Change habits with Interviewing

All motivational interviewing begins with a purpose. That purpose is a general one, to build up lots of awareness in your trainees.

Despite the athletic prowess of some of your trainees, most are unaware of the nuances of their eating habits, I’ve gathered in training for 18 years.

So neophyte exercisers and elite athletes alike often look to coaches to boost their awareness about how and why they choose to eat certain foods in the scope of their new found fitness goals.

It certainly sounds easy, but motivational interviews make your trainees:

  • More confident
  • More aware of their eating habits
  • Safe – gives them time to explain their plights.

MI is a four part process.  While the order of the steps is not crucial, I thiknk it’s important to start with the EE stage. And yes, each one of the stages of a food habits motivational interview is a double letter alliteration which makes it easier to remember.

They are:

  • EE – engaging empathy – starting a trust cycle with your trainees
  • DD – developing distance – showing them goals are time oriented
  • RR – roll with resistance – adjust to barriers and rough changes
  • SS – Support self-interest – boosting confidence in trainees which doubles down on their successes.


Assessment rulers and scorecard

Stewart, E. PhD, and Chester Fox, MD, Encouraging Patients to Change Unhealthy Behaviors With Motivational Interviewing Fam Pract Manag. 2011 May-June;18(3):21-25.


Who is the target?

Coaches, online and in-personal personal trainers
Strength & Conditioning Coaches
Nutrition coaches, dieticians
Pilates, movement specialists & yoga instructors
Sport coaches – collegiate and professional
Fitness bloggers
Combat sport trainers and coaches


And, all fitness organizations will honor courses like this via write-in explanation.

Learning Hours?

This course is 1 hour. It includes:
3 downloadable pdf handouts
1080p video access can be viewed on all your devices as on-demand
Requires a quiz
Has a 10 day-money back guarantee
Leaving reviews & feedback is not required but welcome!

Accredited by:

ACE Fitness 0.1 CEC  (2021) NASM (2021 – pre-approved) AFAA (2021 – pre-approved)

Motivate your Body

Engaging empathy and focusing on current Challenges

Engaging empathy is your opportunity to build a foundation with trainees.

So much of how the past shape our very human decisions make this phase of coaching important. Empathy matters becasue eating with emotion – habitulally – often dominates HOW we eat even in the light of new goals.

Emotional eating is not just the domain of a certain gender creed, code or ethics. I’ve seen all manner of person succumb to a benign emotional meal or many. They rum gamuts from hi level athletes to weight loss trainees.

Aid your trainees by asking open questions and investigating on the past failures of diets. Then explain the prospect of future responses.

Also, we figure the many reasons why people might find it nearly impossible to stick to eating plans.

  • Poverty
  • Dieting failures
  • Over-analysis of food
  • Disorders

These reasons create the space for coaches to empathically engage with trainees.

Resources & Printables

Creating quality Questions

Steps of a motivational Interview for food Habits

Developing distance from the NOW to the WIN

Fitness goals are timley. In order for our goals to remain fresh and present – real – you should inspire your trainees.

One way to refresh their goals is to remind them about the impetus for that goal.

Instead of simply mentioning their goals, we must inspire the spirit behind those goals. Developing distance execute this by re-imagining, for your trainees, the goals in the present form.

“Distance” has everything to do with not feet or yards, but time. This is because goals are time-sensitive. Even our least ambitious goals are measured against the backdrop of timing. As such, distance always engages your trainees to reach new and fun heights by showing them the truth in their goals.

Food habit and fitness goals must be SMART – an acronym which sets the watermark for all goals within fitness.

SMART fitness goals are:

  • a Stretch
  • Measurable
  • Accepted challenges
  • Realistic
  • Timely





Roll with resistance not wrestle with Changes

Rolling with Resistance means adjusting to the changes that occur when you change your eating habits.

Changing your eating is have a greater impact on the lives of you and your very close loved ones, for sure!

To this day, I notice how trainees often spend their time “worried” or enthused about the responses they get from their husband or girlfriend – it means A LOT to your trainees.

And, knowing there are many barriers to initial change is crucial. So too are knowing about the changes that occur during our trainees’ change cycle.

Things like:

  • Negativity
  • Cravings
  • Disordered eating
  • School and work deadlines
  • Stress

Will become ominous barrier to successful nutrition changes.

Stress can be reduced by being prepared. Most of your trainees will deal with stress from the outside. Establishing a routine is a smart counter.

Some people identify as vegans and vegetarians. As such, these people have to think about the portion sizes out as they eat.

Also, having a strong nutrition background through classes and honest talk with quality coaches builds skill.

We as quality coaches will understand how to respond to trainees’ concerns about the barriers they will have in order to roll with the spontaneous changes – not hold on to rigid beliefs.


Practice - Smart Responses

Unknown author, American Psychological Association

Support self-interest by building a Team

Supporting self-interest of your trainees involves giving them support in the terms of their change.

As coaches, you act as the leader of the change early on. LAter, your trainees will captain their own changes. You, however, are the first team member.

And yes, we do encourage our trainees to build a team. Even if that team only involves three people. You, coaches, are one of those first three folks. Beyond that, people will invite others.

It is cool to see even the more lowkey or taciturn type invite others into their journey.

  1. Build confidence
  2. Build skills
  3. Offer others to join
  4. Ask them to encourage others

One reason we need team around our trainees is to promote long term changes.

These long term changes are easier with the more success people see. And, the success that happens is buoyed by the team around them.


Conklin,A , et al. Jan 2014, “Social relationships and healthful dietary behaviour: Evidence from over-50s in the EPIC cohort” Soc Sci Med. 2014 Jan; 100(100): 167–175

MI to build food Awareness

Remember that changing your trainees food habits is a big change. In the midst of this change of habits, they are practicing.

They are trying out new cooking methods, new grocery stores and new conversation starters. This is where we have to be supportive and responsive to our trainees.

You will notice a big change in their food quality. This is due their need to achieve:

  • Goals
  • Caloric needs
  • Health needs and family history
  • Energy requirements
  • Allergies and avoidance

Encourage trainees to try out new type of foods and new methods to cook foods. This increases motivation awareness and confidence in changes.

Offering substitutions is the smartest way to build even more awareness.

Awareness is the main key of all food change MI.


K Resnicow et al. ” A motivational interviewing intervention to increase fruit and vegetable intake through Black churches: results of the Eat for Life trial ” (2001)
Am J Public Health Oct;91(10):1686-93.
doi: 10.2105/ajph.91.10.1686.

MI to build food Pride

Relapses are an ominous threat to the change cycles of trainees.

Acute or long term relapse is threat to a trainee who has stopped eating fast food daily, binge drinking, or now eats salads daily.

But, that is okay. Relapse is normal and can be recovered from.

Being present makes relapse not a catastrophe.