I am not a weight loss coach. But, sometimes my clients lose weight.
Sometimes they also change jobs. And leave marriages. Sometimes, they clean out their closets and *that* changes their lives. Shit happens in coaching. Weight loss is never the ultimate outcome. Health, peace of mind, freedom, and (in my practice) the ability to get into service (whatever any of this looks like for a client) is always the goal.
In fact, for a Health Coach, I spend the majority of my time with clients focusing on emotional weight. We work on the real gravity of grief, loss, self doubt, challenges in relationships, careers, or finding a personal narrative that lends to a lightness of being, rather than keeping them under the suffocating cloak of guilt and shame. Sometimes when we do *that* work and change nothing else… weight loss happens. Sometimes they lose weight because having support in taking excellent care of themselves means shifting to habits that lead to weight loss.
Sometimes clients do all the different eating plans and exercise and say all the prayers and affirmations to their inner children or whatever and don’t lose weight at all.
And, yes, sometimes clients just want to lose weight. Sometimes it’s because they think it will make them acceptable to a world that limits the shape of women’s inherent worth. And sometimes because it’s just one path to a pain-free body.
Disclaimer: I am one of those people whose joints hurt at a certain size. Extra weight causes other health problems for me, mostly because I gain weight because of anxiety, depression, and binge eating. So, I do things like eat salad and exercise to maintain a container that I feel comfortable in, to maintain a mind that can carry the anxiety and depression a little easier. It’s what works for me.
It’s my body. And I just want what’s best for it because it does all the work of carrying me around the planet, of allowing me to give and receive love, of giving me the opportunity to both run through the old-growth trees on top of the ancient volcano in my backyard AND eat pie.
I want the same for my clients.
Giving any client a cleanse or weight loss program right out the gate before supporting them emotionally and getting to the core motivation for losing weight is out of the question.
Sometimes I recommend cleanses for clients to heal illnesses and sometimes they lose weight.
HERE’S THE THING:
I’ve noticed a trend with my clients and the world in general. Or, at least, my feminist little corner of social media. Wonderful, smart, generous, activist women are afraid to even *want* to lose weight despite pain, depression, insomnia, anxiety, and plenty of other health concerns because they are afraid it makes them stupid or shallow, Patrons of The Patriarchy, Consumers of the Capitalistic Dream Drama, Disparate of the Beautiful Body Acceptance Movement.
They come to me in whispers. “And I hate to say this but I *would* like to shed some weight.” And then they apologize profusely.
We don’t have *much* control over our lives or whether or not we suffer (we all fucking suffer), but we do have a *modicum* of control over the container that carries our suffering, our grief, our joy. We have *some* co-creative ability in the environment where we live: our own bodies. We get to find whatever balance works for us *to the best of our ability*, whether or not that means “losing weight”. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Bodies are different and not all of them will even lose weight.
“Optimal” is a dynamic marriage of acceptance and action.
Hating yourself is what’s anti-feminist. Losing weight is just a thing that bodies do sometimes under certain conditions. They gain weight under other conditions. It’s kind of a snorefest, actually.
Health is about SO MUCH MORE than weight loss.
Defining health as losing weight is as myopic as defining sex as orgasm.
Letting go of heaviness in life, whether off your plate, or out of your closet, or your relationships CAN BE an entry point to a greater sense of mental, emotional, and spiritual well being. So can meditation. So can yoga. So can pie. Depends.
It’s imperative that we keep challenging our societal belief systems along with the narratives of our family of origin and cellular lineage. Shutting down fat-shaming is non-negotiable. Uplifting, cultivating, and celebrating diversity is non-negotiable.
Convincing you to have some kind of love affair with your body isn’t anymore interesting to me than convincing you to love your car. But it’s probably a good idea that you follow a reasonable maintenance schedule.
Neutrality and individuality, ya’ll.
I’m way more interested in helping you create a solid foundation for your art, writing, and the accounting work that saves an artist from having to work at Cracker Barrel. Whatever your thing is, body care can help.
All to say, it’s your body. It’s perfect just the way it is and it requires a lot of work. Living inside a body fraught with all the messiness of flesh, sweat, blood, and tears is price of admission for earth inhabitation. And just because the capitalistic marketing version of losing weight to fit a beauty standard is harmful AF, it doesn’t mean we should silence all conversations around a multi-faceted topic. Instead we learn nuance in our own minds, and the voices of other people. We learn how to reclaim our bodies and minds from what ails them. That looks different for everyone. It (hopefully) looks more like curiosity and listening than making immediate assumptions about strangers.
So, hopefully, this can be an entry point into a conversation. Because “weight loss” is a loaded topic, there are trigger words, words do matter, and the concept can be stigmatizing. However, I think shoving everyone into another kind of shame, of pressure to unconditional body “love” is equally harmful. Thoughts?