I had a client who signed up for coaching a few months ago but then went dark.

I finally heard back from him:

“My motivation is low right now. I have no real excuse, I just can’t bring myself to do all the work.”

I get this more than I care to admit — a sign it’s partly my fault.

Because it’s NOT a motivation issue. It’s a frustration and overwhelm issue.

As much as I try to start people at a level of exercise, nutrition, and accountability they can easily handle, I still sometimes overestimate their ability to take on this or that program.

To be fair to me, they usually do as well, especially if they’re unaware of how close to the brink they’re currently operating.

So it’s a delicate balance for me: I don’t want to overwhelm someone, but I also don’t want to underestimate them or even inadvertently make them feel like they’re the dumb kid in class just because I’m trying to account for things like their lifestyle, their years training, and other important contextual info.

There’s another wrinkle: folks don’t realize that you don’t have to hit all the targets to make progress, and some of the targets aren’t even a requirement. At least not directly.

This is what I sent back:

First: I don’t really believe in motivation, at least not that you’re losing it.

You are motivated. If you weren’t you wouldn’t have signed up in the first place. And I doubt you suddenly don’t want to lose fat and look and feel healthier & better.

I think you’re FRUSTRATED.

You were given a set of things to do, and they were perhaps more demanding than you had time for.

Still, you tried, hit some targets but failed to hit others. Then life happened, you got sidetracked and now you feel behind and out of step, maybe even thinking you’re not cut out for this fat loss stuff.


First, it’s key is to know that even modest effort is better than NOTHING. And doing a little will still lead to meaningful progress.

To recap, here’s the bare bones of what I asked you to do:


– lifting 3 x a week
– walking 20-30 mins a day
– some fast biking on days you don’t lift (optional)


– eating the right amount of calories
– having the right food around and ready to prepare
– avoiding snacking and drinks that contain calories
– limiting off diet meals to once a week


– managing stress (exercise & structure helps)
– good sleep
– consistent sleep/wake, meal, and exercise times
– limiting alcohol

Now, if you nail all of that, your success is 99% guaranteed.

But you don’t HAVE to nail all of it to make headway. This isn’t a zero-sum proposition. You can make huge progress with:

– lifting 2 x a week, biking once, walking 3 x a week
– eating a calorie controlled breakfast & lunch, and then doing your best at dinner.
– having only one drink a day

Because ANYTHING is better than standing still, and its also progress we can build on.

Notice what IS NOT on the list? The tracking & logging.

You DO NOT NEED TO TRACK TO MAKE PROGRESS. Nor does logging everything guarantee progress.


– the more you track, the “smarter” you will get when it comes to food vs. calories and your own hunger

– those who track & check in with me make the best progress. It’s not even close.

– the more you check in with me with data, the more I can help you. Again, not even close.

– nobody needs to track all year. Some want to, that’s cool. But if you do it just once, you learn the skill, and then it’s yours forever, to use when you want to “take your body somewhere.”

Now, if you just can’t track there’s a workaround: a simple food log. Keep it on Notes. A good example:

Weight: 199BF: 3 eggs, 2 slices toast, coffee
Snack: 2 mini yogurts (100 cals each)
Lunch: Palm size portion chicken, fist size portion rice, green beans, water, coffee
Snack: Apple, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 15 nuts
Dinner: Homemade chicken quesadillas. I had two wraps (100 cals each) and each filled with around a palm size portion of chicken breast. Salsa & fat free cheese.
Snack: 1 Heineken, handful of nachos. I cut it off there.”

BOOM. Done. Do that every day. Email me all 7 days on Monday morning, along with your current waist.

That’s all you need to do to get the ball rolling fast. And once it’s second nature, we start adding to it.

Can you do that?

I haven’t heard back yet but I know it will be yes. I’m not gonna start underestimating him now.