If you’re reading this you have probably already considered working with a nutrition coach. Maybe you have attempted to make changes to your fitness, health and nutrition on your own, or as part of a group challenge with friends, members of your gym, or an online community. And you probably got some results from those approaches, but that’s exactly it - you got some results, but not necessarily all the results you wanted. I myself followed a well-known paid online group nutrition coaching for a little over a year, and I would say that I got probably about 70% of the way with the goals I was chasing. Not bad, some might say, but that only left me 70% satisfied, and eventually that wasn’t going to cut it anymore. Over the years, I have also worked with several nutrition coaches so I can clearly see the potential benefits from a client’s perspective.
First off, let’s differentiate between group and individualized coaching, then go through 7 reasons I think you should hire a coach.
Group vs. individualized coaching: you are a snowflake
The argument that “you are not special, your body doesn’t somehow break the laws of thermodynamics and gravity, you are not a unique snowflake” gets thrown around a lot these days, and I think it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Sure, our biology at its most basic level is most likely very similar, but our context, goals, preferences, challenges and environment are deeply unique.
In that sense, you ARE a special snowflake, and that is not really something that a template or online group coaching situation can capture.
Sure, if you respond well to external expectations (more on how the work of Gretchen Ruben applies to the coaching relationship soon) then the accountability of a group coaching situation might be enough to motivate you to take action. But nevertheless, with group coaching and templates the recommendations you will be acting on are based on a general blueprint, instead of being customized and periodized for your needs and goals.
In short, where individualized coaching really shines is in the ability to develop a deeper relationship with your coach so that they can really understand you and your lifestyle, and adjust your program accordingly.
Still not entirely convinced? Here are 7 more reasons why individualized coaching may be for you:
Reasons to hire a coach
As your coach gets to know you, they will get a better sense of your personality and how you handle expectations so that they can cater their approach to ensure you are set up for success.
Regardless of how you respond to expectations, having a coach will give you a person to respond to when it comes to pursuing goals that are uniquely and entirely yours.
Having a coach means having someone to go to for all your nutrition questions. You may need some inspiration for easy weeknight dinners that are high in protein, or ways to get more fiber into your diet, or you may need help navigating a specific social event… look no further, you can always ask your coach for advice. It’s basically like having a resource to ask all your questions directly in your phone, except with more empathy and a better sense of humour than Google or Siri :)
And if you find you would enjoy the camaraderie of peer groups that are going through similar lifestyle changes, nothing precludes you from joining those, too! We are fans of Steph Gaudreau’s Harder to Kill Club or Laura Poburan’s Have It All Collective on Facebook, for instance.
Help you get clear about your goals
Maybe you’ve been dabbling with trying to get healthier, lose a few pounds, get your nutrition in check… but you find yourself waffling and unsure what exactly you want to do. Since you don’t have a clear goal, it is virtually impossible to know how to achieve it, or where to start, let alone what it would mean to complete it!
A coach is there to help shed some light on your goals. They can (and should!) start where you are at and take you through a process to identify your objectives, set an achievable timeline for them, and translate it all into action steps.
Often, a good coach will also challenge you to push beyond you stated goal and identify the underlying motivations. This, in my opinion, is where the real value of individualized coaching lies - it is an opportunity to get to know yourself and your own values and motivations better.
To put your money where your mouth is
It is commonly recognized that by paying for a service, we mentally also give it more value. Hiring a coach allows you to put your money where your mouth it, and really align your resources with your goals.
In other words, having goals is one thing, but the true transformation really starts to happen once you got skin in the game.
Give you a reality check
Conversely, a coach is also worth their (metaphorical) weight in gold if they can help you set realistic expectations for yourself. David Allen said “You can do anything, but not everything” and I think it also applies to nutrition and fitness. We all would like to be vibrantly healthy, with boundless energy, but also look shredded around the clock and be strong enough to squat a house, all the while holding down a demanding job, excelling in our relationships and raising a family, right? All those objectives are achievable, but hiring a coach allows you to have a discussion (or perhaps several) about what each objective would entail for you, and how sustainable it would be in the context of your individual lifestyle. From there, you can work together to prioritize and make a game plan that will match your reality.
In a sense, hiring a nutrition coach is similar to going to a good hairstylist. When it comes to hair, the difference between an OK stylist and a great one lies in their ability to take your inspiration pictures and cater the look to your lifestyle, so that it becomes a look you can sustainably maintain. The same applies with nutrition: by working with a coach, you can develop a clear picture of what’s attainable with various levels of commitment and effort, and what sacrifices will be required to get to some of your ideals. (In my case, when it comes to hair, I had to come to terms with the fact that my long dark locks were never going to be both healthy AND icy grey. This was just not a realistic combination of expectations, but I sure am grateful I was able to have a conversation about #hairgoals before diving in.)
To turn changes into a lifestyle
To put it bluntly, a coach doesn’t want to work with you forever. A coach’s goal is to teach you lessons that you will be able to apply to improve your lifestyle on your own, so that eventually you create the habits that support your goals.
That is not to say that your coach doesn’t want to work with you - quite the opposite. But the coaching relationship shouldn’t be a permanent one, and hiring a coach is a step towards a healthier lifestyle because you can rely on your coach to educate you about beneficial habits, rather than just tell you what to do.
To have someone in your corner
It’s easy to feel like we carry the world on our shoulders. You have work responsibilities, your kids and family rely on you for their well-being, you are the captain of our softball team, you are responsible for the next book club selection, etc etc. And it can very much feel like the expectation is that you can do it all!
Hiring a coach takes some of that pressure off your shoulders by providing you with education, support and accountability you need to work on your personal goals. Having a nutrition coach means you have someone in your corner to help you make sure you aren’t forgetting about YOU. And that’s a sweet feeling we all deserve.
Ready to take the leap?