Last week we discussed eating slowly as the first step in how we can help clients and ourselves respond to perceived threats rather than reacting to them. We, as a culture, have over-complicated things so much that we have higher amounts of stress in our daily life than we probably should. This inability to respond to threats often plays out in our food choices.
Thus, we love to try to change what we eat and what our clients eat all the time. We create food rules and restrictions, meal plans, and beat the hell out of ourselves to eat right. We treat ourselves and our clients like puppets instead of humans. We know what we are supposed to eat, but knowing doesn’t always mean action. As we discussed before, maladaptive eating behaviors are a way to solve a problem. Until the mindset changes around that perceived threat, the maladaptive eating behaviors are here to stay. Nutrition isn’t a secret nor is it “hard.” What’s challenging is our mindset about what we want to accomplish.
Clients and ourselves need to be ready, willing, and able to execute any nutritional change effectively.
We may not be ready to constrain our eating, eat on a schedule, or eat what we suggest.
We may not be willing to constrain our eating, eat on a schedule, or eat what we suggest.
We may not be able to complete basic tasks or skills that a meal plan or food suggestions may require.
We must be aware of what we are working with before we start making any changes in what ourselves or our clients eat.
For example, I had a rough couple of years, and I had to eventually sit down and have a conversation with myself about what I was ready, willing, and able to do. I had hip surgery in the fall of 2014. This surgery didn’t throw me off too much because I was expecting it. It was in the “plan.” I had to work on being able to walk properly and get the mobility to tie my shoes again, but overall I didn’t have any debilitating depression that year because it was all in the “plan.” I had emotionally accounted for the struggles. A year later, exactly a week after I started deadlifting again, I ruptured my Achilles in an adult league soccer game. NOT IN THE PLAN!Those damn ducks started wandering off again! Those little bastards.
I was hit hard with depression. I started emotionally eating, and it didn’t help that I had a husband and mother-in-law that are feeders. I gained 10 pounds in a matter of no time at all. Then, my husband got a job offer which required us to relocate to Northern Virginia/Maryland. I struggled with this change. I had feelings of imposter syndrome, and I was working in a commercial gym for a little while. I was very fortunate and never had to work in that type of gym environment before. I quickly learned a commercial gym setting is not where I thrive; it fucked with my mindset too much. I gained another 10 pounds. I tried to solve this weight gain by putting rules and restrictions on my food. I made a color-coded meal plan that I stuck it on the fridge. You may have guessed, but this didn’t work. The scale kept creeping up. I wanted to lose weight, but I needed to have a conversation with myself as to whether I was ready, willing, and able to focus on fat loss. I came to the conclusion I was not in the right head space to conquer a fat loss goal. I was already too uncomfortable, to get more uncomfortable. So, I changed directions and focused on a performance goal and getting strong as fuck! I was able to put 120 pounds on my deadlift that year by reevaluating and having a focus on one goal. And it fucking rocked!
Therefore, this sometimes isn’t a matter of knowing what we need to do with our nutrition. Sometimes, it’s a matter of what we are ready, willing, and able to do in regards to our nutrition. I wasn’t ready or willing, and I needed to be honest with myself about it. You may need to be asking yourself some questions and giving an honest reply.
Am I Ready?
Are you or your client READY to change? If you aren’t ready to change, no amount of badgering and berating yourself is going to change that. If your client isn’t ready to change, the best coach in the world isn’t going to change that.
How do you know if you or your client is ready? You ask yourself or them.
“On a scale from 1-10, how ready are you to change or to do x?”
If you or your client answer anything lower than a 9 or if numbers aren’t your thing and it’s anything other than a “fuck yeah!”, scale back your expectations or reevaluate the goal.
Am I Willing?
Willingness aligns with our core values, identity, and priorities. We simply won’t be willing to do something that contradicts our priorities at that moment. For example, I wasn’t willing to give up my emotional eating the last two years because it filled my need to feel better right then. The emotional eating was solving a problem right then, and I needed it.
How open are you or your client to changing your mindset, habits, or routines? Change requires us to say no to something, so that, we can say yes to something else. Change can get difficult, and you may experience discomfort with this change. Being challenged is where the magic happens, but you need to be willing to receive that challenge.
Am I Able?
Ability is rather straightforward. Sometimes we want and hope for change but something is blocking us from making that change. This blocking could be a baby that just arrived in your household, a tough work schedule, or an unsupportive environment.
By answering whether we are ready, willing, or able, we can start identifying any resistance. Resistance is essential to acknowledge because you will need to decide whether you are ready, willing, and able to address that resistance to meet your goal or do you need to reevaluate your goal.
There are no wrong answers to these questions. They just allow us to start with compassion and be honest with ourselves. By being honest, we gain control back, we lower our stress and frustration, and we prevent bad decisions from happening, rather than feel guilty about them later.
So, before you make any changes to your nutrition program or regime, ask yourself (and be honest) if you are ready, willing, and able to take on that change. You may be surprised at what you find out about yourself and the relief three questions can provide.
After you’ve practiced on yourself, then bring these questions to your clients. Ask them what they are ready, willing, and able to do to change. Your relationship with your client will get better because you’ve given them the autonomy to dictate their nutrition journey and you’re not seen as an authority figure to rebel against but rather a partner on this journey with them walking side by side.
- Rules and restrictions, un-timely meal plans, and beating ourselves or our clients into submission rarely works.
- A better way to evaluate if a change is going to be well received is to ask ourselves and our clients:
- Are you ready?
- Are you willing?
- Are you able?
3. Be open and encourage honesty to these questions and you will be able to identify any resistance you come across.
4. Identifying resistance is important to being successful with changes in nutrition.
5. Ask yourself (or your client) whether you are ready, willing, and able to address that resistance to meet your goal or do you need to reevaluate the goal for the time being.
6. We need a confidence level of 9/10 or a “fuck yeah!” on a habit to be successful or we need to scale back our expectations.
7. There are no wrong answers to these questions. They just open dialogue as to whether a particular change will fit into your lifestyle or not. And if it doesn’t pick one that does.