I once had a client who noticed a pattern in her weight gain that if she ate poorly, it wouldn’t show up on the scale for several days later.
She was telling me this as if it was fact.
As if it was something she had scientifically studied and concluded.
She would talk about this phenomenon with her friends and get real bummed about it.
In conversations, it would go something like, “I know, it’s just so frustrating that I never know how much I’m going to gain or when it’s going to show up. But always at least a few days later the scale begins to creep up. At least YOU –insert friend’s name– have predictable weight gain and can keep track of it. It’s harder for me.”
As if this was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
So, as we do in coaching, we dug into this phenomenon.
I asked her lots of questions about this, because you see, and this is going to sound harsh: I don’t believe any story any client tells me.
But hey, for what it’s worth, I do my very best not to believe anything MY brain tells ME either. :D
Here are the only facts of this story that my client told me:
“I eat. My weight changes sometimes.”
Nothing about what caused what or why or when.
Just that she eats and the scale goes up and down sometimes. The two happenings are not related. Even if she wholeheartedly believes they are.
It’s kind of like in scientific studies how it’s hard to tell the actual causative factor of things.
And I knew that it was very likely that her weight gain several days later could be caused by something entirely different than the fact that she’d overeaten that day.
So we dug in a little deeper.
“On the occasions when you overeat, do you get disappointed with yourself?”
“Do you beat yourself up or feel guilt when you are disappointed in yourself?”
“Tell me what that looks like. Is it just mental or do you actually sometimes try to punish yourself with eating more or think things like ‘well I already screwed up, I might as well have more’…or do you ever tend to overeat for a few days after because you’re disappointed in yourself?”
“Yes. Yes. And yes.”
I said, “Hmmm, very interesting.” Starting to feel a bit like a lawyer :) “So you could say that because of one isolated incident of overeating, you then overeat for several days after that one isolated incident, right?”
“And so with that logic, it could be possible that your weight gain a few days later actually has nothing to do with that original meal, but might just be a result of the guilt, shame and disappointment you feel, which then causes you to overeat even more?”
“Uh, yeah. Wow.”
“And therefore, the story you have about weird, unexplained weight gain days later might actually have a really logical cause that you just never noticed was a bit of an emotional spiral?”
“Oh yeah, I guess it could be. I just never really thought of it that way.”
“And yes, doesn’t it make you feel even worse about yourself when you explain to someone that you have this ‘weird’ pattern where you have inexplicable weight gain, unlike whichever friend you’re talking to? And that story, which seems to be untrue now that we look at it this way, might even be a thing that’s causing you to eat even more?”
“Wowwwww. Yes. That totally could be true. I can’t believe that the story I was telling to my friend was probably untrue in the first place, but even telling the story was making me feel bad, which was causing me to overeat even more. What a neverending cycle I put myself in! No wonder I have ‘unexplained delayed weight gain’!!”
*client’s mind explodes*
See THIS, my friends, is how twisted our own minds can become when we believe all of the thoughts that pass through our minds.
AND when we never look at our own thoughts, we would never even get clued into this.
This is why a coaching relationship can be so valuable, to help us start to make sense of the thoughts that drive all of our feelings and actions. Just looking at things from an outside perspective.
Which by the way, you can do yourself by journaling, talking things out with friends and questioning your own thought patterns.
Because when we can gain some agency over our own minds, we start to do things we never even imagined possible.