I know I have an "about coach" section on my site, but I really felt the need to share a little more intimately my story and why I felt the need to begin coaching others. Why I use behavior science to help people change their behavior and I don't sell products or programs. So here it that story! I suppose I should start at the beginning.
With the exception of being a chunky baby when I was born, I was always skinny growing up. I know now that this was because I moved my body a LOT and didn't eat large portions, but growing up with a skinny sister I just always assumed (as did other people!) that we were just naturally skinny. I was also, and still am, a very picky eater. One of my biggest fears for a very long time was that I would gain weight and never be able to lose it because I thought that would require eating foods I hate (spoiler alert- I WAS WRONG!) In adulthood I remained thin mostly, I was still quite active though my portions had increased a bit. Then I stopped dancing regularly, and the slow creep started. Off and on I'd watch my calories but it really never stuck for more than a couple months. Ultimately, after a huge move across country (and half an ocean) in 2014, the weight came on much more quickly. I had to wait a few months to be able to start my job and when I did, I realized i had NO work clothes that fit. None. Well, I had a few tops because I don't carry much of my added weight up top, but none of my pants fit. Even my fat pants that I still remember crying and being very upset about having trouble finding those two pairs of pants that would fit me. Not even those fit anymore. Clearly something had to change for REAL.
So in September 2014 I began my final weight loss journey. It took me a year and a half to reach my goal weight, and I now maintain slightly higher than what that goal weight was because it's a balance I can maintain long term. With the exception of vacation weight, I have kept that off and have successfully lost the vacation weight time and time again as well! I'll be honest- it's never ending. Maintaining doesn't mean I'd done watching what I eat or keeping an eye on my weight. I still have to weigh near daily and track my food the majority of the time or the weight creeps right back on. Perhaps eventually, I will really get those better eating habits so second nature that I won't need to track as much. But right now, I need to track to stay accountable. I never want to feel the way I felt when I couldn't find clothing I liked that fit. I never again want to wake up and hate my body. Never.
Along the way I had a great support system on Diet Bet and I realized one day- I had been wrong! I had lost ALL of that weight without eating a single food I hated. I still enjoyed my food. I was able to make the changes I needed and keep that up. Why was I so much more successful? Partly because of DietBet. Because it adds motivation! It uses sound behavioral science! What am I?? I'm a behavior analyst! Another reason I was successful was because I know how to change behavior and was able to use my knowledge and skills to change my OWN behavior.
So it dawned on me- I really wanted to help other people lose weight. Behavioral weight loss programs are shown by research to be the MOST effective and yet so few people have that option available to them. How many people hop from plan to plan never seeing the long term results they want because those one size fits all plans just aren't right for them? Or the plans work but they just can't keep them up for too long. I am good and making plans the suit the person. I am good at helping people change their behavior. Unfortunately, there's just not many traditional jobs for behavior analysts wanting to work with people on this. So I struck off on my own. I studied nutrition, I studied coaching, and here I am!
Anyone can take ready made products and cheer other people on for using them. And ya know what, those products and programs do help people so that's awesome. But those people aren't the ones I want to help. I want to help the people who struggle following those cookie cutter plans. People who need something more tailored to their own needs, their own life, their own challenges. People who need more consistent and intensive accountability. People who need a problem solving partner who can help them make reasonable adjustments as they go. So that those people can not only lose the weight and keep it off, but feel happy, confident, and effective instead of stressed and miserable. Behavior science works. It really is the best support you can have in place when trying to change the behaviors that lead to maintaining a healthy weight.
So that is why I coach. I just couldn't keep watching people be miserable, struggling to lose weight, quitting over and over. I couldn't watch and not do something when I know a better way.