Body Image Coach: A Calling I Never Expected
Body image coach? Now there is something I never thought I would be, in fact, there are times I still hide from this calling. I think I am hiding from many callings. It all started out so easy, school to become a health coach, proceed on to training to become a life coach, and now I seem to be taking up residence as a body image coach and advocate. How on earth did this happen? Me, a body image coach….?
When I look back over the last twenty plus years of my life, weight has played a prominent role in my life. I was the big girl, the fluffy girl, the full-figured girl, the big-boned girl; there are many titles but they all mean the same thing to me now…CURVY. I am not built to be anything but curvy. Accepting this is another thing entirely. Suffice to say, becoming a body image coach never entered my mind.
All my life, getting ready for school, work, going out, what ever was never complete until I uttered those words that most women say every day, “Does this make me look fat?”. It became part of my daily vernacular. Covering up in an effort to look smaller was no small feat and usually didn’t work, you can’t hide from what you look like. Being overweight isn’t easy, being curvy isn’t easy. The assumptions are many, you eat too much, you are lazy, you don’t exercise, you don’t care. Don’t care????
I have been surrounded by people that have made me abundantly aware of how I look. It ranged from family members to friends to even a stranger here and there, I am was never obese. Chunky, yes, fluffy yes, obese NO. It is amazing the liberties people take with you when you carry extra weight, what’s more amazing is how much it can affect how you conduct your life, how you will grow up, how you turn out, if you will. It definitely never seemed I would be a coach, much less a body image coach.
When Change Comes Knocking
But here I am, a body image coach. It all started to come together when I was part of an amazing mastermind group called The Sisterhood of Reinvention. I was in the middle of a deep dive session with the leaders when the words just fell out of my mouth, “I am writing a book on how I grew up and how to accept the body you live in”. It was like a light bulb going off for the leaders, it seized me up with fear the minute it came out of my mouth. Where the hell had that come from? What was I thinking? I always wanted to hide, not be recognized and now I was putting it all out there, and I mean ALL of it.
I started telling people around me that I was going to be doing this, I was going to apply my knowledge of nutrition with my life coaching training to become a body image coach. The praise was unbelievable. What? Had they seen this calling in me too? Still I hid from society, it was one thing to tell those around me, but to shout it to the world, not my idea of a good time. All I could think about was all the judgement, the sideways stares when I go out to eat, the accountability that I would face if so many people knew. But didn’t I seal that accountability factor when I started telling friends? Perhaps I did it knowing they would hold me accountable to this calling.
So like any good procrastinator I decided to shelve this ridiculous notion of being a body image coach. The problem is that it didn’t go away. I was being tagged in social media, people telling me they thought of me when they read an article, being sent emails with links to stories on body image advocacy, it exploded. Yet, I was still hiding. Until I couldn’t. Someone kept showing up in social media, in my email(yes I subscribed to her newsletter), it was as if I was being sent a message.
I had known of Anna Guest-Jelley for sometime, the founder of Curvy Yoga. Never had I seen someone so comfortable with who she was. She had a thriving business, a book, and was being interviewed left and right on body image. I know Anna briefly through social media and have had interaction with her on more than one occasion. I also discovered she was co-author of a new book coming out, Yoga and Body Image. I felt that Anna was put in my life for a reason. And she was, she has silently guided me in a way that I never expected. Her acceptance of herself and others has taught me to accept and love myself more. I can’t wait to meet her one day, and maybe even collaborate with her, but that is another hidden dream.
Accepting What Is
So here I am proclaiming what everyone else knew to be true, I am a body image coach. I work with women on body acceptance and love. I teach them to love their body, while still nourishing it with healthy choices. Will there be naysayers as I move forward? Absolutely! Am I nervous? You bet! But I can no longer stay silent. I am constantly reminded of who I am and what I need to do. It happened the other day at my day job. A beautiful, young twenty-something told me she loved how confident I was. Who me? I had heard this many times over the years, even from friends who are personal trainers. I thought they were delusional, but what if I am the one who is delusional, what if they see what I can’t, or better yet, don’t want to see. What if I am really allowing society to tell me how I should be?
As I move forward in my career, I have noticed many changes along the way. The reality is, I am more confident, I care less and less every day what people think of me, and I care so much more about helping other women feel the same way. Times are changing, paradigms are shifting and I am just here to help facilitate the change, at least when it comes to how we view body image. Who knew all along, they were right, change does start with me….