When I was first training to be a coach, I had this overwhelming feeling that I didn’t know enough. No matter how many lectures I listened to, worksheets completed, books read and coaching demos watched, this feeling kept coming back. How can I be ready to do this work? There’s no way I know what I’m doing. I’ve got to learn more before I begin. Maybe this book or course has the answer. Maybe I need to read a few more blogs on the subject.
What my coaching school told us over and over (it was a common complaint and fear of students), and what I learned to be true afterwards, is that the only way you get good at this work (or anything) is by doing it. The only way you “know” enough is by going out and doing it.
Knowing something intellectually is not the same as knowing something spiritually or in your core. You can consume all the information available in the world. You can read every book, buy every online course and you’ll still feel just as unprepared as you did on day 1 if you don’t actually go out and do the real-life work.
I had to take everything I learned in school, from books and lectures and apply it in actual coaching conversations before any of it made sense – before I felt confidence in what I had set out to do. In order to become a skilled coach (and to feel like a coach), I had to actually coach!
The same can be said for repairing your relationship with food, with losing weight or getting fit. Really, it can be said about anything new we want to do or create in our lives. You can spend hours upon hours of your time learning about what diet to try, what exercises to do, what mental habits you need to learn and none of it will get you where you want to be unless you actually go out, buy the food, prepare it, eat it, go out and do the exercises in your workout plan several days a week and practice all the mental tools to change your thinking. The key to reaching any goal (as I have preached on and on about before) is taking the physical steps and actions to get there.
One of the biggest complaints I hear from people is that x, y, and z isn’t working for them and so they ask me to give them something else that will work. “What else can I try?” they ask. Let’s say X is mindful or intuitive eating. Y is eating whole foods most of the time. Z is feeling their feelings instead of eating them. When someone tells me any of these things, my first instinct is to play sleuth before handing them more information. I have to find out what “not working” means. I don’t doubt that whatever they are doing isn’t working (if it was, this complaint wouldn’t be so prevalent) but I have to question what mindful eating, whole foods or feeling their feelings looks like in their reality.
How are they applying it in their daily life?
What does each meal look like?
How many times did they feel an uncomfortable feeling today and what did they do?
How long did it last?
In reality, most people who learn about mindful eating think that just being 50% mindful three meals a week is enough to say they tried mindful eating and it didn’t work for them. People who say eating whole foods didn’t work for them think that eating a salad one day and steamed broccoli on another cancels out the 3 trips to McDonald’s and the 3 pints of ice cream they ate this week. People who are supposed to be focusing on feeling their feelings instead of eating them, feel an uncomfortable feeling once or twice and run for the hills (and usually into the pantry).
Trying something once, twice or partially 10 times is not enough.
It’s half-assed and it’s not doing it.
Feeling your feelings regularly is something that takes a lot of time and effort. We have to continuously bring our minds back to our discomfort and be able to sit with it until the feeling dissipates. The same goes with mindful eating. If you want that to work for you, you really have to make mindful eating something you do at every meal, with every bite.
We think that just by knowing something, it will be enough to help us make changes. Knowing the why’s and the hows is a big part of making changes but it’s just a blueprint. You’re the architect. You still have to oversee the actual building of the building. You have to go out and buy supplies like wood and power tools. You have to hire a team to help you build it. You have to get permits and deal with bureaucratic BS. You may even have to physically pick up a hammer and nail a lot of boards together. Not just once. Over and over until what you build looks like the blueprint. You don’t give up on day 1 because the hardware store didn’t have the brand of nails you like. You don’t give up on day 2 because a contractor was late. You might need to adjust your schedule or change your plan of attack but you do what you have to do to complete the project. Just knowing how something can and should be built isn’t the same as actually getting it built. It’s the same with repairing your relationship with food.
You do not need another book. You don’t need another course. You don’t need to go to another workshop. You have to settle in with what you already know and use it.
If you do this, try to learn everything you can, but don’t actually put it into action, don’t feel badly. You’re not alone. We all do this. We all have a lot on our plates and we try to just skip over the parts of our healing process that we find difficult or confusing or uncomfortable.
Instead of hunkering down and immersing ourselves in the physical process of change (like letting uncomfortable feelings be, prepping healthy food for every meal, returning our focus to our meals each time our brain wants to go somewhere else etc) we attempt spiritual bypass. We learn all we can and then think that means we can skip over the meaty parts because we have the intellectual knowledge.
The problem with this is that we end up really still being in the same place. We just think we’ve moved past something when really all we’ve done is checked out in the part of our journey where it gets hard. Stop checking out. Check “in” instead and apply what you already know.
If you see yourself doing this, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What is it that you want?
- What actions are you taking towards that goal?
- What have you tried that has not worked?
- How much effort did you put into the things that you feel did not work?
- How much of your time and energy do you spend reading, learning, consuming new or more material on the subject you want to change? (Are you always buying another book on the same subject? Always following a new guru on social media? Do you buy courses online but then look to buy another before completing the work they ask of you?
- What is something you know you must do to reach your goal but are having difficulty taking the first step on?
- Why do you think you haven’t taken that step?
- What would make taking that step easier? Who could support you? How can you support yourself?
- If you already knew everything there was to know about your subject or goal, what 3 things do you think you could start doing today that would move you closer to reaching that goal?
If you are struggling in translating your knowledge into action with emotional eating, chronic dieting or overeating, let’s talk. Coaching is an amazing tool for exactly that kind of transformation and I’d love to be of service to you.
Like this? For more, download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldn‘t Be a Workout: Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).