I recently heard about a man who employed someone to slap him round the face every time he ate something unhealthy. Now, each to their own is what I always say…but let’s just say that this is pretty far removed from my own approach to helping people get healthy.
Many of us have lost so much faith in our own abilities that we believe the only way to break out of our habits is to have someone monitoring every single thing we eat, looming over our shoulder, barking orders, berating us when we get it wrong – in short, taking complete control of our diet and our life. While this might work in the short-term, what happens when we’re left to our own devices without the safety net of someone in authority making decisions for us? In all likelihood, we’ll rebel and head straight back for the chocolate biscuits.
The coaching approach is the polar opposite of this. It focuses on empowering the coachee so that they can take control of their own life. Right from the get-go, my aim is to do myself out of a job and for my clients to no longer need me. That’s because they gradually develop the skill to coach themselves for the rest of their lives. They have all the tools they need to make wise decisions whatever situation they are faced with…and to get themselves back on track on those occasions that things go a little pear-shaped. They’re able to indulge themselves when they feel like it, safe in the knowledge that it doesn’t mean their new lifestyle is ruined – but rather that they’ll make a different choice the following day.
With healthy living advice being fired at us from all sides 24/7, I find that few people are crying out for more information – they’ve got that coming out of their ears. They know full well what they should be eating, how long they should be sleeping, how often they should be exercising, how they should be managing their stress etc etc. But knowing something doesn’t necessarily translate into being able to apply that knowledge.
So, if they don’t need more information, what do they need? They need inspiration.
When people have tried and failed diet after diet over many years and decades, they often lose hope that anything will ever work. It can be daunting to put your faith in something when you’ve been knocked back so many times in the past. Change is hard because habits are hard-wired into our brains. If you’ve been eating a packet of chocolate biscuits every night for ten years, you have a neural pathway in your brain that drives you to do it again and again and again. The brilliant, heart-warming news is that, right till the day we die, we can build new neural pathways. That means we’re not determined or defined by our past – it’s always in our power to build new thoughts, new habits, a new mindset.
Rather than bulldoze clients with a mass of nutritional information, facts and research, I encourage them to embrace and internalise the overarching principles of healthy living – and, together, we create a plan to tailor those principles to their own life, tastes, aspirations, budget, schedule and culture.
The coaching relationship doesn’t aim to impart an encyclopaedic knowledge of the various vitamins and minerals contained in which foods. Rather, it ignites hope, excitement and a vision of how your life could be radically different once you start to fuel yourself properly, listen to your body and reclaim your health, vitality and energy. I never take for granted the privilege of hearing from my clients that they now feel, in their own words, ‘empowered’, ‘energised’ and ‘at peace’.
If having someone slap you in the face every time you eat a chocolate biscuit is your thing, I’m afraid I’m just not in that line of business. If, on the other hand, you fancy experiencing the magic of coaching for yourself, drop me an email and let’s chat.