I did not really know what to expect when it came to health coaching, but I imagined something along the lines of “this is when the restriction comes in.” I come from a sports world where the coach is the dictator and you do not question what they tell you to do, you just do it. I figured I would be given a set of rules and expectations that I would need to follow and that all the coach would be doing is holding me accountable to those expectations. I understand this sounds extreme and kind of negative, but that was the type of coaching I have always experienced. There is a goal, the steps to achieving the goal, and there is no collaborating on how to get there.
My fears leading up to my first health coaching session were this: I was fearful that I would need to filter myself and just say “yes sir/no sir” and go along with whatever plan was placed in front of me. I was fearful to expose the not carefully curated “perfect” version of myself to someone new, especially someone who would become privy to sensitive health information about me. I was fearful that there was nowhere to hide, full blown honesty. And I was also fearful and anxious about how I would react to that immediate intimacy with someone. As much as I try to practice what I preach about vulnerability and transparency, in full transparency: I’m scared.
Safe spaces and soft places to land: This is how I describe the inner circle of people in my life. People who meet you with kindness, support, and gentle truth. These are the people you can be your flawed, transparent, raw, vulnerable, and real self with. Turns out, a health coach feels similar. This really surprised me. I was surprised at the focus on my “whole self;” where I was currently at, how I was feeling, and what I needed at the moment. I had the space to talk about my unhealthy relationship with food and how counting calories would be triggering for me. How I needed to feel like lifestyle adjustments were not a punishment, but a conscious choice and would have gradual implementation. The focus on mental health and making sure I was checking in with myself. But most importantly though, that I would be accountable to my motives. This was my biggest “ask.” I needed to be accountable to my motives, to make sure that I am doing this for myself and no one else, regardless of outside pressures. I needed an advocate to come beside me and stand between the gap of the medical physician and me.
“I’ve got your back” was one of the first things Stevie (my health coach) said to me during our first health coaching session together, and I really needed to hear her say that. I am great at advocating for other people, but I struggle to stand up and/or fight for myself. This is an ongoing issue I have of dismissing myself and not validating my own needs. A fear of being too much or being a burden. I felt not only validated by Stevie but I felt that she met me where I was at. Human to human, she met me with vulnerability by giving me a glimpse into her world, showing me that she was not perfect and had no expectations of me being perfect either. The quote that rings in my mind that Stevie said is “1% better everyday.” That I can do!
I would equate health coaching at Companion Health to be the combination of the following: mentor, guide, sounding board, friend, therapist, advocate, and teammate. As I mentioned, I come from a sports background and I know how important it is to have teammates you can count on. You truly cannot accomplish anything without support. That is what health coaching has felt like so far. A collaboration on how to reach the ultimate goals and a safe place to land during the steps forwards and back.
I feel confident in the small changes that Stevie and I collaborated on, and have been able to gradually implement them into my life. When I say “small changes” I really mean adjustments. Some of these include: not eating meals while watching TV so I can be present with myself, taking walks with friends, and waking up 15 minutes earlier so I don’t feel rushed and frazzled in the morning. Though these things may not seem monumental, I have noticed the changes in my mindset and the easing of the tension between the life I want and the life I am currently living. I can not expect myself to change overnight, and it is a relief that no one expects me to either.
I am looking forward to the future when I can proudly appreciate the “small” adjustments I’ve made and can feel they are just a routine in how I approach my life. I have moments of doubt or wanting instant gratification but what coaching has helped affirm is this is how change is sustainable and how results will remain. No quick fixes, day by day, 1% better and closer to my ultimate goal: my health.
Feelings this week: A little raw from bringing up past/current issues with food and being reminded how that all started. But feeling hopeful that I can come to a better place with that.
Favorite moment from experience: Being met with vulnerability from Stevie and seeing the confident hope she has in me.
Something I am currently loving: Going on walks with friends, the beauty of connecting while also doing something that is beneficial for our health.
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