Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Goals: Attack Your Limiting Factors One At A Time

I have been reading through Precision Nutrition’s textbook titled, The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition (I know, I am reading another book - damn my ADD). :)  First, I just want to say that the book has some great information for anyone who wants to provide nutritional advice and support for their clientele or themselves, along with other geeky sciencey stuff that I enjoy.  Basically, the book is broken down into two sections.  The first deals with the science behind nutrition, while the second part deals with effective coaching strategies to help clients make good food choices to support their goals.

Today, I want to discuss a simple, yet effective strategy I took away from the Precision Nutrition (PN) text to help your clients achieve their health and fitness goals.  This strategy is to determine and eliminate the limiting factors keeping you and/or your clients from their goals.  Below, I will explain effective ways to go about doing this. 

I am sure many of you have heard the saying that physiques are largely built in the kitchen.  It is also true that many health and fitness goals are largely impacted by the choices you make in the kitchen.  Therefore, you must have an effective and efficient way to teach and guide your clients in making good food choices if they are going to reach their goals.

To help a client with their goals, it is important that you first determine what level they are at in terms of their food choices and how educated they are on these choices.  The PN text breaks down clients into three possible categories for this ranging from very little, or no understanding of good food choices (level 1) to those that make excellent choices to support their goals and are knowledgeable on the subject (level 3).  The strategies you use to help your clients will largely depend on the level they are at. 

Depending on the level of the client, there may be multiple limiting factors standing in their way, but your job as a trainer/coach is to find the limiting factors that can, if eliminated, have the biggest impact on the goals and that the client is most confident he or she can change (ask them on a scale of 1-10 how confident they are that they can make the change).  This may be something as small as drinking only one coke a day, instead of three, if they are a level 1 fat-loss client.  Have them take on this new habit for a few weeks until it becomes easy and natural for them to do.  Once they have mastered that habit, then move onto a new limiting factor.

 A small change can make a BIG impact

It is very important to not overwhelm the client with multiple new habits because they are less likely to stick with them.  The PN text states, "According to Babauta, when only one habit is adopted per month, success rates can be as high as 80%.  However, when people get too ambitious and attempt to adopt two habits simultaneously, their success rates drop to below 20% for either habit" (255).  That is a HUGE difference in success rates!  I realize this is more of a long-term approach, but the effects will usually be more long-lasting.  I know this may seem like a simple idea, but remember the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid) principle.  We often try to make things so difficult when, usually, they do not need to be.

So here are some actionable steps to take to help you and/or your clients achieve their goals:

#1) Write down limiting factors that you have control over and that are keeping you from your goals.

#2 ) Rank, from 0-10, how confident you are that you can eliminate or adopt a new habit that will eliminate the factors listed from #1.

#3) Choose one of those limiting factors that you are very confident (put a 10 next to) you can eliminate and write out a plan to either eliminate it or adopt a new habit that will do so.

#4) Stick with the plan for a few weeks, preferably a month, until you are confident that the limiting factor is gone and then repeat the process-adopting a new habit/eliminating another limiting factor.

#5) Continue these steps until you achieve your goal!

If anyone has other tips that have helped you or your clients achieve their goals, then please leave them in the comments.  It is always great to hear other ideas.

Have a great week everyone!


Berardi, John and Ryan Andrews.  The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition.  Precision Nutrition, Inc.  2010


  1. Great stuff man, this is like deja vu from earlier today!

  2. awesome job at actually listing the limiting factors :p *facepalm*