Thursday, October 16, 2014

Notes from MOTIVATE: A health and behavior change summit (part two)

Welcome to part two of Notes from MOTIVATE.

As an aside before we get started...

Notice how this post is NOT one week after the last post like I said it would be? Remember me talking about habit hangovers? This is a note to myself to eventually write about how good habits can get easily derailed by small changes in one's weekly schedule.

I don't mean to make an excuse, I just want to point out how even those of us that have been characterized has "having grit",  "dedicated", and "driven" can just as easily fall off any wagon they try to put themselves on.

If you didn't guess already, writing this blog is also my way or organizing and digesting the thoughts and learnings of the weekend. 

So let's jump right in! 

Managing Expectations

This kind of goes hand in hand with "big changes versus slow progress" but with the focus towards getting clients to understand how what they want (THE MOON) isn't going to happen in 6 weeks or ten sessions.

There is a lot of myth dispelling that has to happen. After all, did you gain weight or lose mobility all in six weeks? No? Then you're probably not going to lose the weight or get that function back in only six weeks either. Once a client has laid out their goals, sometimes working backwards from the goal to where they are will get them to understand what kind of work is ahead of them.

A few suggestions involved getting the client to self evaluate beyond what they want and how they are going to get there. Asking "how do you see yourself getting there?" or "how do you see this working?" can go a long way in better understanding if the client understands what's going on. And as sessions progress, asking the client to asses progress can help them realize that small changes ARE big changes. "How did this session feel compared to the last? Was anything easier? Harder?"

So the action steps we came up with"
1) Hear the goal or goals.
2) Assess where they are. You want to do a tough mudder? How much running do you do now? Have you ever climbed a rope?
3) Ask client how they see the plan going from A to B working. Get the client engaged in the analysis process to help them be more aware of what a real plan of action looks like.
4) Keep client away of their role in the process. Show them the progress they make and checking in on what they're up to.

Using Technology to Teach
Online Coaching vs. In Person

This one was a little harder to wrap my head around how to implement it in my practice as everything I've done is about face time.

Some programs that are out there and used often are: MyFitnessPal, Google Docs, Excel, Evernote, Tumblr. Many clients like to use wearables like Nike+, FitBit, Misfit, heart rate monitors. Coaches can use Trainers Eyes and Coaches Eye to analyze movement and keep in contact with clients.

What could we use? The fitness industry is basically still stuck in the 90's using a combination of email, Excel, and pencil on paper to keep track of things and interact with clients.

Some of the barriers to coaching people online doesn't just have to do with the technology itself. When you're face to face with a person, only about 10% of the communication happening is done through actual words. The rest is energy, body language, chemistry, and the like. Going online flips all of that around.

You have to be able to write.

There isn't any face time, and once that piece go away, you need to excel at the written word to keep people coming back and fully showing up. Very few of us took extensive English classes. And those classes that I did take (technical writing, and AP English back in high school) didn't necessarily address how to connect with your average, pulled-in-all-directions human being.

The best way to get better at writing is to write. And maybe a journalism class.

Can Showing Vulnerability Help Clients?

Last session of the day and I was EXHAUSTED. So the notes were a bit sparse on this one.

The question is if and how do other coaches use their own struggles and vulnerabilities to help connect with and guide clients? Do some coaches think that sharing struggles can give clients "an out" on sticking to their own habits?

We decided that it's probably both with the difference in how one approaches it and how often.

When a client is in a particular motivation rut and starting in with the negative self talk, it can be helpful to use yourself as an example. Showing first hand how ups and downs will happen and as long as you stick to the general plan you can reach your goals.

Talking about it too often, and you might give the client the idea that you barely have to stick to a plan for everything to work out in the end. That will lead to confusion and frustration.

In the end...

After all was said and done, we were ALL so tired and so excited about all the information we exchanged. The conversations are continuing online, and new, awesome people are being brought into the fold every week.

If this sounds like something that is interesting to you, you can read more about habits and motivation on the Coach Stevo blog site. Then you can sign up at and follow along with the conversation at (scroll down to get to article and other sections).

The next Motivate Summits for 2015 will be in Feb at Mark Fisher Fitness in NYC, and again in June somewhere in Oakland. So stay tuned!

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