Posted in Uncategorized

Now that I’ve stopped…how do I stay stopped!?

An oldie but a goodie! I loved this post and still talk about this topic on a very regular basis in the work that I do as a Recovery Coach. Enjoy.

Sober Something

rope_bridgeI originally wrote this post for The Foundation Clinic, but wanted to share it here on my personal blog.  I hope you enjoy the post.

I meet so many people who have stopped!  Stopped drinking..stopped using drugs…stopped addictive behaviour…and they truly want to stay there.  But there is a vast divide, the Grand Canyon of good intentions, that separates wanting and doing.  I want to live a fulfilled and purposeful life, is a far cry from attaining that life.  It’s a great start, but in between the wanting and the doing is where the real work lies.  Who doesn’t want mature, healthy relationships with their spouse, kids, family and friends!?  A great job that you look forward to, even on a Sunday evening!?  Meaningful interests, hobbies and pastimes, that bring fun, adventure and balance into the everyday!?

There are not a lot of people who I  know that don’t want these…

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Posted in Be The Change, Life Coaching, Recovery Coaching

Are You Living Courageously?

Recovery Coaching

The theme of the week has been courage and vulnerability...and without sounding like one of Brene Brown’s PR team, it really does keep coming up over and over again with the individuals and groups that I coach.  And so often this last week, the conversations have gone to where people feel they need to show up courageously in their lives and be able to ask for what they need; emotionally, socially, spiritually, mentally and physically.  Being vulnerable as an eight on the Enneagram is extremely challenging for me at times, as this requires me having no control over what might or might not happen in any given situation and learning to be comfortable with that.  And believe me that scares the crap out of me on a good day, never mind a day when I am feeling a little insecure about myself.  And those days come even with all the tricks, tools and techniques I have at my disposal as a coach.

Of course, there are plenty of situations in any given day or week that require me to allow my vulnerability to be tapped into as a personal strength.  Whether this is asking my partner for support or love, reaching out to a colleague on a project or letting down my guard with the clients that I work with in the addiction treatment centre.  And when I do this, the most incredible things happen and I feel authentic and congruent within myself.  It’s when I feel spiritually connected to myself and the world around me, as if hooked up to the universe by a powerful force of love and acceptance.

Then all of a sudden I can be disconnected from this sense of presence and belonging, trapped in the crazy of my thoughts!  And try as I might, there are times when getting out of my head and into my body can be extremely difficult.  Personal development, conscious living and awareness are wonderful when I am plugged into the world through my executive thought functions in my prefrontal cortex, but when something short circuits in the inner workings of my brain and I suddenly go “offline” because of an event that has triggered me, it’s not always easy to come  back into my body and reconnect back into the universal energy.  That’s when having the mindsight to see what is going on, and how I am not doing what I know works, can just be frustrating!

There is no magic to any of this.  It’s about using those little tools and tricks that I’ve learned, and teach to others, consistently and patiently.  I’ve never professed to be a master at any of this, just another soul navigating the roads, avenues and boulevards of life.  I know that hitting the pause button between stimulus and response is incredibly effective – when I am able to find the sometimes elusive pause button. This doesn’t always happen! Of course there are times when I am able to catch myself and S.T.O.P. (Stop–Take Three Breaths–Observe–Proceed) which is one of Deepak Chopra’s little tricks to bring ourselves back into the present.

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And I have learned to T.H.I.N.K. more often, before I fire off a series of reactive retorts in the heat of the moment.  So I S.T.O.P. and ask myself, “Is it TRUE?  Is it HELPFUL? Is it INSPIRING?  Is  it NECESSARY? Is it KIND?” before being thoughtless with my words.  Often I don’t get past the true bit, and it’s a wonderful tool when I use it.  But as I have mentioned I am perfectly imperfect when it comes to keeping it all real, and of course there are times when I say and do things in that cowgirl-style of mine, having to go back later and sweep the debris off the saloon floor after the verbal gunfight!

The real power though, is if I allow myself to remain vulnerable with myself and the people around me.  I find it less likely that I am going to feel under threat from the people I interact with when I adopt this mindset.  That if I am courageous in my daily life and speak with a gentle compassion to myself and others, I have the ability to stay in my authenticity.  And the irony of it is that when I am being vulnerable and open, I feel incredibly strong.  By exposing my softness I am actually more protected than if I put on  masks, build walls and armour myself in preparation for how the world’s going to, maybe, fuck me over.

So, going back to my original thoughts; over the course of the week as this theme was discussed in the coaching groups that I facilitate, I realised that there are so many people letting down their fake personas of strength and infallibility.  Watching vulnerability and courage finding their voice in men and women who have long been silenced by the guilt and shame of addiction is nothing less than an honour and a privilege.  As mothers and fathers talk of breaking the cycle of substance abuse in their families and showing up for their children differently to their parents, I feel the genuine desire for change.  When individuals allow their truth to find a space and explore their deepest core beliefs and values, I am humbled by the tenacity of the human spirit.  Many times over the last week I have seen people share from places deep within them, bringing fears, insecurities and humility into the light, instantly diminishing their stranglehold on their hearts and souls.

And the more vulnerably I show up in this space, the more unspoken permission there is for real healing and growth.  When I am authentic and congruent, speaking my truth, others are shown that there are no rights or wrongs when it comes to being ourselves.  Rather that each and every person has the personal power to show up and be heard, seen and loved if they are ready to allow themselves to drop the shields we all carry and let their courage, authenticity and vulnerability guide them towards their true purpose in life, whatever that may be for them.

Posted in Uncategorized

What Makes You Vulnerable Makes You Beautiful…

1vulnerble

There’s been a really great response to the pictures and posts around one of my more recent posts on Alex Campbell Transformation, What Happens Outside the Comfort Zone?  The support has been immense and I really do appreciate it.  At the same time, I’ve been thinking about my core beliefs about myself with regards to my weight challenges over the years.

It still makes me feel sad when I think about the different types of responses I have received in my life, simply based on how I look!  After all, I’ve always been me no matter what the scale says and what size my jeans are.  I was never in denial about my weight and how unhealthy it was, but I have spent most of the past 20-something years looking for weight-loss solutions or actually being on diet.  No matter how I look, I’ve always been aware of my unhealthy relationship with food.  As a person in long-term recovery, I am well aware of what addiction’s all about.  And it’s not simply about overindulging, having no willpower, being unaware of my habits and blissfully ignoring the consequences of addictive behaviour patterns

It’s about the inability to stop eating once the binge has started.  It’s about a lack of control.  It’s about using food as a reward or an escape.  It’s about blame and justification.  It’s about the guilt and shame that results from a binge.  It’s about negative core beliefs and the unhealthy thoughts, words, actions and behaviours that are a result of these thoughts and ideas, and the pattern goes on.  It’s not about lacking self control, it’s about having a distorted view of self.

Coaching has been the missing piece in my nutrition and fitness puzzle.  Because weight-loss needs to be supported by a programme or process that works on changing thoughts and ideas, building self-esteem and -efficacy, about understanding nutrition and creating strong, sustaiable habits.  It’s not simply about shedding the kilos, it’s about reinventing the way I think about those kilograms and centimetres, and myself.  In the coaching process I have learned to see myself as worthy of fitness, health and wellness.  It’s about believing I deserve to be in shape, because it’s self-loving.

And I have fully accepted this time that it’s also about HARD WORK!  There is no miracle pill, no perfect diet, no revolutionary eating plan.  It’s about consistency, patience, routine and practice.  It’s really no different to my recovery from substance abuse.  It doesn’t happen overnight just because I am ready for it.  It’s about learning tools and skills, habits and behaviours that are supportive of health and well-being.  And saying that comes with a big dollop of humility, because as a coach I know this…I just needed someone else to coach me and work as an accountability partner in this journey.

I’m practising, I’m being consistent, I’m showing up and doing the work.  Not talking about doing, but actually doing.  And instead of giving up when there are setbacks such as a little weight gain, plateaus and days of hunger, I have relied on myself and reached out to my coach.  And There are days that are extremely trying (the ones when I want to jump into a party-pack of Doritos) and those when I feel like this is the simplest thing imaginable.

And I am learning to love myself a little more every day.  Not just because of the way my body is starting to look, but also because I am being honest, courageous, open and patient.  I have begun to feel as though I deserve to look and feel great, be healthy and fit, and live authentically and congruently in my personal power.  And for that I am extremely grateful.

This TedTalk by Brene Brown on “The Power of Vulnerability” has changed my core beliefs about myself and learn to love myself in an authentic, empowered way.

Posted in Uncategorized

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes!

This is a post that I wrote earlier this year and is part of an ongoing blog series on the website ALEX CAMPBELL TRANSFORMATION

BetheChange2-01.jpgSince the age of 14 I have been subjecting myself to a series of diet plans, eating regimes and weight-loss interventions.  These include Weigh-Less, Atkins, Low-Fat, Low-Carb, medically-assisted programmes, Slender Wonder, Herbalife, Dietitian programmes and all sorts of combinations thereof.  And yes, I’ve lost weight and inevitably gained it back (with a little extra for prosperity) to the tune of probably 100kgs, until the point of desperate hopelessness where I was ready to push through to a size 20 and be done with it…  The prescriptive nature of the programmes and a real lack of understanding about how the process actually works has been a constant stumbling block for me.

My unhealthy relationship with food over the years, periods of binge eating and complete starvation have led to awful guilt and shame around my eating habits, body image and self-esteem.   I felt defeat and self-loathing every time I was unable to stick to the plan, beating myself up emotionally and mentally at my inability to be able to “get it right”.  And inevitably this would lead to me seeking comfort in the fridge or the chip bag!  And then the cycle would repeat itself.  A “slip” would more often than not lead to a full-blown “relapse” and the weight-gain journey would begin once again.

For anyone who has not battled with food issues and weight challenges, this might be difficult to comprehend.  It’s got nothing to do with willpower, eating less and exercising more.  There have been diets when I was eating 650 calories a day and staying committed to the process until it became completely unsustainable due to emotional, physical and mental fatigue, lack of financial resources (eating that little costs a lot of money for supplements and appetite control) and feeling miserable about not being able to eat.  For me it has been about not understanding what I am doing, not being given the right kind of support and feeling like the dieticians, doctors, programme leaders and experts are not really that invested in me achieving the required outcomes.

So after years of failed attempts and a plummeting self-belief that I was ever going to be able to have a half-decent chance, I started working with Alex, of Alex Campbell Transformation.  He introduced me to the concept of Flexible Dieting, #IIFYM and macro-counting (these are terms I think should be linked to your posts or easy-to understand articles for the “beginner”).  And even though it is about calorie-counting, using the My Fitness Pal App makes that easier than paging through my most recent diet-plan manual and trying to figure out what I am “allowed” to eat.  Instead of feeling deprived and constricted, I get to eat delicious food within the calorie limits, while ensuring that I get enough of the right nutrients.  There’s even room for the occasional, guilt-free chocolate, pizza or homemade burger and chips.  And I am only eating 1,500 calories a day!

Over the past two months I have lost over 6kgs, but even better than that is that I have lost more than 50cm around my waist, hips and thigh.  I have been spending time at the gym, but rather than slogging it out on the treadmill for hours, I am doing short strength-training sessions and am noticing enormous changes in my body.  Not only that, but I am feeling an incredible sense of wellness and in the way I was showing up in my life on a daily basis.  Normally when I am on a “diet” I am grouchy, miserable and feel very deprived; the focus of my day on the things that I can’t eat and dreading another boring, tasteless meal.  So, I am feeling grounded and motivated, and the nutrition coaching and support I am receiving is making me extremely accountable and in control of my programme (and progress).  Although when I am unsure I have the support of a coach to keep me on track and dispel my fears around whether I am doing it “right”.

There’s space for conversations about food, mood, stress, sleep and exercise.  I am not simply being TOLD what to do, which has given me the chance to own this programme and allow my ideas, experiences, and challenges to be part of the process.  Alex is always available to offer input and support, as well as introducing me to great education and information sources, as well as blogs and FaceBook pages that are in-line with what the programme approach entails.

After more than two months of eating a fairly low amount of calories, attending the gym regularly and getting back into the kitchen (which I am loving), I feel more motivated than ever to push towards my health and wellness goals, that are not simply physical, but also mental, emotional, spiritual and social. This approach feels sustainable and individualised, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach which has never been sustainable for me in the past.  I feel hope and positivity where just a few months ago there was one of defeat and futility.  And for this I am extremely grateful and thankful to Alex Campbell Transformation for the knowledge, expertise, support and no-BS approach.

I will continue to write about my personal health, wellness and body transformation as the weeks and months unfold.  I know there are no magic potions and quick fixes, but with support and accountability it feels like I am on the right path to exactly where I want to be.

For more information about Nutrition & Fitness Coaching, please visit my partner website: www.alexcampbelltransformation.com

Posted in Recovery Coaching

What is Recovery Coaching?

From a Culture of Addiction to a Culture of Recovery

The power of any form of coaching lies in the coach’s ability to create and hold a safe space for a client to explore their ideas, needs wants and goals, in a solutions-driven, forward-focused manner.  The client is given the opportunity to build their self-esteem and confidence through being encouraged and supported to find answers to their unique life situations.  Recovery Coaching is no different in that respect.

Substance abuse and addictive behaviour disorders are issues that touch almost everyone I have met, either directly through their own personal experience or indirectly through family, friends and colleagues.  Mired in stigma, people are often afraid to reach out and seek assistance, imprisoned in their shame and guilt about how they might be judged.  Recovery Coaching is a model designed to empower such individuals, families, communities and organisations to move forward and develop a life that is productive, fulfilled and purposeful.  Due to the systemic nature of addiction, Recovery Coaching aims not only to assist the addicted individual, but to also work with those impacted by the situation.

As coaching unfolds with people, the focus of the conversation often revolves around issues such as family, relationships, career or study, and living authentically, rather than addiction.  As this niche coaching model is not meant to replace any of the other professions such as social work, counselling, therapy and inpatient treatment, it is used to help people rebuild their lives through the development of Recovery Capital, which is the unique set of internal and external resources that the client develops to support long-term recovery and wellness.

Through the session a client is asked powerful questions which gives them the opportunity to identify the available resources that they might already possess, as well as identify and focus on the development of additional resources to bring meaning and purpose back into their lives.  By growing emotional, social, mental, physical and spiritual Recovery Capital, the client is empowered to take personal responsibility for their past, so that they can begin to become accountable to themselves and others.  No two people’s resources are the same, but it essential that they are consistently topping up the Recovery Capital Bank so that it can be drawn on during challenging times, while creating a sense of achievement, fulfilment and connection in the process.

The Recovery Coach’s role is to build an accountability partnership with their client, so that he/she is given the space to uncover what is most achievable and sustainable given their personal situation.  Recovery Coaches are tasked with helping their clients shift to a solution during the course of a coaching session and series.  Developing rapport and trust with individuals and their support systems is an essential element of the coaching work, as an individual’s recovery has a rippled effect into their personal and professional lives.  The focus isn’t addiction, but recovery and how to move forward in life.  Acknowledging what has brought them to this point, but also honouring their journey moving forward, leaving behind a Culture of Addiction and moving into a Culture of Recovery.

As a Recovery Coach, it is imperative to allow the client to follow their own agenda, free of judgement, while they determine their needs, wants and values and work on plans to move into the next phase of their lives.  During the coaching series, many life and executive coaching tools are utilised to assist with planning, goal setting and problem solving, because committing to actions at the end of the session is a priority.  Developing healthy lifestyle choices is essential for those in recovery, because giving up destructive behaviours and developing new, healthy alternatives is where the majority of the coaching work lies.  As recovery and wellness grows, choice returns and the more Recovery Capital, tools and coping techniques are being developed, the more sustainable and long-lasting recovery becomes.  Spiritual principles such as honesty, willingness and openness then become the building blocks upon which recovery and wellness are built.

Because we’re all in recovery from something (not necessarily addictive substances or behaviours), engaging in coaching of any form, is a road to personal empowerment and growth.  Using models, techniques and tools that foster this is as relevant with individuals in recovery, as life or executive coaching is for others.  The agenda of a Recovery Coaching session still comes from the client, and the solutions that are arrived at are theirs alone, although sometimes the content of the session might be slightly different.  And the Recovery Coaching intervention can start at any point that a person identifies that they might require assistance around a certain behaviour.

Recovery Coaching is primarily about facilitating the shift from a Culture of Addiction where there is blame, justification and denial to a Culture of Recovery that is centred around responsibility, accountability and the practice of spiritual principles, where the victim is given the space to become the survivor.  And through this process a productive, contributory individual emerges in their own life and the lives of the people that surround them.

SELF REFLECTION ACTIVITY

So after reading this article, I’d like to invite you to spend some time thinking about which areas of your personal and professional life you might be living in a Culture of Addiction.  Do you work too hard, often at the expense of yourself and your loved ones?  Where are you blaming and justifying in your life in order to vindicate unhealthy behaviours?  Do you feel yourself playing the victim in certain situations?

Diagram Source: http://repository-intralibrary.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/

Once you have noticed where your challenges lie, think about how you can move into a Culture of Recovery by developing Recovery Capital to support you in achieving a more holistic approach to life?  The Wheel of Life is a powerful coaching tool which is used to determine which areas in life we might not be paying enough attention to.

Identify eight essential areas in your life and after reading the explanation, complete your own Wheel Of Life, and from there you will be able to get a really good idea of where you need to be developing some plans, actions and goals…and move into your personal solution using your unique set of resources to support that movement.

Life areas can include, but are not limited to some of the following:

  • Career & Business
  • Family & Friends
  • Romantic/Intimate Relationship
  • Finances
  • Spiritual Health
  • Mental/Emotional Health
  • Physical Environment
  • Fun & Recreation
  • Personal Growth
  • Health & Wellness

The Wheel of Life acts as a potential starting point in the coaching process by identifying where the client wants to work, and then focusing on the individual aspects moving forward, to create a fulfilled purposeful life of recovery and wellness.

Posted in Uncategorized

Being the Change…

So many thing have happened in the three years since I’ve become a full-time coach.  And in order to keep up with the ever changing world in which we live, I decided to give my coaching business a new look.  Recovery Coaching SA has been rebranded as Be The Change Coaching.  The reason behind this that as my coaching business has grown, and so have my areas of interest, personal development and expertise.

I’ve not only learned more about life, but I have also entered into a business collaboration with Alex Campbell Transformation, which specialises in nutrition and fitness coaching,  I have definitely had my challenges in those areas over the years, but working with a coach has been life changing and hence the decision to partner up in this area.

I am passionate about living my own authentic, congruent life, and have decided to also include more life coaching in my practice, as much of the work I actually do revolves around empowering people to live purposeful, fulfilled lives (whether or not they are in recovery).  Watching people learn about themselves, their personal needs, wants and values, and actioning and moving towards their aspirations and goals is both personally and professionally fulfilling.  I am blessed and grateful at having found a life of meaning and purpose in my personal recovery, which feeds my soul on a daily basis.

In the coming weeks and months, I will be blogging about life, recovery and lifestyle.  I’ll be sharing my personal and professional insights, and through this engaging with people who as passionate about change as I am.  Because in life I have realised that what lies between my present reality and my envisioned future is action.  So I will continue to be the change I wish to see and through that support and inspire others to do the same.