There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what coaching is and what it isn’t. Some people think coaching is just someone screaming at you like a drill sergeant in boot camp. Others think …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, Sports Nutritionist, Master Life Coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind. So you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster, and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there, and welcome to episode 122 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, the weight loss coach for runners and today, what coaching should look like? I think there are a lot of misconceptions out there about what coaching is and what it isn’t.
Some people think coaching is just like having someone screaming at you like a drill sergeant and boot camp. Other people think coaching is having a cheerleader by your side always telling you great job. Both of these can be positive aspects of coaching. But there’s a lot more to consider if you’re seriously looking for someone to help you reach your weight loss and running goals.
So in this episode of the podcast, I break down what coaching is, what it isn’t, and explain what coaching should look like. And I’m hoping that by the end of this episode, you have a very clear understanding of how the right kind of coaching can actually help you achieve all of your health and fitness goals.
And I just want to get right into this topic today because this is something that I’ve been very passionate about, and something that I talk about just about every day. So I talk with runners every single day about their goals and whether or not they want to coach with me, whether they want to work with me or not.
And I always explain a little bit about what coaching looks like, when I get on a call with someone. And I thought you know, this would be a great idea to just jump on here and do a whole podcast about this topic about what good coaching should actually look like, you know, what coaching should look like versus what maybe we think it is?
Okay, so let me ask you this, like when you think of a coach, what image comes to mind for you, when I think of a coach, I get this image of somebody standing on the side of the track, like with a clipboard and a stopwatch, right?
Or maybe that coach in the locker room at halftime screaming at the players to get them all pumped up for the second half of the game. Or the personal trainer screaming at you there’s a lot of screaming in my envision of coaches for some reason. The personal trainer at the gym screaming like, you know, do one more rep. One more, one more.
So we all have some notion of what a coach looks like. And most of us have probably had some experience working with or having some sort of a coach in our lives, whether it was a coaching, you know, when you played high school sports, you maybe had a coach. But this idea of what a coach actually is, I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding about that.
Okay, and so, today I want to talk about this, I want to talk about what coaching is and what it isn’t. And I want to bust some of the myths around coaching and what it means to work with a coach. I want to help you to understand what to look for if you want to work with a coach.
Okay, by the end of this episode, I want you to have a clear understanding of what this should look like. Okay, now I need to say this, I’m a coach, right? And of course, I would love it if you wanted coaching and you decided you want to work with me. That would be amazing. But that’s not what this is about. Okay, this isn’t about me.
This is about you understanding the power of coaching, and how it can help you and how, what I want for you is I want to give you the information to go out there and find a coach that works for you, whether it’s me or somebody else, it’s fine with me either way. I fiercely believe in the power of coaching. It is one of the most amazing things I have ever done for myself is getting a coach and I think everyone can benefit from having a coach.
I actually have several coaches, I have a strength coach, I have a nutrition coach and a business coach. And each of these coaches plays a huge role in helping me to become my most badass self. I would not have lost the weight and learned how to keep it off for good without my coach.
I wouldn’t have learned how to get stronger. I wouldn’t understand the importance of continually, you know, building strength as a runner, if it wasn’t for my functional strength coach, and I definitely wouldn’t make it as an entrepreneur without my business coach. You know, being an entrepreneur building a business from the ground up and doing it all by yourself. This is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It’s challenging.
And they say I love this little like analogy here, they say, “Being an entrepreneur is like jumping out of an airplane and building the parachute on the way down.” And I feel this deeply, every single day. Okay? Anyway, so I just wanted to make this very clear that this isn’t about me, this is not about me, like selling you on coaching with me or anything like that.
It’s about helping you understand what good coaching should look like, whether it’s with me or somebody else. But I want you to understand how powerful coaching can be for you, and how amazing it can be for you, and how it can absolutely transform your life, and help you achieve whatever goals you want for yourself in different areas of your life. Okay.
So one of the biggest misconceptions I want to talk about is that a coach is just there to tell you what to do. Right? I have talked to so many runners who have worked with a running coach, or maybe a nutrition coach in the past. And one of the common issues I see with most coaches with most of like what I’ll call like traditional coaching, okay?
That it’s just somebody, they’re telling you what to do. Like, here’s what you should eat, or here’s your running workout, just do what I say. All right, and this is fine. You know, there has to be a part of that with coaching, right. But when that’s all the coaches doing for you, they’re giving you some sort of standard formula, some standard meal plan or some standard workout. You know, everybody they’re coaching is kind of getting the same standard deal, right? That doesn’t really work. Okay.
This is a problem. And I see this with a lot of nutrition coaches, specifically who just prescribe meal plans for their clients. So they give them a menu of actually, like, here’s what you’re going to eat this week. And then next week, I’ll give you a new meal plan of what you should eat. Okay? And again, this is fine.
This might work sometimes, but what are you teaching the client? What are you teaching that person you’re working with? Are they learning how to make good decisions about food? Are they developing the habits they need to make their new food choices on their own and to make them last for the long haul?
Like, how sustainable is it to just tell somebody what to do? I’ve had several people come to me after working with other nutrition coaches, who gave them meal plans, who gave them a menu of what to do. And by the end of that coaching relationship, they had no clue what to do on their own.
So once the coaching relationship was over, they didn’t know what to do. They didn’t understand why they were being told to eat these certain foods. And to avoid these foods over here. They didn’t understand the philosophy behind making these menus, you know, they hadn’t developed any skills of their own.
They just didn’t know how to create their own food plan. Okay. That’s not sustainable. Right? They also hadn’t developed good eating habits, right. So they just ended up falling back into old behaviors, once that coaching relationship was over, and they ended up putting all the weight back on.
And I see this with most diet plans, right? They just tell you what to eat, and what not to eat. And then, you know, send you on your way. Good luck. Good luck with all that, right. And I see this with books. You know, I read a lot of books on diet and nutrition, sports, nutrition, athletic performance.
And a lot of these books have meal plans in them and recipes and things like that. I guess people say they want those kinds of things, right? This might be what people say they want, but it’s not what they need. Right? What people want is for somebody to just tell them what to do.
But what they need is they need to learn how to break old habits. People need to learn how to develop new habits from the ground up, and you can’t learn new habits just by somebody telling you what to do. And just a little side note here, I’m planning on writing a book, I’ve actually kind of started this is a long process to write a book, by the way, and I’m at the baby stages right now.
But my goal with this book that I’m creating is to not just offer meal plans and tell people what to do, but to teach you how to build your own meal plan to teach you how to make good choices and why you should make those choices. That right there is going to be a game changer, I promise you, but that’s down the road.
So I’m just giving you a little preview of what’s to come later. All this is just to say that instead of just telling you what to do, a good coach should empower you to make good decisions for yourself. And to help you to be there as your guide to help you build the habits that are required to make whatever changes you’re making last for good.
Like this isn’t about, you know, just a quick fix, like these short term plans might be fine. But what do you do when you stop working with the coach, if you haven’t learned how to do this for yourself, you’re just on your own. And most people just don’t know what to do when they stop working with their coach, okay. So you should be becoming empowered, your coach should be empowering you. Right?
When the coach just tells you what to do, they have all the power, they have all the power, you need to have the power, right, you should be able to make most of these decisions for yourself. Now, of course, having a coach, a good coach, is there to guide you, and to show you the way, but also to empower you to learn what works for you and what doesn’t work for you.
Now, there’s no possible way any coach could know what’s going to work for you ahead of time, I’m just going to tell you right now, when it comes to things like nutrition, there is just no way. Every human being is different. Every human being has different metabolism, different goals, different food preferences, different likes and dislikes.
There’s different lifestyle concerns to take into consideration. There’s different cultures, different genetics, different medical histories, oh my gosh, there’s no way that one meal plan from a book is going to work for every single person, right? There’s no way that just giving everybody the same standard meal plan every week is going to work for everybody.
This is not a one size fits all situation here. There’s way too many factors involved. So the power of coaching is helping you figure out what works for you, as an individual and what doesn’t work for you. And this is one of the reasons why most people, they try some kind of diet, it doesn’t work for them.
And so they just say you know what diet doesn’t work. But in reality, one diet is not going to work for everyone. I’m just telling you, it’s not anyone who tells you that one diet is going to work for everyone is wrong, I’m just gonna tell you right now they are wrong. People get super worked up about this.
People are like they get dug in with their particular diet. Think about like, plant-based people, for whatever reason, they seem to be very worked up about their diet and telling you if they want to tell everybody that you’re stupid if you eat meat and plant-based is the only way to go. And honestly, I just have to tell you, there’s a lot of ignorance in that kind of generalization, right? The reality is, there isn’t one diet that works for everyone, there just isn’t.
So when I work with someone, it’s you and me like we are engaged in a coaching relationship. Yes, of course, I have a lot of experience and a lot of expertise in the area of diet nutrition for runners, for runners who want to lose weight and be able to keep it off like, yeah, we kind of start with a framework.
But you know, we have some basics that we sort of, kind of start with, but then throughout our coaching relationship, we pretty quickly figure out what works and what doesn’t. And here’s the important part, we constantly analyze the results. We look at a bunch of different metrics. And we see, are we making progress here or not? Yes or no? Where can we improve things?
And then we course correct, we change something. If something isn’t working, we want to change it. So it’s not just about telling you what to do and then hoping you do it. It’s a feedback system, right? We’re always looking at your results. It’s a results oriented type of coaching. And that’s something you should definitely be looking for.
If you’re looking for a coach, somebody that’s going to help you to analyze the results that you’re getting, and then make the necessary changes so that you keep moving closer to your goals. And I’ll tell you right now, I’m going to be totally honest with you. I don’t know what’s going to work for you.
Yes, I have some good ideas based on working with hundreds of runners. But not every single person is the same. Every single person I work with is different. I’ve never done the exact same thing for two people, really I never have.
So when it comes to diet and nutrition, especially when we add in the complexity of doing all of this in a way that will also support your running goals. It’s always an experiment of one. This is a n equals one situation and the one that’s you so look for a coach who will win work with you, one who will help you to make good decisions for yourself, one who will empower you to make those kinds of choices and decisions and to create the good habits and teach you how to make all of this last.
Well, after the coaching relationship is over, I tell people who want to work with me all the time, I’m like, This is not a, I don’t want to like be stringing you along as a coach forever, I want to teach you what you need to learn so that you can go and go live your life. You know, you’ve got to find somebody who understands that you are an individual, and who will treat you like an individual. Okay.
So another sign you’re working with a good coach is someone who will ask you a lot of questions, a lot of powerful questions. Here’s why this is important. Most likely, you already have the answers within you. You just need help accessing them. So believe it or not, you are right now a powerhouse of information. And you know more than you think you do. And you definitely know more about you than anyone else on the planet. Okay.
This is one of those things that I couldn’t grasp at first. I thought I had no clue what to do. And that’s why I hired a coach in the first place, right? Just tell me what to do. But the more I got into this process, the more I worked with my coach, the more I learned that I pretty much had everything I needed to know already inside me.
And then I just needed somebody to help figure it out. That really changed everything for me. And I love this now, like, I see this every week, especially in working with my business coach, because she’s always asking me these powerful questions, right? Questions that force me to go inside, to go inside myself to go inside my own brain to find the answers.
The answers aren’t out there. The answers are in here. And I’m pointing to my head. And this used to be really frustrating for me at first, right? Because I just wanted her to tell me what to do, just tell me what to do. But she wouldn’t do that, she would ask me a lot of questions and help me come up with the right answers. And now I love this process.
Because I know that by asking me the right questions, she’s helping me to access those parts of my brain that I just that I need to access to be able to solve problems. And then I’m just I haven’t developed that, like skill of being able to access those things until I started doing this on a regular basis. And now, it’s extremely powerful. I know it sounds counterintuitive, right? To work with a coach and have them help you figure it out for yourself. But it’s an amazing way to coach someone.
Because when you do it this way, you’re actually teaching someone how to become a powerful problem solver on their own. Again, this isn’t about, like just, you know, telling somebody what to do in that situation, you would always have to have that coach there with you, right? Instead, what have you learned how to become that powerful problem solver on your own? That’s amazing, right there.
The point of coaching is not to just rely on your coach forever, right? But to teach you how to think for yourself to develop the cognitive skills to know what to do in every situation. Right, and to be able to solve every problem that comes your way. So for me, I ask a lot of powerful questions. Okay.
So I’ll ask clients, they’ll tell me they, you know, did something and I’ll say like, well, why did you make that choice? You know, why do you think you chose cake for dinner last night instead of chicken? Or, you know, okay, so you had a situation? How could you have handled that situation better when your coworker put that cupcake on your desk? You know, or what was the thought that immediately preceded the action that you took, you know, that behavior where, you know, you decided I’m not going to work out today? What was the thought right before that?
Or maybe you fail? Did you binge out on some pizza last night or ice cream? Like, what did you learn about yourself from this experience? These are examples of real questions that I ask clients all the time. And when I ask them these questions, they go inside themselves to find the answers. And they come up with solutions on their own with my help, right? But instead of me just telling them what to do in each of these situations, well, here’s what you do next time.
They are figuring it out for themselves. And I’m going to tell you something right now. When you figure it out for yourself, you are way more likely to remember that and to make better choices next time. There is a big difference between somebody telling you what to do, and you making a decision for yourself on what you should do.
When you come up with the solution for yourself, you learn from it, it just sticks, right? It’s the difference between, well, Patrick told me I shouldn’t eat cake for dinner and, and I don’t eat cake for dinner because that choice is not in alignment with who I want to be. See the difference there. It’s very powerful, very powerful.
Another thing you should look for in a good coach is someone who will point out your blind spots. So a good coach should help you see things that you cannot see about yourself. These are often called your blind spots, because like a blind spot in your car, you know, where you can’t see the car next to you, or whatever. There are things about yourself that you can’t see, because you’re inside yourself.
There’s a saying, and it goes something like “You can’t see the label from inside the bottle.” So you can’t see the outside, from inside. So sometimes it takes an outsider’s perspective to show you things about yourself that you wouldn’t be able to see on your own.
For example, I see a lot of self-sabotaging behavior happen when people set out to lose weight. So they might be going along fine for a while. And maybe their weight stalls a little bit, which is totally normal. It happens all the time, right? But then they’re just like, ethic, you know, and they binge out on french fries and donuts.
And they don’t understand why they do this. And they come to me and they’re like, Patrick, I don’t understand why, why do I do this all the time? So I started asking a lot of questions. And when we get to the root of the problem, it’s usually something like, well, you know, I was getting frustrated, the weight was stalled.
And I was having a tough day at work. And I thought, well, I might as well just eat whatever I want, since this isn’t working anyway, you know, some variation of a thought like that, okay. But they don’t see what’s happening in their brain, you know, because they’re, it’s their brain.
And they’re just like, they’re just operating on sort of autopilot. It’s just doing what they’ve always done, right. But having a coach, they’re having that person that’s outside of them, to show them what their brain is doing. To show you things about yourself that you cannot see, that’s some powerful stuff right there.
There are things about yourself that you can’t see, because they’ve just been like, things you’ve been doing your whole life, automatic behaviors and habits and they just seem like normal to you. But to an outsider, they might see like, oh, well, there’s your problem right there. You don’t see it, because it’s just part of who you are. And just something you’ve been doing forever, right.
But having this outsider’s perspective, like somebody’s pointing out these blind spots that you have, it’s crucial, it’s crucial. This is why it’s hard to have somebody that’s like really close to you, as your coach, you know, they need to be a bit more removed. So people who you’re too close with, like a spouse, or a good friend or family member, they don’t have that third party perspective, right, they’re also going to have trouble telling you things that you actually need to hear, they won’t be able to dole out the tough love the way they need to maybe.
And so somebody that’s like too close to you won’t be able to do that. Somebody that’s too close to you really just can’t be a good coach for you. Right, then it’s kind of damaging to the relationship if you’ve ever worked with somebody in that capacity, that’s a spouse or something like that, not usually a good situation. Okay.
The other thing about working with a coach versus a friend or family member is the coach has the training, the background, the professionalism, the experience necessary to help you get the results that you want. Friends and family members really don’t have that. They don’t have what it takes, unless they’re trained as a coach, but even then, again, they’re too close to you, right? So anyway, just make sure that you have somebody that can point out those blind spots. Okay.
And then there’s a few other qualities to look for in a coach that I think are very important. One is accountability. So this is one of the most important aspects of coaching in general, like you are way more likely to do what you said you’re going to do when you have somebody holding you accountable. You have to have somebody holding you accountable.
People tell me all the time, you know, I was going to eat this junk food, but I knew I was going to have to talk to you later. So I decided not to do it. They just know that they’d rather stay on their plan, then have to tell me, they went off their plan. Even though I don’t yell at anybody, like I don’t judge anybody. But having somebody that’s there to hold you accountable is key crucial insight, one of the most important aspects of coaching for sure, okay?
Another good quality to look for is encouragement. So, being a cheerleader, it’s not really the main job of a coach. A coach’s job is to help you get results. But having somebody there to encourage you, and support you, and believe in you, it’s so helpful, it really is so helpful. You want somebody who can encourage you to do hard things, to do those hard things that you know you need to do, in order to get the results that you want.
You need someone in your corner who believes in you fiercely, who can help you to start believing in yourself, right? In case that’s a problem. In case you don’t believe in yourself, you need somebody that’s there that believes in you. And that can help you build that belief that you need for yourself, right.
And then of course, another quality is look for his knowledge, like it goes without saying, but you need someone with the knowledge with the experience with the expertise to be able to help you achieve your specific goals. And a lot of coaches that I know are very general, they’re like generalists, right?
They have a little bit of knowledge over a wide variety of topics. You want a coach who specializes in helping someone like you to reach your specific goals, right? So for example, when I talk about me being the weight loss coach for runners, I say it like that for a reason. It’s because I specialize in being the weight loss coach for runners.
I don’t know of anybody else who really specializes in this particular area of coaching. As far as I know, I’m the only weight loss coach for runners. Now, there might be others. But no one does it quite like I do, I know that for sure. Okay.
But that’s just an example, like, find a coach who specializes in helping somebody like you reach your specific goals, right, because you want to find the expert in your area, you know, whatever it is that you’re looking for, okay.
And again, it doesn’t have to be me, I want you to understand how powerful coaching can be, I want you to understand that, you know, you just need to have this criteria for deciding if coaching is a good fit for you or not, it’s not for everyone. Some people don’t want that accountability. They want to just do it on their own. And that’s fine. And that used to be me, my mantra was always ‘I will figure it out myself’.
And when that strategy stopped working for me, and I decided to reach out and get help and get a coach, it really changed everything. For me, it’s absolutely been one of the most powerful things I’ve ever done for myself, okay. So listen, if you’re a runner, and you’d like to get the weight problem solved for good, and you want a coach to help get you there, I want to encourage you to find someone to help you, right?
And if you want to work with me, I would absolutely love that. And I will invite you to apply for coaching, right? Fill out an application, you and I will get on a short Zoom call. We’ll talk about your goals and we’ll see if coaching is a good fit for you. Okay, I would love to be your guide.
I would love to help you lose the weight and show you how to do it without all the struggle and frustration. So if you’re ready for some realistic lifestyle changes, mindset shifts, and sustainable results. Then just go to runningleancoaching.com/apply. And let’s get started. Love you all keep on Running Lean. Talk to you soon.
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