Struggling to make important changes to your health? Your lifestyle? The way you look and feel? All the folks you’ll read about today faced some of the same challenges. Then, with expert coaching, they turned things around, changing their bodies, and their lives. Here are 34 lessons we can learn from what they’ve accomplished.
They were tired of getting winded on the stairs and lagging behind the kids at the park. Frightened by what their doctors were telling them. Worried about meds. Sick of wanting to see something different in the mirror.
These men and women tried a lot of different ways to get healthy and improve their fitness, and many started to believe it would never happen.
Maybe you can relate to these folks? Or maybe you work with clients and patients who’ve faced similar moments of hopelessness?
If so, here’s some uplifting news: Coming to us after years of struggle, these Precision Nutrition Coaching clients achieved some of the most incredible body transformations we’ve ever seen.
So we asked them: How’d you do it?
Below, the 34 lessons they shared — lessons we can all use if we want to exercise smarter, eat better, get control of our stress, prioritize our sleep, and generally take care of our health and fitness.
1. All we get is one body and one life.
Lisa had everything that was supposed to make up a great life: A lovely home, a loving husband, and two beautiful kids.
But she was overweight, overly-stressed, and using muscle relaxants everyday to deal with physical pain. She was hurting, and unhappy.
At 39, she realized that she would never get a “second chance” at the life she really wanted. She found the urgency to finally prioritize her own self-care.
Now, 50 pounds lighter, “me first” is a way of life. Because when she’s healthy, energetic, and optimistic, everyone around her benefits too.
According to Lisa, she’s now the “happiest woman in the world”.
2. Change can happen at any age.
Firmly planted in “middle age”, Daniel was unsure of how much he could change.
But during an early exercise in the coaching program called “Destination Postcards” — where clients are asked to write personal notes from their aspirational future selves — Daniel imagined himself and his 5-year-old son sparring together.
At the end of the program, clients are asked to make this imagined future real, and Daniel went for it.
“Thanks to the habits instilled in me by Precision Nutrition, I lost weight and gained the confidence to try a new fitness adventure.”
Together, Daniel and his son Jackson turned his vision into reality.
“I didn’t think I would have the confidence to take up a martial art at 46 years old. Now I’m a one-stripe white belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.”
Although his son currently outranks him, Daniel isn’t done fighting yet.
3. Following orders doesn’t work; taking ownership does.
Spencer, 52, was no stranger to the gym. But even though he’d had a trainer and worked out a few times a week, he wasn’t getting results.
“Physically, I was a mess,” he says. “I was frustrated with my jean size and hated dressing up. I looked like crap. I’d have beers and drown myself on the weekends to try and forget it.”
Through Precision Nutrition Coaching, Spencer finally lost weight — 56 pounds, to be exact.
What finally tipped the scales?
“I’m used to a coach telling you what to do, telling you what to eat,” Spencer says. “Zach (my PN coach) didn’t do any of that.”
With Zach’s guidance, it was up to Spencer to take personal ownership of his decisions about food, alcohol, and workouts.
“Zach kept checking in with me every week, and kept me focused.”
Ultimately, making his own decisions about what to eat — and learning a whole lot through the process— is what paved the way for Spencer’s real change.
4. Be willing to receive support.
At 34, chronic depression and undiagnosed health problems had robbed Chrystalene of agency and energy.
She wasn’t happy with her weight. Movement was often painful. And sometimes, she could barely bring herself to finish the simplest tasks, like sweeping the floor, doing the dishes, or flossing her teeth. Even going out for a coffee could seem overwhelming.
She called herself “lazy.” She told herself she just needed to exercise and eat better and be more positive. If she failed, she blamed herself. She even hid from potential sources of support.
Eventually, Chrystalene realized that if she wanted to change, she needed help. She joined Precision Nutrition Coaching with the hope that she might find it there.
And a funny thing happened when Chrystalene became willing to receive support:
Things got easier.
With the help of a flexible program and an empathetic coach, Chrystalene found the momentum she needed.
She began to show up for herself. She took medication to deal with her chronic depression. She saw a physiotherapist about her injuries. She underwent surgery for her health problems.
She took full responsibility for herself, but also learned that you don’t have to go it alone.
“There’s probably a way to make your heavy thing lighter, and finding out how to do that is worth it. It doesn’t have to be hard all the time. It’s not all your fault.”
Her message to others who are struggling?
“Be on your own side. Don’t give up.”
5. Perfection isn’t required to get started.
At 48, Alicia was working, singing at her church, parenting three kids, and juggling other complicated family responsibilities.
She was overstressed and overeating, and she just wanted “off the diet-mobile.” she says.
No matter what she tried, the weight loss never lasted. What was the use?
But when a friend who she respects lost 44 pounds with Precision Nutrition Coaching, Alicia decided it was worth a try.
Nothing was perfect — from the start of the program she was injured, and she didn’t have the money for a trainer or a gym membership — but Alicia just kept her successful friend in mind and trusted the coaching process.
It took six months for Alicia to realize that not only was she making progress, but she might be in the running for our $25,000 grand prize!
At the end of her coaching experience, Alicia ended up becoming one of our grand prize winners, completely transforming her body without needing everything to be “just right” when she started.
6. Change starts from the inside out.
We often want things to be different now. We tell ourselves that if our body (or our job, our spouse, our mother-in-law, etc.) were suddenly different, then we’d feel better.
But often, the reverse is true.
Change is initiated by an internal shift first — a decision to do better for ourselves. Take it from Gerardo, who was actually inspired to make a change by something he heard in a commercial:
“Train your mind, your body will follow.”
Gerardo took that quote to heart, and engineered his change from the inside out. As a result of this internal shift, his actions changed. Then, his results changed too.
“Change the ‘little things’ first, and then you’ll see changes in your body.”
Gerardo got the results he wanted, but only because he made up his mind first.
7. Motivation and confidence are fickle; keep going anyway.
Javier, 42, had reached the point where the pain of being out of shape and overweight was greater than the pain of making a change.
The stairs made him winded, his knees ached, and he knew he wasn’t living the life he was meant to live.
So Javier joined Precision Nutrition Coaching and got to work — week after week, month after month. But while he knew he was doing his very best at making lifestyle changes, his own self-doubt still held him back.
He felt better, but he couldn’t fully recognize his transformation. In fact, only a few weeks before the program ended, Javier threatened to quit.
Thankfully, Javier heeded his coach and kept going — and when he saw his final photos compared with the first ones he’d submitted at the beginning of the program, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
He’d lost 60 pounds in a year, and won PN’s $25,000 grand prize.
8. Feeling anxious is normal; slowing down is what’s required.
When you want to make big, lasting changes to your eating, your workout routine, and your health, patience is a virtue.
Mark, 51, a successful consultant, started out anxious and impatient to make changes happen, fast. Like most clients do.
He wanted to do everything: Long gym sessions, restrictive eating, you name it. But how could that possibly work with his frequent business trips and family life? (Hint: Not well).
Thankfully, coaching helped him slow down. And, as he focussed on internalizing the daily lessons he was going through, as he became mentally and physically open to change, he lost 42 pounds.
“Be patient. Just show up every day and focus on making small changes consistently,” he says. “That’s what leads to profound change.”
9. Embrace ALL the feelings, and all parts of yourself.
When attempting to make significant change, many people will meet every variety and intensity of emotion, from despair to elation.
That’s pretty normal. Actually, it might even be a sign that you’re doing it right. Take Jenny’s experience, for example:
“My PN journey was filled with tears, laughter, frustrations, victories, healing and joy.” she says.
We say: Embrace all of it. When you see these feelings as normal and even useful, you have a chance to learn from them and develop a deeper connection to yourself.
Throughout her own experience of change, Jenny chose to continue embracing what came up.
And that choice came with a gift:
“This journey helped me to discover who I truly am. And it taught me to love her unconditionally.”
10. Treat yourself like you’d treat a close friend.
Michelle, 44, was teaching at a new school in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. In the years that followed, she took on the responsibility of helping her vulnerable teenage students grow and learn after they’d suffered that trauma.
Like many in her situation, Michelle forgot how to care for herself. She ended up overweight, tired, stressed…a mess that made it tough to drag herself to the gym.
But after some encouragement from her husband, she started working with us and relearned how to prioritize herself, losing 35 pounds along the way.
Michelle’s advice: Treat yourself with the patience and kindness that you’d give to a close friend. First, because it will help you sustain your purpose in life. And second, because you deserve it.
11. Be open to learning (or re-learning) what works for you now.
A former athlete who competed in wrestling, boxing, and MMA, Derek had plenty of fitness “know-how.” If he counted calories and macros and followed a rigorous workout program, his weight would get to where he wanted it.
But at 38, Derek’s daily life had started to make his athlete days feel distant. As a father of three with a demanding job who was also dealing with multiple knee surgeries, arthritis, and chronic pain, Derek just wanted to give up on the whole fitness thing.
Change felt overwhelming, and although he knew what to do, he struggled to actually do it.
Derek considered signing up for Precision Nutrition coaching, but as a longtime follower of PN, he was skeptical about how much more he could learn. He decided to go for it anyway, and he didn’t expect what happened next.
“I learned, and relearned, the fundamentals of health and fitness, in a way that really changed me.”
His Coach Zach helped him stay consistent and accountable, and that steadiness added up to amazing results.
Derek marvels at how simply applying the fundamentals produced such dramatic changes:
“I’ve been to an elite level of athletics, and this is the best I’ve ever felt or looked. I feel like a new me. It’s exciting.”
12. Lifestyle personalization + support for the win.
Most people know this by now: There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to nutrition and fitness.
For folks like Jean-Charles, understanding what makes him — and his lifestyle — unique was absolutely crucial to his success.
“Jay-C” was dealing with some challenges: Long work hours, including night shifts; a hip injury; and a demanding job in rural New Brunswick that requires him to spend a lot of time sitting in a vehicle.
Thankfully, Jay-C’s coach talked to him regularly via Skype, sent weekly videos, and set up a special Facebook group with fellow clients — taking the time to get to know Jay-C well and keep him connected to a support team, even from his remote location.
In the end, that sort of lifestyle personalization and genuine support added up to 55 pounds lost and an impressive amount of muscle added (not to mention enough prize money to put a downpayment on a house).
13. Life will get in the way; take the opportunity to rebound.
When Chelsea joined Precision Nutrition coaching, she just wanted her old self back: A former athlete who played tennis, basketball, and competed in triathlons. Someone who felt fit, capable, and attractive.
Frequent injuries and a busy career as a lawyer contributed to a fitness backslide that Chelsea struggled to overcome, so she decided to seek support.
With great intentions, Chelsea dove into the Precision Nutrition Coaching program. But she quickly found that with her injuries and busy schedule, perfection was not going to be an option.
Temporarily, this threw her off course.
“About halfway through the program, I missed about 2-3 weeks of the daily lessons. I thought, ‘I’ve blown it, I can’t do this anymore, I’ve got so much on my plate with work’.”
Luckily, Coach Toni helped Chelsea keep moving forward. “With her encouragement, my focus became this: just continue to show up.”
That attitude ended up giving Chelsea the results you see below, and more: Better mobility, the ability to run without pain, even the chance to get back to triathlons.
Chelsea lost her youthful athleticism… and then regained it. She lost momentum in the program… and then regained it.
If there’s anything Chelsea knows, it’s that sometimes, life gets in the way… but showing up is what matters most.
14. Sitting on the fence is a mistake.
“If it’s your time, and you’re sitting on the fence — you want to do it, you’re thinking of doing it, you’re not sure if you should do it — jump off that fence,” says Patrick, 35, who lost 152 pounds with Precision Nutrition. “And give it everything you’ve got. Why sit on the fence when you can be a part of life?”
Patrick realized he’d been sitting around waiting for the perfect time to make life changes, when all he really needed to do was take one small step forward… right now.
15. Your body can still do stuff; celebrate that.
“Enjoy your body,” says 46-year-old Sharon, who lost more than 30 pounds with Precision Nutrition Coaching.
“Take pleasure in movement. Take pride in what you can do.”
This deep appreciation for physical health is what allows many clients to maintain fitness regimens and weight loss over time.
After fighting breast cancer, Sharon says, “My biggest regret about my earlier life is that I didn’t have the opportunity or understand what a precious gift my physicality was.”
You have permission to let go of the “sculpt your butt in 3 days” mainstream narrative. Just discover what your body can do. Enjoy it.
16. What will it be like to live as your future self?
We all have a specific motivation for wanting to lose fat and get fit. Keep that in mind. Whether it’s getting strong enough to play sports with your kids or looking great on your wedding day.
That last one is what helped 32-year-old Melissa lose 55 pounds.
“The whole time, I had this image of myself on my wedding day in my head,” Melissa says. “Walking tall, feeling amazing — feeling statuesque instead of soft around the edges.”
Don’t just think about how you want to look; think about how you want to feel. “It’s not just about what you see in the mirror, it’s what you feel inside,” says Melissa.
How do you want to feel? Confident? Capable of handling anything that life throws at you? Free to try new things? Comfortable in your own skin?
Imagine what it will be like to live as your future self. How does that guy or girl look, how do they feel, and what do they do? How could you start living a little more like that person today?
17. Slow down and enjoy your food, all of it.
Most Precision Nutrition clients come to realize that they’ve been eating mindlessly — packing in calories without really tasting the food — for a long time.
“There’s nothing inherently wrong with dessert,” explains Yano, 35, who lost 76 pounds with Precision Nutrition.
He still enjoys dessert occasionally, of course, and finds that having it only once in a while is the key to really appreciating it.
What happens when we really take the time to enjoy our food? We usually slow down. We become more conscious of our choices, and we choose better foods for our bodies.
18. Your environment shapes you, so choose yours wisely.
When clients recognize how their surroundings might be creating unhealthy habits they usually have an “ah-ha” moment. They start seeing the relationship between what’s around them and who they think they are. This helps them change their self stories and start seeing real results.
When coaching with us, 29-year-old Sarah realized that years of work in fast food restaurants made more of an impact on her life than she cared to admit.
Something shifted for her when she asked herself: “What do I really care about? What gives me joy? How can I get more of that?”
Together with her partner, Sarah started to change where they spent their time, and who they spent it with. They started trying more things.
“We did yoga, treetop trekking, rock climbing, Olympic weightlifting. Instead of going for drinks and dinner, we started getting more creative with how we spent our time. Our social life started to change.”
What could you remove from your environment or add to your environment to create a healthier life for yourself?
19. You are the average of the people you spend the most time with.
“It turns out that a lot of people have health and weight issues, just like I used to have,” Yano says. “And often they don’t want to eat poorly; they just do it because everyone else — friends, family, the people around them — is doing it. That was my problem for a long time.”
When you make a decision about what to eat, it’s worth asking, “what do I need?” instead of “what do they want?” This helped Yano (above) lose 76 pounds.
20. Dive below the surface; that’s where real change happens.
We can skim the top of our diet issues and see some small, fleeting changes on the scale. Or we can really dig into our relationship with food, what motivates it, and how to make it better.
For Sarah (above), letting herself get vulnerable as she went through Precision Nutrition Coaching turned into her greatest strength, opening her up to the process of self-questioning.
“How have trying times brought me to where I am now, and how have I coped?” “What do I really care about? What gives me joy? How can I get more of that?” This helped her lose 52 pounds.
21. Stay connected to all the things you love about yourself.
“Just remember, you deserve all of the amazing insights, strength gains, friendships, learning — whatever you take from this program— as you find and discover a new and best version of yourself,” Sarah (above) says.
“You are worthy.”
It’s so easy to get hung up on all the things you want to change. But all that negativity, without something positive, will drag you down.
So make time to celebrate yourself — both the things you’re already awesome at, and the successes (even small ones) you’re achieving along the way.
22. It doesn’t matter how much you “know”.
“It’s about realizing that no matter how smart I am and how much I know about exercise, if I’m not living it, I don’t really know it,” says Kevin, 40, who lost 37 pounds with Precision Nutrition Coaching.
In fact, you might find value in thinking of yourself as a beginner.
To your family and friends, you might be the go-to person for questions of health and fitness. But if you can find a way to wipe that slate clean and make way for new insights and advice — or even just for hearing them with fresh ears — then you’re much more likely to succeed.
23. Find someone to hold you accountable.
“The truth is, I probably knew three quarters of Precision Nutrition’s dietary recommendations before I started,” says Peter, 52, who dropped 33 pounds.
“But the secret to losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight is consistency,” he says. Get someone to breathe down your neck, and you’ll make healthy choices your habit.
In other words, it’s not about knowing, it’s about doing.
Our clients’ lightbulb moment: Relinquishing control to coaches, who offer the practical lifestyle advice, daily habits, and — this is key — accountability that’s needed to create real change.
If you already know what to do but you’re not doing it, get yourself some accountability.
24. There’s no such thing as “too busy”.
Some of our most successful clients are the ones with the least amount of time.
Take Lisanne, who lost 38 pounds on the Precision Nutrition program while taking care of three small children — including a nursing infant — and getting certified as a yoga instructor and doula.
Lisanne says, “at first I wondered if this was a crazy time to start. But then I thought — why not?”
“What better time, when you think about it?”
Other clients work multiple jobs or have to travel five days a week and never know where they’ll be staying next.
They tell us that structure is the secret to making it happen. And working with someone to find their “minimum effective dose” of exercise and nutrition.
25. Most people can’t do everything; so focus on what you can do right now.
Forget what you can’t do.
Figure out what you’re capable of in this moment, and build from there.
“I had to find it within me to accept that it was okay to do things a bit differently, says Richard, 49, who dropped 103 pounds in our yearlong program.
He had to learn that it’s okay to focus on, and try to tackle, only what he was capable of. And to forget the rest, even if he thought he should be doing it.
Eventually, Precision Nutrition clients internalize this mantra: Start wherever you are. Use whatever you have. Do whatever you can.
26. Imagine yourself as a role model, then go be that person.
“I want my kids to be healthy and happy and proud of the way they’re living their lives,” Lisanne (above) says. “It’s not enough for me to pay lip service to that idea — I have to be an example.”
Consider: What does “role model you” do each day? What does their morning routine look like? How do they keep the family fit and healthy?
And how could you start doing a little bit more of that today?
27. Stop thinking you have to dedicate your whole life to losing weight.
Sure, some of the changes you have to make will be fundamental. But the truth is that you only need a few hours per week to build a great body.
By getting the right kind of help and following simple yet powerful daily practices, anyone can lose weight, get healthy, and feel better.
That’s what Kia realized, and she lost 61 pounds. The big revelation for her:
“No one ever tells you that getting in shape is simple. That you only need a few hours per week to build a great body. That by getting the right kind of help and following simple yet powerful habits, anyone can lose weight, get healthy, and feel better.”
28. Let your taste buds lead the way.
Many people working on new eating habits get derailed by the abundance of processed food, especially when shopping.
Our clients learn how to navigate the supermarket to avoid these temptations.
You’ve heard it before, but it works: Stay on the perimeter.
Instead of being led by shiny packages and tempting marketing tricks, 46-year-old John learned to shop for flavors.
“I ask myself, ‘Where do my taste-buds want to go today?’”. Then he buys real, fresh ingredients (like spices, herbs, fruits, vegetables, etc.) to build a meal around his own inspiration.
And it worked. John lost 106 pounds.
29. You don’t have to do anything, you choose to.
“What I learned was that I had to take responsibility for my own decisions,” says Heather, 37, who lost 47 pounds in Precision Nutrition Coaching.
“I had to get real with myself. I learned the difference between thinking, ‘I have to do x,’ and ‘I choose to do x,’ and ‘I’m doing x.’”
Everyone has to work at it. We’re all imperfect, and so are our lives. So the best thing we can do is to just get out there and make the choice to do our best.
30. Make health programs bend to your needs.
Too often, people become discouraged when exercise and nutrition programs feel like they’ve been written for someone else. And that’s understandable. Because most of them were.
Everyone has different needs.
For sustainable weight loss, there’s no “one size fits all”.
For example, Cheryl lost 68 pounds despite the fact that she was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease — and was asked to avoid strength training — for most of her Precision Nutrition Coaching experience.
No heavy lifting? No problem. We helped her modify the workouts.
“In some ways, the diagnosis was a relief,” Cheryl says. “It became okay for me to admit that I was skipping out on what others were doing in the gym because of pain.”
Just because long distance running worked for your friends, or just because the trainer at your gym tells you to “go heavy or go home”, doesn’t mean that’s what you have to do.
31. Concentrate on what you can do vs. what you’re measuring.
For Precision Nutrition Coaching client Katey, this was an essential lesson from the program:
“You can’t focus on weight loss – that’s not something you can control. What you can control is the process. Your choices. Enough good ones built up over time will lead you to your goals. Work hard on the healthy behaviors, let the rest fall into place.”
Katey read that over a dozen times. “It was such a huge key to… everything. It was something I’d missed before. It was at that moment I stopped focusing on what I wanted to happen and started focusing on the next step.”
If you’ve found yourself obsessing about outcomes — trying to get the scale to budge on a daily basis, for example — try focusing on actions instead.
What are you doing today to help encourage a different outcome later?
32. You can start over every minute, every day.
“I realized I could have a clean slate every time I messed up because this was about my healthy lifestyle, and not just a diet,” says Patricia, 56, who lost 69 pounds with Precision Nutrition.
“Precision Nutrition Coaching taught me habits and changed the way I view my body and the food I put in it. It’s a life plan, and it’s something I know I can manage forever.”
Whether it’s years of yo-yo dieting, or the pizza-and-wings combo you had for dinner last night, you might have some regrets about past behavior.
But you don’t need to let these ideas about “failures” and “mistakes” hold you back.
Don’t beat yourself up, don’t obsess, don’t punish yourself. Wipe the slate clean every minute, every day, and concentrate on now.
33. Unbroken enthusiasm is a myth.
At times it’s a slog — and that’s true for everyone.
“I learned that sometimes you have to drag your a$s to the gym, even if you don’t feel like going. And learning it lifted a huge burden off me,” says Kim, 25, who lost 24 pounds with Precision Nutrition Coaching.
“While the workout may be slow moving and uninspired at first, once you’re there it’s super easy to finish.”
Sometimes workouts feel great. Sometimes the stars align and we cook a perfectly healthy, well-balanced, delicious meal.
Other times, healthy living feels like work. That’s okay.
Love it when it feels good. Let it suck when it sucks. The main thing is to just keep going.
34. Act courageous and brave, even if you’re not yet.
Amazing things can happen when you find the courage to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
Says Precision Nutrition Coaching client and grand prize winner Lisa (above):
“I learned to be courageous with the activities I try. To have the courage to take time for myself. And to have the courage to be kind to myself, when I need a break or when I look in the mirror.”
Think about what feels scary or uncomfortable for you. How could you just take on a tiny piece of that thing?
Imagine what you might accomplish if you are willing to try.
Want help becoming the healthiest, fittest, strongest version of you?
Most people know that regular movement, eating well, sleep, and stress management are important for looking and feeling better. Yet they need help applying that knowledge in the context of their busy, sometimes stressful lives.
That’s why we work closely with Precision Nutrition Coaching clients to help them lose fat, get stronger, and improve their health… no matter what challenges they’re dealing with.
It’s also why we work with health, fitness and wellness professionals (through our Level 1 and Level 2 Certification programs) to teach them how to coach their own clients through the same challenges.
Interested in Precision Nutrition Coaching? Join the presale list; you’ll save up to 54% and secure a spot 24 hours early.
We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Coaching on Wednesday, July 15th, 2020.
If you’re interested in coaching and want to find out more, I’d encourage you to join our presale list below. Being on the list gives you two special advantages.
- You’ll pay less than everyone else. At Precision Nutrition we like to reward the most interested and motivated people because they always make the best clients. Join the presale list and you’ll save up to 54% off the general public price, which is the lowest price we’ve ever offered.
- You’re more likely to get a spot. To give clients the personal care and attention they deserve, we only open up the program twice a year. Last time we opened registration, we sold out within minutes. By joining the presale list you’ll get the opportunity to register 24 hours before everyone else, increasing your chances of getting in.
If you’re ready to change your body, and your life, with help from the world’s best coaches, this is your chance.
(Note: If your health and fitness are already sorted out, but you’re interested in helping others, check out our Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification program).