Client Spotlight: Positivity, Patience, and Pencil Skirts
This month, I am excited to start a new blog feature – the “Client Spotlight.” Each month, I’ll be holding a short interview with one of my clients, and letting them speak in their own words, to describe what has worked best for them on their personal fitness journeys.
This month, I’m talking to 46-year-old Anna, based out of Atlanta, Georgia. She is one of my remote coaching clients (so we have never met in person, and only talk once a week on the phone), and it has been such a pleasure and inspiration to watch her make progress on her goals. I have only been working with her for three months, but already she’s lost 10 pounds, blazed through a goal-pace 5K, and has set her sights on pull-ups.
I think that, sometimes, my clients don’t realize how much they inspire me. I am so excited to be flipping the script and letting them shine in these weekly posts!
Rachel: What was your starting point when you started coaching?
Anna: So, I started coaching with you after about seven years of gradual weight increase – my weight crept up to just over 150 pounds. I had acquired – or had slid – into bad lifestyle habits. I was running, but not very regularly and not very intensely. My eating habits were pretty erratic, and my overall activity level was low – I was pretty sedentary.
R: So what are the obstacles that you naturally face because of your lifestyle, like your work?
A: I work basically a 9-to-5 job. In terms of scheduling and finding the time for workouts and running, that’s a little bit of a challenge. And definitely fatigue by the end of the work week, I don’t have much mental energy to make the best eating choices, or the physical energy to just keep putting the intensity into the workouts – or to actually just change clothes and do the workouts. It tends to fall off by the end of the work week.
R: Yes, I’m sure a lot of my other clients will relate to that, too. So what changes to your lifestyle have made the absolute biggest difference for you?
A: Well, when I started working with you, I had already started to do meal planning and meal preparation, and I do think that that is one of those fundamental things, in terms of changing eating patterns.
Along with that, I mentioned to you when we started working together that I LIKE to eat. I look forward to meals, and I ENJOY food. So I found some recipes for meals that I enjoy eating and I enjoy cooking, that also meet the nutrition goals and calorie goals that I have, and I keep those in my repertoire.
Also, I learned from experience to divide things into portions ahead of time, even if you know you’re going to eat more than a single portion. At least having it divided, and having a marker of when you’re going above a portion, is helpful.
Calorie tracking, along with everything else, keeps you honest, knowing what you are eating, which meals work for you, and which meals are… less optimal.
R: I relate to you about loving food and enjoying food, and that the recipes HAVE to be something you like, or else it’s just not going to work. How has your mindset changed over the last three months?
A: I think that this is also something I mentioned to you when we started working together. I feel like I need a coach to help me stay positive, or to be my cheerleader. It’s very easy for me to only look at the last few days or even the last week and get frustrated, and get a very negative mindset and fall off track. So I think working with you has helped me maintain the ability to get perspective and see a bigger picture, and go from a tiny point of view – what’s happened in the last few days – to focusing on progress that I’ve made in the last three months, or even in the last few weeks.
It helps me to keep in mind different aspects of progress. Like there can be a week or two when I don’t see much progress on the scale, but my running performance gets a lot better. Or, I’m able to go down a dress size. There are different aspects of progress that you’ve been able to focus my attention on, so that I don’t get frustrated, so that I can keep going and be patient with myself.
R: Right. And I think weight’s just one small part of the picture. For this blog post, I do want to point out that you’ve lost about 10 pounds in the last three months, which is no small thing when it all starts adding up. But while you’re experiencing it, it feels VERY slow. So having those other markers of success is very helpful. Tell me the story about the J. Crew skirts.
A: (laughs) It was not intentional. As I mentioned, over the last seven years, my weight gain was very gradual. I have kind of a “work uniform” – just a simple J. Crew pencil skirt that, over seven years, I had acquired three or four different sizes of the same skirts. So between several skirts that were size 6, size 8, size 10, and size 12, I had just gradually gone up.
Within the last week, I was happy that I was able to get rid of the size 12, and was comfortable in a size 10. I like them on the looser side, so I could definitely wear the size 8, but they’re a little tighter than I would like. So I went from a size 12 to a size 8.
R: Yeah! And I love that kind of creative assessment. I have another client who has a pair of jeans from the early 90’s, and she puts them on once a week as her measurements, which I think is awesome. What goals have been the most motivating for you, which have helped you to keep going every week?
A: I think when we started, I definitely wanted to see the weight go down, and weight and measurements did move very quickly at first. So that’s been very satisfying to see progress. And then I think the tangible things, like being able to fit into old clothes that I hadn’t worn in a long time – that came slightly later. And even more recently, seeing improvement in my running performance after six or eight weeks – that was a big deal for me.
R: That’s great! I agree about the running, that you can FEEL that progress in a different way from just weight. If you had to sum up an inspirational tip for others who may be in the same boat as you, what would you tell someone who was just getting ready to get started on their healthy journey?
A: I feel like I’m still learning. (R: We all are!) A: I’m not sure I am in the position to give advice or tips to other people, but I guess if I were giving advice to myself, something I try to remember is just to be patient with myself, and to not get hung up on day-to-day ups and downs. I try to assess myself on whether I made progress in the last couple of weeks, and not just in the last couple of days. And when I do have “off” days, I try to get back on the horse as quickly as possible, rather than postpone getting back on track – instead, “I’m back on track right now.” One more thing: “People tend to overestimate what they can do in a week, and underestimate what they can do in three months.” That kind of mindset is helpful to me.
Anna may not think she’s ready to dish out advice, but I think she’s being too humble. I hope you’ve enjoyed her insights on mindset, and remember that you, too, can become a remote coaching client if this speaks to you.
Stay tuned for my next Client Spotlight!