Using GROW for weight loss and fitness goals

Weight loss with virtual coaching

I am experimenting using GROW with my online coaching software to work with individuals on weight loss and fitness goals.

I have produced a special version of CoachMaster which is completely focused on helping others to lose weight or gain fitness.  The complete GROW process is laid out for the coaches.  They connect online with the clients and lead them through a structured GROW process.  Goal, Reality, Obstacles, Options and Way forward.  The idea is that at the end the clients leave with a set of to dos that they are confident will lead them to their goal.

It is very interesting to apply GROW to weight loss as parts of the process are very easy and parts are a lot more difficult than conventional coaching.  Usually it is pretty straightforward to get the goal and reality.  For example ‘I want to weigh 160 pounds’ with a reality of ‘I currently weigh 200 pounds’.  It is often useful in the reality section to also collect information about previous attempts at weight loss, how successful they were in the long and short term and how the client treats themselves if they do not keep the weight off.

It is when you get to the obstacles stage that things can start to get a bit tricky.  I am sure most people would understand current eating habits are the result of a complex interplay between childhood experiences, levels of self esteem, knowledge about nutrition, financial position, social networks, close personal relationships, availability of different kinds of food, stress levels, coping mechanisms and probably many other factors as well.

So given this complex scenario how does a coach guide a client to find out the obstacles?  Well we have to become a bit of detective and ‘stick to the facts’.  Very often the first obstacle a client will say is ‘I have no self control’.  This in itself is not very helpful.  So you need to collect the facts about what happens for the client to not stick to their intention.  This could be ‘My partner buys sweets and leaves them around the place and I eat them’ or ‘When I can’t cope with my children any more I have an ice cream’.  In each case you can visualise what actually happens to cause the eating and options start to become apparent to deal with the obstacles.  The key is to keep asking ‘Anything else’ until you are sure you have identified and written down the major obstacles.  The client may be a bit resistent to this if the list is too long but as a coach you should make sure  you have covered all the circumstances that cause the client to give up.

In later blogs I will deal with how to create options from the obstacles you have identified.