13 things I've learned coaching over 80 overweight clients!

Weight loss: 13 things to do correctly to succeed! 

When I’m beginning to work with a new client with a weight loss goal, I always notice that he or she will need much more support than just 2-3h of training a week. There is 168h in a week, and if you believe that doing nothing for the remaining 165h will help you get to your desired weight and physical shape, you are WRONG! 

Here are the 11 most important things that I’ve learned while coaching more than 80 overweight clients.

1- The psychological mindset:

My role as a Trainer is not only to coach the person at the gym, but to get into the psychological mindset of the person by making them realize what bad habits must be changed. This will empower them and increase their motivation and self esteem.

Everybody can lose weight but people use too many excuses not to do so. Especially when they spend their time being lazy, sitting in front of the TV, eating pizza, and drinking Coca-Cola. Take actions, train hard, make the right choices in the kitchen, and you’ll earn the health and the body that you deserve.

 2- Overweight heart control:

Overweight people can have heart problems, it is very important to make sure not to raise the heart rate too much especially at the beginning of the training program. Once the person will be  more used to exercise, the intensity can increase a little bit. If one of my clients is exceptionally overweight (300 lbs +) they will most likely begin to incorporate cardio into their workout by using the elliptical. Even though running and cardio are important, using a lower impact machine will protect the knees and articulations. The bike and rowing machine can be added variety to incorporate cardio into their weekly workout routine.

3- Project management:

A weight loss is a project and the trainer is the project manager. Progress must be monitored each week and each month, to see if the project is on schedule.

Ex: a 34 yo woman 5“3 - 200 lbs

GOAL: 140lbs in 10 months because she is getting married, and needs to lose 60 lbs. She will have to burn 68-70 lbs of fat, and build 8-10 lbs of muscles.

Day 1: 200

Week 1: 195

Week 2:192

Week 3: 189

Week 4: 187

month 1: -13 lbs

W 5: 184

W 6: 182

W 7: 180

W 8: 179

W 9: 177

Month 2: -23 lbs total


Month 10: 140 lbs (-60 lbs), project accomplished on schedule, CONGRATULATIONS!!!

4- Cutting carbs will cut your energy:

A mistake many people make is cutting carbs completely out of their diet with the hope of losing weight. Since I arrived in the USA, I heard many people saying this.

I remember one time, cutting carbs out of my diets for a whole week before an important 2 days competition. I was trying to lose 4 lbs in order to be sharper and lighter.

The first day of this Decathlon, I performed so poorly, because I had no energy. The evening before the second day of my competition I was so frustrated that I decided to eat lots of noodles. The morning of the second day I knew I was heavier, however, I noticed that I had a lot more energy and even achieving performances I’ve never done before.

Cutting carbs will just temporarily get your weight down 3-4 pounds but you won't be energetic at work or during your workouts.

5- Have the right gear and equipment:

To get back to the specific approach I use with my clients, the first things I do, is making sure that they have:

-The right running shoes, with a good cushion on the heels to put less stress on their knees and lower back because of their overweight body. I’m advising my clients to invest in the NIKE Zoom Pegasus, because they have 50-60 different colors and the price is not too expensive($110-120). These shoes are great because they are dynamic and have a very good cushion on the heels, which will limit the impact on your joints. They’re a great combination for running and weightlifting. 

-A digital scale (a good and reliable one, around $25-30) so they can check every 2-3 days their body weight evolution.

-The right food in the fridge, from the suggested list that they will receive from me.

-Get a jump rope, weightlifting gloves, T-shirt, shortsmassage stick, …

6- Food quantity control:

The quantity of food for each meal is exceptionally important to control. You must be aware that your guts have plasticity and the more you eat without taking the time to digest, the more your stomach will expand. You will need more food the following meal to reach satiety. To reduce the size of your belly you must cut your meals by 20-30%. Leaving the dinner table feeling a little less full will ensure that your stomach will start shrinking.

Often, I advise my clients to take a cheat day once or twice a week but reducing the bad quality of food eaten. This keeps the mood positive and prevents them from totally giving up or falling off track.

7- Bad lifestyle habits:

In many cases a whole lifestyle change is completely necessary. Many clients I’ve worked with have had to change some bad habits such as taking the car too often, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or eating pizza in front of the TV.


8- Don’t walk on the treadmill for 1 hour…

The mindset and determination of the person are very important components for successful weight loss. Don’t be the person that I see at the gym walking for 1h on the treadmill, only to feel good about themselves and their “1h of gym“. But guess what!?

Running at your max capacity for 5min will get you better results because intensity always wins over slow and long efforts.

9- Weightlifting strategy:

Weightlifting will be done using light weights, for many reps, and will activate cardio to burn more calories. Working on maximum strength will be included to increase muscle density, fibers recruitment, and boost testosterone levels.The energetic balance is very important and calorie intake must be lower than the calories burned to see results.

10- Genetics:

You often hear trainers or "Fitness Experts" saying that to get fit it is 80% of diet and 20% of training. This isn’t true at all. The reality is that this percentage ratio depends directly on your genetics. Your genes will have an impact on how much fat you can burn, your muscle gain and muscle retention, and also on the way you digest and process the food inside of your body. But the good news is that hard work and dedication can always overcome “not lucky genetics“. You need to keep that in mind when finding what works for you.

11- Stress level:

The other factor that is often forgotten is the stress. If you have a lot of anxiety because of your stressful job, for example, you will produce cortisone and your body will automatically get swollen and heavier. To fight this “bad stress”, I advise to seek peaceful and relaxing activities such as massage, listening to music, taking a warm bath, and not stressing about the little things in life. At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have a “good stress” hormone called adrenaline and it’s released with high intensity workouts and when you get into “BEAST MODE”. If you manage to get control over your stress by diminishing the bad stress and using the good stress to perform at your max, you will be truly successful in everything you do. You need to also focus on building your skills and self confidence everyday, in order to maximize your potential in every situations.

12- Punishments:

Although, I strive to avoid using punishment as an incentive with clients, sometimes it is necessary. Often times it is the only way to keep them from falling of track and keeping them accountable for their lifestyle outside of the gym. When I was coaching one of my University teachers she had a huge problem with lifestyle management. She was 190 lbs and her goal was to get to 150 lbs within a few months. She was eating terribly, taking the elevator instead of the stairs, and driving instead of opting to walk. After 3 weeks of working together she only lost 2 lbs. We were training multiple times a week and I was wondering why she wasn’t getting better results. Then I realized she had no self control in regards to food. She was eating and drinking junk food all the time. I had to tell her that she had to be down 3lbs by the end of the following week or she would have to do 50 burpees. After her first weight check in, she wasn’t down 3 lbs. She was required to do the punishment! Those 50 Burpees traumatized her and the following week she was down 4 lbs. She had been very careful with her diet, and was also doing extra running at the park. The following weeks to come she was able to meet every weight loss goal on schedule. Her mindset had completely changed because of her traumatic experience with the burpees.

13- Be obsessed by your goal:

Always picture the ideal weight and body that you want to reach. Be obsessed with your goal as it is the only way to create enough motivation to train consistently hard. Keeping control over your stress level is very important, because it regulates the cortisone rate released in your body, and if you are too anxious, your body will release this bad stress hormone that will make you swollen and more likely to gain weight.

         So remember that anyone can manage to lose weight if they are able to have the right mindset and motivation. A little help from a personal trainer, or friends to workout with, can increase your chances of success by a lot!!! Don’t go alone through this journey, try to have the right team of support around you to hold you accountable on your diet, workout, and lifestyle.


-Sometimes you don’t really see the results on the scale and it can be demotivating, but if you notice that your clothes are getting too loose, then it is a very good indicator. If you float in your pants, and your belt tightens up by 1 or 2 holes, you can clearly see the positive results. The overall health of the person will also improve significantly. The person will have more energy, more enthusiasm, be less tired while doing little things such as walking up the stairs.

-Everybody hits plateaus during a weight loss, and might also gain back a few pounds, don’t panic if that happens to you, but double your efforts to get the numbers on your scale down.


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