I stepped into the competitive business of health coaching as a woman tipping the scales at 270 pounds. Loads of self-doubt crept in: “You don’t look like a health coach.” “Who is going to listen to you?” “You’ll weigh more than most of your clients!” “You won’t appear authentic.” I have these thoughts because when I envision a health coach, I think of a slender, toned woman who wears cute, tight workout clothes with perfect hair and makeup. I see her smiling as she sips on her wheatgrass smoothie.
And then there’s me, Jessee Baldwin, squeezing into a tight size 16. I’ve struggled with being obese since the 3rd grade. I’ve been on more than 20 diets and still haven’t reached my goal. So why leave a lucrative career as a dental hygienist to become a health coach? The answer was simple—but before I could be successful helping others, I first needed to learn these three things about myself:
YOUR OBSTACLE IS YOUR WAY
It’s scary approaching someone the same size as you or smaller and presenting yourself as a health coach. I thought that being obese and coaching others who are struggling in their health wouldn’t work. I thought I had to look a certain way, but what I didn’t realize was that the reality of my own struggles is what makes my own story so powerful and relatable.
I decided not to hide my weight on social media. I stopped hiding behind my children in family photos and embraced who I am as a person. I was learning that what I thought was a hurdle in being a successful health coach, was actually my most attractive quality. Because I was clearly still on my own health journey, my clients felt safe in sharing with me, they didn’t fear being judged, and I was able to connect more authentically with them. I learned that what is most important in my business is simply having a heart of compassion for those who are struggling.
TRANSPARENCY IS PARAMOUNT
I am most effective when I am open and honest about my own struggles. I view myself as a piece of clay. My clay has been molded by my past experiences, many of which are painful and undesirable. We all have our own clay and no one’s mold is the same. My clay looks somewhat like a rough, spiky ball of goo and sometimes I don’t want to look at it, but it is all I have to work with. When I pick up my clay and embrace it, embrace myself for who I am, it is then that I can use my pain, my life experiences, to serve others.
When I am coaching my clients and they have had a bad week, I of course support and encourage them, but I’m also honest and vulnerable with them about my own journey. This open communication between coach and client creates another level of trust and authentic connection. My clients don’t hide their struggles from me because I don’t hide mine from them. I take my struggles and embrace my ability to have compassion, which allows me to connect on a deeper level because I’ve been there too. My imperfection is disarming.
FIND YOUR TRIBE
I have had periods in my life where all of the people around me have been critical of me. I felt like I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t working hard enough, I wasn’t parenting well enough, I wasn’t serving well enough, I wasn’t living up to my full potential… and the list goes on. That kind of an environment tears people down and impedes personal growth and development. But then came this new opportunity for health, self-care and community. I found my tribe—the group of people around me that truly supported me and loved me for who I am. And the best part? Now I get to be that for others needing the same kind of community and support. We weren’t meant to go through our struggles alone, we were meant to have a tribe.
So who is in your tribe? What do you believe is holding you back in your personal growth or business? Could it be that the one major obstacle in your life could actually be your strength? I recommend reading the book, “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday for a new perspective on how to use your perceived or real barriers as a catalyst to propel you forward in your personal and business goals. Would you be intentional and share your thoughts with me? I’d love to hear how this resonates with you!