Episode 2: Walking Your Talk to Improve Credibility with Renee Stephens, Body Love: Weight Loss
Coaching the Life Coach: Walking Your Talk to Improve Credibility with Renee Stephens
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Jason McClain: Welcome to “Coaching the Coach,” with strategies for growing your transformational practice. I’m your host, Jason McClain, and today we’re talking about weight loss issues. Our guest is Renee Stephens with Mind for Body.
Renee Stephens: I like to talk about naturally slender people as those people for whom weight has never been an issue. You know those people that we love to hate, right?
Jason McClain: Welcome Renee.
Renee Stephens: Thanks Jason. It’s great to be here.
Jason McClain: Renee is known for her competence, her integrity and her compassion. I’m pleased to have you with us today. I think our listeners are really going to be interested in what you have to say about weight loss issues. I certainly want to know more about implementation and motivation to achieve that. So for our listeners out there today we’ll be going through three subjects that will be weight related issues and motivation and implementation. Then Renee will also be telling us about how to walk your talk.
So again Renee I want to talk to you about weight related issues, and then we’ll move into motivation and implementation and then we’ll speak about walking your talk. First I just want to ask you a few questions about weight related issues which I imagine can be a pretty big subject for people. So what do you mean when you say weight related issues or when you address weight related issues?
Renee Stephens: Thanks Jason. The most obvious one of course is weight loss - people who are overweight. As we know in the United States obesity is a national epidemic, even eclipsing the size of the Aids epidemic. So weight loss and obesity are the obvious one, but in addition to that we have things like compulsive overeating. We have food obsessions, binge eating disorder, other eating disorders like bulimia nervosa. So there’s a whole host of them, including, as well, body image issues - people who, even though they might be at a normalish weight, are not happy with their bodies.
Jason McClain: I got you. Is there one that you come up against or see addressed with your clients more often than others so that we can drill down on just one of them right now?
Renee Stephens: The common theme with my clients is that they’re unhappy with their bodies and they’re unhappy with their relationship with food. I specialize in working with people who have had a lifetime of issues. I really work with what you would generally consider the toughest of cases - people who have tried everything. Maybe they’ve done yo-yo dieting; maybe they’ve never had any success at dieting. So those are the people that I most like to help.
Jason McClain: So when you say yo-yo dieting I don’t imagine they’re eating yo-yos. For those of us who have never gone through some of the trials and tribulations of weight loss, what is yo-yo dieting?
Renee Stephens: Yo-yo dieting is when you think, “Ok, I’m going to go on the latest diet, it looks good in the book store, I’m ready I’m revved up.” You do it, you follow the discipline you drop 10 pounds, you drop 20 pounds, you’re feeling great, you’re looking great and you’re done and you can finally relax and you’re looking forward to, “Hey, now that I’m at my goal weight maybe I can indulge a little bit more.” Before you know it all that weight that you lost you find again and not only that, you find those pounds and a bunch of their friends as well.
Jason McClain: [laughs] Thanks for that. That was great. So, one of things I’m curious about is why is it important for people to shift their relationship to their body or their relationship to food? I mean setting aside the obvious things of gosh they’ll be happier, but why is it important?
Renee Stephens: Well they should care Jason because most people who are unhappy with their bodies are obviously pretty darn unhappy. And they’ve tried a whole bunch of different approaches and nothings worked in a lasting way. So the reason that people care is that they really want to get to that place of being at peace with their body. They’d like to get to a place which many people don’t even think is possible, which is a place of being naturally slender. I like to talk about naturally slender people as those people for whom weight has never been an issue. You know, those people that we love to hate, right - the naturally slender?
Jason McClain: [laughs] Sure.
Renee Stephens: Yes.
Renee Stephens: Well I think there will be plenty of people who are listening who know about those people.
Jason McClain: Yes.
Renee Stephens: And these are the people for whom weight has never been an issue. They’re relaxed around their bodies. There are millions of them, billions of them in the world in fact, more and more in other countries and less and less in this country I’m sorry to say. But they never worry about it. They’re relaxed with their bodies and the way that they’re able to do that is not because they’re counting calories, not because they’re counting fat grams, not because they’re doing some magical food combining formula of never eating a fruit with a protein, right.
Jason McClain: [laughs] Right.
Renee Stephens: But because they’re in touch with their bodies. They’re bodies tell them that if they’ve been more active to eat more and if they’re less active to eat less. They’re in sync with their bodies.
Jason McClain: Great. So how does someone achieve that kind of synchronization? And how do you assist people in achieving that kind of synchronization and making that shift so that their mind and body are in a better relationship with one another?
Renee Stephens: That’s a great question, Jason. Most diets approach weight loss by giving you a series of recommendations. They’ll say that you should eat in a certain way, that you should exercise more - and certainly the equation of calories in versus calories out never changes no matter what it is. You have to eat less than you are burning if you want to lose weight. So what most diets do and they do very well, and what most education programs do very well is they tell you what it is that you should do. And there are a whole bunch of different opinions – there are as many different opinions as there are books in the bookstore at this point of exactly what you should do. Generally it involves eating more lean meats and vegetables and whole grain foods, for example.
But the reality is that education is not enough because if it were enough then people would have already been successful with all of the education programs that are out there. Once they pick up the diet book on the bookstore shelf they follow it and they’re done. But they’re not. I don’t know if most people realize this but – well let me ask you. If you go on a diet today and successfully lose, say, you know 20 pounds, what do you think statistically the probability of you keeping that weight off for a year is?
Jason McClain: Well, if I were to use myself as a hypothetical average American I would say 20%.
Renee Stephens: 20%. Well it’s actually 5%.
Jason McClain: Wow. [laughs]
Renee Stephens: And after five years? Any idea what the probability is that you will have kept the weight off?
Jason McClain: Well I imagine it’s less than 5%, so 2%?
Renee Stephens: 1%. So if you go on a diet today you have a 1% chance of keeping that weight off for five years or more. And you know if I were a gambling person I wouldn’t even bother with those odds.
Jason McClain: Indeed. Thankfully I’m not a gambling person but if I were I certainly wouldn’t either.
Renee Stephens: Yes.
Jason McClain: I’ve beaten a few odds myself but never like that.
Renee Stephens: Yes.
Jason McClain: So Renee, what does it make possible in people’s lives when they shift their relationship to their body and their relationship to their food intake? And when I say what does it make possible, what does it open up, what does it allow for or what arises in that space?
Renee Stephens: What arises, Jason, is the possibility to beat those odds - the possibility to become naturally slender. And the holy grail for so many of my clients is simply to be able to forget about food - to be able to stop thinking about it. And so it creates a tremendous amount of space and energy in their lives and that, in fact, is why I care so much and why I’m so passionate about weight loss and about weight issues. The reason I’m so passionate, the reason that it matters so much is because it’s not just lose five pounds for bathing suit season or you’re going to your high school reunion so you better look good, it goes way beyond that.
It goes so far that it’s really about allowing people to live their lives to the fullest. Because every moment that you spend criticizing yourself, every moment that you spend unhappy with yourself, every moment that you spend frustrated because you know that you’re not all that you can be is a waste. You’re missing out. Your life is happening now; our lives are happening now. And so it matters because when you release someone – when I work with someone and I release them from the obsession, when I release them from the self doubt, the self criticism, they come into themselves and they can really then begin developing as a human being. I love to see when my clients blossom creatively or they find all of the sudden - they’ve never had a successful relationship - and the next thing you know I’m getting a marriage or baby announcement on my email. It’s really, really wonderful.
Jason McClain: So, first I just got chills and I’ve never had weight issues before so that was quite inspiring for me and hopefully for some of the listeners out there. So thank you. We’re going to take a short break to support our sponsors. This is Jason McClain and I’m with guest Renee Stephens and we’ll be right back.
Jason McClain: We’re back and I’m your host, Jason McClain, here with guest Renee Stephens. Before the break we were talking about weight loss issues – specifically the relationship to your body and relationship to foods. Renee now I would like to talk to you about motivation and implementation because as you indicated, anybody can read a book, anybody can know what to do, but how do you motivate people to do it and how do you assist them in implementing whatever program they want or whatever suits them?
Renee Stephens: Well frankly Jason that’s the missing piece. I’m really glad you brought that up because as we were saying a moment ago traditional diets are really great at education. Nutritionists, dieticians are doing a fantastic job of education. People know what they should be doing. Let’s face it, how many people don’t know, haven’t figured out yet that broccoli is generally a better choice than a Big Mac?
Jason McClain: [laughs] Yeah, I figured it out.
Renee Stephens: You got that one.
Jason McClain: Yeah, I got that one. [laughs]
Renee Stephens: Good. Congratulations! [laughs] You know, we know it. We know what we should be doing and in fact that’s part of the problem, is that we know what we should be doing and we’re not doing it. So we end up feeling even worse about ourselves because, darn it, we know what we should be doing and we can’t seem to motivate ourselves. And so the missing ingredient is motivation. The missing ingredient that all of these books and programs out there, or most of them, are not addressing is motivation. So I came at this from a different perspective. When I got into weight issues I got into them because I had had my own personal struggle. I had gone up and down the scale, I was a binge eater, I did embarrassing things like eating from the trash can and eating food that was frozen that wasn’t supposed to be eaten frozen.
Jason McClain: Wow, that’s pretty extraordinary. And because our listeners can’t see you, you are quite slender. You look naturally slender in fact.
Renee Stephens: Well thank you very much.
Renee Stephens: It’s been 19 years since I lost the weight that I had to lose and it’s been about seven years, in fact as long as I’ve been doing the work that I do that I’ve really had that level of peace with my body and attained what I call weight mastery.
Jason McClain: I’m glad to hear that you’re certainly walking your talk, which is the third subject of course. And it always improves, I think, a client’s experience when somebody like yourself who’s a practitioner who works in a particular area has certainly overcome and again is walking their talk. It may seem like an obvious question but in terms of motivation implementation, that missing piece, why is it important?
Renee Stephens: Thanks Jason for that. Motivation and implementation are important simply to help people get what they want – simply to help people step into the rest of their lives and live the rest of their lives to the fullest so that this issue is a closed subject for them. They can close the door on their weight issue, they can close the door on self criticism and really come into a natural, easy place with their bodies and then enjoy the rest of their lives, because that after all is what life is about. It’s about relating to people and giving back to the community and all those wonderful things.
Jason: Fantastic, thank you. So how, specifically, do you assist people in implementation and motivation so that our listeners can walk away with some real tangible ideas about how it is that you work and how their own weight issues could be addressed in a way that’s lasting for them?
Renee Stephens? Thanks Jason. The way that I help people is that I help them get out of their own way. And I’d even like to go a little further than this and I’d like to give listeners a few tips that they can do now, whether or not they work with me. So for example, so many people talk about self sabotage. They know what they should be doing, as we’ve been discussing, and then they find themselves doing the opposite. I know I should stay away from the cake, and yet there I am. I know I shouldn’t order the scone with my coffee but I do it anyway. So they sabotage themselves. I help them get out of their own way - stop self sabotage by helping them understand the answer to a really interesting question. I help them understand what the up side to being overweight and overeating is.
Jason McClain: The up side?
Renee Stephens: The up side.
Jason McClain: Say more about that.
Renee Stephens: You know the reality is that we wouldn’t do it if there weren’t something in it. We wouldn’t overeat and we wouldn’t be overweight if we weren’t getting something out of it. And so, what’s really great about being overweight? Well there are lots of things that could be great about being overweight. So - go ahead.
Jason McClain: I mean - I’m just curious what they are.
Renee Stephens: I gave a seminar last night and some of the answers we got from the audience were: you get to eat anything you want; you get to eat as much as you want.
Jason McClain: Ok.
Renee Stephens: You get to always say yes to dessert. You get to always say yes to seconds, right?
Jason McClain: Right. Well you know I’ve always called dessert a violation of the prime directive. [laughs]
Renee Stephens: Yes. [laughs]
Jason McClain: But that’s me, so anyway please continue.
Renee Stephens: So there’s that, there’s the obvious. And then there gets to be the more subtle layer. For example, if I were slim and at my best and people didn’t like me that would really hurt me because I would know that they didn’t like the real me.
Jason McClain: Ah, so now we’re getting to some of the deeper emotional issues around it. Wonderful, ok.
Renee Stephens: Yeah.
Jason McClain: What else?
Renee Stephens: So other issues like that - a similar issue to that: if I were slim and at my best and I didn’t like me, then what would I do. Or if were slim and at my best and I got attention from the opposite sex how would I know that they liked the real me, because they didn’t like me when I was overweight, so it much be an insincere type of attraction that they have to me.
Jason McClain: Very interesting. Ok.
Renee Stephens: And there’s one more that’s actually quite common which is - if you think about weight it creates a physical barrier between ourselves and the other person. And so a common objection that people have, often at a subconscious level, is they’ll say, “Well I’m overweight because it protects me. It protects me from getting unwanted attention from the opposite sex that I may not know how to handle. It keeps me safe.”
Jason McClain: I know with my own clients - I’ve seen many, many clients who’ve been abused sexually in the past who have weight issues specifically for that kind of protection.
Renee Stephens: Exactly. And so by resolving those issues, by helping people overcome those objections, sometimes by using resources that they already have available to them – and this is a tip I’d like to give to people who are listening now that they can do now, even if they never work with me, which is ask themselves the question, number one, “What am I getting out of this? What is the up side to being overweight? What is the up side to overeating?” Right? And then be open to the answer and once you find that objection, say, for example I want to have some protection or I’m scared of being my best, that it still won’t be good enough, then they can imagine a version of themselves who has already overcome that problem. It’s as simple as that. They imagine a version of themselves who is of course not perfect, because they’re human and they have a sense of humor, but at the same time they’ve somehow resolved this particular issue. And I use this with my clients all the time. And simply thinking in that fashion helps them come to a place where they can think, “Hey, you know, I could imagine being slim and feeling really good about myself; I could imagine being slim and being safe.”
Jason McClain: What a wonderful place to be. And when they do those things and they’re able to come to that kind of place or that kind of conclusion even, what does that make possible in their life? What does it open up or what does it allow for?
Renee Stephens: That’s another great question because there are two main things that it opens up in their lives. One is simply knowing that they can use that resource, their wonderful selves, their evolving self for any problem. Because if you think about it, if you’ve struggled with a weight issue for a long time and you’ve tried everything, and this is the one area of your life that you can’t sort out – you’re successful in other areas, in your career maybe or in a relationship – you’re a successful person, you achieve your goals, this one you can’t handle, and then you can and you learn the tool of thinking about your evolving self to overcome problems, you’ve just catapulted yourself into the next level of evolution. Which is, I know, what you’re very helpful at doing with people.
Jason McClain: Some say, yes. Some say indeed – personal evolution.
Renee Stephens: And there’s one more thing.
Jason McClain: Yes.
Renee Stephens: So one is it gives them that confidence, it gives them that resource for further evolution. Then the other obvious thing is that, again, it frees all this energy in their lives so that they can develop in other areas. I can’t tell you the number of clients who have, as I said, discovered their creativity. I had one client who was unhappy as an editor in her job. She was unhappy as an editor but she earned good money and she was pretty good at it. And so we started working together, and hers was a binge eating problem, and the next thing you know she’s clearing out the studio in her garage where she had tinkered with some of her art in the past. The next thing you know she’s in there every day and she’s blowing glass. And the next thing you know she’s taking a class. And the next thing you know she’s being invited by the master glass blower trainer to an exclusive training program in Italy and being offered free housing. And then she’s selling her jewelry. It’s just beautiful.
Jason McClain: That’s amazing and I just got chills again. We’re going to have to have you come back. We’re going to take another short break to support our sponsors and we’ll be back in a few minutes. I’m here with Renee Stephens and I’m Jason McClain, your host on Coaching the Life Coach.
Jason McClain: We’re back and I’m Jason McClain. We’re speaking with Renee Stephens with Mind for Body. Before the break we were talking about motivation and implementation, that missing piece for most people with their weight loss issues. Renee, I’d love to know more about walking your talk - this concept of walking your talk. It sounds like you have plenty you can say about that. So what does that mean for you?
Renee Stephens: Walking my talk to me Jason means demonstrating the change – being the change that I want to help other people with. And so I only recommend tools and techniques that I have found to be personally useful for me, that I have had personal benefit from and I don’t expect them to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself.
Jason McClain: Fantastic. And why is walking your talk important, because I’ve heard some people say, hey some of the greatest coaches in the game of some sport, maybe it’s in the game of football, have never played the game? Why is walking your talk important in this particular domain?
Renee Stephens: Because Jason the world is abundant in offers of people who will tell you what it is you should do to achieve the results that you want, and yet to me if the person hasn’t had some sort of personal experience with it it’s difficult to understand how much credibility that they’re going to have. And so my passion, my experience is what fuels the teachings that I have, is what fuels the work that I do. And so I walk my talk – I don’t ask anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t do and don’t do myself.
Jason McClain: Thank you and I’m very glad. It has me glad to have you on the show to know that. And so people can get a greater sense, how specifically do you walk your talk? And actually what I’d like you to do is I’d like you to tell us a little bit about your personal story with weight loss issues. You mentioned some of the details before but if you could give us a snapshot that begins at where you were – did you say 7 years ago, or 12 years ago?
Renee Stephens: Nineteen years ago was when I was in the problem.
Jason McClain: Nineteen years ago you were in the problem.
Renee Stephens: Yeah.
Jason McClain: So what I’d love to hear is something about where that began, what your weight or body index or whatever measure you want to use was, where you’re at now, so that our listeners of just how credible you are because, again, they can’t see you like I can.
Renee Stephens: Thanks Jason. I started having issues with food I’d say when I was in about seventh grade. My first memory of my mother was her with the Weight Watcher chart on the refrigerator and I went on my first diet when I was in seventh grade. That’s when I started disconnecting from my body and I started doing what I thought I should be doing and disregarding what my body was telling me. So I gained weight, I lost weight, I gained it again, I lost it again, I went on all sorts of crazy diets including – you know even 20 years ago the high protein diet was in fashion – I did that, I did 700 calories a day at diet centers for months on end. And I would just keep on regaining the weight and my obsession would get worse. As I said I was a binge eater; I was a compulsive exerciser as well and I finally decided that I’d had enough of that and I was in search of a new way to address the issues.
I joined a program called Overeaters Anonymous which still exists today based on the 12 step program. I lost my weight in that program, I became slim, I lost about 25 to 30 pounds and I thought, “That’s it, I’m done, life is great now,” because that’s the deal, you get thin and everything is perfect, right? Well what happened for me was that I was slim and I was still depressed. And that was a huge let down for me.
And so I went to see a psychiatrist who gave me what was then the brand new class of antidepressants. I went on Prozac for a year and it made me think happy thoughts but I didn’t like being on Prozac. So I weaned myself off by making a solemn commitment with myself to exercise aerobically at least four times a week. And I did that religiously because it was my medication and I really didn’t want to be taking pills. And what many people aren’t aware of is that, statistically, exercise is actually more effective than antidepressants at relieving depression.
Jason McClain: I just saw two bicoastal studies, one at Stanford that actually did in fact prove that.
Renee Stephens: Yeah, I was amazed when I saw the research. I reviewed some studies on antidepressants and found that when you take out the placebo effect they have about a 15 to 20% effectiveness rate in relieving depression.
Jason McClain: Wow.
Renee Stephens: Wow.
Jason McClain: Beliefs.
Renee Stephens: Yes. It’s all about beliefs. So I had depression, I overcame it; I was still struggling with body image issues. I’d wake up in the middle of the night when everything was dark and I’d go to the bathroom and I’d put my hands over my stomach because I was embarrassed about it sticking out. It was the middle of the night! It was pitch dark in the room! So I had my issues. I was functional however, I was slim, I was happy about that. And it wasn’t until I had a health crisis, what I call a crisis of meaning in my work that I had to look at new careers. I got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that lasted for a total of 4 ½ years. And the reason that I was sick was because I was in the wrong job for the wrong reasons trying to be someone that I thought I should be and wasn’t.
Jason McClain: Well you’ve clearly traveled a long distance in the last several years.
Renee Stephens: I have, and I’m incredibly grateful. When I quit my job I took a leap of faith and decided I was going to study things that I was passionate about. I had already done the traditional route. I got an MBA, I worked in high tech marketing in some well paying jobs and I decided that’s it. I’m going to study what I’m passionate about. And what I’m passionate about, what I’m fascinated by is human motivation. And so I found every course that I could find, I began to apply the skills that I was learning on my own remaining issues, on my own remaining binge issues - and by the way I was a pretty dedicated binger. I used to binge on a bag of rice cakes. And I figure you have to be pretty dedicated to the cause to do that.
Jason McClain: [laughs]
Renee Stephens: Because they taste like cardboard! [laughs] But I did it!
Jason McClain: [laughs] They do, I’ve had two or three. Not at once of course.
Renee Stephens: Yes.
Jason McClain: So Renee I’m curious. We’re almost out of time and for those of you who are listening of course you can reach me, Jason McClain, at Jason@personallifemedia.com – there’s two l’s in personallifemedia.com. Renee, again, we’re almost out of time so I’d just like to ask you one more question. What do you attribute - and maybe you’ve already answered this - but what do you attribute your success as a coach to? If you could name one single concept for the coaches that are actually listening out there, what’s the single most important concept or principle that you feel has attributed to your success as a coach?
Renee Stephens: Jason when you say my success as a coach, my success getting the results that I get with my clients?
Jason McClain: Absolutely.
Renee Stephens: Well I attribute my success to the results that I get with my clients.
Jason McClain: So would you say your competence or walking your talk or both?
Renee Stephens: I’d say both. I think it’s a combination of competence with walking my talk. I’m very good at what I do and I’m also very clear about what it is that I do. There are issues, there are many issues that I won’t work with. I won’t work with alcoholism for example; I won’t work with nerve pain. I’m very clear. I work with weight issues and a few select other issues and I’m known for that. I’m known that if you have a problem case – other coaches and hypnotherapists refer their clients to me because weight loss in the hypnotherapy and coaching community is regarded as a pretty complex and tough issue.
Jason McClain: It is very complex; I know from having worked with clients of my own. Renee do you work with people in person, over the phone, both?
Renee Stephens: Both Jason. My work is equally effective by phone and in person although I encourage clients to come see me in person for the initial session which is very intense; it’s three hours long and I have clients often fly in for that session.
Jason McClain: Great. And where are you geographically?
Renee Stephens: I’m in San Francisco, in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco.
Jason McClain: And how can people reach you?
Renee Stephens: They can reach me through my website which is www.mindforbody.com and if it’s alright with you, Jason, I’d love to invite your listeners to my free weekly Lighten Up calls.
Jason McClain: I think that would be wonderful. How can they join that?
Renee Stephens: If the listeners are interested, once a week on a Monday at 12pm pacific time, 3pm eastern, 8pm UK time I host an hour long call dedicated to helping people increase their motivation, get out of their own way and change their thought patterns so that they can live the life that they are passionate about living. They can register at www.mindforbody.com and I would love to have the listeners out there join us.
Jason McClain: I think that would be delightful. And it was a delight to have you here Renee. Thank you so much for joining us.
Renee Stephens: Thank you Jason, it’s been great to be here.
Jason McClain: Join us next week on Coaching the Life Coach – strategies to grow your transformational practice, when we’ll have Jerry Candelaria, the cofounder of the Arete Center for Excellence and we’ll be discussing intimacy in relationships and living purposefully. Again, I’m your host, Jason McClain. That brings us to the end of our show and thanks for listening. For text and transcripts of this show and other shows on the personal life media network please visit our website at personallifemedia.com. Again I’m Jason McClain, your guide in your personal evolution.
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