Are we a good fit?

I’ve been in the healing arts for over 30 years. In my 20’s I studied mind-body medicine and psychoneuroimmunology. One day, I was in a room of 100 people listening to a lecture by the scientist, Fritjof Capra. I began to experience something extraordinary: I felt that I belonged in the universe, and I was completely at peace with myself and others. And no, I wasn’t doing drugs. My perspective just spontaneously shifted. And with that, I left New York City to study at Esalen Institute in California. I became a massage practitioner there. And then I went on to become an acupuncturist and chinese medical herbalist. 

Over 2 decades of treating acupuncture clients, I saw how an imbalanced lifestyle contributed to the development of physical pain and dysfunction, and robbed people of their vitality. Acupuncture helped but I often wished I could do more. So, in 2013, I became a wellness coach. Helping my clients create healthier lifestyles to support their thriving, is very rewarding work. And it’s challenging, in the best way.

My certifications in coaching were through Wellcoaches, Wellstart Health and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. I’ve been influenced by many great teachers in the coaching and behavior-change space, including my favorite coach and teacher Howard Jacobson, as well as James Clear, Glenn Livingston, Doug Lisle, and Judson Brewer. I particularly love the Mindfulness-based approaches. My many years in Chinese Medicine is, of course, also fundamental to my perspective on health and healing.

I want to talk briefly about my vegan path: I’ve been about 99% vegan since 2007. For people living in modern societies there are powerful reasons to go vegan, and I applaud anyone who makes that choice. But I’m not judgmental of non-vegans. It’s important to me to respect others’ choices, especially as a coach. Also, I have empathy for non-vegans. When I look back at my life, I realize I had the sensibilities and values of a vegan long before I was willing to consider it. I assumed it was too difficult and extreme. So, if veganism isn’t your thing, that’s okay, I won’t judge your choices.

Lifestyle coaching often addresses questions about what to eat. If that’s part of why you’re seeking coaching, this next part is for you. My expertise and passion is strongest in whole foods plant-based dietary approaches. There are lots of variations on that theme. It doesn’t matter where you’re starting from: whether you’re eating potato chips and hamburgers twice a day, or you’re drinking kale smoothies. If you want guidance on how to get more plants on your plate, I can help. And, if you want to move away from processed foods, or minimize animal-derived foods, that’s also within my expertise. If, on the other hand, you’re wishing to follow a carnivore diet, or you want to replace, say, all grains with meat, I’m not going to be the best coach for you. Feel free to email me specific questions on this topic.

As a coach, I guide you to shift your lifestyle habits. Those shifts can have wonderful ripple effects throughout your life. But, it’s important to note that my expertise has certain limitations. I’m not a dietitian. And I’m not a psychologist. I’m also not your doctor or physical therapist. I think you’d benefit by talking to someone with those types of expertise, I won’t hesitate to discuss that with you. I want you to find the guidance that will most benefit you.

Next, I’d like to talk about you. Here’s what I mean: I’ve developed four prerequisites to coaching, based on my experience thus far as a coach, and as a coachee. They’ll give you a taste of what the coaching process is about. And I hope they’ll help you decide if my coaching style is right for you.

Here are the four prerequisites to coaching

Number 1 – You welcome being a beginner. 

You didn’t learn to ride a bike in a day, or graduate from school overnight. Skills take time to develop. I wish we had learned how to take care of ourselves, beginning in grade school. We started out right with naps in kindergarten but then things got way too intellectual. So, learning self-care now, as an adult, is a process. Consider that it’s like learning how to swim. Coaching takes you to the shallow end of the pool. I show you how to stay afloat and how to move through the water. You can expect some discomfort, and excitement–they go hand-in-hand. Your natural abilities will kick in, and you’ll soon get the hang of it. And enjoy it. So, some mild discomfort is normal when you’re a beginner–it’s a sign you’re learning.

Number 2 – You’re up for trying out new behaviors between sessions. 

The coaching process is all about action. You’ll formulate action steps towards your health goals. An example is: getting outside every morning for a 20 minute walk. It’s entirely up to you what you choose to do. I can provide guidance, and brainstorm ideas with you, but you own the action steps. They’re a commitment you make to your wellness journey. Between sessions, you take the steps, and then report back about your experience. Whether you did it 100% or 10% is less important than the effort you applied. I don’t believe Frodo was entirely right when he said “There is no try.” When you try something new, there’s always some accomplishment, and some learning. Both the learning and the accomplishment are like a rich compost that fertilizes your next steps. Discovering what works for you grows out of running these experiments, so a willingness to explore is integral to coaching.

Number 3 – You realize that your self-defeating thoughts may not be true. 

Do you sometimes think: “I’m lazy”? Or, “I’m incapable of change?” Or do you say you just don’t have time? These are some of the self-defeating thoughts that get in our way. They come in the form of statements about ourselves, or excuses. The human brain automatically generates this nonsense. There may be some partial truth in there which makes them insidiously stubborn. In coaching, we meet these thoughts head on, and bring curiosity to them. We deal with them. One way we disempower them is to first acknowledge them fully, and compassionately. Then we take actions that contradict them. So, if you’re ready to move past your self-defeating thoughts, coaching can help.

Number 4 – You are your own best friend.

Okay, honestly, I’m not fully there yet. And maybe you aren’t, either. But if you’re actively working towards it, that’s a strong foundation for your wellness. And simply by giving yourself the gift of coaching, that’s something a good friend would do. So, you can thank yourself, already, for being here now, seeking a coach.

I hope this has been useful. If my background and the 4 prerequisites resonate with you, let’s work together to grow your truly supportive lifestyle. I would be honored to be your guide.