One Bite at a Time by Kristin SchuchmannAug 28th, 2009 | By Sharon Graham | Category: Wellness Coaching Guest Posts
How to Make Change a Little Bit Easier to Swallow
This is a guest post by Kristin Schuchmann of http://CharisChildbirth.org
A quest for wellness almost always includes major life changes. While change rarely comes easy, the life changes required for achieving true wellness can be especially difficult. They almost always include breaking habits and changing food choices and lifestyles that are in some way connected with culture and upbringing. For someone facing breaking habits, overcoming addictions, or going against the cultural flow, it can feel overwhelming. How can a person possibly be successful with such obstacles?
“How do you eat an elephant?” we are asked. “One bite at a time.” When trying to “eat” the “elephant” of acquiring wellness, however, it works best to eat the bites in the right order at the right time.
For Christians, the first “bite” is to acknowledge that we can’t do it alone. We need each other and we need empowerment from the Holy Spirit. When we begin to rely on our own strength to reach our goals, we are setting ourselves up for failure. That is why it is very important for our clients to have a solid foundational understanding of who they are in Christ and their relationship to Father God and the inherent need they have for close community with other believers. Sometimes, before another step can be taken toward wellness, our clients need to spend time intentionally deepening their intimacy with God as they wrap their heart around who their Abba Father is and who they are to Him, while also intentionally seeking out a few other Christians who will agree to be their cheerleaders in their wellness journey.
Even when our clients are in a close relationship with God and in true Christian community, the road toward wellness is still difficult. When viewed collectively, the pile of difficulties look insurmountable. But when broken down into “bite-sized” pieces, taking each challenge one at a time, it doesn’t seem quite as hard. I recommend that my clients start with something in which they are sure to easily succeed. For instance, if a client needs to improve her diet, something simple such as switching from white rice to brown basmati rice may be a good, easy place to start. With one victory under her belt, she is more confident that she can succeed with the next “bite”.
Where addictions are involved, I especially recommend making smaller changes first to build confidence. David took on the lion and the bear before ever facing Goliath; and it was his victory with the lion and bear that fueled his belief that with God’s help, he would also take down Goliath. Having my client choose a few smaller beasts, one at a time, to work together with God to overcome prior to attacking the giant of an addiction deepens her relationship with God and fuels her faith for future success.
How does a coach help clients discover just the right bites at just the right time? Ask questions. Listen. Get to know your clients. Walk them through a discovery process to find out what is right for them at the time.
If a client chooses to begin exercising, for instance, explore with her what she enjoys and what will fit into her life. A mom of two small children who loves the outdoors, needs daily accountability, and must include her children in her exercise may discover that a brisk walk with her neighbor each morning while pushing her little ones in a double stroller fits well into her life. Victory!
Someone else may be ready to start making the dietary changes necessary to achieve her wellness goals. What flavors does she enjoy? What flavors does she not prefer? What healthy foods does she already eat? What unhealthy foods will be the easiest for her to remove from her diet? What unhealthy foods will be hardest for her to cut out? Perhaps she enjoys Asian and Mediterranean flavors, already eats carrots and broccoli, and feels she will find it easiest to cut out her daily unhealthy snacks such as potato chips and cookies, but hardest to eliminate Coke and coffee. She may discover that searching for healthy Asian and Mediterranean recipes to replace the unhealthy fried meals she has been preparing while switching her between-meal snacks to things like carrots and broccoli dipped in hummus is a good place to start. Until she has had success in this, she doesn’t even have to think about tackling the sugar and caffeine laden coffee and sodas. She is taking it one “bite” at a time.
When coaches take the time to dig and help our clients discover what “bite” is the right one to take each step of the way in their journey toward wellness, their goals will be attainable and the changes they must make in order to achieve true wellness will become easier.
In addition to being a coach, consultant, motivational & pro-life speaker, childbirth educator, and doula, Kristin Schuchmann is the founder and executive director of Charis Childbirth, an international school for birth professionals. She and her family live in southwest Florida where th