How Do You Want Me To Talk About Your Body?

A couple of years ago, I was reading a post from a fellow coach (whose name eludes me at the moment) and they were talking about how to address and compliment their fat loss clients. 

There was a leaning towards the belief that they would no longer congratulate their clients for fat loss success. 

I’ve tried my best to understand and appreciate where that belief comes from. 

Here are some factors to note: 

Not everyone loses fat in “healthy” ways (they could be struggling with disordered eating behaviors)

Not everyone loses fat intentionally (they could be ill)

Not everyone who loses fat is comfortable being recognized or congratulated for doing so. 

Some people may comment: “You look great!” when they see that someone has lost weight which can imply that they didn’t look great when they weighed more.

Sometimes fat loss occurs because someone has been shamed into it 

Over the years, I’ve tried to accept and understand my own place in this conversation. I’ve always been a fat loss coach and I know more about fat loss now than I did sixteen years ago when I first got certified. 

Perhaps it’s that increased knowledge that allows me to step back and ask: Am I making this client better or worse by helping them lose fat? 

In consideration of that, there are changes I’ve been leaning towards over the last few years:

I’ll no longer tell a client they “look great” when they’re successful with fat loss. I may tell them they look strong or they look happy or they look confident (or all three) because I want them to feel and embody those attributes regardless of what the scale says.

I’ll no longer post before and after transformation pictures. I’ve not done this often in my career but I would rather acknowledge someone’s efforts with the recognition that they’ve lost “X” amount without a concentrated focus on their actual physique. If a client of mine would like to post before and afters on their own, I’m perfectly okay with that because it’s a decision they’re comfortable with respective of their place in the conversation and how they want the world to see their efforts.

I’ll never assume a person in a large(r) body is coming to me for fat loss. Some clients come to me having already worked through disordered eating practices. Many of them need to focus on how their body can get stronger before ever considering being in a smaller body. This is one of the many positives of strength training: focus on what your body is capable of now rather than resenting it for what it’s not.

I’ll continue to be mindful of what demographic digests my content. I essentially have two different types of fat loss clients who come to work with me. The type that has no history of disordered eating behaviors and the type who does have that history. Different tools and approaches have different outcomes and assumed risks depending on that individual. I’ll remain mindful and upfront that if I think an approach has a greater risk of lapse or relapse that my audience is aware of it.

I will never stop educating myself on more tools and perspectives. I’ll never know as much as I want to know to service all of my clients in the most comprehensive and effective way. Learning what I can not just as it pertains to larger or smaller bodies but BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals also provides me more depth, insight and nuance to how I can help beyond what I know about nutrition.

Ultimately, it’s an open door conversation that the client takes the lead on. I can’t be the best coach I can be without knowing how they want me to approach dialogue about their bodies.

I do feel that much like you would applaud someone who has put forth diligent effort on a work project, when someone elects to put the work into themselves, some degree of recognition may be what helps them keep going.

I congratulate momentum.

I congratulate small wins.

I congratulate non-scale victories.

I congratulate mindfulness and awareness.

We’re all finding ways to improve who we are and what we are and our place in this world.

The conversations we have about our bodies are personal, sensitive, and always changing.

A special thank you to all of my clients who give me the space to grow as their coach.

(Photo courtesy of AllGo)