Coaches, food and gold stars

For the month of January, I’ve committed to posting every day, having accepted the 30-day challenge.
This is day 30 of 30.


Like I said yesterday when talking about the book Better Than Before, I’m an Obliger with just a smidgen of Upholder in me (here’s more information about all four tendencies). As Gretchen Rubin defines it,

Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves

That’s me. As long as I have external accountability, I’m a superstar without fail — I live to never let anyone else down. The promises I make to myself? Let’s just say that I’m not as concerned with how I’ll react to myself when I don’t fulfill my commitments; I’m pretty skilled at handling criticism I make about myself.

It’s pretty clear what that means in terms of my goals to get fit and lose some weight — I’ll do it better if I’m working with other people and have some sort of external accountability. This isn’t really news to me, I just now have a name for the type of person I am (well, that’s not true either, I’ve always had names for the type of person I am, but those weren’t nearly as nice as “Obliger”… ).

So I started looking around for a group to support my goals and commitments to myself and found One By One nutrition coaching. It’s another habits-based program (not unlike the Lean Eating program over at Precision Nutrition that I had gone through in years past) with a focus on simply getting the food part of it right. There are no weigh-ins, workout programs or meal plans, only habits that are designed to change how you relate to food and eating.

I signed up for the small group coaching and the bulk of it is through a Facebook group where we check in daily to assess how our day went while following the current habit. The coaches and mentors there are really great — quick to respond and always looking to both empathize with any issue you might be experiencing and then providing some ideas for how to deal with that issue in a more effective way. By asking us to account for our decisions every day, I have been more mindful and aware of what I’m doing and whether or not it fits with the habit.

And I love how positive the coaches are: the other day my assessment was not so good — I was so tired by the time I got home that I sat down with a bag of pretzels and mindlessly ate with no goal other than to feel full. Not satisfied, mind you, just full. And when I posted that, the response included not only helpful advice but also reminded me that first off, this wasn’t the worst thing in the world and secondly, an evening of overeating didn’t make a day of mindful eating disappear. They were right — I ate to hunger and followed my body’s cues all day until around 7pm, and that’s a big positive.

Far too often it’s easy for me to dismiss the things I did right, thinking that one wrong move erases all the good. And that’s the kind of thinking that leads to binges and quitting because the hard work doesn’t seem worth it if only the mistakes are taken into account. I thrive on gold stars — there’s that external accountability again! — and it’s been so helpful to have coaches point out to me the things that I’m doing right as well as suggesting changes to fix the rest of the stuff.

And that’s something I’m working on for myself as well — the internal monologue of negative thoughts needs to be answered with a reckoning of all the good I’ve also accomplished in any given day, and the realization that most days the good outweighs the bad. My own head is tougher on me than anyone else could be, but that needs to change; I know it’s better than it used to be, but I always have room to improve.

In the meantime, I’ll listen to my coaches and keep doing the hard work that goes along with changing my brain, which is what this is all about, right?


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