Since January, I’ve been fortunate enough to be working with a coach named Melinda Sohns, who has a website called Turning Yourself Inside Out. Melinda was looking for a volunteer who wanted to lose a lot of weight, and who was trying to get off the diet bandwagon. Needless to say, I fit the bill.
Melinda is not a coach that stands in front of you screaming to “have some self-respect”, slapping the cake out of your hands while cracking a whip to scare you onto a treadmill. She’s not a coach that has you count all your calories and then tells you what you fucked up at the end of the week. And thank fuck for that, or I might be in prison right now for manslaughter (no jury would convict me of murder).
For three months, Melinda has been meeting with me once a week to talk about the root of my body issues. In the first session, she asked me to start from the very beginning as far back as I could remember, to my first memory of feeling fat. Which just so happened to be in kindergarten. You can see a post I wrote (before even starting coaching) about that here. We went on from there, her asking me occasionally to stop and go a little deeper into certain situations, and I started to slowly piece some things together right in that first session.
The thing that stood out to me most about working with Melinda was the fact that she challenged me. I have read as many books about weight loss, about “conscious eating”, about healing your connection with you body, as anybody out there. I have tried cleanses and fasts, I have been on Weight Watchers more times than I can count, I became a compulsive exerciser, went vegetarian, went vegan, went macrobiotic, went paleo…you get the drift. And in all the books and quizzes and questionnaires in magazines, they asked the same shallow questions, worded slightly differently, that did nothing but make me feel like, “I should have this figured out by now, I’ve answered these a hundred times”.
Melinda pushed it further. I consider myself more self-aware than the average person, but she managed to get me asking questions of myself that I had never even thought of. “Why do you eat at that time of day? What are you feeling? What are you hoping to achieve when you choose those foods? What kind of feeling would you have if you didn’t eat, or even if you didn’t have the food in the house to begin with? If you could eat anything you wanted to eat, what would you choose most often?”
I kind of surprised myself. It turns out that I would choose fresh, beautiful fruits and veggies instead of Cheetos and cake if I felt I had a choice. And turns out I do have a choice, I just have to make it a priority in my life and in my budget.
And who knew that I avoid exercising as I gain weight because I hate feeling the fat on my body? I hate being reminded of the fact that I’m not thin anymore, and being too heavy to do certain exercises depresses me and makes me want to do even less. Which leads to me gaining more weight, which leads to me sitting still more, and around and around. I honestly had no idea, but after talking to Melinda it was so obvious I felt like an idiot for not seeing it sooner.
Our agreement was to work together for three months and then I would write a testimonial about my experience. I’m sure that you’re all wondering whether I have lost any weight, and the answer is yes, although only about 4 pounds which some people would consider negligible. But I will say this: I’m have believed, for my whole life, that I’m lazy. I believed that my weight was the result of a character defect, and that I would never be able to change that. Melinda pushed me past that and forced me to see that I had assigned a completely unfair label to myself. What I saw as laziness was a result of deep shame and an attempt to avoid feeling that shame by disconnecting from my body. Knowing that is frightening and disorienting. But most of all, it’s empowering.
Melinda has gotten me to see why I have been caught in the cycle I have, and that’s the most important part. She gave me the tools, and stepped back to let me claim my own power. Now it’s up to me to face it, and decide if I want more for myself.
I would highly recommend working with her if you’re interested in learning more about yourself and your patterns, getting to the root of some of your beliefs about yourself, and reconnecting with your body. You can find her website here. Thanks so much, Melinda, for all you did for me. I hope we can work together again soon.