By Coach Sean Coote
I get it, there must be a voice in the back of your mind. “Coach you’ve never experienced the days of not fitting into clothes, not wanting to go out in public because you feel ridiculed, being judged day in and day out and of course hating yourself on and off for years. You’d be right when it comes to battles with weight loss. I’ve never really faced any of these insecurities or had issues with being overweight. Although you could argue that comes as a reward for a lifetime of constant sport, training and movement, eating relatively healthy and perhaps good genetics. I could also argue that I’ve had to deal with other complexes like being the skinny kid and constantly trying to break that mold. I would understand if you don’t think the two are comparable and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve gone through nothing close to the ridicule some of my clients have experienced just for being overweight. But my inner battles really had nothing to do with weight or body image from the position of body composition but they had every bit of an effect on my self-esteem, confidence and mindset for many years.
I battled skin issues of various kinds for many years. Of course in comparison to other peoples skin issues mine wouldn’t have been considered as severe. But to me it was soul destroying, and to me it was something that held me back from different life experiences and enjoying the younger years of my life. There were many times I would make up excuses to get out of going to a social function, draw back in disgust at a picture taken or catching a glimpse in the mirror, or how deep it would cut me if someone ever made a comment. I can vividly remember someone who hadn’t seen me for a while saying, “bro what happened to your skin? You never used to have so many pimples.” That person didn’t know it then but that cut me to the core. They may as well have said to me, “shit mate when did you get so ugly?!” I was gutted to say the least and I felt helpless. Over the years I tried just about anything I could with varying degrees of success. It just didn’t make sense to me. I was healthy in every sense of the word. I ate super strict, trained consistently, washed my face with natural products, kept good hygiene, slept well, read multiple books on the topic, supplemented my diet, and still I was faced with a wave of new pimples day to day, faced with the shame and disappointment. I suppose you could say the deep feeling of not being loved, or feeling like I’d be rejected for my looks, was driving most of the decisions in my life. Most people saw me as the “health freak” but really I was using my willpower to battle something I felt I had no control over. I blamed everything in my life and looked for a solution in multiple fields. “It’s the sugar, the dairy and the gluten, it’s my gut bacteria – I need to re-build my gut – it’s the materials I wear (I used to suffer from bad skin rashes that would leave my skin pigments discoloured, the irony was I couldn’t even take solace in the fact I had a six pack), it’s my sleep quality, I’m low in zinc, magnesium, maybe vitamin d3, maybe I should try this skin cream or that lotion, maybe I’m too stressed” (well duh). But how do I begin to change that? The list went on. I even got to a point where I went completely against everything I believed in and got antibiotics from my doctor. He seemed surprised that I’d even ask but to me the feelings were very real.
It wasn’t until I started to work on myself that I truly started to see changes, and ironically, I would say what seemed like the worst thing in the world turned out to be the very thing that lead me down the path to the person I am today. I learnt a valuable lesson in the true meaning of self-love, not from the arrogant or self-serving stand point but from the selfless appreciation of acceptance of the self. Soon to be a Dad myself, a good way I would think to explain it would be if your baby had a blemish on its face, or a bit of baby fat, you wouldn’t love your baby any less, feel any hate towards it or want to trade it in, and yet this is what people void of self-love do to themselves every single day. The skin in my case or the weight loss in yours is the symptom, but the cause runs a lot deeper. Maybe it was your upbringing in the period where you tend to set all beliefs and patterns (up to 7 years old), maybe you were faced with a life changing experience that set off a series of events to create the thought pattern you have today, maybe the limiting belief of a friend or family member became your own over time. Whatever the reason, the true fix is to face up to yourself daily and state, “I am 100% ok with who I am today and tomorrow, I am not my past and I love me”. As cheesy as this may sound, it is the ultimate truth when trying to make life change. Because the truth? My skin clearing up would not have filled the void left open by my lack of self-love, my feeling of not being good enough and craving acceptance from others. I would have had something else show up in my body or moved on to a new obsession with a new goal. Realising that when I got there, there was… Nothing (how many can relate to this?!). That is how depression, sickness and illness is born. It starts first in the mind, in the damage we do in every thought, action and moment.
Am I saying it’s an easy fix? Not for a second. Is someone going to come down from above and liberate me from every bad feeling or emotion I’ve ever had towards myself? Highly unlikely but I’m an optimist! That issue that you so desperately want to fix to change your life will not be changed by a magic pill or finding the instant solution, because it started and still runs through you, you are driving the bus here. There will always be something else, and there will always be that empty feeling at the end of the goal. Could I live the rest of my life loving myself regardless of whether I had these skin issues forever? That was the life changing decision we all have to make at some point if we’re to move forward, acceptance irrespective of flaws.
So what I’m getting at is this, I’ve felt the pain, I’ve felt the helpless feelings and at times the ridicule. And the truth is I was the root cause of it all. That doesn’t come from dishing out the blame but by facing up and accepting responsibility. I’m sure most people who knew me in my younger years wouldn’t even be aware of the effect it had on me or even that there was a problem. Perception after all is in the eye of the beholder and I could have saved myself a lot of painful years by learning these lessons earlier on. Nonetheless they were lessons that I had to learn to get to where I was going and to help others out of similar positions, albeit it with different struggles. These days I’m lucky to get a pimple on my body once a month (and I say lucky because bloody hell we all have to admit how satisfying it is when you pop a good one) and when it happens I feel no shame and no hate. If anything I take it as another reminder to always be my own number one fan because no one can love you as well as you can love yourself. Our partners, friends and family can certainly help but at the end of the day their love of you will fall on deaf ears if it’s not accepted and welcomed.
It’s not easy being transparent or vulnerable. I’ve very rarely spoken about this, but after my beautiful girlfriend posted recently on her battles with PTSD I felt an unwavering drive to put my story out there to hopefully help others overcome their own demons and save themselves a lot of years of emptiness and doubt. My door is always open to anyone who can’t understand why they’ve been dealt a card or can’t overcome a challenge. Just remember, that whatever you’re going through and whatever solution is presented, it will be ineffective if it doesn’t start first with you.