13 Things We've Learned from Helping People Lose over 7,500 Pounds

Five years ago two moms who barely knew each other signed an LLC agreement in the middle of a Chopt salad in a strip mall in suburban New Jersey. It was a leap of faith between strangers.  That may very well have been the first meal we shared together, but it was far from the last. Our program was born from a desire to support others, promote good health, and to do it all on our own terms, from home, while still showing up for our kids. 

Fast forward five years later and our accountability coaching weight loss program grew from just the two of us to ten coaches across the US.  We went from a few local clients to hundreds of men and women across 17 states.   It was all thanks to the success of our customers- we spent a little on advertising that first year then quickly realized that client results were the best advertisement.  We switched to a referral-only business model.  Our business doubled each year as so many of our clients told their friends, who told their friends... and they began to sign up in groups. 

You learn a lot by walking alongside people in a health journey.  Our clients send us every meal they eat, every workout they do, how they slept, and a scale photo every day- it's a lot of data. We've tracked well over 36,000 weigh ins and throughout that process we have learned so much about the many factors that affect the scale.  

The surprising things we've learned:


1) Weight loss is rarely linear, even if you are "perfect". When we chart someone's progress clients tend to follow a few distinct patterns: most people hold for a few days, then have a big drop down (a pound or more) then a small bump the next day. Some clients 

2) Age matters less than you think.  We have helped post-menopausal women in their 70s easily lose 20 pounds. The rate of loss for our 60+ clients is only negligibly slower than those in middle age.

3) Exercise doesn't matter much, either.  Studies show, and our experience supports, the fact that exercise plays almost no role in weight loss, but a huge role in weight maintenance.  In fact, our clients that often struggle to see results are women who are chronic heavy exercisers (particularly heavy cardio, HIIT training, etc). Our clients who do well at losing and maintaining their loss do a little bit of healthy movement like weightlifting, jogging or pilates, consistently 3-5 times a week. 

4) The "greenwashing" in food marketing is hurting our health so much.  Every single day we see clients order something that is marketed as a healthy choice, that truly isn't. From the Starbucks egg white bites (loaded with artificial ingredients!) to an "Island Green" kale and spinach smoothie that had the sugar equivalent of almost 9 Krispy Kreme donuts. Food bloggers create "clean desserts" with three dates or a half a cup of maple syrup that are a disaster for someone needing to reduce their weight or limit sugar.   Even the most well-intentioned and educated clients are easily duped by clever marketing. 

5) Your friends and family drive your success.  Whenever we see a couple sign up for the program, particularly when one member is doing it to support the other, they are almost universally successful.  Conversely, when we see groups of friends do the program together, only to then book a celebratory dinner at a pasta restaurant, we know they will all struggle.  Who you surround yourself with matters. 

6) Some shocking items will bump the scale up the next day. Red meat-even lean pork loin or a petite grass fed filet will always cause a bump.  We don't know why- perhaps inflammatory response- but we see it in clients with very few exceptions. Other culprits? Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.

7) Termite bites take the whole house down. Often when a client isn't losing and their meals look on point we probe a bit and find out that they have been snagging tastes and bites here and there throughout the day.  One rogue bite won't end you, but typically if a client truly reflects they'll find a few each day... which quickly add up. If over the course of a weekend a client had two cocktails, one Mac n' cheese bite, one slice sourdough toast and two bites of regular ice cream that would be over 600 extra calories- more than a full meal. 

8) Clients who don't learn how to have a reasonable treat meal will regain most of the weight they lose Whenever we see a client who is a "weekday warrior" having kale salad and grilled chicken only all week to go off the rails when out with friends, we know they won't maintain their loss.  Clients who go away on vacation and are having pancakes at breakfast, a cocktail before noon, and hitting the late night dessert buffet face a similar fate. 

9) Alcohol can make or break you.  Our clients who are regular drinkers struggle to meet their goals.  Not only does alcohol lower your inhibitions and trigger cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates, your body recognizes it as a toxin and prioritizes metabolizing it over your food.  Once alcohol creeps back in more than once a week, most clients have difficulty losing weight.

10) You aren't too busy. We aren't cheap, so given our price point it's a reasonable assumption that most of our clients are pretty successful.  We have many clients who are in the public eye and who travel weekly for business. They work hard but also have active social lives, with galas, trips and benefits.  Despite all that, they are successful.  They either make meal prep and planning a priority, or they lean into healthy options we provide in our dining out guide. They bring a travel scale and snacks when they travel.  They know their lives are full of celebrations, so they pick and choose small moments to indulge and don't go all out at every weekly opportunity.

11) It's mostly (but not entirely) what you eat.  Diet is 90% of a client's success.  But even on the most "perfect" weeks other factors can affect the scale. Typical things that cause weight to be up include poor sleep, fighting off an illness, constipation, or hormonal fluctuations. 

12) Set point theory is real.  Typically clients lose weight very rapidly the first week on our program, then we see them slow to about 1% of their body weight per week (if they stay on track) . Often we see a plateau at about 10% of total body weight lost.  Their body will hold at that weight for a bit as it registers a new set point, before they are able to lose more. 

13) Relax your expectations. We have clients who will get really disappointed if they don't see the scale move every day.  Or they'll see a .2 lb drop overnight and think it's nothing.  If you lost 0.2 lbs a day for a year you'd be down over 73 lbs!  It takes time to gain weight, it takes time to lose it.  Be kind to your body. 

The biggest lesson we have learned is attitude is everything.  Celebrating the many victories you have beyond the scale is critical to success.  Better energy, reduced cholesterol, lower A1C levels, fitting into those jeans or rocking a bathing suit confidently- celebrate the many changes along the way. This is a total lifestyle change, not just a battle of scale numbers. 

As we close out year five we are thankful for the hundreds of men and women who have turned to us for support every day.  We thank you for your honesty, accountability and vulnerability as you trust us to help you in this journey.  Cheers to many more years!

In Good Health,
Robyn & Megan

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