**This is an explanation to my professor of the first module (or phase 1) of my weight-loss, optimal health online program. I’m currently working on my Master’s of Holistic Nutrition from Hawthorn University.**
The preparation phase of a weight-loss program is key to laying a strong foundation for lifetime habits. Establishing trust with the client allows transparency and vulnerability and provides a meaningful starting point for which to make a realistic plan and set realistic goals. Face-to-face communication is optimal, whether sitting across from each other in an office or meeting place, or communicating via video-conferencing. Telephone conversations are less optimal, although more convenient, with email and texting to support all methods. Patient intake forms are also important to flesh out the information gained face-to-face and help provide insight into the whole person. I also have recorded short videos in workshop format explaining each step in my program for clients to reference at any time, as well as handouts and worksheets. I can release the entire workshop at once or “drip” the contents to the client, depending on how much they want to spend and how much personal involvement they want from me.
I have expanded my initial “Fitt Kitchen” concept into a broader program, combining nutrition with a weight-loss, fitness, and health-optimization plan that is introduced in four stages: alkalize, immunity-boosting, stress management, and fitness. Clients progress through the four stages as quickly or slowly as they need to, with special attention given to areas of weakness or struggle (Bauer & Liou, 2016, p. 162). For example, a person might need to spend a month in the alkalize stage before they move on to the immunity-boosting portion while another might spend two months in the first stage. Each stage builds on the prior stage and adds more habits/steps to master as the client progresses. The final stage focuses on fitness, but I encourage participants to move their bodies from the very beginning.
I will start off potential clients with the Client Information & Consent form, the Client Welcome Letter, the Food Frequency Form, the Medical History Questionnaire, and the Health & Wellness Goals in the intake packet. (Please see attachments for forms). In our initial meeting, I will dig deeper into the psychological aspects of their behaviors related to food, fitness levels, stress levels, etc. (The examples of such questions are also included in attachments.) I pre-arrange check-in times so clients can expect accountability and establish boundaries, payment, and office hours at this point as well.
When it comes to specific weight loss, my philosophy is to get a client eating whole food, focusing on nourishing their bodies rather than losing weight. The weight loss happens more slowly this way sometimes, but clients establish lifelong habits that help keep the weight off in the long term. A 1-2 lb. average weight drop per week is optimal (Healthy Weight, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html). This approach will require that I build trust and rapport with the client, as I’m asking them to seemingly put off a problem they sought me out to solve. Teaching them about “how” we are implementing each step will better support them initially, with more “why” introduced over time (Jordan, 2013, p. 90). Educating them about various bodily processes, including digestion, hormone balance, blood sugar regulation, etc. in simple and easy-to-understand language and concepts will further reinforce their efforts. I need to be careful not to overwhelm the client with too much, too fast, but I also don’t want to go so slowly that they lose interest altogether or lose momentum.
As a fitness professional I will encourage them to move their body throughout the program, but will introduce the majority of fitness instruction in the final phase.
Diet, lifestyle, and environmental exposures can affect the client’s success with weight, health, and fitness goals. Some examples of dietary barriers include limited budget, limited time to prepare whole foods, preference for certain tastes or textures, dislike of certain foods or textures, habits or rituals surrounding food, history of dieting, allergies, what’s worked in prior experiences, preconceived notions of dieting, etc. Examples of lifestyle factors which could be barriers include employment situation, existence or lack of a support system, sleep habits, habits or rituals surrounding food, exercise habits, mental health status, level of reliance on television and/or social media for entertainment/education/disconnection, amount of time spent on digital devices, education level, etc. Environmental exposures that could be barriers include living conditions, lack of access to quality food, possible addictions such as alcohol, tobacco, & illicit drugs, lack of access to healthcare, lack of support from family and friends, toxic exposure/exposure to obesegens, etc.(Schwartz, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4iCleMyuwA).
My challenge as health coach is to problem solve with my client, as a team, each barrier, providing a work-around for potential challenges that may arise or that surface over time. Check-ins through texting and calls, even a voicemail, can help the client feel connected. The pre-recorded videos provide support around the clock. Finally the Facebook group provides support, friendship, and accountability with others participating in the program and takes the pressure off of me to be the constant cheerleader. (I will need to mediate the conversations, however, to make sure the information shared is positive, relevant, and productive.)
Clients begin Phase 1: Alkalize as soon as possible after our first meeting, depending on their goals, their personal timeline, and the amount of hand-holding they’ll need. I release the appropriate videos, add them to my private Facebook group, and check in on them based on our established agreement. Goals for phase 1 include the following: eat mostly plant-based, eat mostly organic, hydrate, drink out of glass or stainless steel containers, instructions to clean out their cupboards, how to read labels, ditch the soda (diet and sugar-full), stock up on healthy snacks, plan meals in advance (I encourage them to subscribe to a meal-planning service, at least at first), ditch the artificial sweeteners, eat whole-fat dairy, and I encourage them to follow some of my personal favorite Pinterest boards for inspiration.
I have an instructional video covering each topic in depth. After the client has watched the assigned video, we will chat, either online, by phone, or Skype, and dig deeper into the lessons according to the questions of the client. With so many topics covered, this could be a lot to expect for someone who is new to clean eating and active living, so I will pace the teaching according to each individual’s needs. We may spend days working on a specific item or breeze through a topic. Individualizing the content within the context of my program will help both with compliance and customer satisfaction.
I expect to spend at minimum of two weeks and maximum of two months on this first phase. It’s possible that a client may need to back-track and review as we move forward, or even skip steps if they’re already in place. My ultimate goal is to provide a streamlined, personalized service that caters to each client’s goals and price point.
Bauer, K. D., & Liou, D. (2016). Nutrition counseling and education skill development. Boston, MA, USA: Cengage Learning.
Healthy Weight. (2018, February 13). Retrieved March 6, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html
Jordan, M. (2013). How to be a health coach: An integrative wellness approach. San Rafael, CA: Global Medicine Enterprises.
Schwartz, G. (2018, July 17). Intermittent Fasting: Current Research and Nutritional Protocols [webinar]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4iCleMyuwAlient’s goals and price point.