Do you ever start a diet/exercise routine/healthy habit with the best intentions but after a few days or weeks you start to slip back into your old ways.
Do you wish that you could just stay on track?
Apart from implementing a change, what are you doing to address your mind-set? Have you ever thought that you could be self-sabotaging thanks to unconscious barriers? How do you think you could find out what is holding you back, even if you aren’t aware of it?
We all think that we can just willpower our way through it, but if we have subconscious barriers or values that are at odds with our objectives, all the willpower in the world won’t help us succeed.
Let’s say you want to lose weight, but you are a sociable person. You can easily see how your objective and your value (sociability) are at odds with each other. I’ve had clients who are willing to suffer a severe eczema flare, rather than tell their friends that they can’t eat a certain food. Exploring our beliefs and barriers via health coaching, opens the doors for change.
The concept of thinking about yourself can be very uncomfortable for most people. I mean why, if you could avoid it, would you want to examine your own navel?
The thing is, that unless we do go on a voyage of self-discovery, it is impossible to move forward. Whilst we think that our logical mind is doing all the thinking, it is the subconscious mind that has the control. Our subconscious mind makes decisions based on past experiences, good or bad. It takes in cultural and societal norms. Its whole aim is to keep the status quo, to stick with whatever is comfortable and not rock the boat. Even if the change will bring a more positive outcome.
Unravelling the decisions your unconscious mind is making without you even realising, is the way to open the door to change.
Also, does this sound familiar? You’ve consulted a nutrition/health practitioner and you have all the information you need to reach your health goals. You leave the appointment all fired up, you do a meal plan, buy the ingredients, follow the plan for the first few days and then….
You are invited out to a birthday party, or you have leftovers in the fridge that need finishing. You are travelling for work and there is nothing to buy at the train station apart from fast food options and the examples could go on and on and on.
When I speak to my clients about previous attempts at changing their nutrition and lifestyle, a common theme is that when they are faced with these kinds of challenges, everything tends to go out of the window, and they give up.
They know the what, but they can’t manage the how.
When clients come to me and say that they are finding certain situations tricky when following their personalised health and lifestyle plan, my advice to them is to make an intention.
Say you are going to a dinner party. If ahead of time you already make the intention of, let’s say having only one glass of wine, but accepting the nibbles or saying no to the bread but having a small portion of pudding, it’s easier to stick with than trying to make all those decisions on the hoof.
After having practised as a Registered Nutritional Therapist for a couple of years, I realised that it wasn’t enough to provide the personalised nutrition and lifestyle plan. My clients needed to understand themselves so that they could be open to long-term change. At this point I trained in health coaching and my practice was transformed. I now offer health coaching as standard as part of my packages.
The thing about health coaching is that it does require a person to spend time focusing on themselves. Some clients don’t see the utility or think that it is a form of self-indulgence.
Do you think that it is an indulgence?
In other words, do you think that spending time discovering more about yourself and why you are attached to certain habits is a waste of time? Do you think that if you just dug deeper and mustered a bit more willpower all would be well?
The thing about health coaching is that it opens an understanding about yourself that you can apply to anything. You think that a certain tool might help you snack less and then you realise that you can use the same tool to help you procrastinate at work less. The tools and understanding you gain are with you forever and can be applied again and again as you enter different chapters in your life. It’s a life skill.
Think of it like a guided prompt, conversations with yourself and tools that allow you to discover some things for yourself, specifically in relation to habits you have.
Let me tell you about Sophie (name changed for privacy). She had just had her second child and wanted to lose the baby weight before going back to work. She was exhausted and didn’t have enough minutes in the day but was motivated to achieve her goal.
To start off with I empathised with her lack of time and energy. However, when I realised that she was also struggling to follow the programme and was falling behind on her objectives, it was time to highlight how important the coaching side of the programme was.
One of my favourite expressions is ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. You can’t help others if you aren’t looking after yourself. By her own admission Sophie was giving her all to her family, but was also short-tempered and impatient, because she had nothing left to give. She was also annoyed and felt guilty that she had invested in the programme but wasn’t getting the hoped-for results.
We had a long chat about how devoting time to her own health and wellbeing would bring benefits not only to herself but also to all the family. She started to commit to the coaching exercises and was surprised how much easier and less time-consuming it made the whole process.
Long story short, whilst she didn’t quite reach her goal by her self-imposed deadline, she was only just off it and had the benefits of more energy, patience, and serenity. She is also grateful for the tools that she now has for life to keep herself on track.
Clients tend to think that health coaching is all about weight loss, but my biggest success was with a client who has been battling atopic eczema since she was 6 months old.
Julie (name changed for privacy) came to me because she was desperate. Having atopic eczema flares on her hands and face was stopping her from living her life. She was so embarrassed to go out with puffy eyes and bleeding fingers and she was starting to isolate herself and refuse invitations.
The thing is Julie knew that she reacted to certain foods. She had done tests with her dermatologist and had the lab results to prove it. Even with these official diagnoses the fact that eating those foods would ‘only’ trigger her eczema rather than an anaphylactic shock, meant that whilst she avoided those foods at home, she didn’t dare refuse foods when she went to others’ houses. So, she kept triggering the flare and it couldn’t never settle properly, causing pain and unhappiness.
Working with Julie in a health coaching capacity made her realise that keeping her own inflammation at bay was critical and that with a little preparation and forewarning, her hosts wouldn’t be offended if she said no to something. She found that her friends were only too happy to find alternatives so that she could fully participate. The coaching also helped her make other changes to her diet that supported her skin health and now flares are rare.
So don’t think that health coaching is only good for one thing. It is the key to habit change, whatever the reason you need to change your way of eating.
Changing the way, we eat takes time. Firstly, because we have to find our own path of what suits us best, without compromising our health. Secondly because changing our habits in a life context that usually stays the same, takes time and guidance.
That is why I’ve created a new online, self-guided course, called ‘Unleash the change. Discover the habits and barriers hampering your efforts’ and it’s for people that want change their habits sustainably and for the long term.
The course will be available on 23rd February 2023, and I’ll be offering an amazing early bird price for those who get in early. The ability to pre-purchase will be available from 14th February 2023 and I’m so excited for you to see it because it’s going to help you succeed achieve your health and wellbeing objectives.
If you aren’t already signed up for my emails which will be featuring an extra discount on top of the early bird offer, click here
Interested in what I do and who I am? Go to my website: www.jessicafonteneaunutrition.com
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