Sorry for the sh*t I said when I was a Beachbody coach.
Okay, hold up a second while I take a deep breath and continue.
This kind of writing is really hard for me. Like, really hard. So forgive the grammar and errors, but at this point I’m just trying to get the words out.
How many people already hate me for that title?
I’m tempted to preface this with an explanation. But, I don’t want to do that. I have done a lot of explaining and appeasing and trying to be really likable in the past, and this post is about getting to some naked, uncomfortable truths, for me. It’s also about MY experience and the research and humble pie I’ve had to eat up since that experience.
I’m not promising you your truth. I’m saying, this is mine and if it resonates with you, awesome.
So, I guess the only place to start is to just start. A handful of years ago I signed up as a Beachbody coach. It was a move made with clueless enthusiasm. What was Beachbody? I had no idea. My little no cable tv bubble let me get away with never having heard of or seen the infomercials previously.
Setting: My first baby was about year old at this time. However, this isn’t a mommy weight loss story at all. I know the mommy weight loss story, and empathize with it. This was very different.
This also wasn’t a story where some MLM network marketer jumped at the opportunity to prey on the new mom and her new baby body. Yes, that does happen.
In fact, it was a friend and a colleague who I still like very very much that reached out.
I received a message on Facebook that was really quite simple. “Hey Sarah. Would you be interested in joining the Insanity Challenge?” Something like that.
We already had a relationship, she had noticed my sudden interest in the health and fitness and nutrition world, and it made sense to make the invite. I didn’t mind.
It had the word challenge in it. I love challenges. I’m a teensy bit competitive and was instantly curious.
Why not? I said yes without having a real clue as to what it was I was saying yet to.
The biggest draw truly was that prospect of coaching others. I signed up right away.
I was already a licensed teacher and had tutored, coached, and worked with people for as long as I was allowed to. And at this particular time in my life, nutrition was my ruthless mistress.
This mistress nutrition had lured me in and she did change my life. But, she was a little controlling and sometimes outright abusive.
A short backstory: I grew up with severe asthma and it stuck around until this push to go a more natural route kicked in. Natural as in, stop treating my body like shit. So, if that’s hippy dippy natural, I’m cool with it.
What I ate was huge in helping me kick asthma’s butt out of my life for good (but there’s way more to that story, and it’s a good one for another time).
So, that’s just some context. I was already clearly interested in the health nut world at this point and my competitive brain was jazzed about the word “challenge.”
I didn’t really know what could be wrong with any of that.
Except this: I was blissfully unaware of my own obsession with food, perfection, body image, and control.
I was unaware of my own disordered behavior around food.
I was so bought into the culture of sexy bodies and controlling your body and celebrating your body based on how it looks compared to 30 days ago.
And, I was losing weight at an alarming rate. Conveniently, I chose to remain blissfully unaware of that as well.
The big drop in weight and body fat happened before Beachbody. So did the need to control and curate my body to feel okay.
Did I mention my daughter was barely a year old at this point? There was not a shred of evidence of that because I had hurled my body into so much confusion with all the different diets and restrictions I put myself on and topped it with the new obsessive exercising I was doing following Insanity, Asylum, and more.
Because my control freak brain had to follow the system, had to get the perfect diet down, had to do everything right, I was literally making myself sick.
I would stay up until midnight just to get in the workout on the schedule because there was no way I could get it in fully while also working part-time as a teacher and taking care of my little one at home.
And the food, did I mention the food?
When I found freedom from my symptoms and disease, I got sucked in big time to the world of superfoods, pure, perfect dieting. Just look at the language used to advertise Shakeology! Sounds like a superfood orgasm in your mouth, right? He handpicked the ingredients? Whaaaat? Give me some of that perfection.
Why so obsessed?
Pure and simple, it was fear.
I feared losing control of my body.
I feared my symptoms returning and feared any other diseases to come. I read everyone’s story of how they had healed this and that and how perfect their health had become by their perfect eating lifestyles.
I read, watched, and followed blindly.
On one trip, I got so sick, my husband had to rush me to urgent care because my immune system was breaking down. But, I was supposed to be the healthiest person ever!
My health would continue to do weird things. It started with fatigue. I fainted a few times. Then the digestion started to go out the door. Let me tell you how embarrassing it is to feel that urge when you’re in the middle of teaching a class of teenagers. Even worse, this was at a school where we couldn’t leave the students in the class unattended, so I always had to call someone to stand in for me. Yep, digestion issues don’t let you ignore them.
But, what does this have to do with Beachbody coaching?
I felt like crap, and was confused as could be. How could I feel this way?? I was eating the “perfect” diet, drinking my shakes, had willpower out the wazoo, and never missed a workout.
And I was signing women up for programs! Here’s where my stomach sinks as the big fat apology is coming.
I was so oblivious to my own disordered dieting and workout behavior, I was in no position and was not qualified to dish out any coaching, at all. I had not completed my coach certifications at this point. I did not take the functional nutrition courses at this point yet. I hadn’t yet discovered biomechanics and pelvic floor health and what constitutes safe exercise for certain situations.
I WAS JUST A CONSUMER OF A FEW PROGRAMS INVITING OTHERS TO DO THAT SAME PROGRAM.
That is NOT coaching. That does not qualify one to coach. It is network marketing, plain and simple.
And, I was not the only one with this illusion of coaching practicing what I have now come to learn are quite harmful ways to coach, motivate, and teach.
It was so easy to remain oblivious, because this fitness culture has normalized disordered eating and body dysmorphia as though the health gods had written it this way.
Go ahead, and obsess about that body girl! We’re obsessed with ours too!
As a coach, you join a group of other coaches. My group was actually super sweet and so so nice. Truly, a great group of people. They were one of the rare groups who was anti-spammy marketing practices and I liked everyone just fine.
That being said, it was still a place where you could go and live with all your disordered mindsets and behaviors in naive bliss.
Before and after pictures galore.
Comparing numbers on who weighs what, who lost how much, who got what results.
Accountability that never questioned the program, it questioned you if you didn’t follow the program.
And I watched a lot of coaches and their customers, and my own customers, go up and down and up and down on this giant collective seesaw of yo-yo dieting.
Lose weight, gain it again, lose it again, gain it again. Get more willpower, count those calories, you can do it you guys. Insanityyyyyyyyyyy.
But it was pure fucking insanity. Why, if this was such a brilliant way to get healthy and lose weight, why were so many customers going back and forth with their results?
When was anyone finally just “happy?”
And, why was I feeling like total shit?
Here’s the worse part and the pit in my stomach is returning.
When I messaged customers or potential customers, I just can’t believe the shit I said.
Me: What’s your goal?
Potential customer: I want to lose weight?
“Tell me a little more? Why do you want to lost weight?”
“I just don’t like my body right now. I don’t feel comfortable in it. I want to be able to wear a bikini to the beach.”
Now this is where I should’ve paused and listened like a human fucking being, and not someone trying to sell a program. Today, when a woman tells me she wants to change her body because she doesn’t like herself, I want to know whyyyyyyy? Why can’t you love yourself now? What are you really desiring to feel? I love your body. You’re a freakin’ goddess. How can I help you realize that you’re such a Queen now and can treat your body like a Queen too, without feeling miserable along the way?
But noooo, that is not what I did. I nodded my head behind my screen and thought, well, there’s a program for that.
So, I’d ask follow up questions…
Me: What do you want to change about your body? (gag)
And then would come many many details into specific areas that needed to change. Some women even sent me pictures of where exactly on their body they wanted to make changes. Who did I think I was? A fucking plastic surgeon???
So, that’s where the pitch comes in. “Ah, well, yes. It sounds like you’d really like Insanity. I mean you just had a baby and all and all that jumping and intense movement may cause you to blow your uterus through your vagina (at worse) and pee yourself on the daily at best. But, yeah, in my Beachbody coach opinion, go for it. Everyone needs a little prolapse in their lives anyways!”
If only I even knew to say that.
Because what was basically happening here was an unqualified coach was acting qualified because she did a few exercise programs herself. Me. I’m talking about me for anyone feeling a little defensive right now.
What was the humble pie?
I got sick. So sick I had to stop working out. I was on some stupid smoothie cleanse and had hit a major wall and it was that or check myself into a hospital.
So, I chose to stop and study instead. I put my academic brain back on, the one that inspired me to study history and French and to master in Education. I put my researcher brain back on and got to work.
I studied, I completed trainings and certified as a health coach and Eating Psychology Coach, and I continue to read, research, and take trainings and courses to this day.
It was honestly Marc David’s book, Nourishing Wisdom, that really snapped me out of my madness. It was the first honest approach to food I had ever witnessed. I completed the training at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, which became one of the best decisions I have made in my coaching career.
I started listening to people, not pitching to them.
I heard stories from women with chronic pain who had been told they had no willpower or their pain was in their heads and they had to suck it up to stick with their workouts.
I listened to women who had recovered from cancer or were navigating an autoimmune disorder and were told by MLM marketers that they wouldn’t be sick if they drank their shake, or took some pill, or some crap.
I listened to those same women tell me about the many diets and protocols they followed and the frustration at not having the same experience as the website or diet book promised in the testimonials.
I talked with women who had really busy lives, children, jobs, spouses, and responsibilities. They felt tortured by the Pinterest meals and Instagram #foodporn they couldn’t seem to make time for. They felt like failures every time they chose a cookie and a glass of wine over a crunchy vegetable for a night time snack. They also thought they didn’t have the willpower for the lifestyle they thought they’d try again on Monday.
I heard from moms who felt targeted by some coaches who only saw them as a “mom body” looking for her before and after shot. I talked with women in their 60s who had been dieting for the past 30 years and had no positive news to report on the matter.
This couldn’t be it, right? The dieting culture couldn’t be it?
It’s not it. But, it’s what’s seen as normal and the thing to do.
And I took part in my own way. I bought in and spread it around in my own way.
To this day, there are things I’m still unlearning on this path to knowing more what’s really true for me.
That’s the freedom ticket right there. It’s not a magical weight loss number. It’s not a motivation or willpower matter.
The freedom to make choices about my habits without the judgey and even harmful restrictions.
The freedom to help myself and in turn help the clients in my life make choices about the habits they thrive on comes from knowing the truth behind what we all really desire to feel, to release, to let go of, to pursue, and to be as individuals.
So, for the shitty things I said before, I am sorry. I didn’t know then what I know now, and I’m so grateful I know now.
If this message resonates with you, join the convo on Facebook. We’ve got a free group for that 😉
And I’d love to tell you about the people, teachers, and mentors who came into my life and shifted my thinking in a big way.
(Full disclosure: any links I share are my links as I’m proud to affiliate with and share what I actually use and have learned from myself. The use of affiliate links also allows us to keep doing what we’re doing and donating the money we donate to support organizations that help women and men build their lives after abuse.)
First and foremost, the Institute for the Psychology of Eating was the first Training where I felt that “aha, this is the shit I’ve been seeking” feeling. My lovely friends Marc and Emily, the peeps who run the place and who also have huge loving hearts, they teach an intro masterclass on what this kind of coaching is if you’re curious. You can find out about that HERE.
Secondly, after training with them, taking the Dr. Sear Wellness Institute training, recently completely some trainings with the Integrative Women’s Health Institute, I kept finding myself gravitating back to this thought leader Queen over and over: Danielle LaPorte. Her words, her work, and her integrity to tell the truth is what brings me back to everything she teaches and writes over and over. So, I was beyond THRILLED to become a licensed Desire Map Facilitator so I could incorporate her beautiful work into the work I also do. That’s how the Desire Mastermind was born and has ben THE COOLEST EFFING program I’ve ever taught. I also teach an intro class on that you can jump into like right now, and the intro class is FREE. Learn more HERE or simply click the pic below: