We are all whiny babies. Maybe you aren’t; I don’t want to assume. Pretty much everyone except you is a whiny baby. We want our penne alla vodka, our egg-yolk omelets, our butter boards, and Negroni Sbagliato—and we want them now, all without gaining an ounce or a hangover.

And so, as whiny babies with belly fat and bitcoin to burn, we hire professionals to guide us, goad us, reprimand us, and cheer us on. Those professionals have the official-sounding, adult name of “accountability coach,” because doesn’t that sound so much better than “babysitter”?

Let’s say you’re off to a charcuterie–rigatoni–Super Tuscan bacchanalia at Carbone. But first, because you’re slightly panicked, you text your coach, Sarah Wragge of Sarah Wragge Wellness, based in New York City and Bridgehampton. She’s on it. “Take a digestive enzyme and have a 4:00 protein-packed mini-meal,” she says. “Because if you go into that dinner starving, it’s all off. Then, start the meal with as many veggies as possible. Move to protein. If you’re still hungry, you have your carbs last.” She also advises her clients to look at the three indulgences—alcohol, carbs, dessert—and “pick two; don’t do them all.” How terribly sane.

Basically, she pushes sanity with the can-do spirit of a football coach. Bill Belichick? I’m out of my depth. “Let’s get a game plan,” she says. “The plan might be, I’m going off the chain tonight. Cool. When you go home, take your supplement and water, and see the trainer the next day.” Or as Bill Belichick would say, “Do your job.”

Wragge is one of a burgeoning number of coaches who guide clients—many of them executive men—in groups ($950 for six weeks) or one-on-one (significantly more expensive, but Wragge doesn’t want to say by how much) on how to set and accomplish their goals in weight, exercise, alcohol intake, sleep, and stress. The typical player is “someone who wants to lose 10 pounds and wants help doing it,” she says. Some especially dependent clients can rack up fees of many tens of thousands of dollars or more, texting their coaches from restaurants, meetings, and foreign lands at all hours. But, by God, their six-packs!

One such six-pack belongs to Sam Levine, a 55-year-old private-equity investor in New York City. By his telling, “I was, like, a heavy dad. I looked like a whale on the beach with my kids.” Close your eyes and envision the before picture. After nine months on Wragge’s program, he lost 65 pounds, which, he says, is 50 percent of his body fat. “My cardiologist didn’t even recognize me,” he says. “I look like a 25-year-old pro athlete.” He estimates he spent $50,000. “And it was a steal, because it saved my life.”

Does it feel like babysitting? “Yeah!… And I did need babysitting,” says Cayli Cavaco Reck, the owner of the Knockout Beauty boutiques in Los Angeles, New York City, and Bridgehampton. She signed up with Wragge 11 months ago and has lost 36 pounds. Cavaco Reck said she wanted permission to eat certain counter-intuitive things—dark chocolate after dinner or half-and-half in her coffee. “That’s the babysitting part of it, too: Someone to give you permission. Because we’ve been so programmed that to be successful in your eating, you have to feel deprived.” By the way, “there was not one day that I ever felt deprived,” she says.

There is no task too small. Wragge lists just a few: “Cleaning out mini-bars, working with their executive chefs on private planes, working with their executive teams to be sure their supplements are delivered.... These men, and women too—they need us. They need permission to use the bathroom. Not really, but.” Kind of.

Teddi Mellencamp describes her wellness-coaching business, All In by Teddi, as being “about having a conversation with someone who wants you to succeed.” The former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star and daughter of John Mellencamp once gained 80 pounds “in a short amount of time,” which gives her advice a soupçon of relatability. She believes in tough love, not “toxic positivity.”

“They need permission to use the bathroom.”

She and her team of coaches ask clients to text photographs of their meals and workouts. Dish pics. Everything’s time-stamped, because that’s part of the whole accountability thing. And while her tough love includes checking to be sure the pictures aren’t copied from another day and passed off as current, she doesn’t believe in denying all pleasure.

In New York City, that would be dinner at Carbone. In Los Angeles, where Mellencamp works, the pasta has a different kind of sauce. “Someone might say, ‘I’m going to Il Pastaio, and I’m having the Justin Bieber pasta because I’ve always wanted it,’” she explains. The Justin Bieber pasta? Paccheri Alla Justin Bieber is “artisan wide rigatoni pasta with pink sauce,” according to the Il Pastaio menu. How piquant! For Cavaco Reck, the challenge was less glamorous: What to eat at a Chili’s in Spokane.

Cocktails are another hot button. Over the past 10 years, when I noticed friends suddenly switching from their usual martini or glass of red to tequila on the rocks with a profusion of limes, I discovered the influence of Mary Ann Browning, a trainer and coach who owns Brownings Fitness in New York City and Southampton. Coaches tend to like tequila for its low sugar count. “Eeew,” says Mellencamp. “I don’t like it and I don’t care if it’s healthier.” See? Relatability.

Wine, well, that’s a problem. “Wine begets wine,” says Wragge. Also, “a brownie looks more enticing after wine because wine has so much sugar.” She tells her clients, if they must drink, to stick to hard liquor. “It doesn’t spike the blood sugar as high.”

Coach Wragge also tries to get her clients to stay below six drinks a week. “I had a client drink three martinis [in one night] last week. She was so hungover on Saturday, and she was like, ‘I’m dying.’”

But she’s not judging. She offers tips, confesses her own sins, and gets everyone back in play (Belichick).

You may have heard that “diet” is a four-letter word, and that no one wants to buy into the body-shaming, weight-loss culture of the past. And yet, as Mellencamp says, “Everybody who originally comes to us thinks they’re coming for weight loss.... But it always transitions into more.” That “more” might be better sleep, mood, energy, and motivation. Suddenly, they’re thriving.

And it doesn’t stop there. “This feeling good in their bodies creates a domino effect,” explains Wragge. “Their sex drive is higher.... They show up differently in their jobs. It’s Benjamin Button.” And don’t we all, really, want to look like Brad Pitt aging backward? Sign me up!

Teddi Mellencamp gives me a taste of her technique. “Hey, Linda. Motivation wavers, commitment doesn’t. Are you ready to make the commitment today?”

Yes, coach! Put me in the game!

To hear Linda Wells reveal more about her story, listen to her on AIR MAIL’s Morning Meeting podcast

Linda Wells spent 25 years as Allure magazine’s founding editor, served as Revlon’s chief creative officer, and currently consults and sits on the boards of several beauty and apparel companies