Lessons From The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification

PN Certified Coach Level 1

Back in October 2014 I did two big things:

  1. I started Integrative Osteopathy
  2. I signed up for the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification

Since then, only one of them had been getting the attention required to make it a success.

Until recently.

A couple of months back, I decided it was time to do the work and learn something, to benefit both myself and my patients and clients.

So a couple of months ago I started knuckling down, and this week I finally completed the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with PN, it is a coaching and education company based in Toronto, Canada.

Founded by John Berardi, PhD., and his business partner Phil, who does the tech side of things, they are industry leaders in nutritional coaching and education for health and fitness professionals.

The level 1 course is broken up into two sections:

  1. Nutritional science
  2. Nutritional coaching

Having studied nutrition for a semester at university, along with physiology and biochemistry, I was more interested in the coaching side of things, but brushing up on the basics is never a bad thing.

I was hoping to learn how to become a better coach, and then apply that knowledge to my practice as an osteopath, in order to be able to better serve my patients.

Here are some of the major lessons I learnt:

1. Knowledge Is Key

Even though I had studied nutrition before, covering the ground again reinforced and enhance my knowledge on the topic.

It might be tedious, especially when starting out, but understanding what is happening at a cellular/biochemical level separates great nutritional coaches from the “Instagram macro coach” crowd.

If you understand what’s happening, then you can modify things for an individual when things don’t go to plan.

You can also experiment intelligently to get that “extra edge”, once the basics have been implemented.

As an osteopath, it has never been enough for me to just “know” that my patients get better.

Firstly, some don’t, but secondly, I wanted to know why this was the case.

Why do some people get better, whilst some don’t?

And, what can I do so that more people fall into the former, rather than the latter category?

2. Define The Goal

Defining a goal means understanding the “why” behind the “what”, and to be honest, it takes skill and experience to be able to elicit this from someone in a way that feels “natural”.

This was probably the biggest mistake I made in my first year of practice as an osteopath.

I would see someone, and not clarify their goals, their reasons for seeing me in the first place.

I made assumptions, and as a result, I’d often do too much or too little for someone, meaning they didn’t get the outcome they were looking for.

Once the why is clear, to both patient and practitioner, the what becomes easy.

3. Assess, Intervene, Reassess, Modify

What gets measured, gets managed. – Michael Drucker

If a person is asking for help to change, then it is important to know exactly where they are at, so you can map out the path for them to get to where they want.

The beginning of any coaching relationship should be all about information gathering.

A coach needs to know what a client needs, but also how to gauge progress.

In practice, I have intermittently used objective measures of assessment along with more subjective measures.

The problem is, there is no clear way to gauge progress, or lack thereof.

Now, pain being what it is (invisible and complex), it is hard to measure it directly, but we can strive to measure function and disability in an objective manner.

To do so, I have taken courses by the Functional Movement Group, and will undertake further study with Functional Movement Systems.

In addition to these movement based assessments, I will systematically use outcome measures more regularly.

4. Behaviours, Not Outcomes

One thing PN is huge on, is that we are all human, our lives are varied and whilst we may have different goals, it is what we do that gets us to our goals.

If you set a goal of having $500,000 of investments in 10 years time, then how much of that is in your control?

Realistically, you can’t control the global markets or economy.

What you can control is your income (to an extent) and how much of that you save and invest.

Nutrition and health coaching is similar.

Whilst you may want to lose weight, feel better or get stronger, you can’t control when or by how much.

What you can control, are you behaviours.

If your behaviours are in line with becoming leaner, healthier etc., then you undoubtedly will. It might happen sooner or it might happen later, but it will happen.

5. Judge on Results

At the end of the day, people hire me for an outcome.

That usually means they want to feel better (less pain), improve their quality of life (less disability) or improve their performance (move better).

I can write the best blogs, produce the most popular social media content and follow the “best practice guidelines to a T”, but if I don’t get the results people want, they won’t come back or refer people to me, and I will go out of business.

Getting good results is a culmination of the above points:

  1. Clearly defining a patient’s goal.
  2. Knowing what they need to do to achieve it.
  3. Translating that into behaviours.
  4. Reassessing and modifying along the way.


We are entering a new age in healthcare.

It is no longer the practitioner on one side of the table with all the power and information.

Now, patient and practitioner sit side by side, with access to more information than ever before.

It is not information that separates the best from the average, but the appropriate delivery and application of information.

When it comes to the body, things are always changing. A year from now you will be different. Thus, your needs will be different.

For a long time, healthcare has been moving towards “standardised care”.

The way I see things, that is just the beginning.

Standardised care, or best practice, is simply the foundation from which to achieve outstanding results.

Outstanding results, will be achieved with the help of outstanding coaching.


This blog post was written by Dr Nick Efthimiou (Osteopath), founder of Integrative Osteopathy.

This blog post is meant as an educational tool only. It is not a replacement for medical advice from a qualified and registered health professional.