How to coach clients who aren't being accountable

· Amy Image · Unsplash

You have your initial meeting with a new client. They are excited. They commit to working out with you 2x weekly with 2x exercising outside of the session. They want to implement new habits:

  • 8 hours of sleep every night
  • Eat 1 serving of vegetables per meal
  • Exercise 4x weekly

Four weeks go by; they mark their homework as complete, report changes in their eating habits, say they’re getting more sleep every night.

It’s time for a reassessment, and your client expresses frustration that you haven’t done your job because they have gained weight (fat mass) over the last month. You have a few ways to approach this:

1. Audit

Do you have confidence in the program you created for your client? Is there something you could have done differently to help your client?

2. Review

Ask about consistency. Sometimes changing something 2 days out of the week when they were used to 0 times feels big steps. What you’re looking for in habit formation is 80/20—80% of the time, your client is implementing the goals they’ve set, and 20% of the time, they’re doing whatever they want. Not chasing perfection but chasing consistency.

During the review, you discover that they were getting in bed earlier on the weekends but not during the week, 28% (again, shooting for 80%). Ask them if they would be comfortable filling our a sleep tracker. A good way to check if your client has been as consistent as they’ve reported is by implementing a short-term goal tracker. For this example, we’ll use a sleep tracker but you can do this with any goal. MyFitnessPal is a good resource for nutrition goals.

Time got in bedTime woke up (AM)Total hours asleepHow many times woke up during the night?

3. Figure out how you can best support your client

Do they need more specific guidelines? Do you need to be asking more specific questions? Don’t use this time to blame your client. This is a time to figure out how to coach them better. Figure out a game plan moving forward that you both feel good about.

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