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The Effort Spectrum: How hard should you be trying?

Here at Clar-e-ty, we do things a bit differently.

If you’ve worked with a nutrition coach or business before, you’ve probably done the usual. You’ve tracked your food. You’ve followed a meal plan and hit targets. You’ve exercised frequently. You’ve removed triggering foods from your pantry. Maybe you’ve done 8-12 week cuts or religiously followed a macro prescription.

While this is probably something that absolutely works, did work, or could work...and is definitely something we see the value in...there’s always a missing piece to the puzzle.

Wonder what it is? It’s YOU.

More specifically, what YOU can reasonably put in.

When you hire a coach or trainer, they expect...and honestly rely...on you going ALL IN. Motivation is HALF the reason why a lot of coaches can get pretty decent results.

Think of it like newbie gains. When you join a gym for the first time, most of the initial progress you make really has very little to do with the workouts or the programming itself. Just by being new and going through the motions, you’re going to form pretty substantial neurological adaptations. A lot of coaches will hop on board & take credit for really things that honestly just naturally happen and would have happened with a good or maybe not so good program.

If you’ve never squatted before & all of a sudden you do 3 sets of 8 for 10 weeks without a progressive overload phasic cycle, you’re going to get stronger. No doubt about that. HOWEVER, when we look at the science, we see that IF you want to get stronger and see as maximal results as possible, you need to be progressing incrementally over time. A GOOD program will take you past your potential of newbie gains, keep you from frequent risk of injury (injuries are a natural part of the process), and get you stronger and stronger.


Any program could get you to lose weight or gain weight...especially when you’ve just begun & thriving on motivation.

What most programs & coaches FAIL to recognize or train their clients on is when that motivation...aka that newbie gain phase...goes away. Trust will.

Enter Clar-e-ty.


There’s a lot that Clar-e-ty does differently but one area that stands out is the effort we expect YOU to put into it...from the get go.

What MOST coaches demand is all in, 110% effort all the time.

You need to track food every day. You need to hit macros spot on...maybe a 5-15g wiggle room. Some coaches will tell you that you need to get exact...all the way down to logging and accounting for sticks of gum. You need to do it all and all the time.

*NOTE - we're not saying some calories count and some calories don't. Untracked calories WILL affect your nutrition progress. Calories coming from sticks of gum, salad dressings, cream and sugar in your coffee, snacks and bites throughout the day, etc. DO count. What we're talking about is the cost that this effort provides and how we go about it with our clients.

BUT as we already have hopefully hammered in is that this just isn't realistic...especially once your motivation has faded.

Life is going to happen.

You're going to go on vacations.

You're going to have good and bad days.

You're going to forget your protein shake.

You're going to forget to...and heck even not want to...meal prep.

You're going to need breaks.

You're going to go through periods of burnout and fatigue.

In other words, there ARE going to be days you're not going to track or be exact. IT'S INEVITABLE. It's as certain as saying "Coach Clare loves cats more than people."

Now what OTHER coaches will do is tell you to work harder, to push through, to make sacrifices, etc. While that CAN be the appropriate line of thought, there's another perspective to consider.

Our perspective is this...what if instead of demanding MORE effort from you...we instead practiced FROM THE START those non-exact and perfect days.

What happens often is people go all in, then life happens & they have no clue how to do nutrition without MyFitnessPal or without a motivated mind. They give up and all old habits come back.

Instead, what we work with our clients to find is the effort that works for them that doesn't lead to burnout and fatigue. AS A RESULT, in practicing "non-effort" days, we have clients who face "life happening" with 1000% more confidence and comfort. They handle them with grace and return to normalcy...because it never was NOT normal.

The EFFORT Spectrum

Below is our effort spectrum.

Think of it like the goldilocks story. One porridge was too hot, one too cold, and the other just right.

The effort that you put in is the same. We want you to work hard enough to get results, absolutely. But there is such a thing as doing too much and asking for too much as a coach.

This is essentially a modified version of the stress driving adaptation theory.

You do need effort. We're not saying that. You will absolutely need to change and adjust habits. You'll need to plan meals/food ahead of time. You'll need to make sacrifice. In other words, you can't just do nothing. Too little stress & we don't see change or adaptation. If you're looking for nutrition and/or body composition changes, your intake likely will need to be adjusted. HOWEVER, we don't want too much stress to where you have to take untracked breaks that lead to periods of binges and cravings. Anything that leads to "fuck it" mode is PROBABLY too much.

There is a sweet spot on the spectrum for everyone...and that's what Clar-e-ty works hard to find with our clients.

So how to find your effort?

This goes a number of directions and depends 100% on the client. Keep reading!


As we've said, this is largely individualized and depends on a number of factors:

  • your job

  • your dieting history

  • your dieting "age" and experience

  • your personal cravings

  • your relationships

  • your age

  • your routines & habits

It also changes as time goes on. We would bet money that you could put in much more effort in your early 20s as opposed to your 30s working full time especially if you have kids and/or spouses!

Below are a few of our starting points with our clients:

Tracking Fewer Days:

One area we reduce effort for sustainability is by reducing the number of tracking days. Traditionally, coaches will give clients untracked or free days over the weekends. Unfortunately, we don't think many people starting out are QUITE there yet. You're out of a routine. You likely already have unproductive habits around your weekends anyways. AND most people tend to be more social and less compliant on weekends anyways.

SO instead, we have clients practice on weekdays...when routines are already in place. Our preferred method of tracking is day tracking and one day not tracking. Monday you track and Tuesday you simply just rinse and repeat while remaining mindful and aware of your body's hunger cues & energy throughout the day. Rinse and repeat the rest of the week. Now we're looking at majority compliance with much more freedom for mental willpower and enjoyment.

Over time, untracked days become easier and more confident. This translates very nicely over to our weekends as a result. You're already used to...and have practiced consistently...what non-tracking days look and feel like. You're used to creating routine and even using food to create and drive routine. Instead of throwing clients to the wolves on the weekends, we equip them for success ahead of time.

Tracking Fewer Targets:

This might be a controversial topic but we are seeing some growth in the fitness space towards this idea...

But you don't have to track all macros and calories and fiber all the time.

You can reduce the number of targets you track and log and STILL see consistent & desired results.

What targets do we recommend?

  • Protein

  • Veggie/fruit target (gram amount or # servings)

  • Calories

Why not carbs or fats? Let us ask you this. Do you struggle eating enough carbs and fats? Probably not! As a result, it’s not going to be first on our list. We’ve seen with a number of clients that as you ADD desired habits (think in this case, protein and whole foods via fruits and veggies), other not so productive habits naturally decrease. If calories Are also being considered, we have further proof that we will see results and don’t need every little thing trackes

SO…if we don’t NEED to track something and can still get desired results, this is a great way to put in less effort so you’re more compliant and more present for time to come.

Macro Ranges:

Our last suggestion is one of the most successful habits we provide for our clients.

It’s the use of ranges...specifically the metrics suggested above.

We’re not just talking 5g ranges. We’re suggesting 20g ranges and even 200-300 calorie ranges.

This is dependent on your goal. Some phases might require more precision. Most of the cases, though, these ranges allow for success but also life to happen.

You could forget a protein shake or just not be hungry.

Having a range let’s YOU decide what’s best for YOU that day. Instead of force feeding yourself or play the sometimes miserable game of macro Tetris, you can decide what’s in your best interest! This notion of client autonomy is something we firmly stand by in instilling with each and every client.

Effort is not directly synonymous with progress and even results.

More often than not, it’s not a conversation of “work harder” or “want it more”.

We’d argue that you want it pretty damn bad…

Sometimes less is more!!!

Not sure what that looks like for you? Apply for a free consultation call or book a Clar-e-ty diet audit today!!


Resources and Coaching:

Online Coaching here.

Nutrition Guide here.

Recipe & Macro Guide here

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