A decade ago, I’d never even heard of a Weight Neutral Coach. Today- I am one! But when someone asks what I do, my answer is often met with a confused look. What exactly IS a Weight Neutral Coach? And who needs one? If you’re curious, keep reading.
Before explaining what a weight neutral coach does, I want to clarify what I DON’T do as a Weight Neutral Coach. To clear up any confusion.
A Weight Neutral Coach Does NOT:
1. Focus on a Target Weight
A Weight Neutral Coach does NOT ever prescribe a target weight goal. Not EVER.
This is because of two reasons. Number one- we are NOT able to safely control our weight. Diets don’t work for 95-97% of people, so assigning one as a goal makes zero sense. (Side note- people who diets do “work” for are often living in restrictive eating disorder hell). Number two- while weight and health issues are often correlated, there is no proof that weight by itself causes health problems. For more on both of these topics, keep reading.
2. Focus on Weight Loss
Because of the above, my coaching practice NEVER focuses on weight loss.
True recovery from dieting and diet mentality requires we separate connecting our worth and health to our weight.
Diet culture has brainwashed us to believe that our weight determines how much we will be loved and how healthy we are. These simply are not true.
Yes, we do live in a fat phobic culture that gives more social power to people in smaller bodies. And this is fucked up. Part of why I do this work is to fight back against this dangerous discriminatory narrative.
Your worth as a human and your ability to be loved is completely separate from your weight or size. Period.
As a Weight Neutral Coach, I do not help clients lose weight or maintain a certain weight.
3. Ignore Health
Let me be clear, just because I don’t focus on weight does not mean I don’t focus on health. For many of my clients, health is an important value. It’s just not determined by one’s weight. Nor is pursuing health a moral virtue.
There are many ways we can address health concerns (IF this is a priority of the client) independent of weight. Learning to add in health promoting behaviors becomes the focus when weight is off the table.
So What IS a Weight Neutral Coach?
Now that we’ve established what a Weight Neutral Coach is NOT, let’s get into what I actually do to help my clients.
As a Weight Neutral Coach I Help Clients
1. Step Off The Diet Roller Coaster
People often seek my services because they’re exhausted from pursuing weight loss. For some, they’ve tried every diet they can get their hands on, but have never lost a pound. Others have yo-yo-ed for years, ending up at a higher weight each time. While others who’ve “successfully” dieted in the past suddenly find they are no longer able to keep doing it. Many have been stuck in a diet-binge cycle for months, years, or even decades. Over time, dieting becomes harder and harder to maintain.
Often my clients can’t remember a time they ate “normally” without fear, anxiety, and guilt. They almost always constantly think about, worry, and obsess over food. Before, during, and after eating. All of them crave freedom from this feeling of constantly battling their weight.
I help people step off of the diet roller coaster onto the solid ground of recovery. When we learn to properly nourish our bodies and souls, we can stop obsessing about food, comparing our size to others, and feeling shame about our own bodies.
As a Weight Neutral Coach, I help clients come back home to themselves, their intuition, and their bodies.
2. Heal Their Relationship With Their Body
Healing body image is another key to my work as a Weight Neutral Coach. At the root of most food and weight struggles is poor body image. Dieting often begins because we feel insecure about and unhappy with our size and shape.
Most people get tripped up with this goal. The body positive movement has been co-opted by young, white, women who fit the beauty norm in our society. They preach about “loving your body” while ignoring the most marginalized folks in the largest bodies.
Rather than focusing on loving the reflection in the mirror, my work with clients begins at a place of acceptance. Learning to accept our bodies as they currently are must come first.
Body image work focuses on learning to care for our bodies with kindness, compassion, and acceptance.
3. Heal Their Relationship With Pursuing Health
Health related concerns can also be at the root of clients’ body and food struggles. Coaching focuses on learning to separate weight from health. We also get to the root of underlying anxieties often projected onto health and our bodies.
4. Fight Diet Culture
As a Weight Neutral Coach, I take pride in my role of fighting against the oppression that is caused by diet-culture.
The first time I ran across the term diet culture, I was listening to Christy Harrison on her podcast Food Psych. She defines “diet culture” as: “a system of beliefs that equates thinness, muscularity, and particular body shapes with health and moral virtue; promotes weight loss and body reshaping as a means of attaining higher status; demonizes certain foods and food groups while elevating others; and oppresses people who don’t match its supposed picture of ‘health.’” (p 7 Anti-Diet)1
As a human being, I do not believe it is EVER OK to treat others poorly based on their appearance. This includes skin color, abilities, and YES- WEIGHT.
On my own journey of healing, the more I learned about fatphobia and the way it harms the most marginalized people, the angrier I became. I believe all people deserve respect, decency, and dignity. When I internalized the truth that fat phobia is NOT consistent with my values, my own recovery quickly picked up speed.
This anger not only fuels the fire of my own recovery, but also of my career. If I can make the difference in other people’s recovery journeys then in my own way I am somehow fighting against the problem. Instead of becoming a part of it.
Weight Neutral Coaching
You can probably tell from reading this, I feel very passionate about this work. I’m so grateful to have found a path where I can use my experience, skills, and compassion to help others. While also hopefully making this world a better place.
Do you have more questions about Weight Neutral Coaching? If so, please comment below. And if you’re interested in learning more about the process of coaching, please visit this page.
- Harrison MPH, RD, Christy, (2019), Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your time, Money, Well-Being, And Happiness Through Intuitive Eating