Tim Liu is Los Angeles-based online fitness and nutrition coach and influencer on the Intellifluence influencer marketing platform. Tim helps busy men and women lose fat and build muscle without having to live in the gym. Tim teaches his clients sustainable healthy habits that they can maintain so they’re not yo-yo dieting through their entire lives. You can learn more about Tim’s online coaching services, read blog articles, browse testimonials and more at timliufitness.com or follow Tim on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming an online fitness and nutrition coach?

Growing up, I was overweight as a kid and my mom had stomach cancer. She passed from it and then that inspired me to take care of my own health. So growing up, going into high school, I was the fat chubby kid. And when I was graduating, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. And I was like, “I’m going to try this nutrition thing. I’m going to study nutrition, get in shape myself and then that can inspire me to help others.”

So I went to school, studied nutrition and junior year, there was a fitness internship that opened up. I was interning in hospitals at the time and working with sick people wasn’t my thing. I wanted to work relatively healthy people. So I got certified as a coach, lost all the weight, got in shape. And then once I graduated, I started working as a coach. So I was doing personal training for a while. And then I transitioned to helping more people online.

Now, your approach to fitness in nutrition is very reasonable. Case in point, the post you made the other day about how to enjoy a drink or two within the confines of your nutrition and fitness plan. How did you develop this unique approach?

So working with clients and hearing and understanding what their needs are, yes, they do want to get in shape, but at the same time, they don’t want to be super restrictive because they’ve done programs where they hit it hard for 6 to 12 weeks. Just no sugar, no alcohol, no junk. And then they look great in their before and after photos. But afterwards they go back to their old habits.

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They didn’t want to give up some of their lifestyles. So they’ve regained the weight and for some people, even more than when they started. So most people need more of a sensible habit based approach and something that’s more realistic and in line with their lifestyle and what works for them. So that’s how I came to having this philosophy.

At what point did you branch out into influencer marketing?

I started posting and then I have friends in the fitness space that were doing pretty well with that. And then started tagging brands. Certain brands start reaching out to me. They’re sending me great products. Products actually believe in because I don’t want to promote something I’ve never used. So that’s how I got into it. And I talk to companies all the time and they have a good back and forth in between chat to see if our messages align and it’s been good so far.

What have been some of your favorite brand collaborations to-date?

I like Naturealm. They’re a chaga, mushroom company. So they do like chaga, lion’s mane. They have a matcha latte that’s pretty good. A coffee company. They sent me a nitro cold brew, which is pretty good. So do like coffee. Another protein company, like a protein fish oil nutrition supplement company hit me up too. And they’ve got some good products.

For people that might not be very familiar with the online coaching process, can you give us a brief overview of a typical program and how it’s structured?

Well, everyone that I onboard, we do an onboarding process. We’ll figure out what their actual goals are, what limitations they have, equipment available, especially since gyms are shut down in a lot of parts of the world. So a lot of them right now are doing home workouts or they have an outdoor gym.

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We’ll do a fitness assessment and then based on what they have available and the amount of times they can work out, I write their custom training program for them. And then we do an initial diet assessment call to see what their eating habits are like, the easiest things that they can do to change, just to build some momentum. And then we’ll do weekly coaching calls to make sure they’re on track and making progress.

You’ve got a lot going on between your online coaching, your blog, your influencer collaborations. Can you tell us a little bit about how you structure your average week so you can get everything accomplished that you need to get accomplished?

You just have to stick to a tight schedule. So I’ll block off times for content creation, whether it’s for social media posting or for my newsletter. I have blocked out time for client outreach. Blocked off times for coaching calls with clients and then blocking out times for my own workouts. So if you stay structured, you won’t feel overwhelmed and you can be pretty successful.

What are some of the biggest obstacles you find people have from achieving their fitness and nutrition goals and where’s the best place for them to begin this process of change? Do you have an intro course or a guide that you offer?

A lot of people, when they’re first starting out, they feel like they have to do everything. So they feel overwhelmed. So they either not take any action or they get discouraged when they fall off the wagon. So the first thing is to set realistic expectations and to just figure out what’s the easiest habit that they can change and stick to consistently.

Then you’ll start building confidence and momentum and then you’ll take on new habits. So it could be getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, getting protein at each meal. Little things like that that’ll go a long way. And for everyone watching, listening, I’ve got a five day free fat loss course on my website. So all you have to do is go on my site, subscribe to the newsletter and then you’ll get your five day course.

Note: Influencer Spotlight interviews are edited for time and clarity.