Hiring a Coach: My Worst Decision

Disclaimer: I know this is just my story. I have heard so many great stories about people who have hired coaches. Before I hired mine, I asked around and heard just as many not as loudly told stories to the contrary. But I wanted to believe it could be true, it would help. And maybe I just got a bad match in a great company. What I think is I got sold that a company I formerly trusted would have something different. It was just a sales job. And here’s the kicker. I lost so much ground, got hurt, lost all momentum, and GAINED weight. Yes, the weight I worked so hard to lose soooo slowly. All of it is back now. Plus some. It brings tears to my eyes.

This is my story.

So, I’d tried it all. Calorie counting, low car, keto, paleo, primal, autoimmune protocol, fasting. It’s been a terrible roller coaster where I lose some, gain more back. And now I’m at a point that even with extreme fad diets like keto and fasting, I barely lose, and I plateau quickly, then start gaining. Go off, gain more back.

So I’d quit fad diets. Beginning of last year that was my resolution. No more diets, start walking. And I did. And then I got dumb. About May I saw the ad. I was at a point I thought, I’d like to add something else in. But I’m bored with all the stuff I’ve already done. Maybe a coach could customize something for me. They even touted not doing diets, but customizing to your genetics, lifestyle and preferences. My genetics? How did I not know this was a scam? Someone kill me.

Anyway, I signed up, and I tried to explain my food issues. My tendencies to be obsessive and extreme. That I didn’t want to track calories because of this. So he has me take pictures of my food, then starts asking about my food. So then I get into this disordered eating shame space and try not to eat at all. I was miserable. Tired, frustrated because I knew I’d broken my resolution and spent this money and was ready to quit, and hungry. I was fucking hungry.

Called my mom. She told me to eat whatever I want. Then tell the coach I did and this isn’t working.

So I did.

It was like I’d talk and talk about my issues but he never seemed to “get” it. He’d prescribe workouts that were boring and slow progress and I could do them but they were so basic. After I’d said I was burnt out with weight lifting but whenhe asked if I could try again. Yeah, I can try whatever. I guess I paid for you. But the fitness was supposed to fit my interests. This wasn’t interesting. And the one thing I was enjoying, I now wasn’t doing to fit in these uninspired workouts. Did I have time to walk? Sure. But I was so overwhelmed with the eating situation, I didn’t want to walk. Or workout. And I wanted my money back.

And he wanted to check in though chat.

I did finally negotiate quick weekly calls. Only they were during work. I don’t want to meet during work. I don’t have an office. I have to go sit in my car because I’m not talking about diet and exercise and how I feel in a shared space. Only every single call i was on time, and he was late. Not like hours late. But five or ten minutes late. So I am sitting in my car for my entire lunch break WAITING for him to call. And then he’d say pretty basic stuff. I thought, well, maybe this is like therapy. People say therapists say the most obvious stuff. But it never helped. I still hated “reporting” my food to him, and now my head was in the “on or off” diet mode and if I was off, I was binging, and if I was on, I was starving. Which, by the way, I finally quit this mess in, I believe November, and I am STILL in this mode and can not get out of it. To say I’m full of regret is an understatement. I’ve gained fifteen pounds since then. I had to buy some bigger clothes. I’m miserable at this size.

And all I can think is, “If I had just kept doing what I was doing, I would have been fine,” why do we think we need help? We don’t. These coaches give us the very basic advice, only they don’t know us, and don’t really seem to want to. They give us workouts that are either easy to get going and don’t challenge you, or are way too hard. And have you do all of this pre-work – videos, answer questions, etc., then don’t really seem to do anything with that information. I know that walking is working, so I continue. That’s my only plan. To walk 2-4 miles 5-7 days a week. If I want to ride a bike instead, I will. Go to a cycle class, I do instead. Add in some weights, I do. Dance instead of walking because it’s raining? Great! Hit up kickboxing? Sounds fun today! Maybe I want to lift once or twice a week, so I do. Maybe some weeks I don’t left at all. If I want to go for a bike ride, I do.

I now appreciate my body’s capabilities. I try to challenge it some days, and other, enjoy the simplicity of the walk.

As for eating? I think partly it’s tied to the depression of the weight gain. I put on the workout clothes I bought this time lest year and the loose fighting stuff doesn’t fall as flatteringly. The leggings are too tight in the waist. My work clothes are less flattering. And I remind myself I’m not what I look like. And my value doesn’t come from my weight. And I keep saying it. And some days I eat fast food three times a day. Others, I crave steamed broccoli, chicken and roasted potatoes. I’m trying to be patient. To slowly get back where I was. To listen to ME because I was on the right path before, and I lost it by making someone else’s uneducated opinion a priority over mine.

I still have some nagging injuries I’m working on. But even those are slowly improving now. I try to say I don’t regret it because I’ve learned. Now I know:

1. Diets are only short term successful for me. If I want to think about my lifetime, I will NEVER go on a diet again. Ever. No matter what.

2. A coach doesn’t know me better than me. I’ve been doing this health stuff for nearly twenty years. I know my body, my needs, my brain better than anyone.

3. No matter what I look like, I’m worthy of love, acceptance and success. And if I never lose another pound, that’s ok.

4. I can be the best version of me at this weight I can be. Someone who is active, capable, strong, independent and compassionate with myself! And being the best me isn’t a destination. It is endless. I will stay active today, tomorrow, forever. Only goal is to keep moving.

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Intuitive Eating Meets Healthy Eating

First, the title of this post is tough for me. The word “healthy” is a bit of a trigger. As in the past, I tried to make ONLY healthy choices, or the healthiest choices, or eat healthy foods. The problem is, there is no one, true definition of health. At my work, there’s a vending machine with “whole grain” Poptarts and baked Doritos. And my coworkers call it a “healthy” vending machine. Now, don’t get me wrong, I care 0% if people eat chips or Poptarts. But don’t call these foods healthy. To me, it seems fairly clear those foods aren’t healthy. But part of my issue is using food to feel superior. I don’t WANT to feel superior, but correcting people that the vending machine isn’t healthy is almost a compulsion. One I’d like to stop. Why do I care what definition another person applies to healthy.

Side note: There is one really, really, really judgy woman at my work. She’s always talking about eating one healthy meal, going home and having lost two pounds, or talking about “eating crap” (herself or others), talking about how chubby her twelve year old daughter is (BTW when I met her daughter, I was shocked that’s how she described her, she seemed VERY average, even below average weight compared to many children that age). Anyway, she helped spearhead this vending machine, and she calls it healthy, so I think that’s why it triggers me so much. She throws her clearly dysfunctional food attitude around like it’s gospel. I wish she’d never talk about food again.

That aside, I’ve been thinking a lot about intuitive eating. And part of intuitive eating is letting that judgement and categorization fall aside. Let the shame of NOT eating healthy go. In theory, after eating what you want, give in to cravings, really start to eat when you’re hungry, what you’re hungry for, no foods are off limits. Work to take the “good” and “bad” labels off of food, you’ll stop ONLY wanting to eat the things you used to declare off limits or never eat. For me, some of those foods in the past have been french fries, non-low calorie bread, pizza, nachos, tacos, cheese dip, chips, etc. Other things on the “bad” list I’ve never really reintroduced are things like Poptarts, or even cream of anything soup. These types of more processed foods are so villainized, by so many factions of people, that I’d sort of just accepted them as so and avoid them. These are the things I’d put in a shopping cart and maybe hide under something else. Or I’d eat shamefully alone. I also feel similar levels of fear of judgement, shame while eating, and shame after eating for some of the other foods I’ve reintroduced. So I’ll eat them, but often wonder if I’m being judged. But I’ve done better reintroducing these foods. Even if they give me some anxiety while eating them.

As I’ve started to track foods again. And restrict some, even though I know I probably shouldn’t, I’m trying to find a good combination of eating what I want, not putting anything off limits, and eating a reasonable number of calories per day that keeps me from being endlessly hungry (like it or not, protein and fat does help fill me up, and carbs help satisfy me – so a good combination at each meal is the best match for me), help me feel good, and satisfy me.

Part of what I used to do was think I was eating this way for a short time. Then I was so anti-restricting and dieting, that I didn’t want to make any alternate choices. Now I’m to the point I’m trying to learn I can have cheese dip ANY time. And also trying to learn even though I CAN have it and the world won’t stop spinning, I shouldn’t have it all the time. For weight reasons, but also for health reasons. I’m trying to see the value in having a varied diet. But at the same time not FORCING any “healthy” foods. For example, I don’t like brussel sprouts. In the past, I’d force myself to eat them because of X, Y or Z nutritional reason. Now I refuse to do that. But I also went through a LONG phase of eating what sounded good, thinking eventually it would sort itself out. It never did. But I did realize when I’d eat with my parents, I was happy with meats, veggies and some bread, rather than pizza, burgers, fries and chips all the time.

So how do I add in some more balanced meals without feeling like it’s a requirement? My first instinct is to count “good” and “bad” meals, and set a goal. But I know that will quickly go bad. Wanting more and more and more and more perfect “good” meals. And I don’t want to qualify as good and bad. Then I think maybe I try to eat vegetables so many times per day or week, but that level of tracking and, again, good or bad grading, isn’t really where I want to go.

In fact, the coach I hired suggested I added some veggies to a meal (that already had veggies) and it was a horrible trigger. First, choose your battles, bro. Second, you don’t even know what’s in my meals. Third, I’ve eaten more veggies in the weeks since starting coaching that I can’t even compare “before” and “after.” But, mostly, I WILL NOT FORCE VEGETABLES AGAIN! It triggers my orthorexia, and I do not want to go back there. However, from a different perspective, when I’m thinking about what sounds good on days I’m NOT craving anything, I’ve been starting to consider whether a salad or maybe some broccoli sounds good. Sometimes it does, and I’ll order it. Sometimes NO vegetables or fruits sound good and I truly want chicken tenders and fries, so on those days, I go that direction and try to be observant of how I feel after (fine, as long as I don’t over-eat, btw), and how full I stay (very full, actually). And how the rest of my day goes (much better than forcing a salad down and not being satisfied, honestly). So it’s OK to have chicken tenders and fries if I really want them. But if steamed broccoli, grilled chicken and a salad sound good. Great! Have that! Or, some days, grilled chicken, broccoli and fries sound perfect. That’s great, too.

However, since I’ve been restricting by counting and trying to stay under a “goal” of calories, I’ve found more and more and more the vegetables sound less incing, and I start to feel ashamed not eating enough vegetables. Then I try to force them. Sometimes I’ll add a small salad to a meal and choke it down.

This is how I know what I’m doing now isn’t working. I’m considering, three months into this year long coach, just abandoning the coaching. Part of me feels like I’m running away and quitting. But I truly feel like he does not get food issues. You don’t make foods good or bad, but he does. You don’t make any sort of judgement statement surrounding food choices when things are going well. For example, if I’m making progress, don’t suggest I add more or take away something. Why not just let things keep moving forward. He never asks how I feel about the food. the problem is, I don’t think the company has any food issues coaches. So I could request another coach and go through more shame of feeling like it’s ME, when I don’t think it is me. Or I can keep working with this coach and lying (as I’m starting to do). Or i can walk away entirely, forfeit the money, and NEVER get a coach of any kind ever again. Probably the third choice is the healthiest for me right now. I need a break. I feel frustrated, tired, stressed, anxious. And now my weight has plateaued. And that’s adding more shame and stress to the mix. I keep trying to hit “reset” and can’t because I can’t get away from tracking.

The coach seems more concerned about probably marking some checklistof things he’s done than really understanding where I’m coming from. He thinks success means eat less, exercise more than you were. From a physical perspective, I’m sure this can essentially be broken down as such. But for someone withfood issues to have success, it’s not that simple. It’s more emotional than physical. It’s more emotional than logical. And it’s more balance than obsession and checklists and goals. And more and more and more and more and more.

I’m full of failure feelings. Full of shame. Starting to lie to others about what’s going on. Wanting to hide and eat and lie about it. I know I’m trying to escape and let the pressure evaporate. But I feel like if I walk away now, I’ll go on a food bender and lose any progress I’ve made. Then I’ll feel shame about that.

So what’s a better way forward? Unfortunately, I feel like with my coach, I HAVE to start lying about food. Bump up the vegetables, even when I’m not eating them. And level off my caloric intake. But then be honest with myself. (I realize this is sort of isolation that often comes with restricting. But I’d rather lie and NOT restrict. And get a break from the coach, who is only making things more obsessive at this point.)

I want to step back and instead of pre-planning days and food, I’ll be more in the moment with my options. If I bring lunch and it doesn’t sound good, evaluate why. Understand if I’m simply rebelling or if I’m craving something. If I’m craving it, is it a craving on repeat? If so, am I comforting something? I’ve found a lot of repeat cravings come from some sort of comfort. Almost like a security blanked or a warm bath. If I’m eating for comfort, why? Is it because I know the calories in a “bad” food (this is actually very common) and it’s a “safe cheat.” Or am I craving salty or crispy or some other flavor or texture? And if so, why?

I want to be more aware of my intentions with food. What’s really going on. Am I being “good” to feel superior? Or am I being “bad” to rebel because I’m frustrated or annoyed with the system? At any point have I said to myself, “I’d rather be fat than feel like this?” that’s usually the warning signal things are going sideways and I’m pushing something down. For example, I found myself saying I’d rather be fat than work with this coach anymore. But I’m too chicken to ask for another coach because:

  • I don’t want to be high maintenance
  • I don’t want to be mean
  • I don’t want to be a quitter
  • I don’t want to be weak
  • I don’t want to complain
  • I think I’m really worried the next coach will be worse. And I have no idea why I’m worried about this. If the next coach is “worse” then I can walk away from that. I think I think at that point it’s ME not them. But that’s not necessarily true. I think many people, like me, try to keep going even when it isn’t working. So just because these coaches have had success doesn’t mean the success is sustained.

I truly believe the things we complain about are generally in our control to change. And I know I can either try to communicate to my coach what needs to change. Or ask for a new coach. Or suck it up an try to do his program (for what it’s worth, I don’t think this is the best way forward, but it’s certainly the easiest).

I’m going to try to make it through this week, focusing on what I really WANT the rest of the week, and evaluating why. I also want to try to be more aware of what it feels like to go over on calories. What feelings to I feel? And do those feelings make the next day harder? What am I compromising to try to hit an, honestly, random goal? For example, I’ve set a goal of 2,000 calories. So if I go up to 2,200 calories, I’d probably still lose weight, just more slowly.

The anxiety centers around wasting my time. It centers around being weak. It centers around feeling like, “Everyone else does this, why can’t I?”So it feels like if I’m not losing weight, why bother?

But there is reason to bother. I want to work to get through this. I want to find a way that I enjoy eating a variety of food. Not just good and bad, but a mix of all of the kinds of food. I want to try new foods and new preparations. I want to try foods from other cultures. I want to try to make meats different ways, but also make fruits and veggies different ways. I want to keep moving forward, shut off the noise, and try to learn, grow and overcome.

Attitude and Health

I’ve really been struggling with my attitude and perspective lately. My job has been so frustrating. I’ve been job hunting but am in such a negative place, it’s hard to find anything I’m really excited for. Is it worth taking a pay cut? Will I be just as frustrated somewhere else?

I know these feeling aren’t good for my health, and are a waste of the short time we’re given on this earth, but I also struggle with what the point is at all, and that’s probably the root of my discontent.

I’m not sure what the solution is. I’ve been trying positive affirmations, and they work fine at home, but at work, I feel like I can barely stand to be around most people, let alone fake a positive and happy attitude. Is it their fault? No, they are working within the system of our environment. I’m the one who wants things to be different.

I’ve been trying to sit outside every day that it’s not too hot or raining. I’ve been getting in workouts. I’ve been trying to get in good quality sleep. I meditate at least once a day. I’m not sure what else I need to do. If I didn’t feel totally happy and content outside of work, I’d worry I need anti-depressants. I know I have a decent setup at my job, but I’m just not happy. And I know ultimately something needs to change or I need to be brave enough to move on.

To be continued, I guess…

Overweight People Aren’t Lazy Idiots – Maybe There’s Another Cause (Besides “Genetics”)

Here it is. The death rattle heard ‘round the Internet. People are posting links to this article and either saying it’s disheartening or “another excuse.” And despite my better judgement, I read every comment. Every single one. Full of people who think their experience never gaining weight, their experience easily losing weight, or their experience losing weight and keeping it off negates that there’s an issue. Rather people are lazy excuse-makers. No one sees an overweight person as a person. Rather they’re a sub-human form of life who is disgusting and lacks willpower. I’ll stop you right there if you’re one of those people. I am overweight, and I am not lazy. I am not worthless. I have willpower. I work on projects for work that everyone else has abandoned because they require too much work, too much attention to detail, and too much follow-through. I lack nothing that these assholes are saying fat people lack. I am a very goal-oriented person. I bet I have more money saved than the average American my age. I get delayed gratification. And I am a smart person. I have access to good food. And I eat it. And I don’t eat 6,000 calories a day like many people assume. But I hear you, you judgmental jerks. You don’t WANT heavy people to lose weight. You don’t want there to be more to the story.

In my opinion, this article was the perfect avenue to open up dialogue and brainstorm other potential causes  or approaches. This was a great scenario to consider other things that might be playing into the story. Maybe it’s not as simple as people are eating way too much because they’re glutenous sloths. Maybe most overweight people WANT to lose weight, but they’re struggling. Maybe simply eating less and exercising more really isn’t working. Maybe you can take them at face value and be part of the cure, not the perpetuation of the disease (of fat-hate).

Somehow an article that seemed to me like a suggestion to look at other approaches has pitted those who struggle against those who have never had weight issues or lost weight once and kept it off (even if that time is less than two years, as mentioned in the article – those who have lost weight recently think they’re safe from regain). Hell, a friend called fat people “fucktards.” How is that helping? I’m glad you know every person in the world. I’m glad you’ve experienced every scenario. I’m glad you know everything about everything, ever.

So, as a fat, worthless, lazy fucktard, what do I think? More

N=1 – What Works For You Versus What Will Work For Everyone

Let me start this post by saying, I think it’s so, so, so important to learn what works for you. So important. So I’m not suggesting people stop that. Keep using yourself as an experiment. If you think a certain food bothers you and you want to eliminate it, add it back and see what happens, great! If you want to see what level of carb intake your body responds best to, do it! Or how much protein or fat seems to be optimal for staying full and getting in good workouts, do it! Or, when you have in injury you might work out on your own or get advice on what your issue is, that’s fantastic. There’s no point in knowing what that pain means in “most people.” In order to heal and improve, you need to know why YOU are having the pain.

But you have to remember, what works for you may or may not work for someone else. So someone else is struggling losing weight, and when you lost weight all you did was eat as few carbs as possible. That’s great. And it’s nice to suggest, but stop at suggesting. If the other person feels like crap on very little carbs or can’t maintain it, or doesn’t lose, that doesn’t mean he or she is lying. It just means what worked for you doesn’t work for them. If weight loss for you is simply staying under 2500 calories, great. I’m glad you found what works for you. The problem is you can’t push that on someone else. You can’t expect someone who progressively feels worse and worse to intermittent fast. Or run two miles every morning. Everybody’s body is different. We’re all unique little snowflakes. And, sure, when something works for most people, it’s nice to suggest it. But when it doesn’t work for someone, that doesn’t mean they’re lying or doing it wrong, it simply means they’re not part of the “most.” That’s why they say “most,” after all. “Most” means “not all.” More

The Affliction of the Naturally Thin

Before I get into this, I want to disclaim, I’m NOT judging those people who have problem putting or keeping weight on. I think those who struggle to keep their weight up are in a similar boat as those who easily keep weight off. I’m also not addressing those who easily maintain their weight without much effort but don’t say anything snarky. This post is narrowly considering those who keep a healthy weight without much effort, but tell others to “just” do some super-simplistic approach to weight loss (or gain, but I can only speak to loss).

I was a skinny kid. My parents used to worry I wasn’t eating enough. I always had good energy. And don’t remember having a favorite food beyond cheese and cola. I do remember foods I hated (mostly vegetables, but I also wasn’t fond of meat or egg yolks). I remember being excited when my mom made ice cream or brought it out to us after swimming, but I don’t remember begging for ice cream or other sweets. Food was just… Food. Those were the days, right?

I hit puberty and suddenly had hips and thighs and a little stomach pooch. But I wasn’t fat. I maintained this “not quite a thin girl” look all through high school and the first few years of college. During middle and high school I definitely started having an affliction for fast food (especially McDonald’s cheeseburgers and pizza). After a breakup, a bout of depression, finding solace in food, and unlimited freedom to eat all of my meals out, I gained weight. I haven’t looked back since. It’s been a struggle to lose the weight I gained mostly on impulse. Mostly in a fit of self-pity. Mostly over a term of several months.

And since then? I get it. I get why weight loss is this national phenomenon. I get why it’s a bajillion dollar industry. More

Cargill Pink Slime, GMO-Fed Pigs, Arsenic In Chicken Feed, Systemic Inflammation and Cancer, Oh My!

I’ve known about ammonia in meat for years (since I watched Food Inc. – If you’re one of the few who haven’t, you should). And that’s kind of when I started looking more closely at better-raised meats (meat being generic for beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, etc.). It’s quite the process to wade through the propaganda. It comes from both sides. There are the “extremists” (who I admittedly relate to more) who don’t want any extra “crap” in their food or bodies. I relate to this. Have you seen this study on pigs fed corn – and the comparison between GMO and non-GMO? Anyway, then there are the other “extremists” who think the first set of people are making everything up, that food is a sum if its parts, that we’ll all starve without GMOs and grain-fed animals, and feedlots and farm raised fish.

I’m sure the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

But in the meantime, I only get one body. And the more I search and the more popular it becomes, the better-priced healthier alternatives become. More

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