Coaching Through A Plateau

Coaching Through A Plateau

Plateau — the word no dietitian, nutrition pro, or trainer ever wants to hear. 


What Causes Plateaus

Clients could experience a plateau for many different reasons including repetition, fatigue, boredom, or loss of motivation. These causes can be applied to nearly all professions but are particularly common with health and fitness.


For example, a training client doing the same training program for 3 months with initial weight loss has now stopped losing weight. Or a nutrition client wanting to stay within their macros has been eating the same meal plan for a month is now unmotivated to try new things.


While these routines may have produced results in the beginning, they may not continue to contribute to our client’s goals as their bodies adapt to the old plan. Our job as nutrition professionals is to recognize when these plateaus arise and identify the underlying cause so that we can coach our clients through them.


But identifying the underlying cause might not be as straightforward as you think; you may need to peel back all the possibilities for plateau. Even if a client has a weight loss goal, their plateau could have nothing to do with food and movement. Their plateau could be poor sleep or high stress. 


Plateaus Signal a Need for Change

When our clients hit snags in their motivation, weight loss plan, or gym routine, they can be strong indicators that something needs to change. We all need change to achieve long-term goals because our bodies are able to adapt to new patterns, routines, and diet plans. Once our bodies have fully adapted, the measures we once took to reach our goals won’t produce the same effects.


There is no magic number of days or weeks to tell you that a client will hit a plateau so it’s important to communicate with clients to see if they are still feeling challenged. If they aren’t, that’s a great signal to work together to come up with a new plan of attack.


Plateaus are completely normal and are actually a sign that the cient has worked hard and reached a new level of progress. It takes time, effort, and dedication to reach a plateau. This can help clients avoid getting discouraged at this point.


Resetting from Plateaus with SMART Goals

First, it’s crucial to revisit their ‘Big Why.’ This is their reason for doing your program to achieve their goals — their ultimate motivation for making changes in their life. Is their Big Why still their main goal? Or has it changed? After revisiting the Big Why, we create smaller, more manageable goals with our client. This includes SMART goal setting.


S - specific

M - measurable

A - attainable

R - realistic

T - time-based


If a client’s Big Why is to lose 10kg, their SMART goals could include ways to break through barriers as to why weight loss is difficult for them. Some of these could be getting more fiber and protein at meals, increasing physical activity, or reducing the amount of processed foods in their diet. A SMART goal using this framework might be, “I will hit a minimum of 25g of fiber daily from fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains for the next 2 weeks using a tracker to monitor my progress.”


Contact us now to start your journey!