If there’s one thing I’ve learned during lockdown, it’s that the key to meaningful change is having the support of others to stay focused and on track. As I mentioned in last week’s blog, being a member of a pod that walked or hiked together nearly every day over the last year made lockdown bearable. And not only that, it became the scaffolding that held me up as I took on the health changes I’ve wanted to make for a long time.
We all need scaffolding. We need others who believe in us when we’re not ready to believe in ourselves just yet. We need fresh ideas, different perspectives, and ongoing encouragement to stay on the path when the road gets bumpy. Cause it always gets bumpy.
Which brings me to the next stage of my fitness journey. When I decided to lose weight and improve my health, I thought I knew what needed to be done for the most part – clean up my diet and move my body consistently. But what I didn’t know was why I kept getting on and off the fitness bandwagon. That’s why I reached out to Everett Considine – an Internal Family Systems practitioner who specializes in weight loss.
Internal Family Systems is a kind of therapy that helps us discover the parts of ourselves that can get in the way of making the changes we want to make. It’s a form of support I’ve used successfully in the past both when my dad was sick and when making major shifts in my career and I was interested to learn how Everett used the process to help clients lose weight.
In my first session, Everett told me that in order to work with him on a regular basis, I’d need to follow some kind of formal eating plan. That’s because a plan would bump me up against the resistant parts of myself that kept sabotaging my success. “Thanks, but no thanks” was my immediate response. I had no interest in a formal diet of any sort having learned that deprivation and restriction were invitations to trouble. Or so some part of me thought.
After mulling over our conversation for a few days and noting my defensiveness, I reconsidered his request. Experience has taught me that when I get defensive about anything it’s usually because there’s some truth that needs my attention. So, I found myself a nutritionist who would work with me on a weekly basis, set up another session with Everett, and allowed the transformation to begin.
Inner work and outer work. It takes tending to both for real, long-lasting change to occur. Without supporting change on the inside and the outside, progress eventually becomes lopsided and that’s when we fall off the metaphorical wagon.
My work with Everett showed me that structure and support are the first things to put in place when deciding to make any significant life change. With his help, I learned about the rigid part of me that was insistent that the only way to lose weight was to follow a strict plan without compromise or missteps. I was also introduced to the seductive Loving Friend who would skillfully pull me off course when I became overwhelmed and exhausted by the Rigid One. And then there was the Achiever who wanted to lose at least five pounds a week and when she didn’t see the scale dip far enough, she couldn’t wait to throw in the towel and move on to another more exciting goal.
A sensible food plan designed specifically for my body introduced me to my inner saboteurs who, over time, would become welcomed allies and it made all the difference. To learn more about how the Internal Family Systems process works, you can listen to Everett conducting a session on his website here.
Next week I’ll share the surprising ways my nutritionist/food coach taught me to feed myself well. Until then, I hope you’ll have a look at our new Self Care by the Sea retreat this week when registration opens up. It’s the ultimate form of structure and support where you’re sure to meet new friends – both inside yourself and in the room.