What Is A Nutrition Coach Anyway?

What Is A Nutrition Coach Anyway?

Coaching is defined in the dictionary as “a form of development in which an experienced person, called a coach, supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance.” 

People often ask me what a Nutrition Coach actually is, and the honest answer is that it’s different for every client I see! What I can say is that my job as a coach is to guide my clients towards their goals (whatever they are), rather than set out a pre-designed diet plan, or impose strict rules about what they can and can’t eat.

Every person is an individual with a unique relationship with – and history with – food. The food we eat, crave, enjoy,  hate, tolerate and fuel with is different for everyone. Our habits around eating – comfort eating; secret eating; restrictive eating; binge eating; forgetting to eat; obsessing about eating; feeling afraid of eating or eating as a reward are highly personal and often formed very early in life. The way we define ourselves through our diet is also unique – the foods we use to celebrate religious festivals, or the diet we choose for ethical reasons, or to sustain a particular sport, can represent who we are and the life we choose to live. 

Medications, life stages and hormones, illnesses, genetics and activity levels can affect what we can and can’t, should or shouldn’t eat and also how the body processes the foods we do eat. And to add further complexity to our relationship with food, we – never more than now – have to negotiate our way through a wealth of misinformation and pseudoscience surrounding nutrition, diets, what is a “good diet” and what is “bad food” which leaves us confused and sets us up to fail when it comes to making informed choices about what we eat. 

My role as a nutrition coach is to start with your goal – be it fuelling for a sport, weight loss, controlling impulsive eating, curbing sugar cravings, changing your eating habits, finding the right diet for your stage in life, medical diagnosis or genetics – or simply just feeling better. Starting with your diet as it is today, I work with you to change it through habit-based stages. These can include anything from making small changes to what you eat and drink to helping with meal planning and timing, going to your supermarket to research foods, coming up with recipes, helping you learn about the psychology of why you eat the way you do, coaching in changing deeply ingrained habits or disordered eating patterns, educating about what a “good” diet actually looks like, advising on what foods would help with medical issues or life stages, the optimal foods and meal timing to fuel for sport and exercise, helping you gain an understanding of metabolism and calories and energy balance in the body… I could go on all day but you get the picture!

The huge advantage of working this way rather than telling you how to eat or what diet plan to follow, is that the end result is a diet that is sustainable, realistic and manageable, and more importantly, a diet that you understand and feel in control of. My ultimate goal is to be by your side teaching, coaching and advising until you are happy and in control and have all the tools you need in your nutritional toolkit, so that you never need to come back to me (or go on a crazy diet) again!

If you think nutrition coaching might be something you would benefit from, give me a call or send me an email. Pop in and have an informal chat and we can go from there!


February – New Class Timetable!

February – New Class Timetable!

We’re really excited to be able to introduce our new class timetable for March!

For several years now we’ve been running our very popular Bootcamp classes on a Tuesday and Thursday at 9.30am. Many of our lovely “bootcamp ladies” have been with us for over two years and as a result, our Tuesday circuits and Thursday HIIT/ yoga class is continually evolving and changing to keep things interesting for the class. We have a fantastic group for bootcamp, everyone is so supportive of each other and are great friends, and the members regularly have social get-togethers outside of class, sign up to races together or just hang out for coffee.

Our facility is a great space for anyone feeling a bit intimidated about being in a gym environment; it isn’t  membership gym and we only have a handful personal trainers who work in the space. So aside from the odd trainer with a client, when we have a class on, we have access to the whole gym and it’s private. It’s also a very positive, encouraging space to be in – we’re all about feeling better, moving more and enjoying yourself and there’s not even a mirror on the wall! 

Even so, sometimes joining a class for the first time can feel a bit intimidating, especially if the people in the class seem like old hands, or know each other really well. So with this in mind, we recently introduced two second classes on a Tuesday and a Thursday at 10.30am, specifically for beginners. These classes are aimed at anyone who doesn’t feel “fit enough” or confident enough to join an existing class, who feel as if they have a big fitness journey to go on but don’t know where to start. Everyone who signed up to this class five weeks ago has made great progress (as well as new friends) and it’s been a genuine pleasure to watch them growing in confidence and fitness as the classes have progressed!

As of next week, we’re also starting a class aimed at older adults. Our 60+ Fitness classes will be on a Wednesday and Friday at 10.30am and are for anyone aged 60 plus who wants to get more active. It’s really important as we age that we keep up an element of resistance training (with weights or bodyweight) to keep the bones strong and protect the muscles from atrophy. It also becomes important as we get older to pay special attention to things like balance and mobility, to help keep us active for longer and to protect against falls. So this class is specifically designed for anyone who feels they might struggle to keep up with a less specific class, and who would like to become more active, make new friends and generally feel better!

If you’re interested in signing up to any of our classes, do get in touch!


Blue Monday

Blue Monday

In recent times, the third Monday in January, dubbed “Blue Moday”, has come to signify the most depressing day of the year. It’s the time when those New Year’s resolutions that you threw yourself into at the start of January begin to slide, it’s cold and dark outside, you have no money left after Christmas and January feels as if it’s been going on forever…

There’s nothing wrong with having aspirational New Year’s resolutions; in fact, it’s a time of year we really enjoy, when we see a surge of enthusiasm for classes and personal training and nutrition consultations. It can sometimes be difficult to manage the expectations of enthusiastic clients though, who want to go all-in with their health and wellbeing, training multiple times a week in the gym, giving up alcohol and making huge dietary changes. The problem with resolutions is that they are often unsustainable – after two or three weeks of forging ahead with major diet and lifestyle changes, the novelty wears off, it all starts to feel a bit too difficult to keep up, our best intentions start to slide and we’re back to mentally beating ourselves up for our lack of willpower. In short, we’ve set ourselves up to fail.

In fact, willpower is not, as is commonly believed, like a muscle that can be made stronger with repeated flexing. Willpower is more like a reserve of mental energy; once it’s been used up, it’s gone, albeit temporarily. Over the course of a day, there are lots of things that can sap our mental reserves of willpower – not setting the snooze button repeatedly, not snapping at a difficult colleague, avoiding that coffee shop with the enticing cakes, remaining calm with demanding children. This is why evenings are often the most challenging time for us in terms of avoiding treats or getting out to the gym or for a walk – it’s the time of day when our metal reserves of willpower are at their lowest. 

Our ethos at Intelligent Fitness is to slowly build sustainable, habit-based changes with exercise and nutrition. Because once something becomes a habit, you don’t need to use your willpower to do it. For something to become a habit though, you have to do it repeatedly until it’s ingrained. Start with something you’re comfortable with (using the stairs at work instead of the lift, getting up an hour early once a week to fit in an extra gym session, replacing tea with herbal tea so you don’t feel as if you want biscuits with it) and do it until you’re comfortable to move on to the next thing. 

It’s perhaps a less glamorous take on New Year’s resolutions but we promise you this – it works!

Noel and Meredith