How to Get Your Clients to Meal Prep

Image of Jen Broxterman

Tiffy (00:02):

It’s one thing to tell your clients what to eat, but getting them to make lasting lifestyle changes is another story entirely. The COVID crisis through us all for a loop, the new normal has left many of our clients scrambling. They may be off their regular routines. The future looks uncertain and they’re stress eating to cope. The good news? There are simple changes they can make today that will set them up for success. They just might need a little push in the right direction.

Chris (00:30):

Before we continue, I’d like to mention that this episode of Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Wodify. Wodify is an all in one solution for member management, appointment scheduling and tracking. Wodify’s insights tool includes the business health dashboard co-developed with Two-Brain to provide average revenue per member, length of engagement and more key metrics. Gym owners, to receive 20% off your first year of Wodify Core visit

Tiffy (00:57):

This is Two-Brain Radio. I’m Tiffy Thompson. Getting clients to change how and what they eat can be a challenge. But habits based nutrition coaching is proving to be one of the best ways you can help them reach their goals. Today I’m joined by Jennifer Broxterman, a registered dietician and creator of Two-Brain Coaching’s nutrition coaching course. We’re going to chat about this new approach to nutrition, coaching, what to say and what not to say to your clients. And we’ll talk about exactly how you can motivate people for the long haul. Jen. Welcome.

Jen (01:32):

Thank you.

Tiffy (01:33):

So you’re a registered dietician. In your nutrition coaching course, you outline how good nutrition relies on forming good habits and meal prep is one of those habits and it doesn’t even have to involve eat this particular food in this quantity. Why has in your opinion, nutrition coaching evolved from the days of eat 200 grams of spinach eat 400 grams of protein.

Jen (02:01):

I think because when you look at a real human in this really messy world, especially since COVID has hit, we are not can follow instructions on a piece of paper and we execute like robots. We have new schedules, we’ve got children, we’ve got demands. Like there’s just so much to juggle that it’s not like you’re programming, you know, deadlift this weight five by 10 reps, or do these pull-up progressions this by this, on this tempo. Food is a lot more nuanced. And I think the really great nutrition coaches that are out there have recognized this for a long time, that operate on a spectrum. Some days we eat a little bit better. Some days we eat a little bit worse. We obviously have this goal to move ourselves in the direction of health, but perfection, which is what that very macro or calorie or number specific coaching doesn’t actually work for most people in real life with our real life nuances. Right?

Tiffy (03:00):

I’ve never batch-cooked in my life. I pretty much rather do anything else on my day off. Why do you think people are reluctant to kind of get started prepping their meals? And what are the biggest misconception you’ve encountered when talking to clients about meal prep?

Jen (03:12):

Absolutely. Like in your own brain, I’m going to make an assumption. You’ve probably made it really big and scary and really bland and boring. Like you’re envisioning what a bodybuilder does and eats. So they’ve got their 200 grams of spinach weighed out and they’ve got their boiled bland chicken breasts, and they’ve got their plain brown rice and it’s really labor intensive and really unappealing to eat. That’s what I think a lot of people have as their vision when they hear batch cooking. But let me give you a couple examples of what this might look like using habit based nutrition coaching in real life. Batch cooking might mean make dinner for your family as you would, but make just a couple of extra portions that you tuck away into a little glass dish and you pop in the freezer for a day that you need a lunch in a pinch.

Jen (04:00):

It might mean that you get a little cooking group with your friends. So this is something I do at our gym with two of my buddies. We have a once a month standing date for basically a food swap. I got the idea at Christmas time from a cookie exchange, except we did it with healthy food. So instead of us each batch cooking a dozen cookies and then trading cookies with one another, what we decided to do was each of us cook one meal and make basically 15 portions of the same flavor. So there’s three of us in our group. I made 15, my friend made 15 and my friend other friends made 15 portions. So say it was like chilli, little mini meatloaves with like brussels sprouts and carrots and parsnip pieces and maybe another friend made a healthy quiche with green beans.

Jen (04:47):

What we then did is we met at the gym on a Saturday, brought our freezer bags and we just swapped five, five, five. So I kept five of my meal. You would keep five of your flavor. The third friend would keep five of hers and we each got five flavors of the other two people’s cooking. And I’m a big fan of social pressure to get myself to do stuff. That’s why I go to a group CrossFit class and I don’t train on my own. I need other people around me to encourage good habits. So by having a deadline and what we just started to do with scheduling this in our calendar once a month, and by knowing that you don’t really want your recipe to be the one that sucks in the group, you put a little bit more effort. There’s that social pressure to try.

Jen (05:29):

And we just had an unwritten agreement that it was half veggies, some kind of high quality starch and a lean protein. And we’re pretty strict that there’s not too many food restrictions. So don’t form groups where it’s like, can’t be spicy, has to be vegan. And also gluten-free. My one friend has celiac. So ours is a strict gluten free group, but that’s the only restriction we impose on our cooking. Otherwise anything goes. So that could be a version of what batch cooking looks like. And another third solution is what I call the tax accountant solution. And I’m actually also employing this right now for myself like this week. So I’ve been a little bit burnt out on even my own stuff that I cook for myself. I have just paid a local chef who has been a little bit down on his luck with COVID, but I know he’s an amazing chef and makes really healthy dishes.

Jen (06:21):

So I have those little glass Pyrex, three cup prep containers, and I just dropped 20 of them off at his house and asked him to make four different flavors of meals and five portions of each one. And I said, surprise me. I don’t even really care what it is. Just please make it half veggies, some healthy carbs, some lean protein that it can reheat well in the microwave, he charged us like 20 or 25 bucks an hour for his time. So it ends up, it takes him two hours of his time per month cost me like 40 or 50 bucks and the cost of groceries and like a tax accountant, I don’t have to file my taxes. I can get my accountant and pay someone to do that. So those are some of the misconceptions with meal planning is it’s this like five hour weekly, giant laborous task that you’re going to then eat plain boring food, like a bodybuilder, or those are just a couple ideas where you make a regular dinner and cook a couple extra portions. You find some friends to switch with, or you give yourself permission to pay for help. So then you’re paying to have a healthy environment around you and that feeds good nutrition choices.

Tiffy (07:27):

Let’s talk about helping our clients take action. How do you get people initially interested in prepping their meals? Like what, how do you get them to buy in and actually start changing their behavior?

Jen (07:37):

A couple of things that I often like to pose as a question is talking about how different types of food choices make people feel. When you go back to sort of thinking about when I eat this way, do I have more energy? Do I, you know, feel better in my workouts? Do I feel more comfortable in my own skin? Or if I eat this other way, how does that make me feel? So without judgment, I like to use the three words. Can we be curious? Can we be kind, and can we be honest? And so we might have them look at a food diary over the last couple of days and just sort of go when you had that lunch, where you ran around the corner and got takeout and ran through the Wendy’s drive-through how did you feel that afternoon when you were working or when you ordered Uber eats for dinner?

Jen (08:18):

How did that feel that night trying to go to sleep and the next morning, and then, you know, when we look at the meal where maybe you’ve got the grocery store to help, but you got a bag salad and a roast chicken to go, and they predone the sweet potatoes for you and you ate that for lunch. Like how did that feel? So we start by getting them to look at how food connects to feeling and sort of looking for patterns and bright spots. Like when did they eat one way that they felt a little bit better? Where did they eat another way that they felt a little bit worse? And then the next step is I like to get them to think about it on a continuum. So, you know, you’re probably thinking of perfect Polly way at 10 at a time on the continuum who has organic spinach and everything’s the right portion.

Jen (08:58):

And she makes it all from scratch every week. Most people aren’t going to be able to hit perfect Polly’s lifestyle. So I think of it like a continuum of zero to a hundred where you help the client look at well, what does just a little bit better look like? And it’s OK. A lot of people don’t give themselves permission to get help. So for example, asking a chef to come in and help with my lunches seems really indulgent. But when you look at the cost of eating out, you’re technically paying someone to help you that way. Why not spend 50 bucks for 20 lunches plus the cost of groceries? Like to me, that’s good paying for help. Maybe paying for help is you get a pre-done Greek salad from the grocery store. And yeah, the dressing that comes with it isn’t the best in the world.

Jen (09:43):

But you know what? You still had peppers and tomatoes and greens and good food for your body. So helping people look at food prep, it can be along a continuum and people don’t have to aim for perfect Polly at a 10 at a 10. It might mean that food prep is you buy a bunch of salads from the grocery store and the roast chicken. And you set aside some of those as your lunch meals for the week, or maybe it’s a picnic lunch where you do finger foods, some hard boiled eggs and pieces of cheese and cut up veggies and little bits of fruits and a handful of nuts. And you can make little containers of like a picnic lunch, not perfect, but it’s pretty darn good. And going to get you feeling better through the day with your nutrition choices.

Chris (10:24):

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Tiffy (11:07):

Are there other specific tactics you can kind of introduce to your clients like buying like containers or doing it all on the same day or the same time? Like what are, what are little tips?

Jen (11:19):

Logistics are everything when it comes to success. So one of the things I actually do get people to think about is, do you have the right cook/glassware to be able to store food that you prep? A lot of people only have a couple random Tupperware containers, you know, in the backs of their cupboards with missing lids. So that’s one of the first barriers to batch food cooking or food prep is that they just don’t have the right tools. So one thing I get clients to look at is, you know, what is in your budget or what does your commitment to this look like? So I know for us, we ended up just going on Amazon, Walmart, and we found these little glass oven, microwave dishwasher, safe dishes, but then I didn’t feel bad heating my food up in them.

Jen (12:00):

I knew the glass wasn’t going to be like a plastic where I had to be worried about bringing a backup, you know, thing to work to what I was gonna eat my food out of. And that, you know, 80 to a hundred dollar investment four years ago has actually saved me money from eating out because I just have them stack up in my cupboard, as I eat through them, they go back in and then I cook on my Saturday or Sunday, and then I fill them back up and they go back in my work freezer and my home freezer. So logistics of what are you going to cook in? What are you going to put it into is number one. And then number two is really protecting your schedule and where the light bulb moment for me was that clicked is back in the day. You know, when I was an athlete, I had all my workouts, my team practices scheduled.

Jen (12:43):

I knew when I was doing weights, when I was going to be on the water as a varsity rower and all of that, just my life fit around those non-negotiable workouts. And I realized as an adult, if I can find the time to find these non negotiable workout blocks, could I not find one or two hours a month? Just block off one little tiny nutrition workout. And that’s actually what I started labeling them in my calendar was my nutrition training session. And so as that started to come up in my Google calendar, I’d start to see it and go, Oh, OK, Wednesday, Thursday, I’m going to have to start to think about my ingredient list. What am I going to make this month? What do I want to cook on Sunday morning? And then I just treated it like a haircut or a doctor’s appointment.

Jen (13:26):

It was in my schedule. And even though we don’t like love going to the dentist to get our teeth cleaned. If it’s in your schedule, you make the time. You go to the dentist, you get your teeth cleaned. So I actually just started to own it that this was a nutrition workout, or it was a nutrition block that supported my athletic goals. And it just became this thing I scheduled once a month and then having the accountability of a group waiting on my batch cooking to be ready. Holy smokes does peer pressure make you step up your game because I’d probably skip it every now and again, if I didn’t have two friends depending on my food,

Tiffy (14:02):

This might lead into my next question, which is—so we’ve been going through this pandemic for coming up on like six months now. People are, I get a sense that people are kind of hitting a wall. And how do you motivate people who are feeling depleted and exhausted and now it’s back to school and it just, all of these pressures, what has this sort of crisis taught you about how to relate to your nutrition clients and how do you keep helping them, even when they’re so depleted?

Jen (14:33):

Yeah, I think a word I’d like to pull out for this conversation or topic is the word gentleness or kindness right now, no one would have put this down on their five year plan five years ago, that this is the year they were going to take on and try to get through. There are businesses looking at bankruptcy or going out of business. There are, you know, owners trying to make sure they’ve got jobs for their employees. There is very precarious employment for a lot of people right now. It is incredibly stressful. So I think the first step is just showing yourself grace and compassion that we are in a monster of a storm that no one would have ever predicted we’d be in. And your best right now might look different than your best of 2019 or your best in the past or what your best in the future is going to look like.

Jen (15:21):

So I like the phrase of, you know, do the best you can, where you are with what you have, but give yourself a lot of grace and compassion that we are not looking for perfect this year. Good enough really can be good enough. And on some days that’s maybe getting healthier takeout. That’s maybe buying the veggie tray that’s done for you. You know, for some people like food security is a really big issue. And so what’s going to be good enough might not be the organic spinach because they can’t afford to put that in their smoothie right now, due to the circumstance that they find themselves in. So I think that compassion and that kindness, and as opposed to like, I’ll get back on track when, and always deferring the ‘I’ll get back on track’ to a better time—what you really want to do is the reframe of ‘What’s the best I can do today?'”

Jen (16:07):

Or what’s just a little, you know, a little thing towards my health. And another tip I’d like to give is sometimes the win can come in a different area. Like maybe workouts are just sucking right now. And it’s really hard. Your gym has been closed. You’re in a part of the world that you know, is in lockdown. Maybe right now you get a win from sleeping a little bit more because you don’t have that commute to your job. And so, yeah, you’re not as fit. Yeah. Your muscles have atrophied a little bit. Maybe your nutrition isn’t as on point, but maybe you can get a better night’s sleep and a walk around the block after dinner. So sometimes if you’re losing in one area, you can look for little wins in another area, maybe it’s you start taking three deep breaths a few times through the day, and it’s not perfect meditation, but it’s something. Always something versus all or nothing approach.

Tiffy (16:55):

And continuing to look for that, that bright spot basically.

Jen (16:59):


Tiffy (16:59):

Jen, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to join me today. It’s been a pleasure as always.

Jen (17:04):

Thank you.

Tiffy (17:05):

This is Two-Brain Radio, I’m Tiffy Thompson. We’ve been talking nutrition coaching with Jennifer Broxterman, the founder of Nutrition RX, and creator of Two-Brain coaching’s new nutrition course. To check it out. Twobrain Want more actual advice based on data? Check out Gym Owners United group on Facebook in it you’ll find daily tactics from Chris Cooper, as well as the support of a host of business owners from all over the world. That group is Gym Owners United on Facebook. Join today. Thanks for tuning into Two-Brain Radio. Please subscribe for more episodes wherever you get your podcasts.


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