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Thoughts from the Bariatric Community?!?

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Good morning Bariatric Pal Community…

I am writing this post to take a poll of sorts. A little background: I am 43 years old and 2.5 years post op; maintaining healthy eating and fitness habits. I am also training for my first Ironman Triathlon in September- how cool is that?!? Three years ago when I was 360 lbs, I never would have conceived the possibility of a triathlon.

Anyway, the cool benefit of making all these positive changes is it has me thinking about different options professionally. I have a successful career currently but to be honest my heart just isn’t in it anymore. My real passion is health and fitness. Which brings me to this post…

I am thinking about becoming a Fitness Coach/Life Coach geared towards the bariatric community. I would like feedback on the following questions:

1. In your journey, do you think having a coach would be helpful?
2. If so, would working with someone who has been in your shoes provide a credible perspective?
3. Would you be willing to engage with a coach virtually if in-person wasn’t an option?
4. What would you expect from a coach?

Thanks in advance for your help!

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I think this is incredibly useful--I would love to have had someone who's "been there" to talk to. I often find I am having to educate non-bariatric medical professionals about the issues I have (including therapists). Especially when it comes to mental health providers, it's important that they understand that some of the things we deal with are "normal" or "expected" and aren't, for instance, a symptom of an eating disorder.

You also get to a point where sharing your wins or revealing your struggles is hard to explain to your well-meaning family and friends. If they struggle with their weight, your wins can feel like bragging, and they often can't understand how difficult, truly, it can be to have your entire body change that quickly, and you get met with "but you're skinny now! What's the problem?"...having a life coach who has been through the process would make you feel a lot less normal and a lot less alone!

I feel like I see stories quite often from people who are unhappy with the advice or attitude of their dietitian and my opinion is that many of the dietitians people are having issues with don't understand our situation fully. Many of them have never struggled with their weight (and being a life-long healthy eater would certainly entice someone to enter that field, so it's understandable). It would be nice to be able to speak to someone who knows where the landmines for our unique metabolism and capacities are. Especially for those of us who haven't had the greatest examples of what a healthy relationship with food looks like, we need direction and support, not judgement, and you are in a unique position to provide just that.

I think most people would welcome being able to meet online.

I would have really wanted early in my journey someone I could check in with once a month, etc, about what I'm experiencing.

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As a business I would try to be more open to all people who would like a coach. I might have wanted a trainer but never could have afforded one. My observation in the US is that the poor are generally obese, and the wealthy are generally at a healthy weight. I know it’s not always true, just my observation.

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You will need a bachelor's degree or higher if you want to bill client's insurance. Otherwise, they will have to pay out of pocket. I have a friend who is a licensed health/fitness coach and does quite well without the degree. She used to be obese, and I believe someone who's been there/done that are just more relatable. When I told her I decided to get RNY she was supportive and even wrote a letter of recommendation to my bariatric team stating I had been through her program for a few years with moderate success. Showing them, I had been proactive but needed medical intervention.

My bariatric nutritionist is a bit robotic. Like reading off a script, going through the steps. If you stop her to ask a question, she seems annoyed especially if she doesn't have an answer. LOL Then goes right back to her script. But it's OK. And I would be willing to Facetime her since I drive almost 2 hrs. for appointments. But I make all mine on same day with Doc, nurse, Nut etc. I have a great doctor so it's worth the drive.

Good luck and I say go for it. It's a worthy goal, will help keep you on track and is rewarding. Many moons ago, I was a personal trainer, and it was a great job but I quit to help take care of my Mother after a stroke. I guess that was the point I quit taking care of me....

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Yes, I think a coach could be helpful. I know there are a lot of people who go to foreign countries to have surgery and they have no professional support when they get home. Personally, I have a pretty great bariatric team, so I already have a coach. But, I can definitely see where other people would find that kind of service useful.

You're probably going to need to go to school.

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Thank you all for the insightful responses. To be clear- I understand more education will be involved. I actually have already looked into a few programs that would provide me the certifications for personal training, nutrition counseling, etc. I am in the US but would happily help folks in other countries as long as schedules could align. I will would also open my doors to all types of folks not just the Bariatric Surgery community (but my passion is geared towards the BS community).

Thanks again.

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