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Written by: Sarah Kirton on Sep 5th, 2021

Balanced Habits 2021: Getting Healthy Through Real Food

Carolyn Fetters, co-founder and CEO of Balanced Habits, reveals how the company’s nationally accredited nutrition program can empower anyone to develop a healthier relationship with food, reach their goals, and maintain a higher quality of life.

How did Balanced Habits come about?

Balanced Habits has really been in the making for more than 30 years. My husband and I owned three fitness facilities in southern California where we started our programming in the gyms for our own clientele, including the professional athletes that we worked with. 

We were affiliated with a fitness marketing company and would attend meetings and meet other gym owners there. It became apparent that other gym owners were searching for a way to support their clientele with nutrition – something that’s really difficult to do. 

We took what we were doing in our gyms and turned it into Balanced Habits so we were able to support other fitness businesses and their clientele through our nutrition programming, guidance, and education. 

When we started, we worked exclusively in the fitness industry, but as we evolved, we came to realize that there were so many individuals that needed help but who didn’t necessarily live close to the fitness centers. We then started reaching people through our online coaching. 

How does one proceed as a new client?

We first establish what the client is struggling with and allow either the fitness center or physician to refer them to us. We can then support them with what they need – whether it’s the tools for weight loss, advice on how to be a better role model for their family, or help overcoming illness. Our goal is to get people healthy through real food. 

Education is key. We don’t tell people what to do – we prefer to educate them and allow them to make their own decisions, as opposed to following rules.

We’re firm believers in moderation and meeting people where they are at – it allows for a more realistic and sustainable approach to long-term nutrition.

How does your program differ from others like Weight Watchers, for example? 

We’re a lot more education-driven than most other programs, perhaps because we come from the fitness industry. We create an individual, customized program for everyone who comes through our doors. 

For example, by monitoring their body metrics, we know how much food a person should be eating in one day, and for each meal. We also take into account their goals and their activity levels. It’s a good stepping stone for most people. 

Education, accountability, and support are a very big part of an individual’s success. We want our clients to get to a point where they will never need us again. 

What kind of training do your food coaches go through?

We wrote our own certification program which is recognized by NASM (the National Academy of Sports Medicine) and our food coaches go through these courses. We create the programs with registered dietitians and nutritionists. 

Our food coaches will take each client through the three-, six-, or 12-month program, whichever is needed. We’re legally compliant to dispense nutritional guidance and to work with those who have health issues, such as diabetes. 

Do you focus more on nutritional well-being than controlling calorie intake?

Yes. While we are aware of the calories and macronutrients, we don't want our clients to have to be bothered with those details. We have devised a much simpler system so our users can easily adapt and find rapid success.

The diet industry has made everybody feel that if they're not losing weight according to the numbers on a scale, then they’re not achieving. This brings us back to education, which is a huge part of our program.  

Do you find that most of your clients reach their goals and maintain their results long-term?

It depends. We have a 28-day program which is very popular. Some people have done it three times in a year and have lost substantial weight while doing so. However, it’s not long enough to establish new behaviors. 

It may make people realize that they can actually eat to lose weight, as opposed to starving themselves, but unless we can convert these people to a longer-term program, it’s unlikely their success rate will be as high as someone doing a one-on-one program. 

Following a one-on-one program involves developing a great relationship with the food coach, being taught how to develop strategies within their own lifestyle, and working on balancing their habits. This is much more of a sustainable program and the success rate is huge

How much is really “mind over matter,” as they say?

It comes back to the person wanting to change and wanting to do the program. If someone forces you to do something, your chances of success are lower. I believe in practicing behaviors, rather than willpower. When you decide to do something, and you do it for long enough (like cutting out a dessert after lunch, for example), you end up overriding the behavior.

Similarly, when you go out with your friends and you say, “I can’t drink wine anymore,” all your friends will encourage you to have “just one”... whereas if you say ‘I don’t drink wine anymore, it just doesn’t serve my goals,” it puts you in a position of power. Most of the time this will not be challenged.

Has your business been impacted by the pandemic?

Significantly. About 50% of our fitness centers were shut down and we’re struggling to get them back up and running. We changed our whole business model to suit the current climate. 

We now go into gyms (just like from a doctor’s office) and work as an affiliate with them. They refer their clients to us and we take care of them on their behalf. 

Even things like printed booklets have been eliminated and everything has been turned into an app. We’re now taking more advantage of the virtual space to empower others to achieve a higher quality of life.

About The Author

Sarah Kirton

PR Writer, Delivery Rank

A wannabe global ‘food-trotter,’ Sarah nurtures a deep-seated passion for food and cultural diversity and believes the two go hand in hand. Having lived in Europe for many years she has a great knowledge of Mediterranean and French cuisine. She now lives in Cape Town, the food capital of Africa. When she is not dining out or cooking up a storm you will find her kite-surfing on the ocean, up a mountain, or cuddling her cat Samson!

A wannabe global ‘food-trotter,’ Sarah nurtures a deep-seated passion for food and cultural diversity and believes the two go hand in hand. Having lived in Europe for many years she has a great knowledge of Mediterranean and French cuisine. She now lives in Cape Town, the food capital of Africa. When she is not dining out or cooking up a storm you will find her kite-surfing on the ocean, up a mountain, or cuddling her cat Samson!
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