At the end of our 9 months of working together, I recently asked my client if she would share her experience of working together with me. Then, she proceeded to blow my mind. OK, more like make my heart explode with love and gratitude. While I blurred a few identifying details, here is what she shared in her exact words:
Prior to working with Kara, I had never had an experience with a coach. I knew about them and even wondered what it would be like having one. In fact, it would have never occurred to me to work with a health coach. Maybe a career coach, but health, no way! He/she might make me exercise and I certainly didn’t want any of that. If I had not already known Kara from meeting her at [a conference for academic women] and then stumbling (no coincidences here…) upon her when looking at my local ToastMasters club website, I would not have thought of her.
Prior to my call, life was ok. There was a complete lack of “sparkle” and I was not looking forward to another winter and holiday season. Work was overwhelming and I was considering looking for another job. I was feeling terrible and despite losing weight from taking on a fasting diet routine, my energy was in the toilet and weight loss stalled. My sex drive was non-existent. I was having trouble trouble concentrating, making decisions and not running to caffeine or sugar. I thought I was eating healthy, but I had hit a standstill as far as losing weight. I was discouraged about my marriage and feeling “blocked” around some important communications at home and at work. One of the few things that brought me joy was flute playing and even that was beginning to feel burdensome.
I called with some trepidation – mostly about cost and, of course, potentially being required to exercise. I scheduled a Smart Start and wondered what to expect. This was as far as I’d ever come to embarking on a serious “interior renovation.” From the start of that first conversation, I knew Kara could help. Her warmth, intelligence and authenticity was something I yearned for and felt an immediate connection. After figuring out the financial side of the arrangement, I looked forward to what was to come. It was a relief that she didn’t require me to exercise right away.
The first few weeks of working with Kara were immediately eye opening. I recall sending her my first Food Mood Poo Journal and hearing her say “So, let’s take a look at what you ate….and why this might be causing you to experience the symptoms you’ve described.” That made me nervous because I thought whole wheat muffins, peanut butter, whole wheat pasta, eggs and cheese were really healthy! Knowing what I know now, I’ll bet these first forays into a client’s diet is always interesting for Kara. Of course, I would have symptoms of fatigue, constipation, brain fog and irritability! I wonder now how she contains her exasperation with people during this conversation, but somehow she didn’t make me feel like a complete idiot! She patiently explained why these things might be causing some gut issues and made suggestions for making some minor changes in the next two weeks. “See how less bread makes you feel. Drink more water and pay attention to how sugar effects your moods. “Oh, of course,” I thought. But now what? Does this mean I have to spend money on an expensive diet? What do you mean whole wheat bread can cause issues for some people? And, if I just stop eating this, will things change quickly?
As we moved towards the first saliva panel and dissecting the results, I recall feeling overwhelmed. It was the holidays as well and I wanted no part of changing my eating patterns. I knew what I learned about my body meant confronting some ingrained ideas about focusing on health. This became clear very quickly and with thoughtful probing and helpful resources, Kara guided me through examining beliefs that didn’t serve my growth. Why THIS was so surprising to me is interesting. Perhaps I had never experienced anyone so committed to helping me deal with fear in such a productive manner. Thanks to her gentle prodding, I was able to see what was holding me back and reframe my responses into affirmations that moved me forward. In fact, once I went through this process and knew change was not only necessary but that I would feel better, I took a deep dive.
Kara’s ability to be gentle yet matter of fact was critical. The support for me peeling back the layers to reveal a more authentic [Me] motivated my actions. It had been so long since anyone had cared this much. If this is really the essence of what a “coach” does, Kara’s got it down!
The next few weeks are a blur at this point, but I recall clearly my excitement over finding new resources for recipes, books to explore and food to make. It wasn’t long before eliminating refined sugar, gluten and dairy had me feeling pretty amazing. With each day of feeling renewed and less stressed, I became a believer that food can heal. And the fact that weight was melting away helped keep me focused. Figuring out shopping and new stores to explore made for a lively back and forth between us during interim periods. Kara was always quick to respond to my frequent messages, questions and ponderings. Her responses always came with a question to consider: “What was _______ bringing up for me?”, “How was ____________ calling to me?” “Had I considered ____________?” Links to great websites, articles about gut dysfunction and recipes – Kara provided a buffet of resources for insatiable appetite to learn more.
From the beginning, Kara made sure each of sessions ended with some action steps. This was extremely helpful then as it helped me focus on a few areas to focus on so I wasn’t overwhelmed with too many things. In my initial “shock and awe” about my [cortisol] results, I needed this to keep me moving forward. Tiny steps helped me see change in myself was possible. And when I became so excited to near hyperventilation about trying new things, this helped keep me focused.
I learned how to schedule actions that have led to healthy choices and habits. A walk. Five minutes to just breathe during the workday. Writing in my journal. Speaking clearly. Saying “No.” 20 minutes of movement – any movement. How to change the voice in my head from “Eh, sure go ahead and try to make progress” to “Let’s go, it’s on the calendar, you made a commitment and this is what your investment is all about”. Sure, at times reminding myself of the cost was important to reinforce my WHY. As I felt better and better and more confident with each week, being intentional became easier.
A two week road trip in May tested my newfound habits and commitment. With help from Kara, who had many practical suggestions, lots of planning made this trip a memorable vacation. My husband and I had a great time and I began to see how my transformation was affecting how he took care of himself. We both even lost a few pounds while traveling and returned home refreshed and excited for our next adventure.
During our three month “hiatus,” I began to focus on some challenges beyond my own health journey. Communication concerns in my marriage led me to new resources and eventually conversation with [my husband]. This was one of the first times I have been able to be clear about my desires and reach him. With his agreement, we’ve begun to be intentional about our marriage. I’m so excited by how this simple concept/habit is changing what for so long has felt impossible. Being able to bring clarity to hard conversations is new for me and I love how it takes the stress out of interacting around difficult topics. What used to feel like insurmountable obstacles have now become problems to analyze and research, break into smaller parts and solve.
Kara note: I typically work in a "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" way. This amazingly generous woman gave me permission to share her story in the hopes that other women could see what's possible when women form a vital corps. Remember, my client made a 9-month commitment to show up and make her health (and happiness) a priority. I help facilitate the process, especially when the change feels big and heavy. If you're looking for a quick fix, a patch or just noodling with kinda-sorta-wanting to make change, I'm not the strategist for you.
If you're ready to for a healthier life spiked with passion + slathered with joy, let's talk.