Before I delve into our topic today, I want to share one of my favorite interviews I have ever given on a podcast. Those are some strong words, and I am not afraid to use them. When Ren Jones and I get together, there are fireworks, kittens and a Mariachi band. That's the vibe. In the latest episode, we discuss diet culture, change-neutral coaching and periodization when it comes to nutrition and training. Listen to it HERE. Onto this week's letter: I had a client once who indicated on the intake form that she was allergic to French fries and ice cream. Note: NOT potatoes, and dairy, but: French fries and ice cream. My first thought was… “Hmmm, there’s an allergy I have not heard about. I’m looking forward to learning more”. No. I am totally lying. THAT was not my first thought. My first thought was: “OH, PLEASE…”. Coaches that I work with often feel bad for having thoughts like these. “I don’t want to judge my clients!” While that’s a fair desire, it might not be a realistic one. Our FIRST knee-jerk reaction thoughts are rarely OURS. They are often the reflection of years of cultural conditioning, media bullshit, untrue narratives and all that fun stuff. Our SECOND thoughts are thoughts that we can mindfully choose. The thoughts that more accurately reflect not just who we are as people, but who we CHOOSE to be as people → identity as a daily choice. Humans are hardwired to perceive and evaluate information based on their previous experiences. That means - we WILL judge others. One of my personal red flags is when someone says “I never judge others”. “Ok there, Gemma. Are you deluding yourself? Or are you lying? Which one is it???” What IS a reasonable and recommended goal is that our judgments do not impact our work, and do not impact our clients. What IS a reasonable goal is that we are aware of which thoughts reflect who we are and who we want to be, and which thoughts do not. So, while my FIRST thought was: “OH, PLEASE…” (hello, there, eye rolling teenage self); my SECOND thought was “I’m looking forward to learning more”. Or, in other words: “Hmmm, that’s interesting. I wonder what they could mean by this.” When I spoke to this client, and asked her to elaborate, she said that she was convinced she had an allergy to those foods, because every time she ate them, she felt sick after. It also turned out that: 1. She did not eat those foods very often, because she viewed them as “bad” or “forbidden”, and 2. When she did eat those foods, she ate large quantities and quickly. Not a huge mystery, right? Also, probably, not an allergy. However, our conversation did not center around me, the “expert”, educating the client about the differences between “allergy” and good ol’ overeating. Instead, we talked about 1. How she felt about consuming these foods, 2. Whether she would like to include those foods into her life more regularly (and therefore, making them no longer forbidden), and 3. The situations and circumstances around eating those foods - did she always feel sick after eating them, or only sometimes? Were they any times that she could recall that she ate those foods, and truly enjoyed them? She walked away with a concrete plan of action. More importantly, she walked away feeling empowered - like she could do something about this problem that she was having. That’s a win. So, yay. But, make no mistake, this is hard. A shift from “expert” to “coach” can be a hard one to make - after all, we are passionate about what we know, and spend a good chunk of our waking hours learning more. Realizing that what we KNOW often does not matter much is a hard pill to swallow. What about you? Does hearing someone say something that you KNOW is wrong and NOT correcting them makes your head explode? :) How do you handle it?