So I made a list of the top things that come to mind. And after I wrote this list I thought, "Soooo now what?" But since last year was about overcoming my fears, I knew that I had to write this post.
<takes a deep breath>
So here goes:
1 | I gained 20 lbs in the past year in 2016
In the past, I was terrified to gain even half a pound. As someone who was obese and then lost a ton of weight, I always had a fear of gaining it all back.
But over the past couple of years my weight slooooowly started to creep up, and then it completely blew up in 2016.
Surprisingly, I didn't freak out about this (I used to obsessively tracked every ounce gained or lost). While I didn't feel happy in the sense of "good that I gained so many pounds," but rather I understand why it happened.
Conventional wisdom would say that I probably started eating a lot of junk food and that I need to start exercising. But...
I already eat clean - I had completely cut out inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, soy, and corn a long time ago.
I rarely eat refined sugar and processed foods.
I cut back on over-exercising (which I know was an influencing factor to the slooow weight gain that began a few years ago).
Well, my hormones are messed up.
I have a history of adrenal fatigue from poor stress management and over-training. Then early in 2016, I learned that I have hypothyroidism, and since the thyroid plays a significant role in managing your energy and metabolism, well, that's a big clue to what's going on. In addition to all of this, I've also had SIBO, a leaky gut and a ton of food intolerances.
It's frustrating. I know how to lose weight. I lost over 40 pounds and kept it off for over ten years. But as I've come to learn, weight isn't the only an indicator of health. And managing weight is more than just diet and exercise.
Despite the frustrations, having an understanding of how my body operates and insight into what's going on has made it easier to be kinder to myself about it. I didn't get this way overnight, and it's taking a long time to repair my body (and my gut) back to optimal health, and I'm okay with that.
As a new health coach starting a practice - it's scary to be transparent about this. In this day and age of Instagram photos of health coaches doing yoga in a bikini on a beach in Bali, I'm always asking myself, "Will anyone understand and want to work with me?"
(Side note: I'm not that health coach looking for "location independence" so I can work from a beach in Bali. I love where I live and if I'm ever on a beach in Bali I can guarantee you I will NOT be working.)
Here's what I've come to conclude:
I'm not ashamed of my story. In fact, I'm quite appreciative of this experience because:
- It's what led me to become a health coach in the first place, and I honestly feel that health coaching is my life's work.
- It's taught me empathy and helped me become more relatable to the struggles that the people I have worked with have.
- It's made me a better coach.
Before 2013 I thought that I knew it all when it came to health because I ran a lot and did a lot of different kinds of workouts. And I took a lot of pride in that. But what I've come to know is that fit and healthy aren't always the same thing. I was seemingly fit but not very healthy, and now, well, here I am.
But as always, I'm on a mission to satisfy my curiosity and see what I can learn, and where this will lead me which brings me to the second thing I'm afraid to share with you...
2 | I'm working with an Integrative Nutritionist.
I've shared in the past how my doctor is an integrative doctor through one of the largest healthcare providers in the Bay Area. Although she's is an integrative MD (meaning, unlike regular doctors who will often just write a prescription, she's a medical doctor who takes a holistic approach to healthcare and looks at a person's whole being), she knew that I needed deeper support.
For the past six months, she's been urging me to work with the integrative (there's that word again) nutritionist that's on staff. But I was resistant thinking, "I'm a health coach. I know how to eat, I don't need a nutritionist to tell me to cut out inflammatory foods, eat more veggies and eat protein from grass-fed, cage-free and wild animal sources. I already do that, and I teach this to my clients through the programs I've created."
I worked with a nutritionist for many years and knowing what I know now, wasn't blown away by the experience. But like how my doctor is different, so is this nutritionist. She is an "integrative" nutritionist, meaning she also takes a holistic approach and applies wellness and functional medicine principles to her work. She looks at a person's whole being, not just how many carbs and calories they're eating. It's the same approach I practice with, so after my latest appointment with my doctor in December, I finally consented. What the hell, it couldn't hurt, right? Because here's the deal:
Hormones are complicated. In my opinion, it's one of the most overlooked things when it comes to our health and well-being. And as I've learned, when one hormone (like cortisol) becomes out of whack, it impacts other hormones (like thyroid hormones) as well. It's a slippery slope to bring them all back into balance.
I've only had one appointment with my nutritionist, but it was incredibly helpful. Here's what happened:
We confirmed that in fact, I do know "how to eat." She reviewed my food journal and agreed that I'm already eating (and avoiding) all the right foods. For now, I'm to continue eating the way I have been - no changes there.
She agreed with my suspicions - that my SIBO might have returned (or possibly was not entirely eradicated the first time). My last SIBO test was almost a year ago, and the results were negative. But SIBO is still such a new thing, and new findings are being discovered about it every day.
I have no desire to do another SIBO test (three times was plenty for me, thank you), and am adamantly against taking the antibiotic protocol again. The good news is that there are new protocols out on how to treat SIBO, so that's what I am trying in Phase 1 of my plan.
Yes, I have a plan! My plan doesn't have much to do with food, but rather it has much more to do with herbal protocols, then possibly deeper levels of detoxification.
As a health coach, I felt like a failure working with a nutritionist. But the bottom line is I'm not a nutritionist. I never have, and never will, claim to be one. A health coach and a nutritionist have different roles and skill sets. We complement each other.
My job as a health coach is to guide and support my clients toward their health and wellness goals, and that might include working in partnership with a nutritionist.
If I weren't a health coach, I know I would need additional support to execute the plan my nutritionist prescribed to me. It can be complicated and more challenging for a less experienced person to understand and follow. In hindsight, I wish I had a health coach the first time I worked with a nutritionist - it might have been a more fruitful experience.
All that being said, I am so grateful I finally decided to work with my integrative nutritionist. Even health coaches need extra support, and that's what she is to me. It's beneficial to have a "fresh set of eyes" to brainstorm together, validate that what I've been doing has been spot on, and offer new ideas and suggestions on what else I can try. It's a load off of my shoulders to have someone in my corner supporting and guiding me. I haven't second guessed any of her recommendations - we are in sync.
It's funny; she asked me a question I ask my private coaching clients who want to drop weight: "What are you holding on to that's causing you to retain this weight? What can you let release to help you let go of this burden?"
Being on the receiving end of that question is quite an experience! It's a powerful question and one that I have many thoughts on that I'll share for another post.
3 | I had a stress attack in December
As someone who preaches stress management, this was a total fail for me.
I was studying for a certification exam of significant magnitude (much like a board exam). I spent the last few weeks leading up to the exam trying to cram as much information into my brain as possible. I had no capacity to think of or process anything else.
A couple of days before the exam my body crashed. I had the worst stomach pains I've ever had, my digestive system was a hot mess, and my head hurt so bad I couldn't walk. My poor puppy was going stir crazy about missing her daily walks.
At first, I thought I was getting the flu, but the typical symptoms never materialized. Then I realized, that my body was crumbling from stress. How did I ever survive college?!
In those last few days before the exam, I decided that all the information that I needed had already been inputted into my brain and it was much more important to take care of myself.
So I went to bed early, sacrificing a few extra hours of studying. I crammed as much nutrient-rich food into my body (so much better than cramming formulas and data points into my brain!) and scheduled an emergency appointment with my acupuncturist. Thankfully within a couple of days, my body bounced back.
Unfortunately, I didn't pass my exam. But choosing to take care of myself during those last few days didn't make a difference. It's a tough test that few pass on the first attempt. If and when I decide to retake it, I will have a much healthier approach to preparing for it.
The experience was a good reminder that as much as I'd like to believe, I'm not superwoman. I have my limits and always need to check in with myself and make adjustments as needed.
I've been working on creating a signature program. It's a 12-week program that I've been pouring my heart and soul into for months now. And like every other health coach, I wanted to launch it in the new year.
After this stress attack, I had to reassess and decided that it's not worth it. Working day and night to have it ready by January 1st wouldn't serve anyone; not myself or the people who will take it. I'm committed to creating a high-quality program and providing a top-notch experience. So I've adjusted my plans and will be running a shorter program in January and am pushing releasing my signature program back to a later date.
So there you have it. The things I've been afraid to share with you.
I'm not that health coach in a bikini on the beach in Bali telling you that if you drink a green juice you too can have that life too. There is freedom in truth - this I whole-heartedly believe - and I'm all about transparency.
I've managed to overcome:
- Adrenal Fatigue, as my latest cortisol test indicated
- My leaky gut is getting better and I'm slowly able to tolerate more foods that I was previously intolerant of.
- I've repaired my blood sugar dysregulation and am getting more restful sleep than I've had in a long time.
- My energy is the best it's been in years, and I'm slowly and smartly, upping my fitness game again - but not excessively so to fall back into overtraining again.
Yes, I still have some pounds to drop. This is the journey that I'm still on. But I'm applying everything I continue to learn and experience to my own life to manage what I need to manage.
And now I have added expertise and a fresh perspective, especially for people who are already doing everything they should lose weight but still aren't getting the expected results.
I’m adding everything that I'm learning into my programs and free challenges so that if you’re struggling with issues like overtraining, IBS, Adrenal Fatigue, blood sugar dysregulation, hypothyroidism, leaky gut, and yes, even SIBO, you’ll find so much value in them.
Sharing these fears has been incredibly therapeutic - and is a significant component of my recovery plan.
I hope that me sharing how I've reached out for help, can inspire you to move past your fears, and reach out for whatever help that you need.
Whatever your struggles are, you're not alone. And that having someone to share them with and support you can make all the difference in the world.
And I'd like to invite you to take this journey with me, no matter where you are in yours.
Join me here and let’s have an open conversation and share what you've been afraid to share.
It really can make all the difference in the world!
Hi, I'm Naomi!
I help smart and savvy women who suffer from chronic stress, unexplained weight gain and burnout, breakthrough their healthy blind spots and relieve symptoms through natural healing with whole foods and by making lifestyle and environmental changes. Why feel tired when you can feel fired up and ready to go every single day?
I love running outdoors, connecting with like-minded people, and exploring the San Francisco Bay Area with my pup, Coco Pop.