How Online Weight Loss Coaching Differs from Other Methods


Nagina Abdullah


February 21, 2022

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I am an online weight loss coach. I provide my services in a virtual setting to women across the United States and teach them how to change the way they think about food. This mindset change is achieved through one-on-one coaching, customized meal plans, online trainings and participation in virtual group meetings. By recalibrating how the mind perceives food, my clients are able to attain sustained weight loss and weight management.

When I explain that the end goal of my programs is to change mindsets, I’m often asked – how is this possible when you never meet your clients in person? Many think mindset change can only be accomplished through a hands-on, in-person coaching experience.

Others think the whole idea of “mindset change” is nonsense, and that weight loss can be achieved so long as you force yourself to consume specific foods.

Though these methods may seem like good approaches to weight loss, each has pitfalls that are rarely discussed. It’s time for some real talk about Weight Watchers, personal trainers, dieticians, and the dozens of home delivery meal plans on the market, and why their promises of long-term weight loss often fail to deliver.

1.    Online Weight Loss Coaching vs. In-Person Weight Loss Professionals

I’ll start with the obvious reason why online coaching beats out in-person coaching:

Online coaching is way, way more convenient.

Most people struggle with weight loss because they do not have time to make it a priority. My clients are busy women with careers who are juggling work, kids, the home, and the hundreds of responsibilities that come with the mental load of family life. The ability to spare a few hours every week to see a personal trainer at the gym or meet in person with a dietician is a luxury most women don’t have; it’s the first thing that gets axed when a meeting runs over, or an unexpected obligation presents itself.

With online weight loss coaching, you can meet your coach anywhere and on any device with an internet connection. You can easily access trainings and attend online group meetings. There are a plethora of tools that are available whenever it fits into your schedule.

So now you may be thinking, can’t I meet with a dietician or nutritionist online?

This is true, but here is the pitfall with these types of weight loss professionals:

Dieticians and nutritionists provide a one-size fits all diet plan that promotes disordered eating.

Disordered eating is another term for yo-yo dieting, and it happens when people develop a negative relationship with food. Many nutritionists and dieticians concentrate on restricting foods – they tell you not to eat dairy, or sugar, or carbs, but they don’t tell you how to replace the foods you’re eliminating. Their diet for you is all about what you can’t eat instead of what you can eat, which turns food into an obstacle.

Furthermore, the meal plans most dieticians and nutritionists provide are generalized. They don’t survey their clients to find out what they like or don’t like and instead force a predetermined diet on them.

Many of my clients come from cultures that place an emphasis on cooking and eating specific spices, foods and beverages. These clients require a customized meal plan that incorporates the cuisines they grew up eating and still love. Most dieticians and nutritionists fail to do this. A client recently came to me after working with a nutritionist for over 6 months and lamented the following: “I couldn’t eat bread, I couldn’t eat pizza, I couldn’t eat pasta. I was expected to only eat cauliflower rice for the rest of my life.” A life without carbs is no way to realistically live. MasalaBody’s online weight loss programs realize this, and that’s why I customize a food system for my clients that lets them keep the foods they love in their diets.

2.    Online Weight Loss Coaching vs. In-Person Group Coaching

I’ve already established that online weight loss coaching offers a necessary convenience if you’re a busy person and need a realistic way to lose weight.

But now we need to address the dark side of in-person group coaching (programs like Weight Watchers).

In short, there’s a strong chance you’ll be faced with the judgment of your peers when you attend in-person group coaching.

I’ve heard many horror stories about the judgment hurled at in-person group weight loss meetings. For newbies, there’s an assumption that anyone in a group weight loss program possesses empathy for their cohorts and will refrain from criticism. This is far, far from the case; a big contingent of Weight Watchers is accountability, and judgment is not only permitted, it’s encouraged. If you go weeks without losing weight, you’ll likely start hearing criticisms from your cohorts. Weight loss is not linear and it’s common to go multiple weeks without noticeable weight loss, so this is an unfair – and pointless – way to keep people accountable to their weight loss goals. But that won’t stop group members from side-eyeing you as you walk across the room to be weighed.

Even the “skinny” people receive judgment at in-person group programs. If you are deemed not overweight enough, it will get thrown in your face. “You’re skinny, you don’t even need to be here,” is a refrain my smaller clients have had snarled at them at these in-person group meetings.

This unwanted and unhelpful criticism is a big reason why MasalaBody’s clients flock to our programs. When you join the online group meetings, you can show as much or as little of your body as you want onscreen. We also push a strict “no judgment zone” rule. Your cohorts are not responsible for keeping you accountable and have no reason to make you feel bad about your weight.

In a recent online MasalaBody group meeting, one woman shared something she was struggling to manage with the group: she was going on vacation and was worried her husband or travel companions would guilt her into eating foods outside of her meal plan. The members in that meeting – 20 to 30 highly-educated women from all over the country – shared similar experiences and were able to give powerful advice to help the vacation-goer maintain healthy eating in the face of unsupportive family and friends. These are the kind of experiences you want and need in any group setting when you’re trying to lose weight.

3.    Online Weight Loss Coaching vs. Meal Delivery Programs

It has become a trend to use home-delivery meal kits as a form of dieting. You know the ones – HelloFresh, BlueApron, Sunbasket, etc. You sign-up for a subscription and a box containing the ingredients for a weeks’ worth of meals show up to your door. The meals purport to be healthy, and because they’re expensive, perishable, and non-refundable, you’re motivated to eat what’s delivered rather than get greasy take-out. 

But the problem with relying on home delivery food plans, or any program that expects you to eat pre-packaged foods, is that you are not learning what foods boost your metabolism. Again, true weight loss is rooted in mindset. A big part of my programs is that you learn through customized meal planning what foods work with your physiology to boost your metabolism and help you lose weight without feeling deprived. These learnings are integral to changing your mindset – to achieve true success with your weight loss journey, you need to be an active participant in it, and not let someone or something else do the thinking for you.

Though these three methods I’ve discussed may work for some, if you’re a busy individual looking for sustained weight loss, an online weight loss coach is the way to go.

If you are interested in losing weight permanently with MasalaBody’s online weight loss programs, apply here!

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Nagina Sethi Abdullah, BA, MBA

Nagina Abdullah is a health coach for middle-aged women and professionals. She coaches women to boost their metabolism naturally, shed pounds and keep them off. Her work with weight loss clients led to the creation of Masala Body, an online weight loss platform that provides an easy and accessible system that helps women sustainably lose weight. She has helped over 1200 women successfully lose from 10-80 lbs and create a sustainable lifestyle change. Nagina earned her degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley.

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