Increase Nutrition Challenge Engagement With These 5 Tips!

dietitians at HSN holding a banana in front of face

As we head into “the season”, gym owners and nutrition coaches around the world are prepping for the time of year when our clients are most motivated to make a change in their health and wellness. If the nutrition challenges you have run in the past are anything like the ones I have run, then I’m sure you can relate to the following scenario of increased nutrition challenge engagement at the beginning but decreased towards the middle and end.

During the first couple of weeks of the nutrition challenge, clients are HIGHLY engaged. Almost too engaged. There is a high level of stress related to grocery shopping, daily food challenges completed is at an all time high, clients promoting mindful eating with their family and colleagues is over the top, and all challenge participants are focused and prize driven.

girl cutting vegetables

Two weeks rolls around and the healthy behavior is starting to change a bit. There is less chatter amongst the challenge participants in the private group, the individual nutrition coaching questionnaire isn’t being filled out like it was at the beginning of the challenge, and we see some people struggle with consuming meals in general let alone balanced meals.

If you are in the nutrition coaching business and you can relate, then read on! In this article I will discuss some tips that can help keep your challenge participants engaged during the entire nutrition challenge!

And, if you are looking for some help running a nutrition challenge – I have you! By clicking the link below you will get access to our FREE training that will help you run a nutrition challenge in your facility!

Why Is Nutrition Challenge Engagement Important?

Like my short little story above, nutrition challenges are a great way to get clients excited about healthy eating and healthy behavior changes. But, because they haven’t developed the habits to keep them going long term, sometimes their motivation to stay on this track wains. This lack of motivation will yield limited nutrition challenge engagement.

Nutrition challenge engagement is important because when the clients motivation wains, we need little fun activities and tasks to help these clients stay motivated enough to see success. When they see success, their motivation to continue learning these healthy lifestyle changes grows.

Let’s get right into it!

Tip #1 - Nutrition Coaches And Staff Post In The Challenge Group Communication Platform

nutrition coach giving tips

Wether you are using a Facebook group or you are using an app like our Healthy Steps Nutrition app to communicate with your challengers, it’s very important that the coaches and leaders in the community show their progress. Clients look up to coaches in the gym and obviously the nutrition coaches running the challenge.

Posts should include…

  • Daily food challenges completed like a recipe made or a meal prepped

  • Coaches should be sparking engagement from other participants by asking questions such as “Who else had a win making a meal prep meal, or has anyone been to Costco to get their pulled rotisserie chicken?”

  • Nutrition coaches posting their exercise is also a great way to spark engagement

  • Commenting, asking questions and liking other participants posts is also a great way to reward engagement efforts

Tip #2 - Run Weekly Mini Challenges During Your Entire 28 Day Challenge

These weekly challenges are planned out ahead of time and are administered by the nutrition coaches running the challenge. How we like to deliver these are by video, a post in the challenge group platform and they are discussed in our weekly live sessions.

Each Sunday we deliver via the above stated methods a mini challenge related to a healthy habit. Some examples are…

  • Show us a picture of your grocery cart before checkout

  • Post a picture and tag us on social media a healthy meal you made

  • Make a post in the challenge group 3 ways you flavor your water to make it more appealing to drink that has lower sugar than a soda or juice

  • Name one food during the challenge you have tried that you have never eaten in the past

  • Take a picture of your full meal prep containers for the week and tag us on social

These mini challenges promote nutrition challenge engagement and are a key component in helping developing habits that stick. At the end of each week all mini challenge participant names are put in a hat and we do a drawing on Saturday morning for a winner. Prizes for these mini challenges come from our challenge sponsors.

You heard it correctly! We get local businesses typically related to health and wellness to sponsor our challenges. They typically donate prizes for the winners and also for these weekly mini challenges. Sponsors for us usually include…

  • Meal Prep Company partner

  • Local Restaurant partner

  • Coffee Shop partner

  • Local Athliesure Store partner

Not only are these sponsors great for giving prizes, but it provides an additional platform to market your challenge with a whole other audience besides yours. And, it puts the sponsor in front of your clients where they may not have been able to do that on their own.

Tip #3 - Individual Nutrition Coaching Meetings

nutrition coach meeting with client

Nutrition challenges are designed for the engagement to primarily come from the group. With that being said we always suggest an individual meeting with a nutrition coach before the challenge starts and also after the challenge ends. Although these two individual meetings focus on different topics, they both serve the same purpose which is to promote nutrition challenge engagement and additional accountability.

Meeting one serves as a way to learn more about the client joining the nutrition challenge. As a coach we want to know why they joined, what their struggles are and what success looks like to them. Additionally at this meeting we will be getting clients biometrics, showing them how to take progress pictures, and in our situation making sure they are loaded in and know how to use our HSN Mentoring app. Clients will feel much more engaged if they know they have the accountability of a check in when the challenge ends. Knowing that someone else has heard their goals and aspirations for the challenge is also a motivator for engagement.

After the challenge ends, meeting with these clients individually again is extremely important. This meeting serves the purpose of getting ending biometrics, progress pictures, talking about their successes, struggles, and finding out if they reached their goals. In addition you will be offering opportunities to continue with your ongoing nutrition accountability and support program.

Always schedule your final post challenge check out during the initial individual nutrition coaching meeting!!! Doing so eliminates you trying to chase people down at the end of the challenge to get them to come in.

Tip #4 - Host A Weekly Live Q&A aka Nutrition Talk

During a 28 day nutrition challenges we host a weekly live Q&A on Sundays. We make sure that during our kickoff seminar we give all challengers a reminder about these live opportunities and ensure they know when they are and how to join. Lives increase nutrition challenge engagement. Not all of the challengers will show up, but a fair amount of them will. Engagement on Facebook or via an app is great however some clients like that live interaction. Some clients that join your live Q&A may not even have a question. They simply want to hear what others are asking and saying. A lot of clients will have questions and that is great because most of the time when someone asks a question, other people are wondering the same thing.

In the event there are people that show up to your live, but nobody asks questions or the questions run dry, come prepared with a short “nutrition talk” or nutrition topic to speak on. Sometimes these live Q&A’s go great but only a few people ask questions so there is the potential for a lot of down time. Preparing yourself with either some recipes and nutrition topics to discuss or offering opportunities to explore different foods other people eat is always a great way to fill time and break the ice amongst challenge participants.

Tip #5 - Keep It Simple And Be Clear With What You Want People To Do

Starting a nutrition challenge without a clear path along the way is super frustrating. Many people freak out at the beginning of a challenge. They worry about grocery shopping, they worry about the plate method, they worry about the weekly mini challenges and they worry about anything else that could possibly go wrong.

Ensuring all participants have a clear understanding of these things will get your challenge off to a great start.

Keep It Simple #1 - Habits & The Plate Method vs Meal Plans & Macros

plate method diagram

Rather than use meal plans and count macros for your challenge, use the plate method and learn healthy eating habits. Nutrition isn’t meant to be complicated and adding in things like meal plans and macros make things super complicated. This is coming form someone who has done both!

In the past I have run challenges where I gave everyone a meal plan from our registered dietitian, and in addition to that I wanted them to log their food and count their macros. My life was miserable for 28 days! Nobody understood macros, in the kick off seminar they did but when they were let loose on their own – they had no idea. It was too much to expect people to learn to weigh and measure their food and eat from a meal plan in just 28 days.

Clients thought the meal plans were to be followed to a “T” so they lost their minds when they had to buy ingredients for recipes they may not make again. In addition clients didn’t like some of the foods on the meal plans and they wanted to alter some ingredients. This threw all the macro calculations off and they had to figure out the macros for meals on their own and this alone was straight chaos.

For some of the nutrition challengers, their diet was completely changing. We were asking them to do incorporate too many habits plus too much change at once. When we finally realized we were confusing and losing, we changed our challenges to be habit and plate method based.

Using challenges as a way to introduce clients to our ongoing nutrition program and teaching them foundational healthy eating habits first provided us with much more success than the route we originally started with.

Keep It Simple #2 - Focus On Learning ONE New Habit Each Week Rather Than Many

sticky notes with clothes pin on line change habits

As I stated above, people are not successful when they try to learn too many things at one time. At my gym and at Healthy Steps Nutrition, we suggest that the challenge focus on one new habit per week, and that habit be clearly laid out. Below is a sample week of healthy behavior habits that will not only promote engagement, but also keep people from reaching overwhelm.

  • Week 1 – Focus on Hydration & drinking 60 oz of water per day

  • Week 2 – Add 2 handfuls of fruits or veggies to lunch or dinner each day

  • Week 3 – At snacks, pair a carb and a protein together

  • Week 4 – Identify 1 stress reliever and practice it each day

Creating these habit based weekly tasks will give your clients a check list to keep track of the habits they are learning and incorporating into their lifestyle. If you are not using an app to keep track of weekly habits – make sure to create some sort of habit tracking printed spreadsheet for them to check off the days they were successful with their habit. The act of checking something off in an app or on paper serves as accountability and creates more nutrition challenge engagement.

Keep It Simple #3 - Set A Clear Path For What Happens After The Challenge Is Over

Having a nutrition and wellness accountability program for clients to join after the challenge is imperative. If you do not have something for your clients to move into – we have a couple options for you which I will talk about below.

We encourage anyone running a nutrition challenge to talk about post – challenge during the kickoff seminar at the beginning of the challenge and during the initial individual nutrition coaching meetings. It’s very important that clients realize the challenge is meant to be a kickoff to the beginning of their wellness journey and not just a 28 day “thing” they are doing. We absolutely don’t want clients to find a lot of success during the challenge and then have nothing to help them with support and accountability after the challenge is over.

Speaking to this from the beginning and letting people know about your post challenge offerings up from is imperative. Also explain that during post challenge check outs you will be directing clients to options you think will best suit their goals and aspirations.

Wrapping It Up!

Nutrition challenges are great because they get people hyped up to make a change! The only not so great thing about challenges is that many clients think that after a challenge is over – they are on their own. Many gym owners or wellness facility owners don’t have a program for clients to move into after a challenge, and so often results seen during a short challenge are lost a couple months after the challenge ends.

We are here to change this!

Our goal at Healthy Steps Nutrition and HSN Mentoring is to make sure you have the resources necessary to provide a successful nutrition challenge. That is why we offer so much free help in addition to offering opportunities for next level training in both running a challenge and also offering an ongoing nutrition program in your facility.

For a FREE webinar recording of our latest training on how to run a nutrition challenge – click the button below.

If you are ready to take your challenge to the next level and provide your clients with a professionally run challenge you have the opportunity to sign up for our next Challenge Training Intensive on December 8th.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Times Should A Coach Reach Out To Challengers Who Don't Engage?

We suggest a couple different avenues be taken with this. Initially if you notice lack of engagement from a particular client in the group – reach out individually to this person via FB or the app you are using. Typically they are just busy and needed the little push. But, if this behavior is ongoing – sending a video message via text is extremely effective. If that doesn’t work reach out one more time by email and phone call. Explain your desire to touch base and help them. After that, include them in all group correspondence but stop the private messaging unless they reach back out.

What If I Don't Have An Ongoing Nutrition Program For My Clients To Move Into After A Challenge, I Can't Afford The HSN Mentoring Program, But I Want To Provide My Clients With A Resource For Support?

Reach out to us! We are more than happy to help pair your client with a nutrition coach running or facility running our program in your area. We have hundreds of gyms and wellness facilities with certified coaches. If for some reason we are unable to locate your client a program near by, one of our nutrition coaches or registered dietitians are able to see your client virtually.

Additional FREE Resources On Running A Nutrition Challenge & Building A Nutrition Program

LISTEN: Inside The Nutrition Program At CrossFit Brighton & How Nutrition Coach, Darcie Helped Brent Lose 100 Pounds HERE

LISTEN: The Fundamental Skills Needed To Become An Effective Nutrition Coach – Inside The Basics Of Nutrition Coaching – CrossFit Preferred Nutrition Course HERE

WATCH & LISTEN : How To Plan, Launch & Execute A Nutrition Challenge In A Gym HERE

Check Out What Gym Owners & Coaches Are Saying About HSN Mentoring