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Michael: I Wasn’t Ready, and Then I Was

In our ongoing series, Transformations, Michael talks about his struggles and decision to get healthy.

Q: What transformation, if any, have you experienced?

A: As of today, I am in a recovery program, I have lost close to 30 pounds, and, most importantly, I have not had a drink in four months. I don’t think any of this would have happened if it had not been for the opportunity to talk to a health coach. She provided a space for me to prepare for a big change and support my efforts when I was ready.

Q: What inspired you to seek out health coaching?

A: A few years ago, I was struck with the news that my wife”s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. It was devastating. The lifestyle I had enjoyed was turned upside down. My emotions became those of bitterness, anger, depression, and complete hopelessness.

I accepted my fate. However, I had developed some extremely bad (and dangerous) habits. I was taking care of my wife, but not myself. Up until her diagnosis, I had been very active and involved in sports and outdoor recreation. The activity I took up instead was drinking. I was still able to adequately function—take care of my wife, hold onto my job—but the physical and mental toll it was taking was enormous.

I was so embarrassed by my weight gain (50 pounds) and what I had become, I hated to look at myself in the mirror. So when my employer offered one-on-one health coaching, I signed up for an appointment.

Q: What were your expectations? What surprised you about the process?

A: My initial health goal was to lose weight. I admitted that I knew that I drank too much, but at that time, since I was putting nobody but myself at risk, I wasn’t about to give it up. We discussed ways I could reduce calories, incorporate stress management and more activity. MaryAnn continued to build trust and relationship, and while alcoholism is beyond the scope of practice of a health coach, she helped build my awareness and accountability. The real problem was continued to become obvious.

Progress toward my weight loss stalled. I knew what was really holding me back. At this point I admitted I was an alcoholic, and until I was able to get that problem under control, we were not going to get too far with the weight loss.

I am grateful that MaryAnn acknowledged and affirmed my bravery in making such an admission. She supported my choices and offered a referral resource. Upon request, she informed me of my Employee Assistance Program (EAP). And so I reached out. I told the person at EAP what I was looking for, and she was able to provide information on local outpatient recovery centers that could possibly help me.

Q: What have you found most valuable about your health coaching sessions?

A: We continue to talk on a regular basis, which gives me the chance to share my progress and keep me accountable. Her support is something I will always welcome.

 
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