I still don’t want to be a Precision Nutrition VIP (and the temptation is gone too)

Image description: Red rectangular text box on an angle with
Image description: Red rectangular text box on an angle with “VIP” written in red lettering on a white background.

In July 2015, about six months after I finished what was then called Precision Nutrition’s “Lean Eating Program” and is now called “Coaching for Women,” I wrote a post entitled “Why I Don’t Want to Be a Precision Nutrition VIP (But the Temptation Is There Anyway).” At the time, I and many of my cohort were struggling to find our footing, to go it alone after a year of daily coaching.

As is to be expected, PN has a lot of repeat customers. It’s easier to stay on track when you’re paying a lot of money and getting regular input from a coach. This we all know. You wander from the program and suddenly the healthy habits start to slide. But the question I always want to ask is: Am I really willing to pay PN for the rest of my life so I can “stay on track”? The answer to that question, for me anyway, is always: No.

But they try. Every six months, when a new round of coaching starts up, they try. Yesterday I got a message about how this was my “last chance” to register for the VIP price of $97 US per month for a year. That’s 54% less than the regular price. For what you get (assuming that what you get is at least what I got, and probably a bit better now since I would assume they are always making it better), it’s not a bad price. You do get lots of info and some coaching and support.

The pitch is always the same, about how they have many repeat clients. You might wonder how you can turn this into a pitch. I mean, to me, having to keep repeating it might be an indication that it’s not really a successful program. But they promote coming back as “a great way to keep the results you’ve achieved.” And they are quite open about how they’ve got clients who come back two, three or even four times.

They even do the “use your name” thing to make it sound personal and intimate, like it’s an offer especially for me:

Tracy, if you could use help staying in shape, getting back in
shape, or reaching new heights…

…then we’re ready to give you additional coaching, support, and
accountability. We’d love to have you back!

Now, when I wrote about this back in 2015, six months after I finished, I was tempted even though I didn’t actually sign up. As the woman quoted in the testimonial in the email they sent me said, maintaining “results” is uncharted territory. It’s “scary.” And it should be scary, because all the research points to how difficult it is to achieve lasting change.

But this time I’m not even tempted. I’m not scared. And I don’t worry about keeping the results of my PN efforts. In fact, I’ve done far better in every area since I left PN behind, fully adopted intuitive eating, implemented a regular running routine with a coach to help me develop smart training plans, and started using a personal trainer for my weight training.

This is consistent with the thought behind PN that coaching helps us stay on track. I fully admit that when I have personal training booked and a running coach to be accountable to, I am much less likely to skip out on workouts. But neither of my people focus on weight loss as a primary goal. I mean, if that’s what I wanted, I’m sure they would. But the thing with PN is that they are fixated on weight loss, right down to the before and after pictures. Indeed, they have that blasted contest every year, where people vote on contestants for the “best transformation.”

They say it’s all about healthy habits. But in the end it’s about weight loss and looking a certain way. And they will never convince me otherwise. Given their focus, it’s not a program I can get behind because it’s inconsistent with my values. The over-emphasis on the visible transformation doesn’t work for me at all. Nor does the focus on tracking and on weight loss.

I consider it immense progress that I don’t even feel the slightest allure. That’s not to say that there is nothing redeeming about the program. In fact, I wrote a balanced review of it, talking about what I liked and disliked. The thing I disliked the most and continue to find offensive is the photo contest. I wrote about that here. I’m not alone in this. Sam has also objected to the photo contest. Sam also wrote a helpful review of PN after her year of coaching. She loved lots about it (more than I loved, that’s for sure).

But as someone who has finally grasped intuitive eating and has landed on a workout routine that I love and can manage, the idea of being given new rules about eating and of having someone else tell me what my workouts should look like (okay, someone other than Paul, my trainer), just feels like a set-back to me.

So no, I’m not interested in being a VIP even if the price is right.

If you’ve ever done PN or any other sort of online coaching, what was your experience and did you feel the need to repeat the program in order to keep the results (if you had good results)?

8 thoughts on “I still don’t want to be a Precision Nutrition VIP (and the temptation is gone too)

  1. I completed the lean eating program in December 2013.
    I went into the program quite fit and fairly lean as I was living on a low calorie, extremely low carb diet. I had been on it for a few years.
    I joined the program looking for someone to tell me what was wrong with me…or maybe what I needed to do to feel ok about myself. Because at the time I hated myself. My body looked good, but I couldn’t see it and I was still very unhappy.

    The program helped me start asking myself questions about WHY I did things. And it encouraged me to be kinder to myself. The mental transformation was actually amazing. Maybe it was the right time for me? Maybe it was my awesome coach? My great team? Whatever it was, it shifted my thinking and by the end of the year I realized I could change my life. And I have.

    It has absolutely nothing to do with food or weight. My weight has fluctuated. I eat well and I exercise every day still, but I did that before the program.

    I actually signed up with a coach recently. I didn’t realize the PN daily emails were part of it. After a few weeks I realized that after 4 years of trying to find self acceptance focusing on eating for weight loss is a step backwards.

    My new coach kindly let me unregister for the sake of my mental wellbeing.

    I don’t need accountability to eat well or to exercise. They are just things I do. Accountability might be required if I would like to get back to 18% body fat…but, at 46, I wonder who I am trying to impress. My size 8 body is pretty useful. And I can eat chips if I want them. In the end we are only ever accountable to ourselves. The rest is just pretend.

    John Berardi, the head of PN, told was a life program disguised as a nutrition and fitness program. I agree. But there is still too much focus on the external.

    Anyway, that’s my take on PN.


    1. Thanks, Anne. I didn’t realize you’d done the program and I agree that it has a lot of life lessons (I had forgotten that aspect of it because all the follow-up correspondence falls back on weight loss and eating habits).

    2. Anne, I agree with so much of the PN materials on body acceptance and healthy eating and movement. I find so much of what they say helpful. It’s as much a program for healthy attitudes toward food and eating as it is anything. But then the competition. One of the coaches actually defended it as an internal transformation contest, said it’s a judge of confident posture and a spark in the person’s eye. But then why not essays? Why bikini photos? Why before and after? Why the voting? I didn’t buy it.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I was very tempted to join PN this year…until the photo contest. I even called them out on it asking how they can possibly suggest that they offer anything other than weight loss when this is clearly the only outcome important to them. Anyway, I resisted temptation and will carry on trying to make small improvements over time.

  3. I’m in PN right now, and actually, I’m not liking the internal stuff, either. A lot of rah rah psuedo-psychology about who I *really* want to be. I *am* who I want to be. My fat isn’t a moral failure, or some sign that I have a defective personality. It’s also not all I am. I joined PN because my cholesterol and blood sugar need to be reigned in and I need tools to help that, period. That tone, and the tone of the facebook group, is just really rubbing me the wrong way. I guess in the end it’s just not my kind of thing – I didn’t realize I was going to be encouraged to join what is essentially a support group with three hundred strangers.
    I’m also upset that early on, I injured myself and can’t follow the prescribed workouts they set for me. But there’s no re-set, no adjusted plan. They just say, “You don’t have to do the workouts; you can do whatever activity you want.” Well, sure, of course I can. But I could have done that *instead* of handing over twelve hundred of my hard-earned bucks.
    Add to this the whole photos thing, and it makes me itch. They’ve sort of lost me already.

    1. Gosh, that’s demoralizing. Sorry about your injury. I wonder if it’s gone more in the pseudo-psych direction in recent years because when I did it it was more about food and workouts. Their promo material always talked about a money back guarantee. I have no idea what you would need to prove to get your money back, but if you’re that unhappy maybe you could make inquiries now, early into it and not have to endure the whole thing?

      1. I don’t think it’s a real money back guarantee. I assumed from the start that you couldn’t actually get your money back. Let me know what happens if you try!

  4. Thank you for writing an honest review. I registered myself on presale for July 2018. I wanted to read before making the purchase, so glad I read this and few other reviews. Thank you!!!

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