Truth About Goal Setting and Fat Loss Programs

I have had a lot of chances to help clients, and I am incredibly grateful for each and every one of them. But, I think I might owe a few (or a lot) of those clients an apology. After creating the VPS Transformation Systems, learning a lot more about psychology and even doing a bit of experimenting on myself a few things have become very obvious to me. First, I had a lot of clients that were constantly in pursuit of the same goal. It may have been phrased a bit differently each time- lose a few pounds, drop a pant size, tighten up my stomach, etc. But, they were constantly, and aggressively, pursuing the same goal. And I obliged them by helping them chase it rather than finding out why we weren’t achieving and maintaining that goal for them over the long haul. I had a lot to learn about goal setting and fat loss programs.

Goal Setting Truth: You simply can’t go hard all the time.

I have spent a majority of the past 8 years fighting my own weight issues. I battle self-image issues, negative self-talk, binge eating and all of the things many of your clients are dealing with (and maybe you too). I have spent years on a constant ‘diet’ or fat loss program.

There would be short stints of me attempting to focus on hypertrophy but as soon as the scale would creep up I went right back to where I was comfortable, a fat loss program. The trouble was I stopped seeing the results from the actions I was taking. The strategies that worked before had stopped working and I wasn’t in any better shape. So, for the past several months I have been focused on increasing my calories, reducing my conditioning work and recovering from my training.

It’s been a challenge, a BIG challenge, but it is all coming together.

I took a selfie with the Pope :)

I took a selfie with the Pope 🙂

In fact I was just able to go to Italy on a dream trip with my wife and not train a single day while gone and eat pretty much whatever I wanted. Did I gain a bit of weight? Sure, but it all came off in about 2 days without much effort. In fact, I didn’t start training again until 4 days after we returned.

So, you might be asking how this relates to your clients?

Well, first, if your clients stick with you for longer than an 8-week transformation contest you owe it to them to help them find success over the long haul. Every trainer wants clients that stay for years versus months. They are the best clients to have in your business. The problem comes when you feel the pressure as a trainer to keep your clients hooked on a fat loss goal, either from yourself, the industry or the clients themselves.

I have done it time and time again. Kept finishers in every workout, asking them to do extra sessions with no real purpose, and keeping them on a ‘diet’ to help them drop a few pounds. Most of them failed at the goal, even if they were the ones to set it.

“You simply can’t be in a constant state of aggressive change with your body.”

I wish it were different. Trust me! I would love to push myself to the limit all of the time, but unless you are a professional fitness model or get paid to workout, there are other stresses your life and priorities that require your attention. Even the most dedicated fitness models and celebs don’t remain in cover model shape year round. Don’t mistake this for a free pass to get out of shape and overweight.

No, it is exactly the opposite. It is a ticket to find constant improvement with a different focus. Your clients won’t always be in a place (mentally, emotionally or physically) to chase a fat loss goal, or even a serious performance goal. Their goal might be to consistently get to their training sessions during a time of high stress or when they are incredible busy. It might be to maintain their weight or even increase their calories.

Progress is a must, but it doesn’t have to be aggressive progress all of the time.

Adding a rep or two each week, increasing the weight being used or even perfecting technique are all forms of progress that set your clients up for success in the long term. When you can focus on these smaller, less aggressive goals in the periods that fall between the times they are prepared to get more aggressive the results will amazing you. You are constantly building a stronger foundation for their success during those 8-12 week periods that require dedication.

The biggest impact during these less aggressive periods will come when you take the focus away from aesthetics for a period of time. By simply changing how often you check body composition or scale weight you will help the client focus on other aspects of their fitness. Your goal as their trainer or coach should be to not let them get too far away from the progress they have made while allowing them time to recover and focus on small progress in other areas.

These aggressive pushes and then ‘maintenance’ periods will allow clients to have long term success in your program without getting burnt out or completely drained from constantly chasing a fat loss goal.

Each client is different, some will need a year of focus on weight loss and others can only handle a few weeks at a time. As long as the system is working for them, they feel refreshed, are energized to train each day and they are happy with their progress they will be great clients for you. You can take the next step in becoming a GREAT trainer and coach when you discover that there are a variety of ways to measure success with your clients. I hope this information about goal setting and fat loss programs was helpful to you. I sure wish I was smart enough to realize it sooner.


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