Posted in Be The Change

I didn’t say it would be easy…I said it would be worth it!

I love the work that I do (most of the time) and feel blessed to be able to work in a space where I get to support people in their personal processes.  In this process I get to be part of a my clients’ awakening as they move forward in their lives, but these connections sometimes come at a price.  As someone who works in substance abuse and mental health industry I am constantly giving of myself to others in the work that I do.  I show up as authentically as possible as often as possible and try and bring myself as courageously as I can in service of my clients.

But this doesn’t always work in my favour and there are times that the parts of my life I use in the learning are used against me by clients who are in a different parts of their journey.  And that is part of what I do…it doesn’t always go well and sometimes it’s just downright awful, but that’s the nature of the work that I do.  I have chosen to be in this world where I am sometimes open to anger, vitriol and projection.  I’ve done my personal work and I know when I have to stand back and just let the work happen without me.  It’s difficult to quiet my inner critic in these situations and allow the process to unfold, but it’s essential for my sanity and well-being.

At the moment I am in one of these situations.  Not only has there been a difficult situation in my work space, but I have also had an exceptionally stressful few months.  So I have had to put myself first and step away from my professional life.  On the one hand it is exactly what I need to do, but on the other hand it’s been a really bitter pill to swallow.  I need to take care of myself emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically and socially and for this process to happen I need to be in a safe, loving space.  One of my biggest challenges in life is to practice self-love and right now I have no other choice but to do this.  I am having to show up authentically and courageously for myself for the time-being rather than the clients and patients that are such a high value for me.

So what s unfolding in my life at the moment is a real integration of the teaching and facilitation work that I do at the clinic.  I am having to put down some very strong boundaries at the moment in order to protect my recovery and wellness.  Working in the addiction space means that conflict, crisis and chaos rule and it can be hard to find balance and perspective when I am entrenched in the environment.  In order to build up my personal recovery capital I have to put myself into a mindset where I am practising humility about what I can and cannot achieve both personally and professionally at the moment.

The humility to embrace that I really am just human and that I cannot expect myself to always be able to show up in the messiness of the work that I do without taking time and making space for my own work, healing, fulfillment and goals.  Perhaps I also need to have the “mindsight” to remember that I have already battled a lot of my personal demons and that some of them still lurk in the shadows waiting for an opportunity to pounce into my life, especially when I am feeling drained and burned out.  The one thing I do know is that no matter what happens in my world I am living firmly within the universal principles of honesty, integrity and willingness to see when I need to focus on what I can control in any given situation, and what is complete outside of my control.  And that’s very hard for an “eight”.

I have never claimed to be perfect, I know that I make mistakes and I am aware of where I need to work in my various personal and professional roles.  My growth and development is ongoing and something that I consciously work on daily, weekly, monthly and further into the future.  Most of the goals, plans and actions I focus on are of the relational nature; with myself, the important people in my life, my clients, and the larger world around me.  Sometimes I get these interactions right and sometimes they don’t work out so well, but I am constantly striving to improve the way I connect with myself and the world.

Like most people I come across I am simply trying to be a little better than I was yesterday, and make some mental notes and commitments as to how I can show up authentically, courageously and congruently in my life, my relationships, my work and my community.  So this afternoon I will spend some time looking at my upcoming week, setting out some intentions as to where I can do better in my life and focusing on the areas that fulfill me as well as the areas that challenge me.  I am aware of my “bright spots” in life, but I am equally aware of what needs to be addressed and looked at with an openness and willingness that is sometimes hard when it comes to self-reflection.

I didn't sat it would be easy... I said it would be worth it

But in order to do the work that I do with others, I need to be able to do the work on myself.  Not always easy.  Not always pretty.  But always, always necessary…and always worth it!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Be The Change

There will be no white flag above my door!

Flyer 1.jpgI am passionate about the work that I do as a coach and for the past four years have been blessed to be part of the team at The Foundation Clinic in Johannesburg.  The clinic is a substance abuse treatment and recovery centre that has not only been part of my professional growth over this time, but has also deepened my personal recovery and growth in ways that cannot be measured.  I have seen so many people walk up the stairs of the clinic broken, shattered and empty and watched those same people leave with new hope, promise and possibility.

Sound like fulfilling and purposeful work?  It is!  And I am blessed to see people move from illness to wellness on a daily basis.  The problem is that treatment is expensive, and in our quest to help as many people as possible, we have sometimes made people decisions rather than financial ones.  Often waiving shortfalls and payment gaps on the medical aids so that we could help someone who really needed it.  And these decisions have seen us fall into something of a dire situation.

Because when we forgo shortfalls, we also forgo income that is needed to keep the clinic running.  So, I guess by putting individuals first, we’ve come short in a business sense.  The place needs some TLC and aesthetics have a huge impact on future clientele who are planning to undergo treatment, because before they get to know us and experience the ethos of the clinic all they can see is what’s right in front of them and it’s not looking as good as it should.

I feel sad and depleted at the idea of seeing the people that desperately need help with substance abuse disorders go untreated.  But it also makes me feel helpless when the bills are not being met and the staff not being paid.  The commitment from the team is unparalleled and the passion that they bring to their jobs unequalled by any organisation that I have worked in.  I am proud to be part of the organisation, even with it’s peeling paint and basic bedrooms.  But I  know that there needs to be change and this takes money.  And the best way for us to generate the income we need is to fill the clinic.

It’s so hard for me to write this post, because I feel exposed and vulnerable and that’s not a comfortable space for me to be in.  But my need to do what needs to be done to help save this business outweighs my personal discomfort.  I just feel like the recovery community in Johannesburg would be poorer without the clinic to run support groups, community meetings, in- and out-patient programmes, and be an empowering space for the creation of #recoverycapital.

This is  not about me and my job, this is about fighting for something that is REALLY worth fighting for.  The Ubuntu Addiction Community Trust (U-ACT) has worked with hundreds of individuals in communities and organisations across South Africa to assist and empower those challenged by substance abuse.  The team has trained recovery coaches to become resources in their own communities and support the individuals and families that are stricken by the drug culture of this country.  And much of this work is done pro bono, because the people that need the help most are those that can least afford it.

I have to admit that I do feel resentful at times when I look at the work that this organisation does in return for very little at the end of the day.  It’s made me question the fairness and equality of the system more than once, because the work that is done is life-changing for so many people.  But then I remember that I need to be grateful for the opportunity that I get on a daily basis to touch and change peoples’ lives as they learn to know and love themselves again, and so on I go, because I am not ready to throw in the towel just yet and walk away from a place and a team and a purpose that feed my soul and allow me the chance to really live life every day.  Even though the challenges are immense, the rewards are far greater than can be measured by any bank balance.  There will be no white flag above my door and you can take that to the bank!

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If you are in the position to assist either on an individual, organisational or corporate level, please visit our funding page for more information on how to help.

THE FOUNDATION CLINIC REVIVAL: BACK A BUDDY!

If you would like to chat about helping out or making an donation in the form of renovation materials, please contact me on (010)900-3131 or leigh-anne@thefoundationclinic.co.za

Posted in Life Coaching

On Particularly Rough Days…

I am  actively working on myself…and have been for some time because what I know to be true is that there is no end point to the work that I am doing.  No final destination or goal that can be achieved where I get to sit back and say that I have accomplished what I set out to do in my personal work.  The truth is that the more work we do, the more I realise there is to be done.  Okay, maybe calling it work makes it’s sound like a required tedium.  I love the process of getting to focus and experiment on myself – even when it’s difficult.

This afternoon I was having a quiet, pensive conversation with a friend of mine who is a true inspiration to me and has been an essential part of my spiritual, emotional and mental growth over the years.  The conversation was about important things that are going on in our lives, not just a chat about the weather, and we inevitably started talking about where we with ourselves and our more challenging situations.  The word acceptance kept coming up from my side of the conversation.  Acceptance about where I am in my life with regards to a couple of personal financial challenges that I have been facing.  Because the thing is that I am being extremely proactive in building my business and creating new opportunities in the work that I do.  It’s not like I am sitting on my couch and waiting for business to fall into my lap.

My Wheel of Life looks amazing at the moment.  Well except for that like wedge labeled “financial”, but that’s where the acceptance is being practiced (or is it tested) at the moment.  Acceptance in the fact that the situation is not permanent, and it’s definitely not personal (one of the habits/skills I am focusing on learning and deepening).  And also practicing the spiritual principles of faith and believing that the hard work will pay off.  That like my recovery, my body transformation and my relationship, consistency is the key to success.  Well one of them anyway.  That if I follow my path with courage and passion, the rewards will follow!?

I’m not talking of financial success, but wealth that is measured in other innumerable ways.  Riches that comprise of gratitude, love, acceptance, wisdom and understanding are actually abundant in my professional and personal life.  But there are times that I find the world a very complex, confusing place and then I start to forget that wealth and success are not merely about money and financial stability, but also about the universal truths of integrity, honesty, compassion and kindness.  That success is about honouring my values of education, knowledge, service, connection and adventure, in a way that touches the lives of the people that I work with.  That being given the privilege of holding a space for those who are ready to find their true voice and live with courageous vulnerability, is nothing short of a daily gift.

And yet I get caught up in the challenges of daily life and forget to be grateful for the remarkable space I get to work in.  Where I get to work and walk with people who are reinventing themselves, their relationships and their purpose in life.  Those seeking out their true sense of self so that they can move forward with congruent integrity.  I get to learn about lives that are so different from mine and no amount of reading could ever bring me the knowledge and insight I get from being part of my clients’ processes.  These are the blessings that I need to remind myself of when I am feeling overwhelmed by the business of life.

I never profess to be some sort of expert in the field of human behaviour, able to apply all the learning and tools to my own life in an effortless way.  My personal process is a collection of triumphs and challenges, situations that go swimmingly and others that teeter on the brink of disastrous.  At times I can be as present and centered as an enlightened being, only to be knocked out of my moment by something completely trivial.  And then spend ages trying to refocus and breathe in a way that resembles normal.  The reason I am saying this is because what I do believe is that there are no experts when it comes to how to live life.  There are just those who are much much better at it than use mere mortals…the Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and other such spiritual masters being on the high end of the “I get this life thing” continuum.

I have had hysterical calls in the middle of the night from people who present very differently in their professional lives as business people, lawyers, executives and leaders, and their lives or those of their loved ones are in in a state of messy.  What this has shown me is that we are all just people trying to make sense of the inexplicable situations that life throws at us at times.  And we may be equipped with all sorts of skills, tools, practices and habits, but that doesn’t mean we hit the mark with our behaviour every time things go awry.  It’s one thing to observe and assist in other peoples’ lives and a completely different situation when it is happening to us.  So I have to remember that humility is an essential spiritual ingredient in my personal and professional life.

Because in my own life I don’t get to be the coach, I just get to be the woman.  That I also get triggered and scared, and there are things that upset my equilibrium.  Just because I know how which tools and methods to use when feeling upset, angry and reactive doesn’t mean I always get it “right”.  There are times that I lose my temper, react rather than respond, and even say something mean and thoughtless.  And just like everyone else I have to take myself back into the situation after losing my shit and apologise for being insensitive or irrational.  In fact often knowing what I should have done makes screwing it up even harder.  But that’s the inner critic coming out to have a loud word in my ear!

I guess what I am trying to say is that I really am just trying to navigate through this world as best I can.  That there are days when I just don’t get it… Days when I find people and communication complex and confounding.  Days when I want to slip under my bed and pretend that I am hiding from a fire-spewing dragon.  Days when even my best efforts end up not working out like I had hoped or planned, all communication missing the mark and pretty much it all just being a huge SNAFU!  And it is on these days in particular where I need to stay in my authentic self and just let the chips fall where they may, even if that is in a big messy pile all around me.  Only then can I start to catch my breath and my bearings and decide on the way forward.  Where maybe I have to shallow my pride and take responsibility around the part I have  played in the dysfunction.

I’m not saying that this is an everyday event, but what I am trying say is that it happens.  No one has a perfect score card when it comes to good days!  And on particularly rough days when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100%. And that’s pretty good.

Rough Days

 

Posted in Nutrition & Lifestyle Coaching

365 Days of Becoming the New(er) Me…

Change is never easy…not when it comes down to it.  We can talk about change, envision change, even set out to change, but then we have to do the work!  I have been challenged by my weight for most of my life and I have always been doing something about it.  The thing is I never got to where I was going and then managed to stay there.  Starting to make changes is very different to actually changing…

bethechangeBecause no matter how fantastic and well thought out our goals are, that’s not where the work lies.  It’s in the actual doing where the success and accomplishment lies.  Of course that makes perfect sense, but I’d often miss that.  I love to goal set – always have!  What I have come to understand over the past year was that when it came to my health & fitness, I wasn’t much of a goal-getter.  I’d always start my diets and fitness endeavours with all the motivation in the world, but never seemed to be able to follow through.  I’d give up when faced with the smallest of setbacks, plateaus, scale gains or any real discomfort.  I’d make all sorts of excuses as I gave up as well…too hard, too busy, too restrictive, boring, unsustainable, and on and on the list would go.

What I have learned over the last year is that change takes time.  There is no quick fix around developing new values around health, fitness, well-being and lifestyle.  And what strikes me the most is that in most other areas in my life I have always accepted and understood this.  Being in long-term recovery from substance abuse, I know that we don’t simply wish change and there it is…  It’s about consistency, practice, trial-and-error, winning and learning.  And yet there was always a huge, mental block for me when it came to my body.

And the obstacle in  my way was not about the diet plan or the workout routine, the obstacle was me.  The idea that I achieved my goals meant that I had to sustain them.  That means internalising the learning, and making health and fitness a priority in my life.  It means not being able to moan about this or that stupid-ass diet that didn’t work, it means ongoing work and commitment to sustaining the success.  Phew, and that is where the real work has been.  It’s great to be complimented on my achievement, but now it’s about following through.  If I want to continue to be successful in this part of my life I have to work to stay here.  I have to embrace the new habits, skills and behaviours and really ground them in my life.

No more excuses, justifications and blame.  No more self-pity parties and illusions of being the victim.  It’s easy to fail at the things we set out to do.  I fail, it’s over.  For me failure is effortless!  But to become good at something takes immense amounts of energy, dedication and consistency.  So what the last year has shown me is that if I want to succeed in this area of my life, it’s really just about doing the work.  Not sexy, not earth shattering, not miraculous.

I always imagined that losing weight and getting into shape had some sort of magic formula that only a few were given.  They were part of some secret club that shared it with those exclusive members who were let into the inner sanctum of weight loss!  And of course they had it easy, because my case was special.  I wasn’t like everyone else trying to get leaner, stronger and healthier.  My challenges with my weight were unique and no one could possibly understand or relate to my situation.  What I realise now is that there are no weight-loss, secret societies.  Yes, there are some people who are genetically blessed with better metabolisms and/or body composition, but they still have to work if they want to stay fit, health and in shape.  You don’t get to sit on the couch eating whatever you like, never exercising, just because your metabolism works a bit better.

I’m not one of those people.  I have abused my body over the years with the constant yo-yo dieting, insane diet regimens, all-or-nothing approaches and now it’s time to be gentle.  I have learned that I need to work with, nit against, my body.  I need to take time to love and nurture myself through the food that I eat and the exercise that I do.  After 30 something years of all of this craziness, I now know what I need to do.  And the last year is not very much when I look at it in the context of life.

So I follow the plan that is taking me closer to my goal, learning to embrace the process of change and growth.  I am learning to listen to the voice that takes care of me, rather than the critic that is quick to reprimand and chastise.  I see food as fuel and I love a good treat (not cheat) when my plan allows for it.  I don’t go to the gym to punish myself, but to build myself up.  I now understand that this is a process and a lifestyle that I choose – not one that has been forced upon by the outside world.  I have learned to embrace my new, still growing, values of health, well-being, fitness and strength, and that 12 months really isn’t that long given where I was.  It didn’t take me a year to get out of shape and I now accept that it’s going to take more than these first 365 days to get to where I see myself.  And that is ever-changing too.

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 Be The Change

Braving the Wilderness…

26173302_1927914530556980_1642093532013202156_oI have just about finished listening to Brené Brown’s new book, “Braving the Wilderness“, and it has resonated so strongly with me from the very first chapter.  Listening to her talk about courage, vulnerability and authenticity never tires for me, as she talks to parts of me that I thought were mine alone.  The way she covers topics like boundaries, and how to love generously without judgement, inspire me to continue contributing wholeheartedly in the work that I do.

What it reminded me of is that it doesn’t matter if sometimes the lesson goes unlearned by the people in our lives, and that the most important learning is the one that we receive.  I have oftentimes felt so alone in the world, wondering if it was only me who thought I was being misunderstood, feeling too much and questioning the status quo, but listening to this book (which I want to buy and make lots of notes in) I now know that there are other souls just like mine that are trying to make a difference to those around them.  And sometimes that feels like swimming through syrup.  Wondering if there is any value in putting little bits of my soul out into the ethos…  And then I receive the lesson, not only through the words I am hearing spoken in the wider community, but from the lips of a client who is sitting in front of me, speaking exactly the same ideas and thoughts as I have been having listening to the book.  And once again I am reminded that I am not alone.  That the universe is scattered with individuals, families, groups, organisations and communities that are all braving the wilderness. 

This I endeavour to do this with compassion and authenticity in the coaching work that I do…mainly in the field of (addiction) recovery.  My greatest aim is to show up courageously in my personal and professional life, living in congruency with the universal truths of integrity, openness, patience, tolerance and forgiveness (to name but a few).  In this principle-centred approach to life I feel that I can find peace and presence, something that I feel like I have been chasing my whole life.  The funny thing is that I just need to stop and just be still, and allow the years of personal work to settle quietly around me, guiding me towards an inner stillness.  So much easier said then done!

A couple of weeks ago I started reading “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” which I bought nineteen years ago, have carried to various homes around the world, and only just opened now.  Maybe this was the perfect time for me to read it, as I realise that I have been living many of Stephen Covey’s teachings and practices for some time, and coupled with the more spiritual work of Eckhart Tolle,  Simon Sinek’s “What is Your Why?“, changed and developed my “Mindset” thanks to Carol Dweck, and the phenomenal book “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath, I have somehow developed a wonderfully holistic little map book for my adventure of life.  I am not saying that I have all the answers, and sometimes when I dig into my head it is so full of clutter that I can’t find my spiritual road map.  But when I make sure that my mind is empty of the noise, my soul is clear and my intentions are pure, I am guided by my own inner wisdom in exactly the right direction.

Of course, there are times when I argue with my intuitive GPS and because of that end up lost and confused in the quagmire of indecision and self-doubt.  Learning to stop, take a deep breath and respond to situations has been a lifelong challenge for me.  I am more of the kick-down-the-door-guns-blazing kinda girl, and to hell with the consequences, (which I always need to go back and deal with later when the dust has settled).  But as my awareness and consciousness grow, I am able to experience genuine peace in my life, where I can simply sit on the sidelines and watch the drama unfold without becoming involved in it…of course those are the good days!  But to be honest these are not as frequent as I would like them to be.

So, this year I am committing my energy towards learning to be more present and grounded in my personal centre.  Where I am able to breathe through the anxiety and as Brené Brown puts it so powerfully, “lean into the joy, rather than pushing myself into worst-case-scenario mode.  I aspire to be wholehearted in my pursuit of adventure, however that may show itself this year, and go out into the wilderness with courage, vulnerability and a genuine commitment to support, love and empower those whose lives I may touch through my collaborations, partnerships, friendships and casual meetings.  And for those in my little tribe of much loved individuals, I hope to enrich and sweeten their lives through my words, actions and unconditional love.

Now I think I am going to go and have an afternoon nap…it feels like a loving thing to do.

Posted in Nutrition & Lifestyle Coaching

The Greatest [Weight-Loss] Love of All…

This was originally posted on Alex Campbell Transformation as Alex is my nutrition and fitness coach, and an enormous part of my process.  Without his support and knowledge, I would never have achieved these incredible results!

A couple of weeks ago I was away at in the Eastern Cape.  A much-deserved break from the frenetic pace of Johannesburg and the intense year I have had.  But I want to focus on my year in light of my weight- and fat-loss, new exercise regimen, changing mindset around diet and exercise, and some of the learning that I have experienced.  If you’ve read any of the other posts I have written over the course of this year then you’ll know I have lost about 30kgs since late 2016, shed dozens of centimetres, and found a new value and focus around health, nutrition and well-being.

And it’s not that this time I was introduced to anything too revolutionary, I simply changed my mind about what it is all about to lose the equivalent of sixty blocks of butter!  I didn’t have to learn to cook in a different way, avoid certain foods or entire food groups, kill myself in the gym, or spend all my money on meal replacements, supplements or diet aids.  What I did have to do was get some perspective!  I needed to find a well-balanced approach to losing the weight and keeping it off.  And I have found that way with the help of Alex and “Flexible Dieting”.  Basically this means that I count calories with the help of the My Fitness Pal app, make sure I get sufficient protein, fats and yes, even carbs, and have a strength-training programme that supports fat-loss and muscle gain.

I HAVE NOT GONE WITHOUT! What I have learned is that healthy weight-loss takes time.  And it’s not about the time the weight takes to disappear, it’s about the time it has taken me to understand my relationship with food, change my thinking around diet and exercise, develop some new skills and habits, and do all this is a way that is self-loving and sustainable.  And being enjoy the occasional chocolate brownie, pizza or other delicious treat while I am doing it.  It  hasn’t been about avoiding anything really…well except maybe for those party packs of Doritos that I would binge on in the height of my lonely, Friday night food addiction days!  I have learned how to eat in a way that means nothing is really off the table.

But it wasn’t really about the food, it has been the biggest lesson in self-love.  I have always been able to blame my weight on outside forces!  Too busy to get to the gym, too tired from work to shop, cook and eat properly, too exhausted to try another diet…  And then justify my choices and feelings of failure by insisting that people shouldn’t love people for the way they look!  And on and on and on…

The real truth was that I didn’t love myself nearly enough to find time for me.  And of course I was way to busy helping others to make the time…a partial “truth”, but an avoidance nonetheless.  Because as a coach working primarily in the field of substance abuse treatment and recovery, taking care of myself is essential.  But avoid myself I did, making all sorts of excuses about how it just wasn’t the right time.  The truth is that losing weight is not just about the food we eat and the exercise we do, it’s also about how  much we value ourselves.

In 2016 I spent time working with a wonderful coach, which was definitely the start of the process.  We spoke of awareness, intention, values and self-love, and how all these were directed by the critical inner voice that has always been so loud, abrasive and just downright mean in my case.  The “you’ll never be good enough” voice that echos from my childhood.  And wherever that voice was born, its words have always been laced with loathing, hatred and self-deprecation.  As we spoke of personal worth, intrinsic values, core beliefs and how we show up in the world, I started to have a very different feeling about myself and my body.

0 (1)I was allowing the inner critic to become the outer manifestation.  I started to realise that I was somehow punishing myself with my own form, and giving myself reason to dislike my human body.  It wasn’t about whether anyone else loved me, it was about whether I loved myself.  And I don’t mean in the mean-girl, bitchy way, I mean in the gentle, nurturing way.  So, instead of looking at my need to lose weight as aesthetic, I started to see it in a more holistic, health-based way.  The fat wasn’t just what was visible,  it was also growing around my internal organs, affecting my longevity and putting me at risk of weight-related dangers like diabetes, heart attack and strokes.  That was when my focus began to shift…slowly at first, but the momentum built pretty quickly, as did a series of events and choices that have changed the entire path I am on.

I started exploring my core beliefs about myself and my values around living (and dying)!  Did any of this have anything to do with will power, time, effort and commitment, or was it simply that I didn’t give enough of a fuck whether I loved a long, healthy life, or dropped dead at the age of 44?  After all I didn’t have kids, wasn’t in an overly committed relationship, and was struggling to get professional traction.  But something deep inside me must have been awake to future possibilities, and started to speak out in a kind, determined voice that this wasn’t my fate and that it didn’t have to be my story.

I fumbled around for some months with a dietitian who I couldn’t get honest with, and wasn’t really showing me anything new.  And then something magical happened…  I started to make myself vulnerable to the idea that there was more to this then simply calorie-cutting and a better exercise approach.  That it was time to drop the idea that if I was bigger (literally), that people would be intimidated (or revolted) by my weight and size, loud voice and bossy demeanor.  That the time had come to get real and courageous in my life, and start letting down my guard.  As an Eight on The Enneagram, I am prone to this kind of behaviour when I am unhealthy (emotionally, spiritually and mentally, as well as physically), using overt  bossiness to make my presence felt.

What I began to learn, was that the hardest part of losing weight is not what I was eating. Along with the disappearing kilograms, I needed to develop a new idea about who I am.  I have seen this with my clients who have a long history of substance abuse, and the fear that comes with having to create a new, healthy identity.  I couldn’t hide behind my overweight body anymore, and use it as a shield against the world, which I often find cruel and dispassionate.  I had to start showing up differently, and that has been my greatest challenge this year.  Learning to love myself more, believe that I am deserving of a healthy body, accept and cherish the love of a man who looks past the physical, and becoming a better form of myself has been an emotional roller coaster.

Of course I am still essentially the same me, though a spiritually, emotionally, socially, mentally and physical version.  I have learned not to hide behind my excuses of being undeserving.  And I feel proud of the work I am putting into me…whether it is the food that I cook, the training that I do, the sleep that I ensure I get, or the way I am trying to show up as a woman.  Of course there are times when I get it all horribly wrong, because as I have become more vulnerable, I have leave myself a lot more exposed to the world.

This means that there are times that I don’t get what I want, but at least I am  learning to ask for what I do need.  My weight-loss has been about wanting to be part of the world, not because losing weight has made me more acceptable, but because it ensures that I will probably live a longer, healthier, more self-loving life.

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I no longer try and hide in the folds of my own body, but step forward a lot more, even though I don’t always get picked for the team.  I constantly push myself to show up in a growth mindset, being courageous and vulnerable, even though the chances of getting hurt or rejected (my biggest fear) are so much higher.  And there are times that I fall flat on my face, but the way I see it right now in my life, “sometimes I win and sometimes I learn”.

And I have learned a helluva lot about myself this year, some of which have been some difficult lessons.  I am grateful and blessed as I move forward to 2018 with a healthier body, a much-improved self-worth, and a knowing that if I value myself and my contribution enough, then I can achieve what I set out to do in the coming year.

As always thank you to Alex Campbell for the part he plays in my ongoing process of learning, growing, accountability and health.

Posted in Be The Change, Nutrition & Lifestyle Coaching

Want a Chocolate? Have a Chocolate!?

Dreams_ActionAnd who would be surprised if I said that the biggest challenge in my recovery recently has not been relationships (although there have been a few major changes there), work (also a stressful, chaotic space at the moment), or my personal growth and development (the Enneagram work I am doing has been enormously grounding), but rather my health & fitness…AGAIN!

I was looking back through my posts and in “It’s not the substance that’s the problem…” I talk on this very issue with such hope and optimism.  At the time I was on a very extreme medically-assisted diet, and I was doing great!  I was on the pink cloud of weight loss and completely unconcerned about how I was going to sustain the drastic, low-calorie approach with daily supplements and self-administered injections…I really had no intention of thinking it through as the kilos dropped off.  Which is not unlike the same phase that many of my clients go through in early recovery.  This is great!  I feel great!  Everything’s great!  BANG!!! I just ran into a wall.  And surprise, surprise that is exactly what happened to me.

I had a bad financial run at work, the injections, weekly consultations and supplements became too expensive, I was battling with the 650 calories a day and extreme hunger and I just became plain miserable.  On top of that I was “not allowed” to exercise and I’ve never needed much encouragement to avoid the gym.  Needless to say I relapsed into old behaviours, and about 14 months later I had regained the 15 kilograms I had lost and a couple extra.  So there I was back in the same place, feeling guilt and shame, battered self-worth and considering myself a complete failure, with a cupboard full of clothes that didn’t fit properly.

And so began the process all over again…  I don’t understand the science of nutrition or what’s really going on with my metabolism, so I once again I deferred to an expert.  Motivated, willing and more than a little desperate I booked a series of appointments with a dietician.  I mean, after all, I have been on Weigh-Less, Atkins, Scarsdale, low-fat, high-protein, no-this and no-that diets, with more than a few medical diets, and a period of starvation, so I thought I’d try something new.   But at the end of the day it’s all exactly the same…a completely unsustainable approach to eating that fills my kitchen and bathroom with another set of ingredients, most of which I am not particularly enamoured by, and a stack of supplements, vitamins and concoctions that  don’t come cheap.  And after weeks of minimal weight loss, I am left feeling despondent and frustrated, with the implied narrative that if I had more willpower and discipline, I would be doing much better, “But don’t worry just try harder this week!” Try harder than what?

And of course, the determination that was there in the beginning starts to rapidly wain and I still cannot fit into my clothes (or afford to buy new ones).

By December 2016 I was so fed up with empty promises and weight-loss failures, I was more than ready to throw in the towel completely and work my way towards a size 20.  But then something amazing happened…  A client that I had  been working with offered to help me, by looking at everything food, nutrition, diet and exercise from a completely new perspective.  And instead of telling me what to do or how to do it, he simply explained that there was another way!  And then he started to work with me in an open, honest accountability partnership.  With the use of “My Fitness Pal“, weight and measurement tracking and certain targets around nutrition, we began the process.  And instead of being prescriptive and authoritative he began coaching  me around the emotional, physical and mental aspects of healthy diet and exercise.  The diet is a calorie-controlled diet, but with the use of technology the process has become remarkably simple and sustainable.

Want a chocolate?  Have a chocolate!  Just remember that it means you might have to eat smaller quantities of your other food during the day.  So it’s about sometimes being able to have that little treat, without feeling guilty about “cheating”, while at the same time starting to develop a really healthy mental and emotional relationship with food.  Instead of seeing food as good or bad, it’s simply food, with a certain amount of calories, carbs, protein & fats.  Either I have the available calories to eat it or I don’t.  It’s been a liberating few months, coupled with almost daily exercise as I am coached and educated around nutrition and exercise.  Not once have I been sent to the treadmill for an exhausting 45″ power walk, but have had the opportunity to do short(ish) workouts using weights and machines.

The results have been amazing as the centimeters have started to fall off, my clothes have been brought out of the “skinny clothes” cupboard, and I have a completely different sense of self.  I feel more intentional, self-assured and grounded as my body awareness deepens.  I am not constantly obsessed by what I can’t eat and am now working with myself from a space of compassion and self-love.

And as I go through the process, once again I see how without the right environment & resources, it’s really challenging to get well and stay well.  The right  kind of support system plays an essential role in recovery and wellness, because getting healthy is one things, staying healthy is something else entirely.  Education and understanding are proving to be invaluable tools for me, rather than simply being handed a formula and told to stick to it.  Being given a degree of flexibility and not being told to give up my daily cappuccino has been revolutionary.  There’s balance and accountability, and I am starting to see exactly how essential these are to me in most areas of my life.

So, instead of feeling stressed and deprived, I feel grounded and supported.  Rather than feeling judged and criticised I am feeling accountable and responsible.  And unlike all the other times I have felt self-loathing and shame about previous failures, I know feel understood and personally empowered.  I have been given the space to get honest about my relationship with myself around food, body image, health and fitness and it’s been a game changer.  Knowing the power of the coaching model it’s actually not that surprising really, but as with anything else that we want to change, it starts with an honest conversation and a willingness to make the necessary changes to move forward in life.  And for that I am extremely grateful to Alex.

For more information about Alex Campbell Transformation, email alexcampbelltransformation@gmail.com or visit Alex’s Facebook page.

 

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.