I want to tell you how coaching helped one of my clients, I’ll call her Christy, a busy mom of 3 little girls, all under age six. She’d been riding the weight-loss weight-regain rollercoaster for many years. Her weight was rising again, and she was panicking, and full of painful feelings of self-disgust. The little voice in her head was full of negative talk, and her self-esteem was suffering.
Christy told me, “My problem seems to be that when I get overwhelmed with everything I have to get done, I feel so stressed and exhausted. At the end of the day I can’t even think straight. All I want to do is grab some ice-cream from the freezer and flop down on the couch. I don’t even taste it, don’t even remember devouring it until I notice the empty carton in my hand. I wake up from my trance with a sense of panic, afraid that I’m going to top my highest weight, again.”
I asked Christy to close her eyes, take a deep breath, and just focus on breathing for a minute. Then, I asked her what it is that she really needs, what she’s really hungry for. As her tears fell, she said with a shaky voice, “I just need a little time for me, not a lot, just a little”.
I asked Christy what seemed to get in the way of her getting that time, and she said, “I really don’t know. My husband is great. He’s offered to take over when he gets home from work, but I just feel so guilty if I take him up on it. After all, he works a long, hard day too. So I just tell him that I’m fine.”
But Christy was far from fine. She agreed, and we came up with a plan. She would accept her husband’s offer of help, starting with just a half hour twice a week, to see how that felt, and she’d just take herself into the bathtub and soak there with a good book and a “do not disturb” sign on the door.
It sounds like a very small shift, but to Christy it was huge and it really made a difference to her emotional eating. It was small enough that she could get over her guilt about accepting her husband’s offer of help. She was able to accept that she works a long, hard day too – just as he does – and that allowing him to help her out was in fact allowing him an opportunity to bond with the girls by himself.
These two half-hours were something that Christy really looked forward to, and in time, seeing that her husband was truly fine with it, she was able to slowly increase the time she took for herself. Increasing her self-care in small but very doable ways made a huge difference for Christy’s ability to reduce her emotional eating.
Another client I’ll call Susie had a job that required her to go to company dinners a couple of times a week, and she really dreaded these events. She’d worked so hard to reach a healthy weight, and she was very afraid of regaining because it had happened so many times before.
Susie told me, “At these dinners you don’t pick your own meal from the menu. It’s a pre-selected menu and it’s always really rich, high-fat food that’s served, lots of unhealthy carbs and heavy sauces. I don’t want to eat that much, or that kind of food, but I don’t want to stand out as the person who’s not eating. I don’t know what to do”.
As we talked about her concerns, Susie began to see that standing out as the person who makes healthy choices was actually the kind of image that she wanted to portray, and that if she could change the company culture even a teeny bit as a result, then that would feel like a great win for her.
So we agreed that she’d use the following mindful planning strategies: she would eat light all day, but eat a healthy snack before going to the dinner; she’d also plan a healthy light meal (like a salad and fruit) for when she got home; she’d ask for her meal to be served without sauces or added butter, and she’d skip the alcohol, bread and other starches, and the dessert; she’d eat only half of what was on the plate, and she’d make a point of letting people know that she puts her health first.
With this plan in place, Susie felt confident that she could attend these mandatory events without being at risk for self-sabotage when it came to her health and her weight management goals. Her stress level went down, and she was no longer worried about what people would think of her healthy choices. As a result, she was able to focus on conversation and connection, which is what these dinners were all about.
To read more about what people have gained from working with me, check out these testimonials.
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