As many of you know, I recently lost almost 30 lbs over the course of 3 months. I was unhealthy and I felt bad both physically and emotionally. I had a friend introduce me to a program she had done to lose weight and create better habits for long-term health. I was fed-up with trying to do it on my own so I decided to follow my friend’s example and I made some pretty dramatic changes in my diet and my habits. I had fantastic success. Not just with losing weight, but with ridding my body of all the junk I had been putting into it. I felt like I was starting over. I was losing pounds, but with each healthy choice I made I was also reclaiming my health and gaining the power to master my cravings and destructive habits. I felt revitalized and excited about life.
When I reached my goal, I was offered the opportunity to become a health coach. Just like the friend who shared the program with me, I could become certified to share the hope and the health I had found with my friends and family. Now, here are a couple of things you should know about me:
- I am the worst salesperson in the world. This is because I don’t like being pressured into things and am therefore uncomfortable being aggressive towards other people when it seems clear that they are uninterested. I rarely hold strong opinions, I hate arguments, and I am turned off by anyone who thinks they know all the answers.
- I am moved deeply by instances where people realize their potential and feel proud of themselves (in a good way) and validated for the work they have done. I weep openly while watching shows like The Biggest Loser, The Voice, the Olympics, even What Not to Wear, because something about seeing people achieve something they never thought they could resonates with something deeply ingrained in me, whether it is losing 100 lbs or catching the attention of a pop star or just being confident about who they are and not trying to hide themselves from the world.
I told my coach, “Thanks for the opportunity, and I would love to coach others, but I am terrible at sales. And I hate it very much” She said, “You are not selling the products. You just share your story and then you will have the opportunity to walk alongside anyone who is interested in doing the program you did .” I said, “Oh. I would like that very much. I love helping people. I love sharing their successes. I could really enjoy doing that.”
So I did it. I went through the process of being certified as a health coach. Then I started putting up some before and after pictures on facebook, telling people I had become a health coach and would love to help my friends reach their health goals. I probably didn’t communicate it perfectly, but I had only the purest of intentions. I thought, “This makes me really uncomfortable, but this is how I found out about this program and maybe this will help some of my friends too.” So in spite of my own discomfort I did it. I put up (somewhat embarrassing) pictures of myself and I told people my version of the “good news.” And here is what I found out.
People are the worst. Certainly there were many people who complimented me on my new trimmer body, which was kind. But there were also many people who were mean. Who responded to me as though I had singled them out and told them they needed to lose weight, when all I had done was post something publicly on my own wall. Some people chose to “unfriend” me (because apparently we are in the 6th grade). Some people responded that they thought I was incredibly arrogant and just wanted to brag about my own accomplishments. Some thought I was trying to guilt them into buying something. Many asked what I had done to lose the weight, only to be disappointed when I told them how I had changed my habits. And some (my personal favorite) thought that I had joined a weird cult because it didn’t “sound like me.” Even those closest to me were only nominally supportive. When it came to helping me in a substantive way, nobody wanted a part of it.
All of this was deeply hurtful to me. I in no way expected everyone I knew to undertake the program I did. In fact, I spoke to a couple of people whom I actually advised not to do it because I don’t believe it’s the right thing for them. I didn’t expect everyone I knew to be super positive about it, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for this.
I understand now why so many people are afraid to try new things. Because the minute you do something out of the ordinary for you, people attack you. They do not want you to grow or to change. They want you to stay exactly as they expect you to be. This experience ended like many such experiences do – with me crying on the phone to my mom, who still possesses the magical power to make everything, no matter how dismal, better. And at least I learned my lesson. I probably should have known this before, but the school of hard knocks has just confirmed, sometimes people really are just the worst.
To the few of you reading this rant…let’s all go home and think about how much we collectively suck…and what we could maybe do to fix that.