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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Post-Fast – Retained Results, New Exercise and Diet

I lost a solid six to eight pounds after my fast. I was very pleased with that. It was tough at first thinking of it like I gained back twelve to fourteen pounds, but those pounds weren’t ever mine to have lost. Overall, the fast was hard, but I’m glad I did it. If I did it again, I’d probably do a bunch of shorter timeframe, more frequent fasts than another 1-2 week one. Maybe 1-3 day fasts.

Right now I’m mostly just doing intermittent fasting where I skip breakfast a few days a week, and I try to be honest with myself with dinner – if I’m not hungry, don’t eat. I’m trying to eat less bread and pasta as a general approach, and more salads with lots of fats, moderate protein, and carbs only coming from the veggies. But I am also occasionally having pizza. Or Mexican food. Or any other food I REALLY want. But I’m trying to have a realistic, healthy approach, and not watching diet a lot more than that. So far weight’s holding steady, and I’m pleased with that.

I had been doing a few workout videos a week and some heavy deadlifts. I am a big fan of Metabolic Effect. I’ve bought a few programs in the past, read most of Jade’s articles, and used one of his techniques in my battle against adrenal fatigue. It’s still one I use today. I monitor my heart rate during a workout, and if it doesn’t return to normal within a few minutes of resting, I call it a day for workouts. He seems to have several approaches you can employ, and I do believe there are many ways to healthy, but I decided to give his Metabolic Prime workout a shot. More

Revitalized and Excited for the Future

For those of you who have been following my disjointed journey, I’ve been struggling for the past five years with post-workout fatigue, food allergies, and lots of various minor health maladies. I say minor not because fatigue or allergies are small things. But for me, compared to bigger things like cancer, heart disease, or anything else I may not have been able to work out with time, in hindsight, these are small things. I think my struggles all hinged from burnout at work. I ran my body into the ground, and was surprised when it finally revolted. Actually, that’s not true at all. But I was surprised despite the revolt, “fixing” me wasn’t simple.

Note: Just looked back at my stats. Things started to go awry in late 2010/early 2011. And really came off the rails in late 2011/early 2012 (it makes me sad to see the “WHY?!” that I was noting waist size increase, no weight loss, etc.), but I didn’t accept it until later that year and beyond. I remember that year was the year I went paleo, and I was able to glean some weight loss because of the (lower carb, switching up my workouts, etc.). But you’ll be not-so-happy to see my stats now. I’m trying to stay NOT FOCUSED on that. It’s going to be a 40lb gain. Work to do, but I’m more excited for endurance and strength than weight loss.

It was a complex combination of learning to sleep normally again, avoiding allergy foods, using AAT (Advanced Allergy Therapeutics) to fix a magnesium allergy, finding a vitamin C that worked for my body so I could absorb iron, and using B-12 almost excessively, but D-3 sparingly. I also went through a phase of food obsession (ever heard of orthorexia?), let the pendulum swing back to horribly unhealthy eating out of frustration, and now have settled into a more sustainable way of eating. I went almost five years with no real workouts to speak of. This was the worst part for me. More

Food – My Former Frenemy

We’ve all heard of frenemies, right? Enemies who are your friends. Friends who are your enemies.

That’s how I used to feel about food. I still do sometimes.

About two and a half years ago my face started breaking out. These were new breakouts, worse than I’d ever had. Suddenly coming on. And more than ever. I won’t go into the specifics, but after some googling, I decided they might be some type of allergy. I realized they were coming from eggs. So I cut out eggs.

Problem solved for almost a year, then peppers started doing the same thing. I cut out peppers. Problem solved for a few months. Then something else started causing problems.

At this point, my brain shifted. Every food out there was a possible enemy. Not unlike spiders because you know one can be poisonous, you think they all have the potential because you’re not sure which one is the problem. That’s how I felt about food. Every food I ate, I was skeptical of. Was one food a problem? A group of foods? What was my body telling me? USE YOUR WORDS, BODY!

Instead, I feel off the cliff into orthorexia, an eating disorder a lot of people mock. But trust me, when you fall into that group, it’s a real thing. You’re controlled by it. You start to shape this diet of “safe foods” and if you fall off the wagon, you shame yourself. You can’t eat out anywhere. Or even a home-cooked meal because what if someone used x food? It will throw off your attempt to create harmony in your body.

I didn’t live in a crazy cycle for too long, but it was long enough. I kept eliminating more and more foods and food groups, my face didn’t improve. I was lost and frustrated and felt like a failure. I CAN CONTROL THIS! I CAN FIX ME! STOP ASKING ME TO GO TO DINNER! STOP INVITING ME TO EAT AT YOUR HOUSE! More

Another Update – Slow And Steady Wins The Race

I can’t believe it’s both only and has already been six weeks since my last post. I say only because so much has changed. But I say already because it seems fast that so many things have changed.

No, I still haven’t lost weight. Sigh. But I have done several things to continue improving.

  1. My face – Oh my face! I have seen drastic improvements on this front. My biggest problems with my face were food-related. I had allergies to magnesium, eggs and peppers. First, I was supplementing with magnesium non-stop (b/c I had so many signs of deficiency). This was making my face break out. Who knew? I got that treated, and it made a huge improvement. But, then I also got treatments for peppers and eggs. I’d break out at the smallest amount of either, and now I can have both without much reaction. Too many eggs still makes me break out. And sadly, they also constipate me. But the improvement is HUGE. I’m going to go back for a second more detailed egg treatment sometime (I had to do two treatments for peppers). Mostly I want to do that so I can have an egg now and then and not get constipated. But as far as the face goes, it’s probably better than it’s been in years. YIPPEE!!
  2. I also got a treatment for my thyroid this week. It’s only been a few days but I have already noticed a few things. One – MORE ENERGY! I’m not bouncing off the walls or anything, but for the first time in years, I didn’t hit an afternoon slump yesterday. I have also been randomly trying to use light therapy to improve my sleep cycles and keep my mood up, but this change came suddenly after the thyroid treatment. I suspect both are at play, but think the thyroid treatment gets credit for the sudden big improvement. I feel like I am sleeping deeper, I wake up more refreshed with more energy, and have a lot clearer head. Yippee again! I’m hoping this will somehow have some effect on my weight, but if it doesn’t, I need to remember, extra energy and mental clarity alone are important. So I’m staying focused on that.
  3. My back – I’ve been focusing on this a lot. I actually bought this back stretcher. I’ve been trying to use it a few times a day. I’m also doing this yoga routine. I get the best results from the neck stretch at the very end, and do that several times per day. I still have a lot of mid-back pain and upper-back tightness, but hopefully with these two things and the use of my lacrosse balls and foam roller, I’ll regain a lot of flexibility/mobility.
  4. I have also increased my carb intake. I finally decided I was focused a lot on restricting. I don’t go crazy each day, but I’ve given myself more leniency with carbs during meals, and let myself go up to the 50g range for meals (loosely). Sometimes I do more, mostly I do less. I probably get 150-200g of carbs per day (whereas before I was aiming for less than 100g per day). I feel a lot better this way, and the eating seems a lot more sustainable for the long-term. When I get my cholesterol checked next, I’ll see how it looks for my triglycerides. If they’ve crept too high, I’ll cut back again.
  5. I’m back to heavy lifting! I’ve set a brand new deadlift PR (225 pounds!). And I’m working my way back up with squats. My back tightness was a huge hindering factor with squats, and I felt like I was going to injure myself again. So focusing on back flexibility and mobility this week and moving forward will hopefully give me some more mobility for squats. I have put bench press on hold a bit while I work on some rotator cuff issues, but I feel like that pain may also be indirectly tied to back tightness.
  6. Running – I’ve also been slowly trying to get back to running. My goal is to go 1 mile straight by the end of the year. My long-term goal is to run 1 1/2-2 miles once or twice a week. So I don’t have any overly-ambitious running goals. But I do enjoy a quick run from time to time, and feel a lot better physically knowing running a few feet won’t kill me.
  7. Oh, gluten! I also got a treatment for gluten/wheat. And I feel less affected by it now. I used to have some slight digestive distress. I can’t decide, but think that’s mostly gone. I still don’t eat a ton of wheat, but also don’t feel anxiety creeping in.

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My Journey To Here – Which Isn’t Really Anywhere, Yet

I just looked back, and this blog is three years old. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but it also seems like an eternity. This is the longest I’ve ever stuck to health as a commitment, not just a fad or a means to losing weight. Of course, it started as a goal to lose weight, but along the way I’ve discovered a lot of things about myself, and improved a lot of things. So, here they are. In celebration of three years, the things I HAVE changed/discovered/improved:

  • I now fall asleep in about a half hour on average and maybe wake up once per night. An improvement from taking 3-4 hours to fall asleep then waking up at least 10-15 times a night. I feel endlessly better from sleeping better. A few things I did to improve this: I actually cut back on super-aggressive workouts, but still got in workouts. I walked more, and did harder workouts 1-3 times per week (rather than 5-6). I took my clock and other electronics out of my room. And bought blackout curtains. This is the single biggest improvement I’ve made.
  • I’ve discovered I’m all autoimmune diseased up. Yes, it’s true. But knowing is a good thing. These diseases aren’t debilitating, but they’ve actually helped me focus on overall health, and how what I put in my mouth affects not only my health, but the “flares” from these diseases, and general feelings of unwell (fatigue, joint aches, irritability, etc.). I still struggle with all three AIs, but for the most part one is in almost total remission. One is sparked mostly by stress (which is much less of a factor), and one is an almost non-issue – mostly just cosmetic.
  • I used to eat carbs at all of my meals. I’m nowhere near a low-carb diet, but my intake is down to a more normal level (approximately 30g or less per meal – 30g is a meal I actually “splurge”, whereas it was almost impossible to get less than 50g when I first started). And thanks to that, my triglycerides have plummeted from around 230 to the 60s. Victory!
  • Wheat/gluten gives me anxiety. I didn’t believe it until I quit it for a long stretch (a month). But once I got off of it, three things improved: My overall insatiability (I was hungry ALL THE TIME), my moods, and anxiety I didn’t even realize I had. And it’s the anxiety I didn’t realize I had, that once it was gone, that’s motivated me to continue to stay away from wheat.
  • I can lift a lot more weight than I ever thought I could. I bench pressed 100 pounds. I deadlifted over 200 pounds. And I squatted 165 pounds five times. Then I hurt my back. And have been on the road to recovery, still staying active, but doing more lighter-weight endurance lifting, more walking, some sprinting intervals, TONS of mobility and yoga work, and even some aerobics workouts. I just cut back on heavy lifting. And now I’m back at it. I benched 75 pounds last night, and squatted 100. And I feel like my form’s improved a ton on both.
  • I am actually spending LESS on food now than I was. I know most people say eating healthy is expensive. But even if I buy a chicken at three pound chicken at $3.50 per pound and eat it over three meals, and buy some organic veggies to go with it, it’s still cheaper per meal than my $5 extra value meal. Sure there are some $3 meals, but more often I was getting a $5 or even $8 meal. Hell, Chipotle, which some people tout as health food, is never cheaper than $6.50. I can eat like a queen if I cook it myself!

I feel better than I have in years. Three years ago I was tired. So tired. And so irritable. Work had me on edge, and I always felt foggy brained. I felt like I needed a nap, all the time, but couldn’t ever fall asleep. My diet seemed like it was healthy, but now I eat more whole foods than I ever have before. I stock my freezer with beef, pork and chicken from a local farms, getting away from hormones and GMO-fed animals. I avoid all GMOs like the plague. I still eat out occasionally, but much less often.

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Physical Strength Gains Mean Emotional Strength Gains

Am I the only one who the stronger she gets in the gym also means a stronger me in life? I’m fed up with being talked down to, manipulated and guilted. I felt like I had a low tolerance already. But turns out there’s a voice behind my new found strength. If for no reason other than strongly, calmly and intelligently standing my ground, I want to keep lifting.

But I also want to lift more. So I’ll do it for that.

Oh, and I guess health. ;)

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