LinkedIn just reminded me I’ve been in the business of weight loss coaching 17 years – Wow!
After losing 72 pounds – a process of weight loss that was different than any other time I lost weight in my life – I wanted to help others who struggle with weight loss. My own process had taught me thousands of lessons – and I’d struggled through without the benefit of assistance or support. Imagine what it would be like with that valuable cheerleader in your corner!
Most people I consulted in my 30-year weight struggle had no idea how to lose weight permanently – including doctors, nutritionists, therapists, personal trainers, dietitians and weight loss gurus. (Not much has changed there – They still don’t know the difference between losing weight and losing weight permanently.)
Because my DESIRE to lose weight and be healthy was so great, I had managed the setbacks and roadblocks, I had adjusted to every curve in the road, and I had grown tremendously as a person. I started helping people as a personal trainer and nutrition coach… but quickly realized I needed a greater tool and began my coach training with the sole intention of helping others lose weight by dealing with the grey matter between their ears – what was really holding them back.
But, I quickly learned change is change – no matter what area of life – and, once started, it spills all over life. Change is the most enlivening feeling on earth!!
I’ve coached thousands of clients on four continents… here are some of the highlights I recall today.
Some memories stick with you more than others. Clients learn to open their hearts wide in order to learn, grow and begin to love themselves. It’s a miracle to watch.
I remember the first time a client left coaching, saying she couldn’t do it. After just a short time, she had been losing weight and making decisions differently, but she had been met by judgment and criticism by her best friend. She looked ahead and decided she couldn’t stand to lose weight – it would hurt her friend too much. I was astounded she’d give up her health and body comfort in fear of hurting someone else. I often wonder where that dysfunctional relationship led her.
Like the folks who stay in a marriage that’s not working (I’ve encountered many of these too!), eating away their sadness, anger and frustrations, and repressing their needs… many people can’t see that a friend who holds you back isn’t a friend at all.
I still tingle at the memory of a client who realized she had a “collapsing syndrome” occurring in her life. Every time she got a little successful, she sabotaged it. How we do food is how we do everything.
She did the same thing in business and relationships. We had work to do. Years later, excess weight was a blip in her history, and she confided she had amassed a net worth of seven figures. Wow.
My heart breaks when potential clients deny their own denial.
I’ll never forget the first client who, getting an idea this was going to lead to deep, fundamental change, told me, “I’m not sure I need to lose weight. I know I’m a spiritual being… I’m not my body.” Five years later, I ran into her at an event. “I’d love to see you again, but I can’t lose weight now, I have breast cancer!” she reported.
When will we learn current health doesn’t equal future health, if we are abusing the body? There are no shortage of excuses in the world, if you want to live that way.
I also had a client trace her secretive, late night eating to her sexual frustration. She admitted she’d rather eat than ask her husband for the kind of attention that would lead to an orgasm.
Why? She felt it took too long. When I asked what that was, she said “45 minutes” with some shame. Now, it doesn’t matter how long an orgasm takes, your partner better be making it happen. (And, yes, anyone can make an orgasm occur with self pleasure – that wasn’t her need.)
Now, many women need more than 45 minutes to reach orgasm, depending in the activity they are pursuing. At any rate, she deliberately pretended it didn’t matter, and she had been doing that for 30 years. I asked her to add up how much time they had spent on her husband’s orgasms in 30 years, while she was secretly eating and drinking away her desire and needs.
Don’t ever think life coaches are tough. I had to mute the phone while I cried during that call. Denying our needs, and pretending it doesn’t matter isn’t a life… it’s self-abandonment.
When I started my business, I didn’t charge much for coaching, largely because I was new at it. But I had one client show up who wanted to loses weight so badly, she changed her whole life to make it happen.
She was on welfare and couldn’t afford my rather meager fees. She was estranged from her entire family, largely because she had just given birth while unmarried. She felt her family disapproved of her choices in life, so she had cut them off completely.
I challenged her with this question – how do you want to live?
She asked me to give her three weeks to do “some work on this.”
To tell you the truth, I didn’t expect to hear from her again.
But, three weeks later, she called and arranged her first appointment. In that short period of time, she had reconciled with her mother, who had been offering to care for her baby while she worked. (She had been refusing out of pride and fear of engaging with her critical parent.) She had secured a job and her mother had helped her with her first month’s coaching fees.
I knew I had something very special here – it’s a coach’s dream – a client willing and ready to change.
Six months later, someone she had met through work recruited her to another workplace. She came to a coaching appointment with a checklist of all her expenses and wanted to work with me on asking for that amount in her interview. She was scared. She felt it was “too much to ask for.”
I explained, if she wanted to “just cover her expenses”, she’d struggle. I challenged her to ask for double the amount she had decided upon.
At her next appointment, she told me “They agreed so fast, I think I could have asked for more.”
Always ask for more!
I coached her for years. Beyond losing weight and making some big decisions about how she wanted to raise her son, she started her own business and today, she owns her own home too. That’s along way from welfare.
Every January, I have past clients who email me, or send a card, thanking me for their time spent coaching. Because they live differently now, they’ve kept their weight loss, well into the 5-year “permanent zone.” They don’t fear regaining it.
Many clients come to coaching and realize the problem really isn’t food (no shit – it never is), it’s career, relationships or the ability to attend to themselves. One client said, “I lost 200 lbs of spouse and that was the key to restarting my life. Now, I’m going in my own direction.”
A partner who holds you back, diminishes you, or doesn’t allow your light to brightly shine, isn’t the right partner for you.
It’s about weight and it’s not.
Excess weight which makes us uncomfortable in our bodies is a symptom. In taking charge of weight, my clients also taken charge of their own happiness and success.
And that makes my job the best one in the world.
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