The 3 biggest road blocks to weight loss and how to break through them

adkarI want to lose weight/run faster/get stronger, and generally I know what I need to do to achieve that goal (eat less, move more, lift weight, run fast), but I just don’t know how to make it happen with everything going on in my life.

Does that statement ring true for you at all?

If so, welcome to step three or four of Prosci’s ADKAR process for managing change!

In my other life (the one outside of fitness and health blogging and personal training), I’m an internal  communications and change manager professional for a large organization, and was thinking the other day how a model we use for managing change within the organization — called ADKAR — could totally be applied to fitness and health.

Me at work. Just kidding, I'm more like Milton.

Me at work. Just kidding, I’m more like Milton.

You see, a personal trainer or strength coach is kind of like a change manager: We help our clients work through a change to achieve their desired outcomes or goals. In the case of business, this is usually financial success. In the case of fitness, this is usually weight loss, an improvement in aesthetics or an improvement in overall health and wellness.

So what does this jargony acronym mean? Here’s a description of ADKAR from Prosci’s website:

Prosci’s ADKAR Model is an individual change management model. It outlines the five building blocks of successful change, whether that change occurs at home, in the community or at work. The name “ADKAR” is an acronym based on the five building blocks:

A   Awareness of the need for change

D   Desire to participate and support the change

K   Knowledge on how to change

A   Ability to implement required skills and behaviors

R   Reinforcement to sustain the change

ADKAR can definitely be applied to the fitness industry, and can help you (or your client, if you’re a personal trainer) identify what the biggest roadblocks to achieving your desired health outcome might be and how you can break through them.

Curious as to what these roadblocks might be for you? Try the ADKAR assessment on yourself. Grab a pen and paper and answer the following questions. Rank each question on a scale of 1 to 5.


First, briefly describe the change you would like to see (lose body fat, improve strength, get healthier, look and feel better, etc.). Then, list the reasons why you think this change is necessary. Review the reasons and ask yourself how important you feel these reasons are to you in the scope of your daily life. Rank on a scale of 1 – 5.


Next, list the factors and and consequences (both good and bad) that would result if you made this change. Review the factors and consequences and rate your level of desire for this change on a scale of 1 – 5.


Now, list the skills and knowledge you believe you need to make the change. Rank your level of knowledge about how to achieve your desired outcome on a scale of 1 – 5.


Consider the skills and knowledge you listed above. To what degree are you able to act on these skills? Are their any barriers getting in the way of you achieving your desired outcome? Rank your level of ability (willpower) to make the change on a scale of 1 – 5.


Finally, list the reinforcements that will help you make the change. Are there incentives that would help you make the change stick? (For example, winning prizes, clothes fitting better, running a goal race, etc.)

Now take a look at your scores for each section. Highlight those areas that scored three or less and identify which is the first area in the ADKAR acronym with a score of three or less.

Assessing your results

If you’re reading this, I have a feeling you are already well aware of the change you want to make and have a moderate to high level of desire in doing so. If you scored a three or less on knowledge (big roadblock number one), don’t worry — this is where a personal trainer or strength coach can help! Prosci names four tactics to help people develop the knowledge they need to make the change: effective training and education, reference aides (like forms and check lists), one-on-one coaching and user groups and forums. A personal trainer or coach can help give you the information you need to reach your health and wellness goals, can provide one-on-one coaching, and act as a resource when problems arise. Joining an online or in-person group or forum with peers who have similar goals (weight loss group, running group, wellness group, etc.) is also helpful.

If you feel you already have the knowledge you need to make the change (I know I need to eat healthier; I know if I track my calories and stay under 2,200 calories per day I’ll lose weight; I know if I run three times per week I’ll be able to run a 5K) but just can’t seem to DO it, you may have scored low on ability (big roadblock number two). Again, this is where a personal trainer or coach comes in. Prosci lists the day-to-day today involvement of a coach as a key factor in helping increase the ability to make the desired change. Having a coach be involved throughout the process creates a safe environment for you to learn new skills and behaviours and provides an opportunity for ongoing support. Another key factor listed is performance monitoring, which is another tool personal trainers and coaches use to measure the success of the change (body fat assessments, athletic assessments and testing, and weight and size measurements, for example).

If you scored a three or less on reinforcement (big roadblock number three), here’s where a coach or an online or in-person group or forum can be very helpful. Making a change — especially when it comes to your health and well-being — is a big deal, and one that should be celebrated along the way. Even small successes, like including vegetables in every meal for a week, is a huge accomplishment. A coach or trainer and a group of like-minded peers can help reinforce the change by supporting you and providing you with feedback and accountability.

And on that note of successfully working through the reinforcement phase of a change: I will be setting up another private Koru Personal Training Facebook challenge group for January 2016 where participants can join in on weekly fitness, nutrition and mindfulness challenges all month long. I hosted on last year with about seven people and had several participants continue on with training, including one amazing client who just completed her first 5K race last month! An exercise program tailored to all levels will be provided, as well as basic nutrition guidelines and meal plans, support, accountability and encouragement. Participants in the challenge group are also encouraged to share their progress and help motivate others — the more you engage and participate in each challenge and with each other, the more entries you will get to enter to win a prize. The group registration fee is $20. If you are interested in joining the challenge, please fill out this form. If five or more participants are interested, you will receive an email with further details on how to register. 

What did you score on the ADKAR Assessment? What did you identify as your biggest road blocks to weight loss (or anything related to health, happiness or fitness that you’d like to change)? If you’ve come up against these challenges in the past, how did you break through them?