Have you ever sat down and written out your own story? Picked a question to ask yourself to guide your story’s direction and to be able to write a definitive answer? My question was: how did I get here, professionally? I have been asked this over and over for guest articles and such, but my answer is always narrowed down to a few sentences, which just doesn’t give you the breadth of my experiences that guided me into the professional I am today.
My actual story, with me being me, was written out in several pages. However, knowing time is precious and you don’t need to know my entire detailed way of being, I made it more concise. Why? Because it was cathartic for me and also a way to explain myself to clients or readers so that you GET ME. It takes a lot of trust and understanding to believe in and trust someone in a profession like mine. Nutrition and life coaching is so personal, so I got personal with you. A healthy tit for tat 🙂
MY JOURNEY IN A NUTSHELL
Being a nutritionist was never my life plan, but neither was my history of chronic disease and a traumatic accident that recently changed my entire approach to life as well as my profession.
Summarizing 38 years is a tough task with all of my “life experience,” but my background story lends to why and how I approach my business because- I was my first client. Fast forward through a love of athletics and cooking, through my dedication to being a runner in high school through Cross Country and Track & Field, being raised by parents who worked out and took care of themselves, healthy living was a concept I was introduced to at a young age.
High school, for me and most of us, was a tough journey as far as self-confidence. I didn’t have a weight problem, in fact, I had abs at 15, but I was made to feel like my short stature and athletic figure (I am and always have been pear-shaped) was unacceptable, especially for a runner. Add in the general social expectations and self-esteem challenges that come at the high school age and I was embarking on a journey of disordered eating and exercise bulimia.
When I got to college, I did seek out counseling and formed friendships that gave me the strength and encouragement to improve my relationship with food and my body. College being college, people tend to gain weight, which I did. In the beginning, I gained the weight I needed to have a realistic, healthy body. But, I gained more weight towards the end and always felt constantly run down and bloated. Little did I know, that I had a slew of food-related digestive issues that I wouldn’t discover until I graduated.
In a nutshell, my 20s were a decade of self-discovery and trial/error diet changes:
- I initially met with a nutritionist and a trainer weekly to drop the college LBS. Within a few months, I had met my goals and developed a healthy, balanced approach to food and fitness.
- I went into anaphylaxis at 23-years-old. It turns out I had an adult-onset peanut and tree-nut allergy with some exercise-induced allergies to certain foods.
- During this time I also had GI issues that landed me in the hospital under the guise that I had appendicitis the pain was so bad, but it turned out a colonoscopy identified the portion of my small intestine called the ileum was massively inflamed. This could be due to many things, but my Advil use as a teenager to overcome athletic injuries and pain was a leading cause.
- I gave up inflammatory foods, most notably, gluten and dairy.
- I also underwent an endoscopy when symptoms improved, but didn’t abate enough to make me comfortable. They discovered that I had gastritis; inflammation of the protective lining of the stomach. This comes along with the intestinal distress I was suffering from.
Pain, discomfort, weight issues, stress, frustration, so much change….
In the midst of all of these health issues, I changed my career path and became a certified personal trainer to work with people on fitness while I pursued a Masters in Holistic Nutrition. Most important to note is that, over time, I found balance and mastered my own approach to nutrition with the help of others.
Over the years I have had several different job titles related to healthy living that has culminated in over a decade of experience and a well-cultivated approach to helping others outline their own programs. Over time, after working with thousands of clients, I evolved my business into the on-demand service people need to elicit and maintain change in their lives. A large part of this being accountability and motivational coaching.
THE SHIFT IN MY APPROACH TO CLIENTS
After a traumatic accident four years ago where I suffered a triple brain hemorrhage, I spent a great deal of time on the cognitive, emotional, and mental aspects of “change” in life. Having to completely re-identify with myself and adjust to a new normal due to what happened to me, I recognized the depths in which we internalize our habits and behaviors. I also needed people in my life to push me through the frustration, help me identify my obstacles, and continuously encourage me. After all, change of any kind is the hardest thing to initiate, push through, and maintain.
This all starts with clients defining their goals. Not just extrinsic (I want a bikini body in 30 days,) but also intrinsic goals (I want to feel better about my efforts to be healthy,) as well as immediate, short-term, long-term, and life-long goals. After all, you have to identify the mile-markers that will get you to the finish line. As a coach, my efforts are spent on ensuring clients have realistic, attainable goals that I refer back to and discuss consistently throughout their journey.
Shifting a client’s thought process is also a huge aspect in coaching. Implementing positive self-talk, learning to forgive yourself for any failures; big or small, and getting right back on track, building self-confidence, teaching them to identify wants vs needs, emotions related to foods, and the origin of food and fitness patterns are keys to lasting change.
Materials and 24-7 accountability = the recipe for client success. A client e-binder that starts with a “whole life” wellness questionnaire and is filled with educational and informational documents developed to answer any and all problems clients identify with when it comes to nutrition and fitness and serve as a foundation for change. This is a healthy living Bible in a sense that gives you the tools outside of working with me directly, to live healthy.
MAIN LESSON: many people have to tools and the know-how to live healthier. What people truly need is a responsive coach to guide them through how to execute these changes, alter their behaviors, organize approach to food and fitness, and serve as a sounding board for any and all struggles that occur throughout the journey. Gone are the days of meeting for an hour every week without contact in the moment, when you truly need it.