The Health Coach Bomb


Yes, we have a name for it.   It’s the one thing that trips-up health coaches, nutritionists, trainers and other health professionals no matter how good they are.


I experienced it — constantly — with our own Weight-Management & Lifestyle business in Newport Beach, California… and it absolutely drove me crazy.


Not to mention the impact on our retention, referrals and revenue!


It seemed that no matter how hard we tried to motivate… to empower… to educate… to even bribe with incentives….  the BOMB was always there. 


Have I piqued your interest…? 


Wondering what the BOMB is? 


I‘ll explain it with your own experiences…!

Has This Ever Happened to You?


A client enrolls in one of your programs or coaching packages and is really excited to get going.  The motivation level is very high. 


You think, “Wow this is going to be a great client.”


But, then, about two weeks into the program the client is not at the same level of motivation.  He or she is not completing the Daily Journals or other tracking materials or apps.


So, both you and the client are losing track of activity levels and nutritional intake.


Already, you notice there’s a little guilt complex creeping into your client — followed by promises to do better.


You Know Where This is Going


By weeks four and five you start hearing things like:


I just didn’t have time this week.” 




“I was overloaded at work.” Or,  “My kids were sick.” 


By weeks eight and nine, the client is beginning to feel like a “lost cause” no matter how much motivation you provide… no matter how many pep-talks you give.   It’s just not hitting home.


So, now you’re simply figuring out whether to “fire the client” or to just let the clock run out


Either way it’s a “FAIL” and it doesn’t feel good to either one of you!


Yet Something Keeps Nagging at You


But, despite this downturn in motivation, participation and accountability… there’s something about the client that keeps nagging at you.  Here it is:


You still see the spark.  You can feel the client really wants to achieve the goals you both agreed to.  You know the client wants to please you, personally — and make you proud.


And, it seems the client is always energized and motivated when the two of you are actually training together.


So, it’s just not adding up.


Then… I Figured it Out


One day, while sitting in my office thinking about this dilemma that I was experiencing with several clients —  it hit me!  I knew EXACTLY why this was happening.


In fact, it happens in competitive sports all the time…!


Let me explain:


One time as a young high school ski racer, I skied an incredible race.  I mean, I was on fire!  I held first place until my own team mate, Bobby Whitcomb, beat me.  I was devastated.  Depressed. 


But then my coach came to me and said,


“Listen, Art, you skied a helluva race.  You didn’t do anything wrong.  The fact that you didn’t win has nothing to do with YOU… but has everything to do with Bobby having the best race of his life!” 


There it is.  Are you with me, here?


It Hit Me Like a Ton of Bricks


All of a sudden it all came together.  This dilemma was NOT about my client.  It was about someone or something else in her life that was sabotaging her. 


And, whoever or whatever it was, the end result was that it was destroying her motivation. Killing her mojo.  It was blowing-up her program. 


Identifying the BOMB


So, the very next meeting with one of my “BOMB” clients, we had a heart-to-heart talk. 


Oh… the things I learned.


First, I found out that my client’s husband and two kids refused to eat the foods she needed to eat.  So, every day she was compelled to make twice as many meals. Meals for herself and meals for the rest of the family.


Then, I learned that most of her friends enjoyed an unhealthy amount of alcohol with meals, social gatherings and other events.   When my client preferred water, she was goaded with, “Ah c’mon, just have one.” 


Finally, as we went through her daily schedule, it became immediately evident that she was overbooked.  She was always left to figure out a way to “fit-it-in” at home either before work or after – but, it wasn’t happening for a whole host of reasons.


How to Diffuse the Bomb


So what to do about all this?  I thought long and hard about it… for days.  And what I decided is NOT for everybody… but let me share what worked for my business.


1.)  First off, I asked my client if she would mind bringing her husband and two kids to my office at her next meeting.  And, to make it more palatable, I made it a “complimentary meeting.”


Without going into all the details, I spoke with her husband and children and explained the process of what their mother and wife was attempting to accomplish. 


As I closed the discussion, I looked all three of them in the eyes and asked for their support.  I let them know how difficult this journey was and that it was going to take a “team effort.” 


I put it in these terms: “You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem.”


I also gave them solid examples of HOW they could show their support.


2.)  Next, I gave my client several ideas on how to gain the support of her friends.  And, what to do about those who refused to support her.


3.)  Finally, we worked together to create a realistic schedule — one that prioritized her workout times.   Interestingly, this helped her organize other aspects of her life, as well.


After working with this client and going the extra step to understand her lifestyle, relationships and challenges, a few interesting things happened.


Of particular note, her husband decided to join his wife in the program so they could make the journey together.  They ended up being incredibly supportive for each other.


FYI…. this happens all the time.  Once partners understand the concept… the situation quickly turns from lifestyle “BOMB” to lifestyle “BUDDIES.”   It became one of the most lucrative up-sells for our business!


Her closest friends not only supported her, but became cheerleaders and validated her at every chance.   What a change!  And, the non-supportive friends?  Well, it certainly clarified the relationships!


Turning Lemons Into Lemonade


Obviously, there are a ton of details that I’m skipping over.  But, what’s most important is this point:


Even the most motivated clients can be sabotaged – without YOU knowing it.  It’s YOUR JOB to find out.


So, here’s how we leveraged what we learned. 


We immediately initiated an internal protocol to make sure we totally understood the client’s:

  • lifestyle
  • family
  • job
  • friends
  • potential pitfalls


This allowed us to create a “snapshot” of the client’s current lifestyle and situation. 


Then, after identification of challenges, we found it crucial to give our clients a strategy to deal with each one of them. 


And, the more “tools” we gave our clients to handle their challenges, the more they succeeded in achieving their goals. 


A Final Note


Here’s the really great thing about going “deep” with your clients. 


Every single one of them is different.  We’ve worked with all kinds of clients from homemakers to professional athletes.  Each has a different set of challenges.


However, the more you identify the challenges, the more strategies you’ll develop for your clients.  The more “tools” you will have in your arsenal. 


The better YOU become as a HEALTH COACH.


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