How Coaching Changed My Life (for the better!)aka How I Went From Skeptic to Incredibly Satisfied Client to Starting My Own Practice
If you had asked me 5 years ago whether I would ever become a life coach, I would have laughed in your face.
I probably would have said something like “that sounds cool and all, but…” While I’ve been a lover of self-help books, yoga, and other healing modalities from an oddly young age, I saw it as a hobby, and it wasn’t exactly the promising, prestigious money-maker career I was working toward in business school at the time. I was determined to work at a top financial institution or management consulting firm, muscle through the rough hours, bureaucracy, and lack of passion for a couple of decades, prove myself and the intelligence I had spent years transforming into solid resume bullets, and live a lavish lifestyle, filled with the money I had always dreamed of.
And I did just that. I graduated in the top 10% of my business school class, got hired at a prestigous management consulting firm, muscled through for a few years, and made pretty good money along the way. I was routinely going on amazing vacations, eating at 5-star restaurants, sipping on $17 cocktails, partying at some of the best clubs and bars NYC has to offer, racking up airline and hotel statuses and points through my work travels, and so much more…
I was literally living the life I had dreamed of, but as time went on, it became clear that a major component of this dream was missing: happiness.
>> I often felt lonely despite the fact that I was surrounded by people, (not just strangers, but family and many friends).
>> I was stressed about money and always wanted to make more, no matter how much I made or that I had plenty of it to live well in one of the most expensive places in the world.
>> I was in a constant state of comparison, competition, and keeping up with the people around me – playing it cool but often stressing out inside.
>> I felt destined to be alone forever, with my dating life being existent but relatively inconsistent and unsuccessful.
>> I had a lingering anxiety and resentment for my body and the way it looked, and I spent a lot of time thinking about it and trying to *fix* it
>> I was lost as I tried to navigate the world as an adult for the first time, seeking whatever wisdom or optimism I could find from older people but being disappointed about the outlook. (Did being an adult really have to suck?)
>> I was really, REALLY good at putting on the bubbly, happy, it’s-all-good face and script because to be honest, the effort that took often felt better than the exhaustion of relentlessly talking about how unhappy I truly was and constantly reminding myself of that.
>> I hated *bringing down the mood* and felt responsible for always being cheerful for others.
>> I slept very little and drank and partied way more than my body could handle to escape, let loose, feel free, and have fun whenever I possibly could.
>> I regularly missed my dad who passed away when I was 19, wondering why something like that had to happen to me, and regularly worried about losing everyone else close to me.
>> I was unhappy at work, working many hours, feeling unheard, and struggling to see the tangible meaning behind the results I was tasked with creating, and I had a subtle awareness that I wasn’t contributing to the world in the way I knew it needed me most.
While there were certainly a lot of fun experiences, all of these not-so-fun things were also a part of this *dream life* I was creating. I wanted things to change, but I truly believed that it was mostly out of my control and that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side; that maybe my life was about as good as it gets. I continued to ignore the aching in my soul and buried myself deeper and deeper in numbing distractions along the way.
Incredibly Satisfied Client
So where does coaching come in?
I started my first diet through Weight Watchers at age 9 after being told by my pediatrician that I was overweight and needed to get thinner. From that day forward, my relationship with my body was absolutely toxic. Never before had I considered that there was something wrong with me or how I looked, but all it took was that one comment to trigger the downward spiral into the countless hours and years spent being completely consumed by criticizing, starving, and punishing my body in attempts to fix this part of me that I saw as broken, shameful, and worthless.
Over these years, I trained and worked with many health and fitness coaches. Most of them used pretty traditional, and often times intense, approaches. (I was all about extremes for most of my life.) If a doctor or other *qualified expert* told me what to do to make myself healthier, lose weight, cure illness, etc., I would do in-depth research on their suggestions and follow it to a “T”. I was REALLY good at following rules, methods, and structures provided for me, but often times, these rules would fail me. Whether it was because the lifestyle was completely unsustainable in the long-term, the approach was ineffective for me, or any number of reasons, I often gave up and looked for the next solution.
After all these years of unhealthy approaches, involving very few calories, far too much exercise, constantly measuring my body and my food, and only rewarding *visible* progress, I felt a yearning for someone to help me from a place of understanding, of my situation and who I am, and tailor the approach to my unique circumstances. Thanks to the internet, I found my way to an amazing certified personal trainer and life coach who seemed able to give me exactly what I was looking for.
I filled out an application to work with her, and we got on the phone to talk. I was totally sold; this woman sounded perfect. Then came the part where we talked about the price. It was going to cost me a lot of money to work with her. More than I had spent on most things in my life at that point, and I really didn’t want to spend that much. But I was truly tired of the other approaches, and I couldn’t ignore the voice inside me saying “do it do it do it do it do it”, and the fact that my heart was literally leaping out to talk to this woman, so I bit the bullet, and I signed up.
During our first call, we went through some basic movement assessments, talked about my goals, learned more about her approach for our time together, the basics, and off I went to do the workouts… By about the second or third week of working together, we turned an entirely new direction in our coaching relationship. She began to ask me questions that drilled much deeper than the surface level approach I had been used to.
Long story short, this woman literally transformed my life through healing the relationship I had with my body.
It became pretty clear from this work that my hate for my body actually had very little to actually do with my body but was more about the stuff going on in my head. No one had really tried this approach with me before. Everyone gave me what I asked for (meal plan, workout plan, etc.), and that’s it. This woman gave me what I asked for, and then some.
I was finally challenged on my beliefs about what should and shouldn’t be, the comparison to others around me, the need for control and striving for perfection, and why this all actually mattered so much to me. I repeat: this was not really about my weight or pant size or calories eaten or not eaten or burned off. This was my deep-seated need for approval and validation from those around me and my fear of being seen as not good enough, a failure, unworthy, or unloveable. My body, food, and exercise were simply outlets for the emotional wrath I tried to contain inside of me as I tried my darndest be the “chill, fun girl who is smart and pretty and has it all together”.
From this work, I was finally able to surrender in the lifelong war against my body. To forgive it. To apologize to it. To trust it to know what I needed. To work with it, not against it. To take care of it rather than punish it. To listen to it and be grateful it’s still talking to me after all these years of tuning it out completely.
My relationship with my body had become healthier and more loving than it had been in my entire life. And not only that, but I now had all this mental space and freedom to think about other things. With all the time I spent counting calories, working out multiple times a day, staring at myself in the mirror, researching diets, etc., most of my down time had previously consisted of worrying about these things. All of a sudden, I had a lot of room in my life to dream bigger and truly ask myself what made me happy and what I really wanted from my life.
Starting My Own Practice
As time went on, the permission I had given myself to trust my body to know how to move, eat, and rest grew into trusting myself to know what I wanted in other areas of my life as well.
The small life I had created for myself now felt suffocating. I realized that by being a perfectionist, I was demanding myself to live small to minimize risk of failure and feel more in control of the outcome. I had lived inside this protective suit of armor that was securely locked in place. While this shield kept me safe from some of the things I feared most at the time, it also kept me from experiencing some of the things I wanted most.
And while I wasn’t ready to take off the armor in years past, as I began taking off my armor for seconds, minutes, hours, days at a time, I began to realize that I was slowly but surely growing and expanding each time I freed myself; I was opening my soul to a fuller spectrum of emotion and expression. I could see that this was just the beginning, and there was so much more in store for me to explore. Heck yes, it made me vulnerable and soft and an easy target for criticism and judgment, but I grew to mind that less and less as time went on because it felt so damn good to be free.
The pain of squeezing back into that rigid metal suit and the little safety I gained from it now felt restrictive and limiting. It was no longer worth it; I no longer wanted to choose safety at the expense of losing out on a fuller experience of life. I began to recognize the strength I have (you have, we all have…); enough strength that I knew it would be OK to present myself fully and proudly to the world, even (especially) the vulnerable, soft parts.
>> I feel loved and connected much more often, even when I am sitting by myself.
>> I am less stressed about money than I ever have been and know that my life is filled with abundance in many forms.
>> I do my best to live in a state of compassion, admiration, and discernment – knowing it’s OK to be honest when I’m not feeling great and when something isn’t right for me.
>> I know I am never truly alone and that experiencing deep, unconditional love requires you to first love yourself in that way.
>> I love my body, not because she is perfect, but because she is a part of me, one that helps guide me through life and she stores so much wisdom and strength.
>> I trust that I am exactly where I need to be, and I’m excited for what’s to come. (Being an adult can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to suck.)
>> I am really good at identifying, expressing, and articulating my emotions because to be honest, the effort it takes to do that feels better than the exhaustion of relentlessly trying to be something other than who I truly am.
>> I know that I am not responsible for the happiness and emotional states of others.
>> I sleep a solid 8 hours most nights and drink and party way less than I used to. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a nice cocktail or glass of wine, but I also love how I feel when I take care of my body and find other outlets for fun.
>> I am more at peace with my dad’s passing, have learned to embrace the grieving process as a critical piece of the healing process, and spend more of my time enjoying special moments with those I love rather than constantly worrying about them.
>> I quit my job and am building a life for myself where I not only strive to create results for my clients but do everything with intention and a mission to serve the world in the way I know it needs me most.
All of this is because I finally freed myself to move into a larger story. To be real with other people and myself. To make peace with my stories through writing, understanding, and sharing them, and I grew to understand that this transformational experience is my calling. That I am continuously being put through challenges in life as a way of being asked to rise to the call. To guide and serve those who are ready to rise with me.
So with that, I ask you to join me. Rise with me.
If you are ready to free yourself to move into a bigger, bolder, braver story, and you’re looking for someone to walk the road with you, I am your sister through this. Take my hand, sit with me, and take a deep breath. The world needs us right now. It needs us to promote a new agenda, one of peace, compassion, love, courage, and safety for ourselves, those around us, the earth, and the many creatures and beings sharing this planet with us.
You are not alone in wanting that, and the journey has just begun.