When Your Friendly Neighborhood Life Coach Gets An Eating Disorder
August 01, 2017
I’m a Certified Life Coach and I have Binge Eating Disorder. I can see how that might not inspire much confidence in my coaching skills. You might question my ability to help you connect with your body in loving ways. The body love, uber-positive life coach has a dark and dirty secret that’s no longer possible to hide.
Pot, meet kettle.
Folks want to work with a life coach because they believe the coach can help them solve a problem and help them create something new in their lives. They want to see what’s possible for themselves. That’s the crux of this work but there’s also the expectation of what a coach is “supposed” to be/do/look like. Whether that’s self-imposed or not, I think people expect some criteria. I’ve always heard that you shouldn’t trust a skinny chef. What about a pudgy life coach?
I’m the girl who loves spinach smoothies and makes her own green juice. My cabinets are filled with chia, flax and quinoa. I avoid artificial sweeteners like the plague; along with shakes, “natural” supplements, Frankenfoods, 21-day fixes and 17-day overhauls. My gym membership card gets scanned frequently. I did a 10k race in Sweden, for goodness sake!
My best intentions got caught up in a long-brewing emotional mess. I had some physical health issues (thanks, hormones!). My metabolism stopped at a grinding halt with hypothyroidism. Those collided with some unresolved trauma from my past. Add in lifelong Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and seasonal depression- and you’ve got yourself a full-blown eating disorder. No amount of power foods could have prevented this.
I have been the face of self-love and compassion one minute, hatred in silence the next. My rock bottom happened so many times I lost count. It wasn’t when someone asked if I was pregnant. It wasn't crying in the dressing room. It wasn't packing away clothes that don't fit to make room for larger sizes I had to buy. It wasn't when I couldn't fit comfortably in a swing at a public event.
I would coach clients around self-love and moving their bodies from a place of love and kindness. I even built an entire coaching program around this. I didn’t tell them about getting out of bed overnight and plowing through whatever I could stuff in my mouth. The devouring entire pizzas. The huge bags of Lays Sour Cream and Onion chips I could eat in one sitting. The birthday cake I ate in the dark. Often, I'd already planned my evening binge by lunch time. I would joyfully celebrate my client’s successes and beat the hell out of myself for not practicing what I could effectively preach.
Some days I felt like a fraud. I retreated inward. I loosened the reigns on my personal and professional lives. Shit hit the fan. I found myself dealing with way more than I could handle without help. I had no choice but to finally be honest about my binge eating and what was driving it.
It’s really, really hard. I’m not ashamed of the tears and four-letter words this has brought up.
I cannot heal without doing the work, no matter how awful it can seem.
It’s said that working through an eating disorder is recovery. I have been hesitant to embrace the word recovery but ultimately, that’s what it is. I am getting the help and support I need. I’m getting proper healthcare. I’m challenging my demons. I’m creating a new language of unabashed love, no matter how impossible it is some days. I’m learning to manage my emotions without abusing myself with food. I’m learning how to use food as fuel and consume my meals (even ice cream) without a Shakespearean level of drama.
Just like my clients, I’m learning what’s possible, too.