one big “NO.”

If you want to help any human being find their rightful and natural weight, then you need to help them learn not “how not to eat” … 

We need to help people learn how TO eat. 

That’s a big part of the challenge right there. We need to learn how best to become an eater. This means we need to discover how to:

  • Nourish ourselves with food

  • Eat with awareness and presence

  • Receive pleasure with food – a psychophysiological requirement

  • Listen to our appetite and satiation cues

  • Tune into our unique body wisdom

  • Learn how to not rely solely on food as our only way to deal with difficult emotions

  • Put our body in a relaxation response when we eat – which is the optimum state of digestion, assimilation, appetite regulation, and calorie-burning efficiency

When our client can’t lose weight, we need to help them learn to maximize their god-given biological imperative to be an eater. Our job is to help them learn that food is NOT the enemy – 

Then and only then can we help people find and sustain their natural weight in an easeful way.

Can you see how dieting takes us far away from realizing our weight loss desires?

And can you see how learning to be an eater is the only real “diet” that there is?

Letting go of the dieting universe and all its shortcomings is the foundation for honest and transformational weight loss coaching.  

Weight Loss Coaching Key #3: Achieve the End Results in the Beginning

The vast majority of us who wish to lose weight have this one common underlying reason why:

We want to be happy.

It’s all about feeling good.

Sure, some might say they want to lose weight to be healthier, to feel lighter, to fit into their skinny clothes, or to not get some particular disease. But even these reasons still point to something greater: we will be happier. 

What generally happens from here is that we then go about the business of weight loss with all the outdated strategies we’ve been taught:

Fight food, fight ourselves, fight our appetite, fight our body fat, and think all kinds of unkind thoughts about how we look and what that means about who we are as human beings.

Far too many people do their best to lose weight by hating and attacking themselves into weight loss. 

But think about it: How can we take a road of self-attack and self-bullying, and expect it to bring us to a destination of happiness?

It’s impossible.

According to the wisdom of the ancients and our revered contemporary teachers, we can always assume this:

The journey informs the destination.

If you take a road to weight loss that’s filled with unkindness, then that will be your destiny.

So the way I train our practitioners is to help them help their clients “achieve the end results in the beginning.” 

What this means is that you do a complete inventory with your client and help them articulate all the reasons why they wish to lose weight. You help your client get clear about what they expect as the end result of hitting their magic weight loss number. Some commonly spoken end results include:

  • I’ll be more confident.

  • I’ll once and for all be “the real me.”

  • I’ll be more out there.

  • I’ll finally be ready to date.

  • I’ll feel lighter.

  • I’ll fit into my clothes.

  • I’ll be healthier.

We then point out to our client that most of what they want in the future when they lose weight is something they can start having more of now.

Meaning, you can be and act more confident now. You can date now. You can be more out there now. You can even feel lighter now – oftentimes it’s our self-attack and self-rejection around weight that can make us feel more “heavy.”

The point for our clients is to start becoming the “real me” right now.

Far too many people are putting their life on hold and waiting for a day that has not yet come. So we stay on the sidelines of life and dream of a better time.

Interestingly enough, when my clients adopt this approach, weight loss becomes far easier. It’s more inspiring, less stressful, and more in alignment with how life actually works. 

That’s because weight loss does not guarantee happiness.

There are plenty of people with the “ideal” body and shape who are miserable. And likewise, there are plenty of people who are big-bodied and living the good life.

Your job when it comes to weight loss coaching is to help people fulfill their highest and best potential now, no waiting.

From there, weight loss comes more naturally, and our clients find happiness far sooner.

Weight Loss Coaching Key #4: Don’t Underestimate the Stress-Weight Connection

Most people don’t realize that other than nutrition, the second biggest factor in unwanted weight gain is stress.

So how exactly is stress connected to weight?

Consider this commonly repeated study: when laboratory mice are given a nice healthy mouse environment – a cage with the right amount of food, exercise wheels, temperature control, and no external stressors, the result is a bunch of happy, playful, active, perfect weight mice.

When you take a similar group of mice and give them the exact same conditions – except you add in a stressor – unpredictable, intermittent shocks to the cage – things go south. The mice become irritable, less playful, and they fight with each other.

And even though they eat the exact same amount of food – they become obese.

Stress can lead to weight gain.

This is seen in both animal models and in human studies.

Increased levels of cortisol and insulin are considered the main chemical culprits, but it’s no doubt more chemically complex than that.

As it turns out, during the physiologic stress response – sympathetic nervous system dominance – appetite regulation is skewed and confused, digestive capacity is decreased, assimilation of nutrients is impaired, and calorie burning capacity is decreased.

That’s profound. 

Stress here means two different kinds. The first kind of stress is the kind we cannot avoid – a sick family member, a difficult financial situation, a divorce and so on. The second kind we can call “self-chosen stress.”

This is the type of stress we don’t truly need, it’s optional, and it’s self-generated. This includes thoughts such as “I’m not good enough, I’m too fat, I’m unlovable, I’ll never be happy at this weight, this isn’t my real body…” – that sort of thing.

I’ve worked with so many people over the years who seemingly did everything right when it came to weight loss – diet, exercise, no sugar, and even fasting – yet they couldn’t lose a pound.

I’ve seen time and again that our self-chosen stressors can literally lock us into a certain weight. It can cause weight loss resistance. It can neutralize some of our best weight loss efforts.

So if you truly want to be of service to your weight loss client, then your task is simple: 

Coach them to relax into their weight loss journey.

That’s because the more stressed your client is about losing weight, the more they are generating the kind of chemistry that keeps weight on.

Can you see the cosmic irony here?

And can you see the amazing opportunity we have to work with people in a very profound and meaningful way? 

If your client can’t lose weight, then your job is to help them notice the thoughts and beliefs they hold that are rooted in self-attack. Our task is to help them see how their mind can literally create stress chemistry via the unkind thoughts it thinks – and how this stress response can be the missing piece to their weight loss puzzle.

In our professional training, we train our practitioners to look at how key life domains and the stresses we experience in them can also be connected to weight gain and weight loss resistance. 

These domains include money, work, relationship, children, sexuality, spirituality and more. When we address what’s eating at us in these areas of life in an effective and positive way, we can quite literally change our physiology, and our weight. 

Weight Loss Coaching Key #5: Find the Hidden Wisdom Behind Your Client’s Eating Challenge

If you want to work effectively with weight, then you need to introduce yourself to a whole new way of looking at eating challenges. Here’s what I mean:

We are taught that weight is a problem. Overeating is a problem. As is binge eating or emotional eating.

So we go scurry about trying to solve these unfortunate food problems.

The problem is though, these things are not really problems.

They are experiences that are trying to teach us. 

They are behaviors that are trying to talk to us and teach us about ourselves, about life, and about how to be an eater.

For example, many people gain weight because they emotionally eat. But emotional eating is not a problem, it’s actually a solution. It’s our best attempt in the moment to manage unwanted emotions. We often use food to handle uncomfortable feelings and experiences. 

As another example, when it comes to overeating, many people eat too much because they eat too fast. When this happens, the gut brain (enteric nervous system) and head brain do not have enough time to scan the body, assess our nutritional intake, communicate with each other, and determine if we are full or not. In other words:

There’s a brilliant reason rooted in either our biology, psychology, or both, as to why we have a particular unwanted eating behavior.

When we can determine what those brilliant reasons are for a particular client, then we are on our way to truly help them transform their eating challenge and their weight concern. 

This approach helps our clients understand why they do the things they say they wish they didn’t do. It helps people let go of guilt and shame, and empowers them with knowledge.

Far too many people with weight struggles are stuck in self-blame and shame. These unnecessary emotions stop us from being effective when it comes to shedding our excess weight.

So your client doesn’t have an issue. A problem. And there’s nothing “wrong” with a client who can’t lose weight.

Your client is simply here to learn and grow through their eating concerns, and through their extra weight.

With this approach to weight loss coaching, we help our clients get to the true root cause of their challenge, which puts them squarely on the road to success.  

Can you see how this is a more mature and transformational approach?

Weight Loss Coaching Key #6: Help Your Clients Get Back In Their Body

One of the biggest challenges that weight loss clients face when it comes to actually losing the weight is this:

They have abandoned their body.

Meaning, at some point, we often decide that “Well, since I have this extra weight, this is not my real body. I don’t like this body at all. I refuse it. I protest it. Who could accept such a body? Therefore, I will not be in my body. I won’t occupy it. I’m checking out. And I won’t re-enter my body until I have my ideal body and have lost all the weight.”

Can you see the problem here?

We often “disembody” as a way to protest against our unwanted weight.

We convince ourselves that we will inhabit our body once it’s looking all thin and fabulous. Then we’ll feel alive. Then we’ll feel like the real me. Then we’ll nourish and take care of ourselves. 

But in the meantime, we will be content to live in our head, and to disregard our physical form until it has complied with our humble demands for it to look exactly how we want it to. 

Well, here’s the conundrum:

Losing weight is a “big ask” of the body. It takes our presence. It requires our awareness and attention.

It’s like driving a car. If you want the car to go somewhere, you need to get inside, sit down, strap yourself in, get comfortable, turn on the ignition, pay attention to the road, and go.

Same with the body.

The body isn’t going anywhere unless we are truly in it.

No embodiment, no weight loss.

So if you want to help any human being let go of body fat in a sustainable way, if you want to help someone achieve their natural weight and shape, if you want to be truly successful at weight loss coaching, then you need to assess the degree to which they are inhabiting their body. 

And if they’ve “checked out”, then you need to help them learn to check back in.

Getting back into our body looks different for each person. It happens in baby steps. It might look like gentle exercise, self-care, nourishing oneself with food, incorporating more pleasures in life other than food, playing a favorite sport, finding joy in movement, dancing, yoga, and a lot more. 

Losing weight is far more nuanced and interesting than just attacking a bunch of body fat and expecting long-term success.

We can arrive at our natural weight only when we’re living in accordance with the wisdom of the body, and the wisdom of life.

Weight Loss Coaching Key #7: Work with the Weight Loss Archetypes

Here’s one of the best-kept secrets in all of coaching and counseling psychology:

When you’re working with a client, you’re not just working with one person. 

You’re working with a crowd.

Meaning, each one of us has a vast committee of different voices or personas or archetypes inside of us. These terms are all interchangeable.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Hero archetype. Well, there’s hundreds more. Our personality consists of archetypes such as the Child, the Rebel, the Hedonist, the Perfectionist, the King or Queen, and so many more.

You can learn more about this in my free mini-course on The 8 Eating Archetypes.

So what does this have to do with weight loss?

Well, whenever we eat, one of our archetypes will be sitting at the head of the table, giving orders, and making our food choices.

If you’ve ever said, “I know what I’m supposed to eat, I know what I want to do, I just don’t do it. I don’t know why I sabotage myself” – then now you know the reason why:

An archetype inside of you has taken over against your conscious awareness and is calling the shots with food.

It might be the Rebel Archetype in you who decides, “Nobody tells me what to do, I’ll eat whatever I want, whenever I want it. No restrictions for me.”

Or the Child in you might simply scream, “I want sugar. And I want it now because I say so. I don’t care about the consequences.”

Or the Hedonist within might convince you that “This is going to taste so good. Go for it. You’re going to die anyway. Enjoy yourself. You can diet tomorrow.”

Or the Perfectionist Archetype inside might insist that “I need to eat only a tiny amount of food so I can have my ideal weight and create the perfect body. I need to find all the willpower I can so I can follow my perfect diet perfectly.”

The bottom line is, as coaches and practitioners, we need to understand the different voices within our weight loss clients so we can help them see where they get in their own way, and how they can call upon archetypes like the King or Queen or Adult to help them make good decisions and create a healthy and satisfying relationship with food and body.  

We’ve only just scratched the surface when it comes to a new and holistic way to work with weight loss. And yet, I hope you can see how transformational it can be to approach this topic with fresh eyes.

It’s time to say goodbye to the old and outdated way of going about the business of weight loss.

Helping professionals and weight loss coaches who are committed to staying at the cutting-edge of weight loss psychology and science will be the trailblazers who know how to help clients lose weight sustainably – and find the freedom and happiness they’re ultimately looking for.

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Why Your Clients Can't Lose Weight: The Future of Weight Loss Coaching

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