Last summer I conducted an informal study on my clients that concluded profound results. I timed each of them to see how long it would take to say something positive about themselves.
A typical session with my clients lasts 45 to 60 minutes, and I scheduled and planned to give each and every client a full hour of my time. How long they chose to stay was entirely up to them.
On average, it took 16 minutes for someone to say something positive about him or herself. Interestingly enough, the longer it took a person to say something positive or even what had happened since we last met, the less time he or she stayed.
Here’s how I broke it down for one client:
“Over the last few weeks you have paid a total of $400 to come see me to work towards your goal of feeling better inside and out. Of that $400, over $130 you spent speaking poorly of yourself, $100 of it you spent learning and making great progress and the other $170 you spent not using my services.”
That’s right. If a client spoke poorly of him or herself for 20 minutes, his or her appointments generally lasted 35 minutes, maybe 40 on a good day.
As I conducted this study, I also read up on motivational tactics for healthcare providers, amended educational material to better serve my clients and laid awake at night wondering how I could be a better nutritionist. Then, I dove into one of my best resources available: the network of healthcare pros I am lucky enough to call my friends.
Not everyone has a phone full of doctors, acupuncturists, therapists and the like, so I decided to spread the wealth. Here are the things we wish our clients would stop doing:
1. Stop Trash Talking Yourself
There you are at your appointment. You made it on time, you filled out the paperwork, checked in on Facebook and complained about the wait time. Perhaps you’ve even gone the extra mile and joked that your practitioner should be charged the same fee as you for making you wait 15 minutes or more.
After all that work, you finally sit down in the office, face-to-face with your practitioner. You’re really being seen after all those minutes in the waiting room and the days of telling your sister how you’re going to get the root of your issue once and for all at this appointment.
Then, the second your practitioner asks you how you are doing and what brings you in today, you begin to say, “It’s probably stupid, but” or “I know I’m crazy for thinking this, but” or “I’m so lazy” or “Stupid me...,” and the list goes on.
Just stop. Here’s a positive solution that helps you get the most of your appointment and helps you decrease the wait time for the next person in the waiting room: Come into your appointment prepared and ready to leave with tangible results.
Prior to your appointment, write down what you want to address with your practitioner. For example, when you’re going to your nutritionist, rather than listing your faults of the previous week, ask for help with your stumbling points. Say, “I noticed that every time I go to a social outing, I eat a ton of food and feel lousy the next day. What can I do to not overeat in these situations?”
2. Don’t Be Your Medical Condition
First and foremost, you are NOT fat. You have fatty tissue. You also have intestines, but you are not your intestines. I understand that health conditions can be all-encompassing at times, if not often, but do not allow yourself to become your medical condition.
We all have something going on: weight issues, depression, anxiety, stress problems, allergies, pain and the often overlooked adrenal fatigue.
You’re not alone and you can feel better. My clients who have been the most successful in their weight loss efforts are the clients who never said they were “on a diet,” but rather that they were eating healthier, taking care of themselves or healing.
You’re not watching what you eat because you have diabetes; you’re eating well to feel well. Picking up what I’m putting down?
3. Stop With The Sleep Deprivation Already
Sleep is your body’s time to heal from today and prepare for tomorrow. If you’re never caught up from one day before you move on to the next, you’re never going to live each day to the fullest.
You may have been too tired to notice, care or understand, but research proves the worst thing we are doing to our health is not sleeping. Sleep deprivation makes you look, feel and think awfully. It decreases the quality of your life, weight, workout, workday, your time with others and more.
Practitioners joke that we have clients comfortable getting a Brazilian wax, but uncomfortable seeking medical attention for sleep problems. That’s right; discussing sleep issues with your nutritionist, doctor, nurse practitioner or naturopath is awkward, but having your waxer see your hairy taint is way easy. Care to explain?
The very first thing you should assess and discuss with your personal healthcare team is your sleep. Evaluate what keeps you from getting enough sleep.
Between now and your appointment time, read up on what helps with sleep, download a sleep tracking app and eliminate anything that is detracting from your sleep. It is also okay to show up to your sleep appointment just to discuss how you used to have problems sleeping.
4. Pay Attention To Your Poop
If you work in the health and wellness industry, you spend a large part of your waking hours talking and thinking about poop, and pretty soon, you wonder how other people don’t spend time at all thinking about it.
Everyone poops, and poop tells you so much about yourself. Why wouldn’t everyone dedicate time to poop thoughts and talk? You do not have to take it to the extreme like we health pros do, but you do need to pay attention to your butt’s ongoings.
If you can't remember the last time you had a solid bowel movement, call your doctor immediately. Diarrhea is no joke and if the cause is not addressed immediately, it can result in serious health issues.
If you are unable to poop without the assistance of laxatives, fiber supplements and a lengthy prayer to the heavens above, call your primary healthcare provider immediately and take a long walk.
If you see blood in your stool, immediately contact your doctor or go into an emergency care facility. If your stool is black, it’s another reason to call your doctor.
If your stool is oily and super stinky, decrease the fat in your diet. If this doesn’t amend the situation, again, make an appointment. My personal favorite from a client: If you’re taking large amounts of a protein supplements and your stool smells like your butt “just gave birth to death’s worst nightmare,” stop taking that protein supplement.
5. And For The Grand Finale: ACCOUNTABILITY!
What all this boils down to is accountability. Your wellbeing is your responsibility; own it.
There is a huge difference between accountability and berating yourself. If you’re doing the latter, you’re not doing the first. I personally know that when I have back pain, it means I have not been doing what I need to in order to maintain a healthy back.
That doesn’t make me lazy or stupid; it means that I need to be mindful to stretch, eat well and workout. It also means I need to set reminders in my phone and around my home to help me get back in the habit. If it is severe, I need to see my acupuncturist and massage therapist.
When you walk into your nutritionist’s office and say, “Because of my stupid doctor,” or something along those lines, all you are doing is undoing a whole lot of good. Additionally, you are demonstrating that you went into your appointment unprepared and you’re not ready to address your health issue because you are unable to own it as your own responsibility.
Tell your healthcare providers what you want and need from them. Ask them what they need of you to see the results you are seeking.
Overall, pay attention to your health. If you’re feeling less than 100 percent, it isn’t stupid to schedule an appointment to help you feel better. Those of us in the health and wellness industry are here to help you, but you have to help us help you by helping you first. See what I did there?
Photo via House