I spent 10 years really fat and totally miserable. Although when I really reflect on it I had been building a lifetime practice of food dysfunction and always had a tenuous relationship with my body. I did not know how to respect and really inhabit my body in a loving way. Food felt like it might be taken away at any point (especially the “good stuff”). So I learned to hoard it or hide it away (sometimes in my mouth).
Growing up I was an athlete and very active as a gymnast, softballer, and player of pretty much any sport. But particularly as a gymnast I knew how to push myself but did not respect or reflect on any of my abilities. Nothing was ever really good enough. If I practiced a position I could always go further, train harder, jump higher, rotate more fully.
As I headed into puberty and stopped the being an elite athlete my body became more full and rounder as with the emergence of my hips. My Mother mentioned to me (I am sure she thought helpful at the time), “You don’t need to lose any weight just tone up.” My brother made fun of the skin on my arms. Neither were particularly reaffirming views of my changing body.
As an adult, I read A LOT of books on diets and how to lose weight. Did they make me thin? Did any of my intellectual knowledge or vast information on the subjects of diet and exercise help me. NO, no and NO!
As coaches we get to help and hold space for the client through the fact that intellectual knowledge of a subject does not replace or even change the emotional work that needs to be done. Reading a book or watching a video will not make the switch in your head towards action.
As a coach, I had a client who was adamant about finding a book to read on the subject of weight loss. I asked her “if you put your hand on this book and completely assumed all of the knowledge ever written on this subject would it really change your thoughts or feelings on loosing weight?” She stared at me blankly. And shook her head “NO.”
The research and reading are stalling. I found when I was going to a lot of “experts” for help it was also a way of not doing the work for myself. Not facing the pain and embarrassment I had about my “failure”. If I was working with the PT or a dietitian then I didn’t have to be doing the work on myself with myself. I was still treating my body as the problem to be fixed.
We all do it. Reading about something is passive. It can help us get ready to shift our energy for the painful and difficult emotional work we must do. But it can’t replace the actual exploration and exorcising of thoughts and feelings. The unraveling of those thoughts is really the good stuff of coaching. It is generative. It is meaty. It is sometimes really painful and tough. You get poked in all the soft and tender places. You feel exposed. You shed years of pain. But so much growth & transformation happens and you don’t even lift any weights.