I recently aquired two new clients, both overweight, and spent over 2 hours assessing them, calculating their BMRs, and recommending a caloric range for both.
For one of them I recommended between 1500 and 1750 calories for an average weight loss of 1-2 lbs a week if she exercises. She changed her caloric intake to 1200 in the program, chose to eat 600 calories for a few days, then stopped logging her meals altogether. The other client was staying within his caloric range but ate very low ND foods such as white pasta, pancakes, and processed meats. I asked him to incorporate one fruit, vegetable, or side salad a day. He chose to ignore me for 3 weeks and then his calories jumped way above his recommended intake. I know you can’t win every battle, but I feel like I am losing these two and maybe it is not my battle to fight. How would you handle these two situations?
I have to say that most people I train think of themselves as well-informed, especially when it comes to the food that’s right for them. More than once clients have justified their poor decisions by citing diet plans, folks on tv, or something they heard from a friend. Calorie restriction is very common in my experience- people think that if “less is more” then “even less” must be “even more”. This can be a tough nut to crack for some clients.
The best advice I can give you is not to give up on these folks! By being honest with you about their respective eating issues, they’re letting you know that they trust you on some level. Changing a lifestyle does not come easy and, after all, aren’t we all works in progress? They’ve made it to the point that they realize they need help, and they’ve implemented some changes (by changing their exercise habits, at the very least). Also, you now have the documentation that may convince them that the cycle they’re on is NOT benefiting them- the first client is (most likely) too ashamed to even write down her eating habits, the second client has proven that the choices he’s making aren’t sustainable because his calories have jumped again after a short hiatus. Having them include the way they feel before/after each meal in their food diary may also help them “see the light”.
I would try to be a safe place for these clients to turn. Help them to focus on improving their future habits and to learn from the past without dwelling on it. They are the only ones that can change their behavior, and you can only continue, as you have been, to keep them informed of a best-case scenario. You can certainly refer them to a nutritionist or lifestyle management professional if it seems to be necessary, as they’ll probably back up what you’ve already recommended. Ultimately, the battle is theirs so try not to take their shortcomings as any reflection on yourself. Good luck!