I’m putting the next Online Coaching plan together and as per usual the way I do things is different to most people in the business. Every few days I’ll get sent either a link to some website, or an actual plan or program someone’s received when they’ve signed up for some weight loss challenge or other…often they’re sent to me by a concerned family member or spouse, or sometimes by another trainer in my network saying “gawd, get a load of this will ya?”.
What I notice with virtually all of these plans is that there’s no individualisation or customisation whatsoever. They’re still running on the old “to lose weight, slash calories” principle, and the only real difference between one and another is just how drastically they’ll cut your calories. Others don’t set calorie targets at all, but there’s a list of allowed and disallowed foods and I suppose if you don’t actually like any of them you’re really out of luck. Even if you’re pretty good at obeying when you’re told “eat it, it’s good for you”, there’s no reason to assume that you’re automatically going to meet your nutritional requirements just eating unspecified amounts of particular foods no matter how “healthy” your coach has decided that they are (and by extension, everything else isn’t).
So anyway like I said, no individualisation. Every client just gets sent the same plan and in at least one rather infamous case just gets told “google it babe” when they have questions.
Really these products are less about coaching you towards a healthy goal through sensible means, and more about enabling you to follow a self destructive and disordered approach to a temporary result. Sometimes the person selling them is just a scumbag marketer with no ethics, and other times it is a well meaning trainer who just hasn’t been taught any better.
So, you get the same starvation plan as everyone else. Oh it’s not working? Slash calories even further then. Still not working? OK let’s not eat at all every third day, and so on. Seriously this is the stuff people write to me telling me they’ve done on the instructions of some fucking idiot out there. I find it exasperating.
Clearly none of this is any good!
If you want to achieve any sort of body composition goal (including weight loss) you need to be getting the appropriate intake, and that’s never “less and less and less”. Now, if you also want to be able to stick to the plan and maintain your results, you need to be able to meet those nutritional requirements with foods that you like to eat. Following someone else’s diet isn’t going to work out. You need the right plan for you, your body and your goals.
What should your goal be though? Well… unless you’re training for a specific sporting goal, really I think just about everyone has the same goal. They want to be healthy, and they want to look good, feel good, feel good about themselves and be happy. Now, we have to accept that this is a goal that requires ongoing action and not just quick fix, temporary measures. Therefore, we can plan strategically with short term, seasonal goals that will allow us to attain, maintain, and eventually even surpass our long term goals. In sports training this is referred to as “periodisation”.
When we kick off the next season of Online Coaching, we’ll be working with each individual client to determine their goal for the season, we’ll be setting nutritional targets to ensure success in reaching that goal, and we’ll even put a plan together to meet those targets with the foods each client tells us they want to eat. I don’t think anyone else does this, either because they just don’t know how, or because they just don’t care to. It is actually pretty hard work, but that’s no excuse.
So, potential seasonal goals depending on where you’re at, and where you’re located.
If you’re currently inactive and overweight, underweight, or just not happy with the shape you’re in? Your goal is simply to create a habit getting to the gym regularly and eating “about the right amount” for your goal body type. That’s literally all it takes to start seeing progress, and it doesn’t mean starvation rations and hours upon hours sweating your guts out.
If you’re already active and seeing results, but looking to take things to the next level by getting even more lean and showing even more muscle tone… contrary to popular belief it doesn’t happen by slashing calories. We need to feed those muscles to make them show up. Autumn (or Spring, for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere) is a great time to reverse diet, and train your metabolism to take on more fuel and put it all to use. This isn’t the same as a “bulk” in the meat head body building (aka me the past few years) sense of the word… we’re trying to find the limit of how much fuel we can put to use without sacrificing the progress we’ve already made. Contrary to what you might expect, my clients often report further weight loss and even leaner body composition after we strategically increase calories.
Now this reverse dieting sets us up nicely for improved performance at training, and this means better results. For the local (Southern Hemisphere) people I would suggest maintaining this maximum level of fueling all winter, and then at the start of Spring you may not want to change anything at all. But if we do decide to reduce calories to be in peak condition by Summer, we’re reducing from a massive amount to a still suitable amount… rather than slashing recklessly from an already too low amount to an irresponsible and unhealthy target. For the people in the North, fuel up in the Spring and you’ll be in a good position to make a strategic decision at the start of Summer.
Obviously this is something we’ll evaluate on an individual basis, subject to what the client wants and what is in their best interests. Again, this doesn’t seem to be something that many other people do in Online Coaching programs.
Oh! Also I have some new tweaks to the program that are going to ENSURE steady progress at training as well. I’d say “stay tuned” but I haven’t decided yet, I may keep the details top secret.