I totally wasn’t going to share this with you this way. This article was originally going to be a guest post, but my gut was all, “Oh, hell no.”
So I humbly send it to you, my friend, because I think you might need to hear this message. Also, we’re friends, and, as much as I want you to know I totally get you, I want you to get me, too.
And, in case you didn’t know I was a prolific guest poster (prolific might be pushing it), here’s some of my recent articles you might wanna check out:
I always cringe when someone asks me what I do because it’s inevitably followed by, “Oh, what made you decide to become a health coach?”
I can feel the embarrassment creep up from my collarbone all the way to my forehead, leaving the telltale redness behind. I can feel myself start to get a little warmer, little beads of sweat forming on my upper lip. I can feel my heart start to beat a little bit faster, the stress and anxiety surging.
Let me be clear. It’s not that I’m embarrassed to be a health coach. It’s not that I don’t know how to explain what a health coach is.
It’s because the expected answer is usually a very long story about how I was very ill as a child or how I was diagnosed with a very serious disease just a few short years ago and how I overcame my illness by only eating organic fruits and vegetables, exercising for two hours a day, and practicing some form of meditation or journaling for at least three hours every day.
How I eschewed modern medicine and used the power of food to heal myself. How I had a spiritual awakening as I hiked through the mountains in Bali. How I had a life-changing experience with a wellness guru and never looked back.
I became a health coach because I taught myself how to feel better, and I wanted to help others feel better.
I didn’t lose a massive amount of weight by eating a whole foods, plant-based diet. I’ve actually gained weight since I started to eat cleaner and exercise more.
I didn’t get diagnosed with cancer and send it packing by sipping on superfood smoothies all day. Although I do love smoothies and drink at least one a day.
I didn’t suffer from an eating disorder — no anorexia, no bulimia, no binge eating, even if I sometimes show signs of some disordered eating.
I didn’t have hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s. But I tested my thyroid levels because…you never know.
I didn’t radically change my diet overnight. It took me years to get where I am, and I am still tweaking and adapting every single day.
I didn’t wander through the forests, foraging for mushrooms, berries, and flowers, and emerge a changed woman.
How boring, right? No one wants to hear that story.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had my share of struggles.
It took me years to realize — and accept — that I was lactose intolerant. I used to wonder why dairy used to go right through me, especially when I found myself nearly late for homeroom yet again because I had to (literally) run to the bathroom. Or that time I couldn’t resist ordering “the best” vanilla milkshake, which had me barging into the gas station bathroom just an hour later, Bridesmaids-like disaster barely averted.
I’ve always had a sensitive digestive system, complete with symptoms eerily similar to IBS. I bloat like the best of ‘em, and certain foods at certain times will keep my stomach gurgling for hours.
I used to obsessively track every single bite I took and every single drop I drank. I used to log every mile I ran — only running so I could eat, not for how it made me feel — and add in every yoga, Pilates, or stretching session because I always hoped those calories burned would add up to more wiggle room in my diet. And I used to eat a piece of fruit for dinner because I was dangerously close to my daily calorie allotment.
The leftovers at work tested my willpower every single day. I couldn’t pass by the break room without smuggling out a plate of cookies, pizza, or chips. I fed the vending machine every single day so I could feed myself a steady diet of peanut butter cups and Diet Coke.
I used to conveniently forget to eat. I was a master at lying about what I’d eaten when, in reality, it was only a bagel with cream cheese over the course of eight hours. During high school, despite being an athlete, I sometimes barely ate lunch and didn’t have a snack before practice and wondered why I felt so lightheaded.
Other times, I used to purposefully overeat. Just to hopefully help things move along a bit.
I’ve battled depression and anxiety since college. I’ve gone to therapy and taken medication and journaled because, apparently, being sad sometimes just isn’t acceptable in our society.
The mirror and I aren’t always friends. Whether I’m nitpicking my appearance or pinching and squeezing my abs and wishing my ass were a little less meaty, I’ve tended to equate my self-worth with my looks and my weight more often than I’d like to admit.
And I definitely had a hard time breaking up with fast food and booze.
But I can’t point to any of these instances or patterns as the reason I became a health coach. Besides, these challenges feel like nothing compared to what other people have overcome.
And there’s that word. Compare.
I’ve somehow convinced myself that my lack of major illness or health challenges makes me less qualified. That I don’t deserve to want to feel better because I haven’t suffered enough. That I can’t help other people feel better because I haven’t dealt with enough pain.
Because I look at other people who have these stories — these amazing, inspiring, crazy stories — and I feel inadequate.
How weird is that?
I’m just a person who was tired of feeling like shit. And I had a hunch other people were, too, so I decided to do something about it.
Maybe that’s not good enough for some people. Maybe they want the autoimmune expert who went on an extreme elimination diet to cure her eczema or the guy who went from barely being able to walk to running six ultramarathons a year.
But some of us are just going about our everyday lives feeling a little blah, a little not so good, a little down and want to take little steps to feel better. We don’t have scary obstacles in front of us or a medicine cabinet full of prescriptions or a litany of food allergies.
And that’s totally okay. We don’t need to be sick to want to feel better.