The benefits of treating the whole person

A couple of days back I shared a conversation ( I had with a prospect looking to lose weight and rather than focus on her symptom of weight gain, I drew her attention to the imbalances within her lifestyle instead. I was honest and Told her I didn’t believe her current approach would get her where she wanted to be. Here’s how our conversation went yesterday.

Prospect: Hi Mike, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk with me the other day and following up with your very thoughtful email.
Me: You’re very welcome and I find it an honor and privilege to treat people as they ought to be.

Prospect: Money is tight for me and my husband over the next few months but I really liked everything you said to me and I want to be the type of person you were talking about.
Me: That’s great! We are all only a slight shift of our mindset away from reaching our full potential.

Prospect: Can you tell me how this program comes together?
Me: Each week, we’ll have a coaching call and I’m going to provide you three things: structure, guidance and accountability, but a different type of accountability. Im not going to hold you accountable to me, I’m going to teach you how to hold yourself accountable to yourself so that you’re empowered beyond this encounter with me.

Prospect: Wow that’s interesting, I’ve never thought of it like that.
Me: Yep, we really do our best to operate in our clients best interests. Each week, we’ll meet for a coaching call and based on our conversation, I’ll give you a transformation opportunity that helps you become who you want to be.

Prospect: That sounds great, what types of things will I work on each week?
Me: It’ll be a combination of contemplation and action so you can transform yourself from the inside out and so that you can enjoy and sustain your effort.

Prospect: Whats contemplation?
Me: Activities such as journaling and meditation that help you “see” things differently because unless you see new things, nothing new ever happens.

Prospect: This is amazing, when can we get started?

This is a vital conversation for health and fitness professionals to learn how to have because we have so much to offer our clients but if we get caught up in a sales pitch, we all lose more often than we win.

Rather than sell, try to help people solve a problem, it changes the nature of the conversation to one of generosity and collaboration. A true win-win, even if people don’t sign up to work with us right now.

The key is to drop from head (what’s in it for me) to heart (how can I be of service), and believe me, it’s a refreshing experience for all parties involved.

“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly and most underrated agent of human change.” Bob Kerrey

How can I help you…as a whole person?

As a health professional serving the world, my training has been very symptomatically driven. Meaning, I was taught how to address symptoms more than I was taught how to get at root causes. Ironically, it took me almost ten years to make the switch and I have Gary Gray and the Gray Institute to thank for teaching me how to think for myself. Below is a conversation I had with a recent prospect and you’ll see what it looks like to treat the whole person as opposed to their ailments.

Prospect: Hi, I used to take your group training classes and I’m interested in training with you again.
Me: That’s great! Please tell me how I can help you.

Prospect: I’m interested in losing some weight I’ve gained since getting married two years ago.
Me: OK, can you tell me a little bit about your lifestyle?

Prospect: Well, I’m an event planner, I lead a pretty sedentary lifestyle, I spend lots of time on the computer, I travel a lot, I taste lots of foods and tend to make poor food choices, I’m tired by the time I get home at night, I watch TV till I fall asleep and feel too tired to get up in the morning to workout. Plus, I think I’m lazy and demotivated.
Me: Thank you so much for helping me understand why you’re in the position you’re in. First things first, you’re not lazy or demotivated, otherwise, you wouldn’t have called me for help. Second, I think those are labels you’re using to justify your behaviors, I think more than anything, you’re scared to make yourself a priority.

Prospect: Silence… (this is how I know I’ve got their attention)
Me: Let me be honest with you, I don’t think group classes will help you get where you want to be, nor do I believe that even diet and exercise perfection will help you reach your goals and I don’t mean that disrespectfully whatsoever.

Prospect: Why do you say that?
Me: Because: 1. You want to adress WHAT happened to you and not WHY it happened. 2. Your current lifestyle is in no way supportive of the goals you’re telling me are important to you. 3. People come to me to enhance their body but it’s their mind holding them back and their spirit that suffers. As you can see, your mind is holding you back by calling yourself lazy and demotivated and it’s reflecting in your body as weight gain and a sedentary lifestyle. I think the best use of our time is to show you how to create success in your Mind-First®.

Prospect: It’s kinda funny you’re saying all this because it’s perfectly in line with my goals for the New Year: to be more present, more balanced and more motivated.
Me: That’s awesome! Let me shed a little more light on your situation. Right now the demands in your life are greater than your resources and while in that predicament, your mind wants to lose weight but your body is more concerned with energy conservation and survival than it is healing, weight loss or growth. The key is to change your environment. One of my favorite quotes as it relates to my work is by Deepak Chopra: “You cannot make positive choices for the rest of your life with an environment that makes those choices easy, natural and enjoyable.”

Prospect: This all sounds great but I also need to be practical about my budget and what I can afford.
Me: I totally get that and it’s important we don’t add financial stress to your life as that would be counterproductive to a wellness program. Here’s what I think I’m seeing: You have tendency to put everything and everyone else ahead of yourself and put yourself last. Is that a fair assessment?

Prospect: Yes.
Me: OK, what I’m offering you is an opportunity to get out of the passenger seat of your life, make your way into the driver’s seat so you can start managing decisions in your own best interests. Otherwise, this remains a selfish engagement in which I try to keep you as my client for as long as I can and I do nothing to position you for success beyond this engagement. You seem young, how old are you?

Prospect: I’m 29.
Me: OK, that’s perfect because you have your whole life ahead of you. What I suggest is connecting for a short season, say 3 months and I’ll empower you to create a revolution in your life. I’ll teach you how to create an inside-out transformation, one that’s enjoyable, rewarding and sustainable. One that serves you far beyond this encounter. Now I know you have a budget so here’s what I’d like you to do…when you go back and look at your finances, I want you to look at them through the lens of yourself a priority. Because if you look at them and say I’ve got this bill and that bill and those bills, then you end up making the same decisions you’ve always made, which was to put everything else ahead of yourself.

Prospect: No one’s ever asked me to think that way about myself.
Me: Exactly and that’s why I’m not going to sell you group training when you have needs beyond the physical realm. Again, please have a look and be in touch with me tomorrow about your decision. Be well.

Whether or not she signs is not the point. The point is I’m the first person that ever pointed her back to herself as the solution to her own situation and she can’t unknow what I shared with her. The point is I honored my values, maintained my boundaries and made a heart-centered decision and I can’t ever lose that way. Although, that depends on how you measure success.

If you enjoyed this refreshing approach to improving your health and happiness, check out a recent podcast with Cory Mosley, where I was featured to discuss the inner workings of Lifestyle Management® and a Mind-First Approach®.

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The best way to start achieving a new goal

The traditional approach towards reaching a goal is to focus on the change you are seeking to make. While that seems logical, it’s that very mindset that keeps you from reaching your goal. Huh?!

How am I supposed to change if I don’t focus on making the change?

Before I tell you, lets play with some numbers. There are 7 billion people on the planet, let’s say 10% set a resolution, that’s 7 hundred million people (700,000,000). Now consider that 92% of them fail their resolution goal every year. Every year! That’s six hundred forty four million (644,000,000) people that FAIL every year. And guess what they’re all focused on…change!

There’s a critical step before change that people are not taking that’s causing mass failure and whether you’re a professional trying to help someone make a change or an individual trying to make the change yourself, the first step to improving your situation is ACCEPTANCE of your current situation.

Robert Holden, author of Happiness Now brilliantly states: “No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.”

In other words, rather than trying to “get there,” you’ve first got to understand why and how you “got here” and own it. This isn’t an intellectual ownership either, I’m referring to an emotional ownership, which involves leaning into uncomfortable feelings, such as fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, loneliness, disgust, apathy, sadness, and the list goes on.

I realize most people never even know to consider this step  but my sense is that less than 1% would even be willing to become vulnerable enough to emotionally expose themselves to these feelings. They’d say one has nothing to do with the other, it’s a waste of time or I’m out of my mind. To which I’d reply that it’s much easier to stay the same than it is to change.

This hardly scratches the surface of the matter at hand but I’d be really interested in hearing your perspective.



“The first step towards change is awareness. The second is acceptance.” Nathaniel Branden

Don’t fix me, love me

I came across a quote that’s nearly become the central theme of my approach with helping clients: “I don’t need you to fix me. I need you to love me while I fix myself.” For the first 10 plus years of my career, I tried fixing people. I tried helping them lose weight, get stronger, make better eating decisions, etc.

My attempt at trying to fix them became a personal project, in which I ended up taking their results, for better or worst, personally. When they succeeded, I felt good about myself. When they didn’t, I was full of shame. I didn’t know who I was apart from their progress.

Interestingly, I never really held them accountable to their own journey. I was more interested in saying yes and being liked than I was saying no and “empowering” them as I thought it would jeopardize the relationship. In a sense, I was enabling them and the only thing it jeopardized was their capacity for transformation.

Richard Rohr defines transformation as a series of necessary humiliations. Well, 10,000 humiliations later, I’ve learned a valuable lesson: You can’t fix people, you can only love them while they fix themselves. The challenge here is our need to be in control. What?! I know, sounds harsh but it’s true…it’s what we want for them.

When you come to the crossroads of realizing your best of intentions are laced with your need for control you have but one choice: surrender. The only control we truly have is control over ourselves and our efforts. We can’t even control the outcome of our own efforts, so how are we to control the outcomes of others? We can’t, so that just leaves us one choice: to love others while they fix themselves.

Takeaway: It’s not our responsibility to fix people, though it is our responsibility to accept them for who they are and where they are and show them where to look without telling them what to see. You’ll find a lack of acceptance is always replaced with expectations…good luck trying to help someone when they never seem to measure up to your expectations.

I thought Maylon Hicks did a nice job of writing this article.

“A teacher is never a giver of truth; he is a guide, a pointer to the truth that each student must find for himself.” Bruce Lee

What’s soda have to do with self-worth

What’s soda have to do with self worth? A client of mine wanted to change the habit of drinking soda. While a noble goal, it wouldn’t do very much to affect the driver behind her behavior.
Here’s the chain reaction I helped her understand, starting with the behavior and tying it back to her beliefs: Soda–>Tired–>Imbalanced Lifestyle–>Hustling for her worth–>Low self-worth…
She’s drinking soda primarily for caffeine because she’s tired from not getting enough sleep because her lifestyle is imbalanced and lacks boundaries because she’s hustling for worthiness (work=worth) because that’s the best way she knows how to feel loved and like she belongs.
Of course I could ask her to stop drinking soda and that’d be much easier than coming to terms with the reality that she lacks a fundamental sense of self-worth. But I’m operating with her best interests in mind and rather than addressing her behavior (symptom), I’m after her beliefs (cause).
I’ve connected her to a worthy self meditation I’ve created that will fill her at a soul level…and my sense is, she’ll stop drinking soda.
“People’s behavior make sense if you think about it in terms of goals, needs and motives.” Thomas Mann