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Aug. 28 2023 08:46 AM

Introducing periodization for client longevity

Screenshot 2023-08-28 at 10.53.05 AM

Are you burning out as a result of client turnover? Reduce the stress and overhead of acquiring new leads — and keep current clients on the roster long-term by helping them see results year-round, with lifestyle integration. Talk about a win-win.

It’s time for a new approach to fostering client longevity: nutritional periodization. This simply means, with every active fat loss phase must come a recovery phase, a build phase and a habit-creating phase. These other phases besides fat loss are often-overlooked elements of weight loss, especially for those on a mission to lean down within a particular timeframe. Too often, we don’t take the time to let our bodies recover from a fat loss phase, and we let it go on too long. This causes burnout, frustration, and — at worst — gaining all the weight back and eventually having to start from square one again.

By implementing nutritional periodization, you can not only help your clients achieve their desired results for the long haul but also create extremely happy long-term clients who will continue to see progress and growth with your guidance. So, how does this approach work? Let’s look at how it can be applied specifically to the goal of fat loss and improved aesthetics.

Achieving Homeostasis

When aiming to achieve fat loss, it's important to keep in mind that there must be a recovery phase to restore proper hormonal function and bring the body back to homeostasis. This is where nutritional periodization comes in. By categorizing dietary pursuits into seasons — in season, post-season, off-season and pre-season — clients can achieve their goals while still allowing for proper recovery and restoration of homeostasis.

All too often, I see clients hire a coach to help them reach their goals, but then immediately end the positive relationship once they’ve reached their goals. But with nutritional periodization, you can not only help your client achieve their goals but sustain their results. So, let’s review what each season would look like with your clients so that you can create long term plans and clients.   

In-Season

During the in-season, clients will be in the active pursuit of change and focused on achieving their fat loss goals. Goals may be: prepping for a photoshoot, wanting to be confident and look smashing in a swimsuit, fitting into a wedding dress, or just simply wanting to appear and feel their best.

Pursuit of fat loss will require a caloric deficit with an adequate amount of protein. Performance output is not an emphasis in this phase; maintaining lean muscle will be the only goal. Biofeedback markers like sleep, digestion, energy levels, libido, mood, hunger and recovery decline during this phase as stress on the body is high. The in-season is complete once the client has reached their goal date — the wedding day, vacation or photoshoot, for instance.

Post-Season

Your client’s in-season phase should always be followed by a post-season phase, during which your client will actively and adequately recover from the demands of the previous season. If you fail to encourage your client to go into a post-season and instead continue to push an in-season lifestyle, this is bound to become a major stressor on the body. So, instead, the client must be focused on recovery and enabling a return to homeostatic balance.

As humans we have a natural set point and any navigations from that set point will yield adaptations. Adaptations are a normal part of the process, as they allow your client to become "adapted" — this will hinder any future fat loss pursuits. In order to return to your natural set point or homeostatic balance you will need to slowly increase calories over time until you bring calories back to maintenance calories. Training performance will potentially have to increase, as you adequately start fueling the body. However, training performance should not be the emphasis of this phase. Instead, the focus is physiological, with restoration of metabolism and hormones. We don't want to push the limits of performance during this phase as we want maximum desired outcomes of a future in-season phase. We need to give the body time to fully recover!

Off-Season

Next comes the off-season, during which your clients can focus on strength and skill acquisition; the goal is overall improvement. Training performance will increase, as you will be consuming more fuel to build lean muscle mass, with a target to improve on metabolic capacity and find balance between fitness and life. This is where the client learns to bridge the gap between diet and life. They’ll improve metabolic capacity by gaining more lean muscle during this phase, so that they can enjoy eating even more calories when they go back into the in-season phase.

Pre-Season

Finally, the pre-season is a time to transition physically and mentally towards the demands of the upcoming in-season period. Reintroducing season-specific activities, like more precision with tracking your food (measuring), is a great idea during this period of time. It’s also the perfect time to mentally start preparing for hard work ahead. If done correctly, this will alleviate the difficulty usually associated with the first few weeks of dieting.

It’s a Lifestyle

These seasons aren't just for contest athletes — they can be applied to anyone seeking real and lasting results. This is where, “It’s a lifestyle,” vividly comes into play. By implementing nutritional periodization and allowing for proper stress and recovery periods, your clients can achieve their goals while maintaining their health and avoiding burnout.

So, if you're looking to establish long-term clients who will continue to see progress and growth with your guidance, and to avoid your own personal burnout from constantly hustling to acquire new clients, consider implementing nutritional periodization into your approach. Your clients — and you — will be eternally grateful you did.

Sara Frenza is a mom to two girls, nutrition and body transformation coach, published fitness model, two-time cover model, writer and owner of Sara Frenza Fitness and Nutrition. With her 1:1 coaching program she helps chronic dieting women get into shape without restrictive dieting or hours of cardio through her exclusive metabolic “Restore, Lean Out and Sustain” body transformation protocol that gets women results forever! Visit her on Instagram @sara_frenza.