Part of my business career was to serve as owner of a weight-management business in Newport Beach, CA., back in 1989.
Our staff conducted the nutrition side of things and we outsourced the activity and exercise to the absolute best trainers we could find.
We achieved outstanding results with our clients. And, we developed fantastic relationships and referrals with the trainers. Then we expanded to medical facilities and corporate accounts.
Our Biggest Obstacle
What bugged me the most about the business was the lack of credible information for consumers. After all, we were competing against Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, NutriSystem and, of course, all the MLM weight-loss pill and powder pushers.
All of them bogus with faulty protocol that typically left people in worse shape than when they started (increase in body-fat, hormone imbalances, compromised immune systems, etc.). But they could always outspend us on advertising!
The Single Most Important Thing
So, that’s when we decided to create our own educational platform – starting with the Transformation Journal.
Truly, if there is a single piece of equipment or single most important thing for weight-management… it is “ACCOUNTABILITY!” And, nothing accomplishes this more than the Transformation Journal. Period!
The Missing Link
But there is actually one other step that is equally important. And it’s not just important for weight-management. It’s important in life — from running a business to going on vacation. And that is having a PLAN! Yes, call it what you want… a road map, a written agenda, a flow chart, a strategy…. it’s a PLAN!
Hand in Hand
Yes, a PLAN and a JOURNAL go hand in hand. Think about it. If you have a PLAN… but, no way to actually follow it or track your progress, well, then, it’s useless. On the flip-side, if you have a Transformation Journal without a PLAN, you may well end-up running around in circles with no actual progress.
How would you know if you have no benchmarks. No goals. No numbers to hit?
Tom Venuto Puts it in Perspective
You may have heard of Tom Venuto. He is a legend when it comes to credible weight-management. I dare say he’s been around as long as me..!
The other day he wrote a fantastic blog post that put this all in perspective…. and he graciously gave me permission to pull some information and quotes from it.
He opens his post with this:
“Many people track their food intake with apps, software or old-fashioned paper and pen, but most people don’t realize there’s a difference between meal planning and nutrition tracking. Even dietitians and nutrition pros rarely tell you about this, because most of them don’t know either! Planning and tracking are both useful practices, but not understanding the distinction between the two is a common cause of diet program failure.”
Athletes Just Do It
What Tom is pointing out is so true. It’s the basis of our MAP System (to plan) as well as our Transformation Journals (to track). And, though Tom doesn’t mention this, the whole concept of Plan and Track is the golden secret to the successes of many world class athletes.
This “metrics based concept” especially took hold around the time that Jerry Rice proclaimed, “There is no ‘Off Season!” And, whether you’re a world class athlete or someone looking to decrease body-fat… the methodology works.
Here are a few more nuggets from Tom regarding a Plan:
- “The odds are overwhelmingly against you getting your nutrition right if you don’t have a plan, by the numbers, in writing – on paper (or electronically).”
- “Success is not just about having goals. Success is about having a goal and having a PLAN to achieve it… and then beginning at once to take action on your plan.”
- “If your goal is improving fitness or body composition – half of the plan is the workout – the other part is the MEAL PLAN.“
Sounds familiar right..? Are you telling your clients this stuff? I believe with all my heart that this is the hardest part for most consumers who are interested in weight-management and decreasing body-fat.
It’s also where you, as a fitness professional must really work at motivating them to do it. That’s right… to sit down and do it.
When we ran our weight management business, we spent the first visit (90 minutes) creating a PLAN.
Not a big plan.
Just a one week plan. With lots of little tiny bench marks such as water intake. Number of small meals and snacks. Which days they went to the gym and for how long as well as what would be accomplished ie; cardio and or resistance training.
Tom finishes off his section on Planning with these comments…
- “Millions of people stumble into each day with no plan for what they’re going to eat… THEY “WING IT!”
- “Maybe it’s “in their head” what they intend to eat, but vague ideas give no real direction, and good intentions… well you know what they say about where that road leads.”
- “The fact is, people without a plan usually eat whatever is convenient, available and accessible.”
I am so thankful for our customer base of Fitness Professionals.
If you are reading this, it probably means YOU!
The very fact that you purchase Journals and require your clients or members to use them puts you at the forefront of the industry. It means you are the BEST!
It is astonishing how many trainers, clubs, studios and other so-called professionals just don’t give a damn. For some it’s all churn ‘n burn as many clients as they can. For others, it’s a cheap workout card that gets filed upon leaving the facility.
And mobile apps..? Don’t even get me started…
But, what does Tom Venuto have to say about tracking? A lot.
Eat Something and Write It Down
- “The moment you start tracking and writing down food intake, you have created self-accountability. The simple act of writing down what you eat – by itself – can change your behavior. What is measured and tracked is improved.”
- “Writing down what you eat is also another way to be sure you’re eating the correct amount of calories and macronutrients for each day. As long as you have a calorie and macronutrient goal for the day, if you’re journaling in real time, you can adjust your food intake in real time based on how many calories you have left for the day.”
- “Food journals can also provide a learning experience about nutrition that you cannot equal any other way. Nothing will teach you about nutrition like tracking food, calories and macronutrients for an extended period of time. It’s like taking a nutrition class – except you come away with street-level learning, not just book learning.”
and I will add…
There is plenty of evidence to support the notion of writing things down immediately after you’ve done it. The notion of filling in the blanks on your computer or mobile device 2 or 3 hours after the fact just doesn’t cut it. There is a mind-body connection when your behavior is recorded immediately after the “action.”
Most people who wait that long to record their actions typically forget things like that extra pad of butter, salad dressing, etc. Or, exactly how many reps they did… or how well they did them. Too much time creates a “dis-connect” between the actual behavior and the recording of it.
I work with several top professional trainers and coaches of pro athletes who not only require immediate recording of the activity, but, ask their athletes to allow the “quality” of their actual handwriting in their Journals to be a reflection of the “quality” of the activity they just performed. It’s the mind-body connection.
And it must be immediate.
Tom concludes his article with this overview and advice
- “Creating a meal plan in advance, on paper is a PROACTIVE strategy: You decide in advance what you are going to eat and then you eat it.”
- “A food diary (or electronic equivalent) is a REACTIVE strategy: You eat something and then you write it down.”
- “Tracking food intake with a food journal is not the same thing as meal planning and in many cases, tracking alone is not sufficient.”
- “Eating completely at random and then writing down your haphazard day of random eating is tracking, but it’s not a very good strategy is it? The better strategy is to have a well-thought-out plan created in advance, before you take action.”
I should make it clear, here, that as much as this sounds like a testimonial for our products, Tom Venuto is not associated with our company in any way.
He, like so many of the top professionals and experts in fitness, believe in doing things the “right way.” They are much more interested in helping people achieve results than in chasing clients for the sake of the almighty dollar.
I’m quite sure any of these experts could be making more money in a different profession. But, fitness is their passion.
And, I, for one, am proud and grateful to be surrounded by such amazing fitness professionals — just like you!
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