Elements For A Healthier Life Magazine Issue 04 | August 2016 - Page 17

In the 35 years that I have been working as a health coach I have met some incredible women. I am happy to share their stories with you. May they inspire you and help you to realize that healing is possible, that you have all of the resources you need inside of you, and that every step forward that you take is significant. All the stories I intend to share here are true, but names and some details are changed to protect the privacy of my clients.

Shelley started attending one of my women’s health groups six years ago. She was very quiet, always sat in the back and didn’t participate in the group discussions much. Shelley was a very large woman, her size limited her mobility and the ways she could function in the world. Her goal in attending the group was to lose weight.

Many women come to see me with the goal of losing weight. As we delve into their healing work together, they often realize that “weight” is not the issue, but rather the result of the real issues. Looking back to six years ago, Shelley had a long way to go, but she has made tremendous progress and continues to heal and evolve. The first time she opened up in the group was when we talked about body shaming. As women talked about the different ways family members, friends, co-workers, health professionals and strangers were making unthoughtful comments about their bodies, something broke open in Shelley. She started telling us all of the ways that people relate to her. Her husband and children make constant remarks about how much she eats and hide food from her, going so far as to lock up the cabinets and refrigerator, so she was unable to eat behind their backs. Her doctor constantly yells at her for not losing weight. Her co-workers give her kindly (and sometimes not so kindly) unasked for diet advice. And she gets daily remarks from strangers. She shared with us a particularly nasty comment received once when she was shopping for clothes, a man told her “this is a store for women, not elephants". The women in the group were full of compassion and encouragement and I could see that this may have been the first time that Shelley could share her experience in a supportive space. Our group’s meeting became the anchor for her week, and she slowly started to make changes from the inside out.

Shelley didn’t need another diet, she tried them all. She didn’t need a food plan, tools, tips and tricks to lose weight. She needed to start looking at the causes of her weight issue and start asking herself some powerful and difficult questions. She slowly and bravely faced the following:

~ Building trust in herself.

Shelley had a lifelong experience of people trying to control what she was eating and

One Woman's Story of Healing

It Wasn't Her Diet

by Rachel Kieffer