Lisa Appadurai shares her personal story of how she overcame bad habits to live a happier, healthier lifestyle. Lisa now works as a Health Coach, and along with her business partner, formed The Wellbeing Musketeers, helping others to achieve their full health and well-being potential.
Making a Long Term Lifestyle Change…Why is it so hard to do, and why I help people to do it!
My reason for writing this is that I understand first-hand how difficult it can be to make positive lifestyle changes and stick to them.
Who hasn’t started that diet every Monday for the last umpteen years? Or is still paying monthly for the gym they never go to?
What about quitting the cigarettes or putting the lid on your social (or not-so-social) alcohol habits?
Changing patterns of behaviour
We all have a pretty good idea of how certain patterns of behaviour can impact negatively on our health, but it really doesn’t make it any easier to address does it? Years of ingrained habits, coupled with our upbringing (the people around us and situations we found ourselves in), tend to dictate much about our future beliefs and behaviours.
One of the biggest factors in stopping us from changing is FEAR. Hands up who hates change? I know I am scared to death of stepping out of my comfort zone in many aspects of my life. What I would really like is a quick fix, a nice painless way to suddenly achieve my goals without the trauma of facing my fears and learning new behaviours. This is why so many people will spend money on fad diets promising instant results (for example), and have unrealistic expectations about the progress they might make.
— Anxiety Free Entrepreneurs (@calmpreneur) October 30, 2019
By my late teens I was on course to become one of the people that I now help. Despite a great upbringing, I discovered boys, nights out, junk food and alcohol! Coupled with my hatred of anything remotely physically active, I was fast becoming an unfit couch potato with a ‘cream cakes for breakfast’ type of diet.
The upshot was that I one day decided to slim down, but having no idea how to do it sensibly (and having an all or nothing mentality), I lost half a stone in a short period of time. Amazed at how easy it had been, I went on to lose ‘just a few more pounds’. By the time I reached just under 6 stone, I was in the throes of a full-blown eating disorder , exercising like a maniac despite having zero energy, crying all the time and point blank refusing to seek clinical help.
Fast forward a few years and I was on the road to some sort of recovery, in part thanks to a succession of new boyfriends for whom I wanted to appear to be ‘normal’. I had still had no professional support but felt strongly enough about impressing each new man that I forced myself to eat and not exercise too much when I was with them.
I would NOT recommend this approach! However, for me it served a purpose and gradually I got onto some sort of even keel. The biggest plus for me was that I was so paranoid about putting weight on that I never went back to my old, junk food ways and I kept up the regular exercise that I had once so hated. I figured out that since I wasn’t built to be a naturally skinny waif (and tended to gain fat quite easily), I would focus on being strong and more athletic-looking rather than the extremes of either being scrawny or obese.
Personal & professional self-development
I really wanted to use my experiences to help my future self but also to help others. There wasn’t much professional help around in those days and what there was tended to be very clinical and off-putting. My next step was training as a fitness instructor and massage therapist and learning on an in-depth level about anatomy, physiology and how to exercise in a safe and smart manner to achieve goals.
Nutrition came next and I devoured (not literally!) every bit of new research, magazines and books and attended any courses and workshops I could afford. I tried out lots of different tips and supplements on myself with varying degrees of success, and gave as much support as I could to my clients in the gym and those I saw for massage therapy.
A dream job
Finally, in 2009 I started work as a Health Trainer for the Council. It turned out to be my dream job! Supporting people to make healthy lifestyle changes and focusing particularly on residents of the more deprived local areas, where money is tight, knowledge is often sparse and priorities are often on bigger issues, like paying the rent or being able to clothe the kids.
Ten years later and I have just left this role to take private clients. But what a rewarding ten years it has been! Educating people; acknowledging and addressing their fears and barriers to change; showing them that everyone can achieve small, but sustainable changes that will go forward with them for life.
The key to my success in client engagement and retention is that I LISTEN and EMPHATHISE. I am not there to tell them off, to preach or cast judgement…after all, I made a complete mess of my past years so who am I to judge? I give time to my clients; there is no hustling them out the door after ten minutes as they might expect with their GP. Many do not have close family or friends to support them, and for those that do, they often have not felt able to share their concerns with those people.
Each person I see is treated individually, they lead the sessions and I work with what I’m given by them. We don’t just chat about their lifestyle goals; if they want to tell me about their day, their latest grandchild or their recent holiday then they can. It is their session to use as they wish, and I often find that this builds a rapport that we might not have if I were too ‘goal focused’. Additionally, if I feel it will help them if I share my past difficulties, then I will happily do so.
The support does not end when the clients leaves the session. I will regularly drop them a text in between meetings to check their progress, or they know they can do the same f they have a question or a thought springs to mind. As a result, most of the lovely people I see do go on to keep in touch many years after they have finished seeing me on a professional level.
Every time a client messages me in excitement to share that they have bought a smaller size dress, or managed to drink an extra glass of water or walked non-stop for 15 minutes, it makes all my past struggles so worth it. Right now, my journey (with my colleague) as a self employed Health Coach is really new and very scary, but helping people to potentially change their lives is the best feeling in the world!
Connect with Lisa
The Wellbeing Musketeers – Confidential face to face, telephone or online support to help you to make sensible and healthier lifestyle choices that will last a lifetime!