Allow me to introduce you to Karen.
I often describe Karen to other people as an “A++ student”. When she generously offered to write an article about her 100-pound weight loss for us, within one hour it was in my inbox, well-written and ready to go. She is organized and meticulous, especially when it comes to her health & fitness journey. Karen is determined, hard-working, and is constantly working to improve herself in and out of the gym – on top of being a full-time Psychologist, wife and mother.
More than that, she is open, transparent, and willing to be vulnerable by sharing her story with others. With her background in psychology, she knows how to dig deep into the emotions, motivations and other baggage that comes along with us on our fitness journey.
Her story is so relatable for anyone who has ever struggled with weight loss and the constant rollercoaster of fad diets. Through years of trial and error, Karen has learned a lot about dieting and nutrition in general. But she’s also learned that it’s not about what you know, but what you do, consistently. And in order to be consistent, she’s learned that it helps tremendously to have a coach in her corner for direction, support, and accountability.
Read on to learn more about Karen’s 100-pound weight loss journey.
– Kelsey Giganti
FFA Nutrition Coach
How I Lost 100 Pounds With the Help of Nutrition Coaching
by Karen Rosian
Everyone is familiar with the different diet fads: Don’t eat carbs, don’t eat sugar, eat this food, but not that food. Eat on these days and not those days. Count these points or containers or macros or magic beans. I have tried most of them. I have been successful on some of them.
But when I look back on my most maintained successes, I realize that they all have one thing in common: I had a person. I had someone that I trusted that I could turn to with any question, concern, doubt, or fear. I had a coach. Specifically, I had a nutrition coach.
When I tell people that I have a nutrition coach, I hear a lot of responses.
“Why do you need that, don’t you know what to do by now?”
“Seriously? Why would you let someone tell you what to eat?”
“Just follow <insert popular program of the day here>, you don’t need a coach.”
Less often I get “Hmmm, what do they do?” I’d like to address that last question, because honestly, it’s the most helpful.
Learning the Basics
First off, my nutrition coach does not tell me what to eat. They don’t plan my meals for me or make my food. (Granted, that would be awesome, but not sustainable… It’s that whole ‘give a (wo)man a fish and feed her for a day, teach a (wo)man to fish, feed her for life’ deal.)
My coach is a teacher, teaching me what I need for my body. My body and my life are unique – no plan is one size fits all. So, I talk to my coach. I tell her what my life is – I have a full-time sit-down job, a super active toddler, a husband who works full time and is in school, and I have little free time to do extensive meal planning and prep. Oh, and I work out regularly. So, my coach takes that information and works with me.
In the past two years that I have been working with nutrition coaches, I have learned a lot about diet and nutrition. Some things are super basic like portion sizes and how much of each food group I should be eating. I have learned how I need to start my day and how to fuel my body for my workouts and for keeping up with my toddler. And, to be honest, never have I been told I can’t or shouldn’t have something. That’s not what coaching is either – they don’t follow me around to snatch the donuts out of my hand (I have a toddler for that!)
Rather, my coaches have taught me how to meal plan and schedule foods during my busy days. They taught me to look ahead at my week and plan for hiccups or miscellaneous events that would throw me off. And how to make the best decision in a given situation, knowing that not every situation is ideal. They helped me to identify tips and tricks to make planning more efficient and less tedious.
Finding Consistency Through Accountability
So, then what. I have all this information. I’m done, right? Knowledge is power! I just apply what has been taught to me and I just live my life.
Nope. Because life happens. Bad days happen. Dinners out with friends, holidays, and poor decisions happen. This is where I always spun out of control on my own. One bad decision would lead to another and another and eventually I put on the 80lbs I had already lost, plus an extra 20 for good measure. Yep, that happened. And that is why I decided to work with a coach this time around. I knew I couldn’t do it and sustain it on my own.
So what do I do when life happens? I reach out to my coach. I send a message and tell her “Hey, I’m going out for dinner with some girlfriends to Casa Margarita on Friday – what would be my best choice?” And I talk with my coach and tell her what my thoughts are, and we figure out a healthy choice that I can enjoy and feel good about after.
It’s not about deprivation or avoiding life. It’s learning how to make decisions that I can feel good about as life happens. And, if you have a good coach like I have been lucky enough to find, you may even get a quick “You can do it, I believe in you!” message before your dinner.
Doing the Inner Work
Then there are the emotions. Emotional eating is real and alive and so difficult to navigate. And this is where I perhaps needed my nutrition coach the most. On those emotional, hormonal days. The days when I was stressed and nothing was going right and that Dunkin’ Donuts was right there and the promise of sweet relief was just one apple fritter away… (And since I was already there and being “bad”, let’s just get a few extras for later, like when the guilt and shame hit.)
This is where the relationship with your coach really matters. Feeling comfortable to reach out and say “Dude, I messed up. I just ate a Dunkin’ Donuts out of apple fritters.” Feeling comfortable enough to know that they aren’t going to freak out or “fire” you or make you feel worse than you already do – I could do that part all on my own. What I needed was someone to help get me out of that guilt and shame cycle.
Someone to remind me that one binge or one day or even one “bad” month doesn’t have to be my undoing.
Someone to help encourage me and guide me and celebrate with me as I make the next better decision. And using that momentum to keep going forward.
Someone to celebrate with me for all the good decisions I make.
Someone to point out the progress and insight.
Someone to sit with me and sift through the emotional baggage and figure out what my triggers are, how to be proactive. How to cope with those difficult emotions without helping the CEO of Dunkin’ Donuts retire on your fritter fetish. You know, how to LIVE my life as it happens, the good, the bad and the messy.
Overcoming the Scale
And then there is the dreaded scale. I was always so anxious when I stepped on the scale. I would hold my breath and strip off every piece of clothing and excess item so that I was a bare as the day I was born (because that hair tie would really tip the scale…) And, as with anything, there are down weeks on the scale (yay!) and yes, even some up weeks… Weeks that I couldn’t figure out because I followed ALL. THE. RULES. And I would want to run and hide and yes, eat all the fritters.
But, having someone there to help me process and understand and accept what the scale was telling me was beyond helpful. Being able to see that sometimes the scale will go up because of bloat, or salt intake or hormones, or even muscle, and yes, sometimes bad decisions. I needed someone to remind me to keep working, that I am not defined by the scale; someone to remind me to stay off the scale at times when it was too hard; someone to hold my hand (not literally, because that would add weight and I definitely didn’t want that!)
100 Pounds Later
A nutrition coach helped me in all areas of my weight loss. Meal planning and prepping, teaching me how to eat for my body and life, and how to avoid the same pitfalls I always seemed to succumb to week after week. And slowly but surely, I did lose the weight.
I have lost 100lbs. It has taken time. I have had a lot of ups and downs. It has taken close to two years. Was it all nutrition? Hell no, I worked my ass off during my workouts. But the solid nutrition and having a coach was a cornerstone of my progress and weight loss. Having someone to celebrate with me and for me and just bounce questions and ideas off of has been so helpful. Not being alone during this process has been helpful. Will I always need a coach? No. That is not the point of coaching. I will “wean” off my coach at some point as I live my life making healthy choices independently. But in the meantime, it’s great having a friendly face in my corner.
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