The first thing Brigitte Weil tells her clients to do is to throw old dieting rules out the window, including skipping meals, and face food temptations head on.
The food coach helps clients “walk through temptations” by meeting with them in restaurants during their first session and guiding them through the menu. She later creates an exclusive food plan designed specifically for the client that even includes some of their favorite foods, like chocolate.
“In this society we are told by conventional and traditional diets that if we just restrict ourselves or we stay away from temptation then we will reach our goals, and for me that really doesn’t hold any truth,” she said. “It doesn’t teach [us] anything to just be told to walk away from the foods that tempt us.”
Weil has a long history with food: she grew up in “a very food-focused French family,” got her cooking degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and moved to Paris to work as a pastry chef. She eventually returned to the States to work as a buyer for Dean & DeLuca in Manhattan. There she created a brownie that led to her own successful brownie business based in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
It wasn’t long before she sold her company to spend more time with her young kids. At that time, it was hard for her to avoid one thing: she was 65 pounds overweight. Weil hired a personal trainer to shed the pounds, but quickly noticed she wasn’t losing weight no matter how hard she tried. That’s when she took matters into her own hands. Weil created her own weight loss plan and soon those extra pounds were gone. She decided to experiment with her own personal training clients to help them reach their goals the way she reached hers.
“What we found was not only were they able to be successful with losing weight and getting to their goal, but they really liked the manner of eating and strategy that I was teaching them about how you can incorporate all foods and not be limited or restricted,” said Weil, who also runs her own fitness blog, I Hate Celery Sticks.
Weil, who’s back in New York helping a long list of clients (Long Islanders included) lose weight her way, said “spontaneous eating” is one of the biggest detriments to sticking to a food plan. That’s why she believes bringing clients to the environment where they are likely to break away from good eating habits is necessary in starting the journey to a healthier lifestyle.
“It’s the difference between talking about something and actually doing something,” she said. “The tools they learn [at restaurants] are ones that they can take with them.”
While dining out, Weil also gets to learn more about her clients (usually aged 35-60). She incorporates their favorite foods into a template that “is scientifically based on what a woman in that age group needs in order to lose weight over a period of time in a safe, healthy and reasonable way.” The template is important, she said, since a woman’s metabolism starts to plummet at 30 and certain foods like protein help increase lean muscle tissue. Most of her clients lose about 6-10 pounds in the first 4 weeks.
“The key is following a plan that allows you to lose weight every single solitary week without being miserable, without being hungry, without being resentful and it has to include foods that not only you enjoy but are realistic for you,” she said.