"..what mattered most was finding someone who I could work with and would help me be the person I had forgotten existed." – Lol, before we started working together.
Last summer I received an inquiry from a very cautious lady who had been watching the incredible journey one of her former work colleagues from "standard healthy" to abundant energy and excitement about her new way of eating and living on Facebook. This lady's name was Lol. A seemingly timid, restrained and meek kind of woman with the burden of the world on her shoulders. Lol decided to take a risk and hire me as her coach. This is her story.
"My main concerns before I started working with Ania were related to how I looked after myself and the fact that I wasn’t doing much of it! I was really out of balance – spending all of my time focusing on a very stressful job and I had forgotten to make any time for hobbies, friends, food or even just space to think. I was eating from restaurants for pretty much every meal, never spending any time cooking or preparing my food. I have also suffered from frequent night terrors, running negative thoughts and wanted to take some positive steps to prepare my body for having a family in the future. I had recently got married, and knew that in the future I would want to consider a family, but saw no way of that being successful without taking some steps to improve my perspective on life and on how I treated my needs.
"I had tried exclusion diets before to try and identify if certain foods agree with my body, and leading up to my wedding in November 2011 I tried to improve my diet and fitness regime over a sustained period. These worked out well, but I felt that I was often stopping myself from eating things, and my ‘diet’ was often constricting. I also didn’t eat particularly healthily. I was following a list of instructions, but didn’t feel very passionate about it – it felt like cosmetic changes, rather than new habits I was learning. It also didn’t make much impact on the rest of my life i.e. I didn’t notice reduced stress, or reduced night terrors.
"I hadn’t really come across the concept of health coaching before I met Ania. I’d worked with CBT therapists (cognitive behavioural therapy) and career coaches before, so was familiar with coaching techniques – but I was not quite sure how health coaching worked.
"I was concerned that it would be too formulaic and that you might try and use the same approach for everyone. I was worried that my own situation would be neglected in favour of the latest trend or fad in health.
"I was reluctant to spend a large amount of money on someone who was of a similar age to me, and that did not have a medical degree/training. However, the initial introductory session was very enlightening. Ania's confidence and intuition made me feel as though she could really put herself in my shoes, and she was able to answer my technical and direct questions about nutritional facts.
"I also thought that this was a journey of improvement – and that what mattered most was finding someone who I could work with and would help me be the person I had forgotten existed."
During the first few session we focussed on adding uplifting and energising foods into Lol's diet as well as making sure she was making time for herself; it turned out that Lol was a workaholic, and totally addicted to her work Blackberry. We gently moved her focus from her work to herself and all the wonderful talents and dreams she'd neglected for far too long.
Over the months, Lol took up forgotten hobbies, cultivated a new passion for food and learnt to be herself again. Here's what she wrote following the last session of the six month programme:
“I had to write to you immediately as didn’t want to lose this feeling of feeling empowered and happy. I can’t thank you enough for the work we’ve done over the last six months – you’ve been so patient and inspiring. You’ve understood me – been able to keep up with my stream of consciousness and never given up on me. Your praise and guidance has been so genuine and you’ve shown me that I can the best version of myself. It sounds so overly dramatic – but when you’ve struggled to be happy it is kind of life-changing. Today’s session was so enlightening. I’ve had a horrible week – worked nearly 50hrs already and barely slept last night because I was worrying so much, but in the space of an hour you’ve put a smile on my face and given me so much confidence to complete my work and enjoy the evening/weekend. I’m living a life at the moment that may not be the one I’m living next year but together we’ve made it much more bearable and I am grateful for your intelligence, compassion and humour.
"As a direct consequence of our work together I’ve become more passionate. I’m more passionate about being the person I had forgotten existed because I’d got caught up in trying to fit too many things into my life that didn’t really serve me. I want to look after myself now, because ultimately I want to have a happy life that is full of joy and health. I know I can achieve that now. I’ve grown in confidence and learnt to manage myself. This is not a six-month quick fix but it has helped me step out of unhelpful habits, and taught me that I can change things, one little step at a time.When I’ve tried to make changes before I’ve felt scared or silly – worried that I would do them wrong.Despite having a very supportive family, and wonderful husband, having you alongside me made a huge difference. I didn’t want to be a burden on any of them, but talking/writing to you was constructive and also made me accountable for the steps I had chosen to take to improve myself week by week."
When I asked Lol to describe what she's achieved over the course of our time together, this is how she replied:
There are so many things that have happened as a consequence of our work together:
Each time I read Lol's testimonial I'm moved. I feel so immensely blessed to be able to get up every morning and know that I'm helping people to shine and be their absolute best, whether through my short posts on Facebook, via workshops, group coaching, 1-2-1 coaching or a friendly smile to a stranger on the street. I don't take these things lightly and that's why I appreciate Lol, the rest of my clients and all of you for allowing me to be on this path.