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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Finding Motivation and Inspiration Through Trial and Error

I’ve been struggling with finding inspiration to BE healthy. And I don’t mean that in a fad diet way, or an extreme way. Rather, I mean it in the same way I make decisions about money, career, and even relationships. I’m able to see the long game, and make decisions today that are healthy for the future. I don’t spend my entire paycheck, I save, without question. It isn’t painful at all, and doesn’t seem like I’m sacrificing. I do the work today without knowing if I’ll even be here to enjoy it in the future.

Same with career. I make sacrifices today in hopes of a better tomorrow – whether that’s a raise (preferred!), promotion, or even more autonomy or being involved in stuff I enjoy, now or in the future. I’d say the career path is harder, as there’s not always a concrete end result. Doing good work, especially as a woman, NEVER guarantees success tomorrow. And I don’t mean that in a victim way. Just that I watch men effortlessly (and without much commitment) get promoted, while the women around me struggle and grind more. But it’s life. It’s unintentional, and I can’t change it. so I roll with it.

Even in relationships, I’m able to look at a situation and determine quickly that some things aren’t worth arguing over or being right just to be right. Or that I won’t take offense to something when my friend is just that way. I see the big picture. I still want to be friends, so I let a lot of things slide for the long-term of the relationship. On the other hand, I’m also good at saying, “This relationship doesn’t benefit me, why do I continue with it?” and sever that relationship. I don’t want EVERYONE to like me. And don’t mind if they disagree or think I’m uncool. I have a good set of friends I feel lucky to have, and I spend time taking care of those relationships today.

So why do I struggle so much with health? Do I like eating more than I like spending money, calling in sick to work or slacking at work, or even being right or putting myself before relationships? I know I don’t do everything right with money, career or friends, but those areas of my life are super successful. Why can’t I care that over to moderate success in health?

I have been trying to find a better fit this past year, and I think part of my issue is depression (which I tend to eat through). Not debilitating but enough that food does bring me pleasure when other things aren’t. And anxiety affects my sleep cycle, which affects my hunger and give a damn. Fatigue also affects other parts of my personal life, mostly my organization at home, which plays directly into some of my food choices. But I’d say by and large, I simply can’t get into a groove I can maintain with eating “well” (whatever that means). Though I’ve done better with working out.

This year I’ve made walking a priority. It’s low impact, low energy requirement, and I’ve even found it’s a huge stress relief. But it’s time-consuming, and I only like to walk outside, so weather can impact my success.

I’ve posted before about being a huge fan of The Firm and Cathe. I do their workouts still (been a fan since the early 2000s). And over the past two years have found some great, encouraging, supportive social media groups of people who are fans of the same workouts. And I’ve actually found The Firm groups to be the most down to earth and long-thinking of ANY diet or exercise group I’ve been a part of. But it feels like time moves so fast. Those in the groups are slowly moving through their lives, intentionally. But I blink and the day’s over and I haven’t done as much as I’d like.

I’ve complicated the matter by purchasing a year with an online coach. I love the coach. He doesn’t try to get me to adhere to HIS diet and workout routine. He and I work together to try to figure out what works for me. I try to tell myself this is going to be good for long-term me, but so far my weight loss is minimal and I still feel lost. But I’m going to carry on until the year is up, in hopes I’ll come out the other side with a clearer outlook. So far, I can say, having someone to check in with has made me very consistent in workouts. And I feel somewhat stronger, but I can’t help thinking if I had somehow just said, “I want to walk, maybe work on jogging, maybe do some gym classes and add in workout videos when I want” I might be in a better place strength-wise. His strength workouts he gives me don’t seem to do a lot for building actual strength. And I don’t get the same sweaty burn (and after-glow) I do with Cathe or The Firm. It could just be at my age I won’t feel the same I have in the past. Or maybe I’m just uninspired.

My eating is a roller coaster. I’m trying to be VERY aware of over-eating. Why am I doing it? Is it because the food was good? If so, why? Is it because I’m sad/stressed? If so, does over-eating help? But I just can’t seem to make my revelations carry forward from day to day. And I know the eating is what’s hindering weight loss. But I also REFUSE to go back into a restricting cycle. I want to enjoy eating, but not have eating control me. Idon’ want to count calories and feel ashamed if I eat more than whatever my arbitrary limit is. Or have to make up for it with exercise.

Then again, I DESPERATELY want to be two sizes smaller!

I’ve been working through an intuitive eating workbook. Some sections and chapters are more helpful than others. One I’ve really enjoyed and think has helped is honoring what SOUNDS good. Not (well, probably sometimes) just as an excuse to eat whatever I want. But sometimes pasta sauce sounds really good. And I explore whether it’s actual pasta I want (or pizza as they’re similar cravings). Or maybe it’s the sauce itself. If so, what sounds good with the sauce? In the past, I would often just order pizza or pasta. But over the past few months, I’ve found I want pasta sauce with chicken. So I’ll make up a crusted chicken (I also have found I often crave textures, and crunch is a huge one for me), and eat that with pasta sauce and a salad. Kind of like a parmesan chicken. Other times, the WANT for pizza is overwhelming. And I TRY not to judge it, though I’ve found I judge so many things I want, and just order the pizza and eat what I want.

If I get in a judgement space, I find I eat MORE. I eat like, “this is the last time I’ll do this for awhile.” If I tell myself, “This is delicious. I can have this whenever I want” I find I eat less pizza right then AND order it less often. It is SO HARD to stay in the non-judging space, though. But I think that’ll be a key to success.

This past chapter I’ve been working through is being aware of hunger signals, which has been MADDENING for me. I struggle with wanting to eat as a distraction. And thinking about food leading up to a meal in itself is a distraction. If I think about what I’ve brought for lunch, it’s less interesting and distracting than talking about all of the POSSIBLE foods I can eat, and discussing them with a co-worker. I haven’t sorted how to deal with this, yet. But I do know it’s a root of part of the problem.

I’ve also found I want to eat lunch for a break. Meaning, it’s near lunchtime, I can eat and take a break from work. I’ve actually found boredom to be a strange nagging thing in my life recently. When I was in school last year, I found myself mid-final exam wanting to get out my phone and scroll because I was bored taking a test! I think with a lot of the technology in place now, and messaging being fast, fragmented, short blurbs, I struggle with focus and attention on things. To try to counter that I’ve tried to limit my time on social media, and tried to get back into reading. It’s definitely a struggle. And progress is SLOW.

Later in the same chapter, which I finally moved on because I felt like I wasn’t getting much out of these exercises, there is talk about honoring your hunger. If you’re hungry when it’s “too soon” treat it like if you have to go to the bathroom after you’ve just gone. Honor the hunger, and don’t try to shame or ignore or distract yourself from it. I’m going to try that this week along with still honoring what I’m hungry for and why, and being aware of over-eating, while also trying to work on improving focus and not distracting during boredom.

So many things to do! On the workout front, I did purchase a Cathe On Demand subscription because she has a really cool workout blender you can put workouts together with segments of ALL of her fantastic workout library. I’m going to use it to build workouts around the strength workouts my coach gave me so I can still do his workouts and try to get that sweaty afterglow I’m missing!

Intuitive Eating when Intuition is MIA

I’m on week 2 (plus a few days) of intuitive eating. The first week was fantastic. I felt very tuned in and enjoyed the process. I felt like I remained aware before, during and after eating. Something on Saturday flipped off and now I can’t get back in touch. And I have no idea what to do. Maybe part of intuitive eating is not having intuition every time you eat? Or maybe there’s a trick to tuning back in? I can’t quite figure out what to do next. And maybe not knowing is part of the learning.

I, unfortunately, stepped on the scale this morning (after about five days of feeling out of touch) and the number wasn’t good. I hope it was at least somewhat sodium and water weight. But having an injury, which is limiting lifting isn’t helping. Plus, having a busier week where walking has been a challenge is making me feel out of control.

But I’m trying to embrace the out of control, rather than turning away or drowning out the feeling with food.

I think the first step will be to reread my intuitive chapter. And re-state my goals. I also am feeling a bit drawn to meditating, so I wonder if I can find intuitive eating meditations (that are short and easy to squeeze into a day). I also am feeling the urge to count calories and restrict, but I AM resisting that urge.

I wanted to post as I often only post when things are going well. And this time they aren’t. This time I’m struggling with no good plan, and even losing ground. But I figure it’s happening whether I write about it or not. So may as well get right with the feelings, accept them, and set a next step, even if it’s not the right one.