How I Found Health Coaching For Myself.
Overwhelming joy and the pits of despair and self-loathing against my body are the two things that woke me up to my true self. 2013 was a wonderful year for me. And it was also a year full of frustration and disparaging self-image issues.
For me, life is about enjoying every precious moment and investing my energies into vitality and love for myself and others.
The best things that happened to me that year were that I was so thrilled to finally have my beautiful niece, Rylie as the world’s most adorable 6 month-old flower-girl in my wedding. My heart was so full of joy when, in July, I married my amazing husband, Michael. Bounding with ecstasy, I waltzed across the stage when I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Psychology that December! My heart leapt and sored through the air when I received my acceptance letter for the graduate Counseling Program!
On the darker side though, I was losing the battle with my weight and self-esteem when I was a bride. Stress and depression compounded while I finished my degree. I was at my very heaviest physically and emotionally when I put on my tight-fitting red dress for graduation. I know it’s an ugly thing to admit, but I truly hated my body. I hated that people were watching me walk across the stage in that ridiculous robe. I had several honors cords and distinguished achievements around my neck, but all I was thinking about was my jiggling belly and my rubbing thighs. I was shoving down my anger and sadness about things that happened in the past using food so that I could keep myself going. I was trying not to feel my emotions because I knew it would cause me to break down and stop functioning in my life.
Before I got married, I was living in a place in my life that I hated, and I could do nothing to change the fact that I was powerless. I was also in a body that I hated and I could do nothing to stop the mental torrent of verbal abuse against myself. I could only find solace in distraction through food, numbing out with television, and occasionally abusing the thrill of alcohol. But deep down, I longed for something better. I knew that I needed to take control of my life. I had to take responsibility for my emotions, for my coping skills, for the awful names I called myself, for what I was doing to my body.
It all started with a google search: “How to lose weight,” in January 2014. So typical, right? I found that there is a wealth of information out there! I found that there were so many competing theories of nutrition, but it was all new to me. I didn’t care what I tried, as long as it helped me feel more in control. More empowered. I wanted to get as far away from this ugly feeling of impotence in my life.
I tried so many different things, from Paleo to Raw Veganism over the course of that year. I started practicing yoga at home, which slowly led me to gaining the confidence to walk into my first yoga class in early 2015. I found the book “Make Your Own Rules Diet” by Tara Stiles, a ballerina turned yoga instructor who shares her story of healing from PTSD and anorexia using yoga and self-compassion. In this book, she shares her experience with using positive affirmations from Louise Hay. I also started listening to Louise Hay’s “101 Power Thoughts” on youtube (Find it here!) I also found Corrina Rachel, a holistic health coach who shares her knowledge and insights in a weekly live chat on the Youtube channel Psychetruth. All three of these beautiful ladies have helped me so much on my path to wellness.
This walk of mine became all about the value of compassion. Which means that I accept myself unconditionally while I strive for something better.
I have learned that at least for me, weight loss was never truly about my extra adipose tissue or the physical discomfort that comes with it. I needed to love myself first, unconditionally. I needed to let go of the past and forgive myself for not being able to control or protect myself from what happened to me. I needed to make space for my existence in the world, my world, even though I wasn’t measuring up (or down) to the body type that I thought I should be. This walk of mine became all about the value of compassion. Which means that I accept myself unconditionally while I strive for something better. For me, the only meaningful way to “lose weight” is to take the mental baggage that I’ve carried for so long off my mind. I strive to do this every day by learning to let go of what’s not serving me, learning to say “no” to things and relationships that are not right for me, setting and enforcing my personal boundaries, and coping well with the stresses of life. On top of that, I cherish my body by investing time and resources into eating high-quality, balanced foods. I exercise my body by engaging in highly meaningful activities like yoga, dancing, and walking. I refuse to engage in strenuous exercises that lead me to feel depleted, because that mentality does not suit my lifestyle nor my personality. Therefore, I am not a big proponent of “no pain, no gain” bullshit that gym-rats tout. For me, life is about enjoying every precious moment and investing my energies into vitality and love for myself and others.
Why Do I Want To Be A Health Coach?
The first response that I have to this question is that I think about the tired, stressed out mother who, after a long day at work, picks up her hungry children along the commute home. She stops at the gas station to top off the tank and she brings her cranky children inside to find a quick, cheap snack to help them make it home. Every time I stop at a gas station, I notice that the gigantic 30-something ounce soda drinks are often cheaper than bottled water. Cheesy poofs, processed cake nightmare snacks, and hot dogs are abundant, cheap, and conveniently found at convenience stores. However, I rarely find an apple, banana, orange, or salad. Even if there are healthier options, marketing and food science have done such a great job of helping children reach for all the unhealthy junk foods. What kid is going to choose a fruit over a bag of skittles?
I think of all of the overtime workers who are stretching themselves thin to support their families. I know that at many places of business, vending machines hold high-fat sugary chocolate bars and tasty cheese Danishes. However, it is much more difficult to find a healthy snack to support the efforts of the man or woman who is working overtime to afford rent and food. These busy and stressed out people deserve a break! They don’t need a health crisis on top of crunching day in and day out to put food on the table for their families.
I know it’s hard for so many of us to manage our busy lifestyle and balance our meals. I want to help! I believe that we can change culture to promote vitality for all of our hard-working mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and friends. I want to be a part of this movement.
Let’s reverse the damage. Let’s get back to health!
I have decided that I want to become a health coach because I want to be a part of the journey towards self-acceptance and “weight loss” for others. Our society is facing an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and chronic illness. I think it’s highly likely that these health crises are occurring as we are also seeing the low-quality, mass produced junk foods that are being marketed to busy, stressed out, hungry people. I think the processed-food industry is doing us a major disservice because we have learned that food should be easy, convenient, and cheap. However, when we sacrifice quality for convenience, there are going to be consequences to our health. Let’s reverse the damage. Let’s get back to health!
There are so many Health Coach programs available! In my upcoming post, I will talk about why I chose the American Council on Exercise (ACE) Health Coaching certification program!