“I don”™t understand. She trains well.”

The program manager made that comment when a participant in our weight loss program didn”™t get results. I was both an athletic coach and the lead nutritionist.

His comment exasperated me. Of course she trained well. She was an expert at that because of her food issues. She”™d junk out, then “train well” to burn off the unwanted calories.

It wasn”™t always the same ‘she”™ — but she was typically a sugar addict. Sugar addicts don”™t necessarily have difficulty training.

Training is the easy part. Early classes at the gym, hitting the weight room, weekend runs, core strength, scheduling with a trainer. No problem.

They don”™t refuse to cooperate with the instructor. Workouts don”™t threaten their addictive behavior.

The sugar addict wants to eat junk, work out to compensate for it, and keep the addiction going.

Nutrition Rules Push Sugar Addicts”™ Buttons

Food guidelines, on the other hand, meet with stonewalling. My nutrition program — highly successful with most participants — annoyed the “resisters.”

I”™ve posted about resisting weight loss, but one client kept demanding more and more specific instruction. Our guidelines were never good enough.

First, she claimed not to know what to eat. She wanted menus. When we provided those, she wanted more: exactly which foods to eat, exactly when to eat them, and precise quantities for her calorie and weight-loss needs.

The program manager saw this as our problem. I immediately recognized it as a smokescreen. “Until we provide those things,” he said, “she feels as if her program hasn”™t begun.”

His comment was profound — but not in the way he thought.

Registering for a robust weight-loss program looks like a sincere desire to lose weight. Asking for more specifics seems like part of that sincere desire to lose — if you don”™t know the games people will play to avoid doing the necessary work.

I”™ve been around the defiance of resistant weight-loss clients a long time and see it differently: As long as we didn”™t supply what she requested, that was her excuse not to change her eating. Not to give up pizza, margaritas, wine, or nachos. (All of these were in her seldom-kept food log.) Not to move forward — to any degree — until things suited her to a T.

If we had done everything she wanted, she would have had more complaints and more demands.

Bottom line? She saw the lack of personalized info as the chink in the armor, the point of attack. A good friend of mine who works as a life coach said, “It”™s better for her if the program fails than if she does. Again.”

This life coach friend disliked many of her weight loss clients because of the games they played. Guess I”™m not the only one who has noticed this nonsense.

Not all of you are coaching weight-loss clients, but if you are, here are a few suggestions.

- Encourage them to be honest.
What do they want? Whether their weakness is sugar, alcohol, butter, or something else, their goals should be what they really want.

It”™s no crime for them to decide they don”™t want to lose weight or end their food addiction.

- See the finish line with no time element.
I learned that from my ultra-endurance athletic coach. Don”™t worry about fast results. These days, some people push rapid weight loss. That”™s fine if the clients prefer, but there”™s no race.

If it”™s more comfortable to “set it and forget it”, they can decrease their calories by, say, only 200 to 300 per day. It will take longer to reach the goal, but that”™s the only drawback. So what?

They do it daily, forget about it, and let the pounds melt slowly while they go about their business.

- If your client is addicted to sugar or other food, concentrate on the addiction first.
If the client takes on too much at once, it could sabotage the effort. Dealing with addiction first is a strong, solid step toward weight loss. Once eating is under control, the other goals will fall in place.

- Recommend qualified help and a proven system.
Everyone seems to have ideas on how to get rid of sugar cravings, and some of them are almost ridiculous. With the right help, it”™s a straightforward process. The wrong advice can make it agonizingly difficult.

Suggest that your clients find a solid system and stick with it.


Joan Kent

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