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How To Be A Great Client

So, you made the leap. You paid the money. You want to make your nutrition goals a reality. Now what? You’re connected with a coach. You have received tons (and tons and tons) of information. And you get your macros. What happens next is completely up to you.

How I made the leap: I had been a professional binge dieter since middle school. I learned quickly to restrict and drop weight instantly. My first massive success came with a 60-pound weight loss in two months…yes, you read that right — one pound EVERY SINGLE DAY! While my friends were planning an intervention, my mom talked about how proud she was of me. Meanwhile, I was starving. Starving so much that I dieted myself into gallbladder failure. Seriously.

Those bad habits never left. I was good at them. Really good. I could control them. Trip coming up? I could drop ten pounds in two weeks. Wedding to prepare for? Yeah, I can get myself into that dress. Until I couldn’t. The older I got, the more I bounced down, the higher I bounced up. And then I hit my bottom. I never stopped exercising and I really never stopped restricting. But wine was my friend. A really good one. It was there to celebrate, to rue a bad day, to bond with friends, to share with my husband, to ignore my parents, or to release stress from kids. You name it, there was always an excuse.

I was also learning I could not out exercise this habit, no matter how good I thought my diet was, and I was drinking to excess. One day, after a very heavy consumption the evening before, I learned about SU through the Peloton community. There were so many comments from women like me; wine every night, not able to lose weight. I signed up that day. And I haven’t looked back.

If you want success, you have to own the process including how you got here. The reality of the situation is that this is YOUR journey. Not his. Not hers. Not theirs. Not your coach’s. It’s YOURS. And you have to own that. Your coach can be your greatest support system. They are there to teach you and guide you and help you self reflect, but a coach cannot help you if you are not willing to help yourself.

Being a good client is looking in the mirror and trying to identify what your weaknesses are.

For me, my downfall was (and even still is at times) wine. Fill in the blank with your downfall (chips, cake, cookies, beer, late night snacking, carbs, ice cream, pizza, fries)…the list is endless. However, in order to take control of this process and have success, I had to be willing to change. And you have to be willing to change. It doesn’t mean we can’t ever have an oreo or a drink ever again, but it does mean that we have to learn how and when these things can fit into our lives.

Being a good client means that you will stumble.

Yes, you read that right. A good client can and will falter. I definitely did. Just because I curbed my wine consumption didn’t mean that I still didn’t like it. I went to Napa. I made good food choices (for the most part). I planned to not drink all the wine in Napa, but to sample.  Well, that didn’t happen. I indulged. A lot. But instead of dwelling on the fall, my coach —Kenny, worked with me to figure out how to get back on track and not revert to old habits. And together, we did.

To err is to be human. That is why we strive for consistency and not perfection. Perfection is impossible. Having mishaps will occur. And that is ok. But to be a good client, we also have to learn to admit our faults and accept the feedback from our coaches. We have to look in the mirror, answer the tough questions and then be willing to course correct. Those blips on the radar don’t make us long term failures. All we have to do is pick ourselves up, wipe off the gravel, and get back in the saddle.   

Being a good client also means wanting success and wanting to understand how to get there.  

That means asking questions — a lot of them — to your coach, to the community and perhaps even to those around you. You are never alone with Stronger U — there is always someone there to help. You will have questions. You will have comments. You will have concerns. Your job is to voice them. Don’t wait for your coach to reach out to you. Send them a text. I texted.  Often.

Don’t wait for something to come up on the member’s page. Start a thread. The dumbest question is the one that goes unasked. Each time you raise something to your coach or to the community, it is an opportunity to learn and that is what this journey is about.

Being a good client requires all of us to set realistic expectations: about the rate of success and about what our coaches can do for us.

For success, recognize that your journey will be different than everyone else’s. It may be faster. It may be slower. It may be easier. It may be harder. Someone recently posted that comparison is the thief of joy. And it is. There will always be someone who is skinnier, more muscular, taller, prettier, has better abs, can grow a better beard, and and and… the list can go on and on. Yes, some of this is about the work that said individual put in, but much of it is is also in the genes. A nutrition program cannot change your genetic makeup. You have to recognize that your success is yours, and celebrate it. In whatever form it comes.

Setting expectations for our coaches — they are a huge support system. But coaches are trained to advise our nutrition, not in psychology.

They may be able to help us ask some tough questions to help us self reflect, but there is a line that honestly, they don’t, and shouldn’t, cross. They love us (trust me — now that I am on the inside, I really see how much they love us) and they care about our lives. Our successes are their successes and they celebrate just as much as we do when we hit milestones. But, they are not therapists. The value in our coaches is their objectivity that comes at being an arm’s length from what we have going on day-to-day. Sharing every detail of our lives: the annoying habits of our partners, the fights with friends, our kids cursing at each other (my current situation), the absentee parent, etc. actually makes it harder for coaches to sift through actionable data they can use to guide us. At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves, “Will this information help my coach develop and/or evolve a strategy and macros to help me achieve success.”  If the answer is no, then we should probably refrain from sharing this with our coaches and turn to our 500 closest confidants on MySpace (kidding).

Now, it’s not to say that stressful life events don’t inform our decisions, because we all know that they do. But read between the lines of that last sentence — stressful life events inform our DECISIONS. We decide to go off the rails. We decide to have a drink or four. We decide not to plan. Regardless of the emotional stuff we have going on, or baggage we bring to this journey, and we all have it, everything in life is a decision. You decided to start this journey. You decided it was time to try to take control. Now, you need to decide to change!

The most important thing to being a great client, and the hardest part of being a great client, is that we are never really done being clients.  

Whether we are working with a coach or not, the true mastery of this lifestyle is remembering that there is always something to learn. We have to be open to feedback. That means stepping on the scale after a week of vacation. It means taking progress pictures, including the ones we don’t want to take once we have loosened the reins a little bit. It means monitoring performance in the gym – maybe you got faster, or stronger, or more flexible, or maybe not.  For me, this was last week. I was having a “moment.” Or rather, a week of moments. But I turned in my spreadsheet and was honest. Kenny and I talked it out. I am back on track, kicking ass and taking names. Going through SU enabled me, and enables all of us to develop the tools of awareness and understanding, and how to ingest feedback, to help us stay the course.

These tools are meant to be used for the rest of our lives. The journey to change ourselves is a marathon, not a sprint. Hell, it’s a life long ultramarathon. And not one where we weigh and track forever. But one where we use the information we have learned to maintain, tweak or simply keep our heads above water when the going gets tough. They (I have always wondered who they are) say life is about the journey, not the destination, and being a great client is no different. Own your choices. Own your process. Own your journey. Own your change!

Jamee Lubkemann
Chief of Strategy & Business Development