At times I allude to the fact that I can (physically) be all over the place in a week but not really give any idea of what that looks like. It is not unusual for me to go from a meeting in the morning with someone at Panera, to lunch at a great salad place with another person to an afternoon meeting at Starbucks with someone else just to round off the day. My entire week does not look like that as I spend a significant amount of time on the phone, but I can have a day or two to be like that once or twice a month for sure. As crazy as that sounds, it makes for great people watching and a few great stories peppered in between.
There is a really cozy café type store that I tend to frequent a lot because it has some really good soup. The only drawback of this place is that it is a little too cozy: the seating is very close. When I meet with someone, I have zero idea of what we’re going to talk about or how it’s going to go down and it does not matter if it is the first time I’m ever going to meet with them or the thirtieth. I do not dictate the conversation, whoever I am with does. Trust me when I say there are never any awkward moments and we never run out of things to talk about but I have learned in my old age that your everyday conversation reveals more about you than any “philosophy” that I may come with trying to sound educated. If I shut up, you reveal. It works well.
However, there are times when I may ask a question or poke a stick in something that it is a loaded bee hive and you burst forth like the Hoover Dam. It is never my intention but I don’t apologize for it happening either. Clearly we needed to go there and it always ends up being worth the tissues. With that being said, I never think about the people sitting around us and I never wonder if they are paying attention to us because normally, they are not. But on this particular day, there was a woman, we’ll call her Rosy, who was very much interested in the conversation I was having with a client.
“Yes?” I said in a very warm and inviting manner (big mistake because she took me up on it).
“What do you do for a living?”
I sat there for a solid two minutes thinking…what *do* I do for a living? What in Heaven’s name would you call this? At this time I am sitting across from someone who is looking for an entire box of Kleenex, never mind just one, and I have a woman who looks like Blanche from the Golden Girls shaking me down for info. So I kind of did a soft shoe because I have no idea where she is going with this.
“I’m… an athletic coach and nutritionist… I guess. Although… I am not actively coaching right now and I do not do nutrition…in the traditional sense.” I need you to know that that sentence came out of my mouth like I just got caught nude in a car parked on Lover’s Hill or something. What was my gig? You would have thought that I had 2 kilos in my bag with me and she was the Feds. Ridiculous.
“Oh. Good to know. I knew it was something like that. I am a counselor myself and I could just tell that you were in that line of work.” She sat there smiling at me…awkwardly…for a while…anybody?
She was sitting across from an older gentleman who I think was her husband. She was decked out in the latest Lulu outfit and looked quite fit for an older woman. She was definitely in her mid sixties, I would say, and either just came from the gym or was about to head there. She went on to explain that she counseled women with eating disorders and thought what I did (I said more after I stopped feeling like I was Sharon Stone from Basic Instinct) was really interesting. Our conversation, which by the way was intermittent because in between all of this I was still sitting across from someone (!!), started out light but then it took a crazy turn and I sat there thinking to myself, “Should I ask my client to move over?”
She launched into how she loved the place but the soup had way too much sodium in it (it does not, it is all made that day on location so it is not laden with MSG or other preservatives) and how she needed to avoid sodium because it was so bad for but it was okay because she had already worked out for the day so she had sweat and a little bit of sodium would be okay but that she didn’t want to put on any weight and you know how bad sodium is and…DEEP BREATH…
Who has ever seen my blank stare? Yeah…in full effect at this point. This begs the question now, ‘Who is the client? Her? Or the people she counsels? And what does that session look like?’
Did I say anything? What?? Are you smokin’ crack?
No one is harder to counsel than other health and fitness professionals. We are on the front lines doing personal work in spite of our own personal failures. We have to look like we have it all together even though we do not…not even a little bit. The thought of opening up to someone who is your peer and saying that you need help—or better yet, even admitting you need help is pure heresy. Do not even think about it in this industry. If you want a good idea of what I am talking about, go to a personal trainer’s conference and watch everyone jockeying for position that they know more than the guy next to him. It is like crabs in a bucket each pulling the other one down to get on top (I am only referring to the participants). The saddest thing about that, though, is that every trainer needs a trainer. You cannot be good at giving advice if you suck at taking it. I have two very strong women who speak into my life weekly and I will never give them up. One of them gives me the hairy eyeball while the other gives me the silent treatment. I love it and I love them. If you help people in any capacity, make sure you are being helped yourself because you need a place to dump all of that angst. It is hard to work through everyone else’s stuff all week long and not unload some of that somewhere. Ask me, no really, pleeeaaase ask me how I know? OY!!
Tomorrow, via email, I will wrap this up so be sure to check for it. Not sure what’s coming next but I have two cooking in my brain now. Just need some titles…haha!! Woop woop!!