The Big Diet And Exercise Mistake You're Making, According To A Health Coach_freckle removal cream for body

Sarah Hays Coomer·8 min read

“Your assignment from your health coach is to eat a pint of ice cream every night before bed.”

Even as the words came out, I knew how absurd they seemed, but this was not an attempt at reverse psychology. A health coach’s job is never to act as a therapist, and a well-trained coach will only offer concrete guidance when asked.

My client was pushing me for solutions. She wanted an escape hatch from the relentless carnival ride of diet culture, and in order to get there, she needed to take a leap of faith that felt, to her, like a free fall.

“The whole pint. Every night,” I continued. “If you do that, next time we meet, we can get a clear, guilt-free assessment of how it feels.”

She was eating a pint of ice cream every night on her own anyway ― clandestine liaisons with butter pecan. I just helped her move it out of the forbidden.

It was a classic struggle: Wake up with all the “best” intentions and set a bunch of rules for how to get through the day and night. Decide in advance how much to eat (and when) and what calisthenics to perform. Grow frustrated as the day wears on, abandon the goals in exchange for promises of tomorrow, heavily indulge in anticipation of upcoming deprivation, and sleep fitfully before doing it all again the next day — for decades.

Like so many of my other clients over the years, she struggled with her weight and with impulse control. I could relate.

We’ve been told forever that we’re bad if we eat late at night. That we’re lazy if we don’t work out, and God forbid if we simply don’t like to cook. Something is wrong with you! You need to control yourself!Send in the self-care apps, trackers, diets and fitness plans that will transform you into a “better” person.

Early on, I bought into those tropes as much as anyone else, but as a Mayo Clinic and national board-certified health and wellness coach, the most important thing I’ve learned over the course of my nearly 20-year career is that “control” isn’t the answer. Any kind of “self-care” that feels more like a chore than a step toward freedom is bound to send you ricocheting blindly back to your old “bad” habits.


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