Why I stopped offering Weight Loss Coaching

For as long I can remember, weight loss, weight maintenance and dieting was one of the most important things in life. In order to be considered beautiful, you must be thin. Being fat or “overweight” or “ob*se” was a sure sign of laziness and was 100% considered ugly. Being fat was bad. That’s how I remember describing my body. Bad.
During my adolescence I believed that I was a bad person for having a larger body. I was ugly, I was lazy and would never be happy unless I was thin. Thin people always looked happy and everyone adored them.

I started dieting when I was 8 years old. I avoided eating in front of people, then would binge on anything and everything in my room, by myself. This was, infact, a form of disordered eating. The more I restricted, I more I hid and ate alone in my room. Bouncing from one diet to the other for years. I never had any true weight loss “success” (if you even want to call it that) until I was about 15 years old. I went in to my first year of high school, 20-25 lbs lighter than I was the previous year.. I was applauded by some for how “great” I looked that I had finally lost some weight and then degraded by others for still being fat. I yo-yo’d all through high school. I remember going vegetarian because I thought it would help shrink my body. All that did was create a MAJOR nutrient deficiency. I had what’s called Angular Cheilitis which is a symptom of a Vitamin B or Iron deficiency. I was only following this way of eating as a way to lose weight and that clearly wasn’t working, so I brought meat back in to my diet as recommended by my Doctor. Soon after, I was on to some other kind of diet; I believe it was the Aktins Diet. Lots of meat, little to no bread, sugar, fruit. I’m sure you’re familiar. I hopped from one diet to the other. I think I did a fruit only diet after that… What? Writing this all sounds so ludacris. With every attempt, I never lost any more weight. I sure as heck gained more weight back due to the restriction of food, causing me to BINGE again and again.

Fast forward to when I’m 23 – I’m serious this time. I’m ready to “buckle down” and get this weight off ONCE AND FOR ALL…
I met with a Nutritionist at my local YMCA. They created me a meal plan – told me I need to eat FAR MORE than 1200 calories a day for how active I was. First time I had ever heard that. Eat more food? Cool. But only 1800 calories worth of CLEAN foods. What did that mean? Unprocessed, LOTS of vegetables and fruits, NOTHING from a box. Also, eat at set meal times, drink at least two glasses of green tea daily to “cleanse” my body, oh, and warm lemon water each morning to detox my liver… Cool. I can do that no problem. (All these food rules made me hyper focused on EVERYTHING I ate, by the way.) Quick note: I remember getting SO mad when I wasn’t let off to go to break at the right time, so I could eat my snack at the exact time my meal plan said. Like, furious. That’s not normal….

I followed that 2 week meal plan like it was my JOB for 8 weeks straight and BOOM, wouldn’t ya know it, I lost weight! I immediately wanted ANOTHER plan. So I got one and my calories were lowered and my food choices were restricted even more. Now I was following a strict 1 week Paleo diet plan. After sticking to the previous plan SO WELL I had everything inside me fighting against this new one. I couldn’t follow it for even a few days. I binged.. I drank alcohol, I ate to the point of complete discomfort. I would follow that with a day of little to no eating. Then binge AGAIN, even MORE than the last one. I went back to following the first meal plan after a couple months and it worked again! I decided to stick with this meal plan for quite awhile. I allowed myself “cheat days” on the weekends and decided that I would just get an extra session at the gym that week or even that day to make up for it. As long as I burn more calories than I consume, I’m good right? Food is JUST energy. If I use that energy, I can eat more food. Yeah! This started another binge and restrict cycle. This time with exercise…

I put so much value on myself for being someone who worked out on a regular basis. “No rest days.” “No excuses.” I believed that crap. I tried so hard to keep the weight off by exercising harder, longer, faster. But, I would burn out, binge, feel shame and hide away for days then try it all over again.

Pushing forward again, I get certified as a Personal Trainer and Sports Nutrition Specialist and I opened my own fitness studio, because I wanted to help people achieve good health (still believed that included losing weight). I offered suggestions on “healthy” meals and snacks to clients. I’m not a Dietitian or Nutritionist so I couldn’t provide meal plans to my clients. But I still told clients things like, “don’t eat before bed”, “don’t eat too much fruit”, “only consume complex carbs, avoid refined sugars”. Sounds like “normal”, “healthy” advice, right? Little did I know of the damage that I was doing. I had many clients lose weight, but I also had many clients who did not lose weight and I knew they were working hard (by restricting their diets and exercising lots) and I was so disappointed that I couldn’t help them. Never once, did I blame my client for not “getting results”. I usually blamed myself, I must be a terrible Trainer. I’m not good at this! Overtime, I moved away from fad diets like Keto or WW and told my clients to focus on calories in vs calories out and be sure to eat CLEAN foods. Still an absurd mentality. It was still about dieting and losing weight. Fat is still bad. Having fat is unhealthy. I still didn’t realize how terrible cycling through intentional weight loss diets are for your health… Physical, mental, emotional.

It took a global pandemic for me to finally SEE diet culture. I never, ever thought anything I was doing was disordered. It all seemed so normal to me. When I saw a post by a non-diet dietitian on Instagram saying something along the lines of “maybe we don’t need to exercise as much as we think” and also “I stand firmly against diet culture in every sneaky way it tries to shrink us” and a light bulb went off. I took a deep dive in to what diet culture was and how absolutely disgusting it is. I also learned about intuitive eating, joyful movement, non-diet gentle nutrition, body positivity, body neutrality, body acceptance, Health At Every Size™, and so much more. I saw so many bodies, like mine. Happy and actively going against everything diet culture tells us. I wanted to do that too.

I could no longer continue being the type of coach and trainer that I was, so deeply rooted in diet culture. I took a risk and did a big pivot away from the normalized, disordered, toxic “wellness culture”. After a year of learning on my own, I hired a Food Freedom coach and did the work to achieve a healthy relationship with food and exercise for the first time in my life. I’ve opened up to my current and new clients about my choice to pivot away from intentional weight loss coaching to food freedom and intuitive/joyful movement practices. I will admit, consultations have been different when I tell the client that I am not helping them solely for the purpose for weight-loss, even if they believe that’s the only way to be “healthy”. We can focus on healthy behaviours without ever looking at their weight. Some are totally on board for that, but some.. not so much, And that’s okay! I am looking to help people who want to stop the dieting cycle. Stop the weight cycle. Stop blaming themselves for not being thin and start blaming diet culture for creating this toxic ideology that thin = health. Be comfortable in their bodies without trying to change it.

Accept it, respect it and care for it.

So, why do I no longer offer weight-loss coaching? Because it’s harmful, unsustainable, immoral and I don’t want to put any more of this toxic culture in to the world. I truly want to help people learn to live their lives to the fullest without focusing on the size of their body. Make memories, be in photos and eat all the foods and move in all the ways that bring them joy.

Thanks for reading.
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I’m currently working on a new program to help clients break free from food rules + live intuitively. If this is something you’d be interested in, I’m looking for 4 people to be part of my pilot program that I’m looking to launch in 2022. Please send an email to justrealfitstudio@gmail.com with the subject: JustReal Nutrition
Serious enquiries, please.

3 thoughts on “Why I stopped offering Weight Loss Coaching

  1. AMAZING and heartfelt Sam. Kudos for sharing your experiences, I know there are a lot of women who believe in the diet culture and being thin.

    I am so happy that you found your truth Sam ❤️
    ________________________________

  2. Pain free and happy, that’s my goal. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. I am truly proud of you for finding self love and showing us that we all deserve to be accepted and loved based on who we are not what others think we should be. Thank you for helping others to see the light. You are one hell of a trainer and we all love you for all the guidance you show/teach us on a daily basis. Keep up this amazing fight for body image freedom. ❤

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