Self Care » A KNEW Story of Health Transformation: What’s Possible When a Caregiver Commits to Self-Care

A KNEW Story of Health Transformation: What’s Possible When a Caregiver Commits to Self-Care

“I’m in an ‘I don’t care’ mood today,” my client proclaimed, as we greeted each other for our Health Coaching session.

“Water got into the basement,” she said, but then quickly returning to her fantastic sense of humor – “the good news is, it will be less to sort through!”

Why Health Coaching?

This Knew Health client, whom we’ll call “Elaine” last felt vibrant and well 12 years ago.

At that time, she uprooted her life—leaving behind her home, church and close friends—and moved an hour away to live with and care for her mother who had dementia.

She did this for nine years until her mother died about three years ago.

At the time we began working together, Elaine reported that she was just now coming out of a fog after these intense times.

Her reason for seeking health coaching was to finally shift focus back to her own health, so she could do the things she wants to do.

Elaine stated that she “has always been large—and the family has always been large.” She’d been dieting off and on since age 13.

Her Health Goals:

  • To lose weight
  • Get blood sugar under control
  • And have better physical balance (childhood polio and the extra weight was not helping)

Vision: Living…not Just Existing

From day 1, we’ve talked about Elaine’s vision for her best life. Having a sense of community and helping others are things she values.

When asked where she wanted to be in the next few years she replied, ”Going on trips and seeing things, doing more in general, having energy to get most of my projects done before I die! Plus, be able to help others.”

She has a strong desire to remain independent so as not to burden nieces and nephews.

Though Elaine had no pets of her own, she expressed a desire to start dog walking again.

When asked to use one word to describe this new life, she paused for a moment. “Living,” she said. “LIVING vs just existing.”

Challenges and Emotional Roller Coasters…

Upon questioning, we discovered Elaine feels best when moving regularly and eating a paleo/ketogenic diet—which is essentially a no to low-grain diet with lots of vegetables, protein and healthy fats.

But then, despite her best efforts she told me…”life happens”, and she gets off-track.

Elaine’s biggest “triggers” have been: being out of her routine and on vacation, putting a deposit down for the retirement village (a huge decision), Mother’s Day festivities and entertaining house guests.

All these are emotional triggers brought on by acute stressors.

Her default response to is the fast food drive-thrus, or a Diet Coke.

Over the past few months, a common theme has been Elaine’s interpretation of being either “on” or “off track”.

She tends to swing from one end of the spectrum to the other—going through drive-thrus and staying on the computer for hours on end, to cooking health-promoting meals for herself, walking with the neighbor and mowing the lawn.

It’s a pendulum of extremes many of us can relate in trying to make healthier choices. Just when we think we’ve got it down, an unexpected stress comes up and we default to old patterns and comforts.

Elaine had also been weighing herself daily; sometimes multiple times per day; which was not helping her weight-loss efforts.

What’s Been Working to Help Elaine Find Balance and Reach Her Goals

  1. Embracing movement as a way of being instead of a scripted exercise plan. For example: cleaning out the basement and going up and down stairs as she sorts things for her upcoming move. Gardening. Walking across the street to the park. Mowing the lawn, and regular “appointments” to walk and talk with a neighbor.
  2. Dumping the emotional overwhelm from the brain to the paper. Elaine has begun creating a master list of “all of the things” she has to do and think about, and choosing one thing at a time to cross off the list.
  3. Sitting at a table to eat with others as often as possible. The point here to is practice eating mindfully, so she eats what her body needs…not more, not less. Some ways to do this include: making the table appealing with place mats and a candle, for those who are used to eating in front of the television, we suggest starting with one meal a week at the table. Invite others to eat with you, reach out and foster that community.
  4. Noticing the connections between what you do and how you feel. It’s no secret that eating real whole foods with friends has a whole different meaning than eating processed foods alone in the car. For Elaine, this  also impacted what happened the rest of the day and week, how she sleeps that night, whether or not she has reflux or joint pain. We want to focus on food to nourish the self versus filling and comforting emotions.

The Results from These 4 Simple Changes Over 6 Months

In the last six months, Elaine’s commitment to her Health Coaching program has resulted in the following impressive changes:

  • She’s mowed the lawn for the first time in 9 years this spring, and kept this up all summer—and she can do it with less and less breaks and stronger endurance
  • Her physical balance is improving—during one session Elaine reported that she hung her own valances.
  • She’s walking regularly with her neighbor—while adding extra laps and pondering adding a hill to the route. More movement feels good!
  • Pounds are dropping—clothes that didn’t fit now do. Her body is changing and people are asking her what she is doing.
  • Blood sugar monitoring is also showing benefits. Follow-on labs will be done soon to confirm this, but a home test reported that her Hemoglobin A1c (measuring average level of blood sugar over the past 2-3 months) has dropped from 5.9 to 5.6.
  • Symptoms assessment checklist greatly improved—going from 43 in February (which is rather high, indicating an absence of optimal health) to 16 in August.
  • She’s also dog-walking, caregiving, and house sitting for others in addition to filling in to work at a local business.

As you can see, Elaine didn’t have to make drastic changes to her lifestyle to achieve these results.

Despite her unwanted symptoms and lofty goals, a few simple changes in lifestyle and adjustments in her mindset were all that was required for her to start seeing remarkable change.

And we believe her commitment to serving her community and including others in her journey (walking with the neighbor, dog walking, filling in at local businesses, etc.) played a key role in her success.

What’s Next for Elaine?

The last time we spoke, Elaine set a few intentions and we summarized them before completing our session:

  1. She plans to either stash the scale in the closet or paste a sheet of paper with her ideal weight on the scale face.
  2. First thing every day, she will ask herself “What can I do today to support my goal of LIVING?”
  3. Instead of grabbing the computer upon rising (the default), she will pick up one of her recently delivered Geneen Roth books. Relax and read and ponder. Even just for a few minutes.
  4. Invite a friend to lunch to share a meal.

So Much to Celebrate in Such a Short Period of Time

Every session, we celebrate Elaine’s newfound purpose, joy and connection in her life now.

In between sessions, she frequently returns to her vision, thoughts and feelings of really LIVING:

“Some days I don’t want to do what it takes and I go back to the old habits that are there.”

This is the journey. The goal is for those times of defaulting to old habits to become the exception, even if they still happen.

The journey to become our best self is not a straight path or to-do list.

It isn’t about the final destination of reaching a certain number on the scale.

For Elaine, the journey is about savoring the moments of exhilaration you feel when experiencing a rainstorm in a beautiful garden while traveling, the feeling of accomplishment in getting closer to living in a vibrant retirement community, the moments of teaching her niece to sew, the moments of taking a friend (who doesn’t leave the house much) out for lunch and the moment of satisfaction after mowing the lawn.

These are all moments Elaine has been able to savor over the past few months…and that’s something to celebrate.

Some days we are in an “I don’t care mood” and that’s OK.

Pause.

Take a breath.

See yourself LIVING.

Take the next step.

A Special Note of Encouragement from our Health Coaching Team

This is a very typical story of one of our clients who, with the support of a functional medicine-trained, medically-supervised Health Coach, experienced the power of simple lifestyle and mindset transformation.

At KNEW, we recognize each individual is unique. Therefore, our approach is not to offer a cookie-cutter set of recommendations for specific symptoms or challenges, but rather to empower each person to discover which lifestyle and behavioral changes will create their ultimate health transformation.

If you’re struggling to find the time to care for yourself (like Elaine), get to the bottom of mysterious symptoms or figure out what you need to live your best life, we’re here to help.

Click here to visit our membership page and discover more about Knew Health’s invidualized Health Coaching programs.

Who knows, you could be our next KNEW Story of Health Transformation.

To living your BEST life,

-The Knew Health Coaching Team

<a href="https://knewhealth.com/author/joshua-rosenthal/" target="_self">Joshua Rosenthal</a>

Joshua Rosenthal

Author

Joshua Rosenthal MScED is a visionary in health and wellness. He is founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, an online higher education school where students are trained as Health Coaches. Founded in 1992, the school has a global community of 100,000 graduates in 155 countries worldwide. Joshua is the author of many books and holds a Masters of Science degree in Education.