3. Self image issues
Body image issues are possibly expected, but there is the bigger issues of self image problems – more all-encompassing negative self-beliefs that underpin everything. These might be more related to feeling like a failure, shame about laziness, feeling stupid or embarrassed or not good enough. It is inspiring to see more on Crossfit forums and online magazines about poor body image. While many have started to turn around their self image by finding acceptance of flaws and happiness in ability rather than appearance, this is still a huge mental leap to make for an overweight member. They can do it and the box can be great place to get the support and encouragement along the way. But it can also make overweight individuals feel their insecurities more acutely as they compare their physique to that of those around them.
Source: CrossFit Inc
As a coach, you might think it’s admirable that the larger, less fit member is struggling along 5 minutes after all the shirtless, sweaty muscle lumps have finished. But that member might feel intensely ashamed and self conscious. If you are that member, you can grow through this by keeping consistent, congratulating yourself for small improvements and remembering that everyone had to start somewhere.
As a coach, reinforce these ideas and be sensitive to how it might feel being biggest or last.
4. Have you found the right help? Relationships and weight loss
No change happens in a vacuum. People that want to lose weight will have to find supportive relationships, learn how to communicate their needs to those around them and probably become more assertive along the way. In work with overweight clients, I am almost always struck by poor food choices being about a person getting what they want, even in cases where they can t get what they need. Although there is undoubtedly physical, biological and genetic factors that can affect weight gain, these alone do not determine whether someone will suffer with obesity.
Their environment has a vital role to play. And when people cannot get what they need from the environment in terms of support/safety/love they settle for what makes them feel at least a little better, even if that ultimately contributes to the problem. Once food related behaviour is examined carefully, we often find food serves a bigger role than providing nutrients and keeping hunger at bay. It becomes a comfort, a friend, a barrier to expressing anger and disappointment, a safety zone, a hit of good feeling amongst a world of bad.
If you are on a weight loss journey or coaching someone who is, it will be worth it to understand that for food to begin filling its natural role, other strategies will need to be developed to provide the soothing and safety that food has in the past. This often translates into better communication skills, taking risks in asking for what is needed and being willing to face conflict. The community of Crossfit can either be an ideal place to start, or a terrifying barrier. As a weight loss member, you might feel turned off by the frank measurements of ability, comparisons and competition that are essential in Crossfit.
You might want to hide from these. Or you might find that your coach’s feedback and critique stings. You might resist asking for help on technique for fear of looking bad. If you can tackle your anxieties and face these aspects of Crossfit, they can eventually become your greatest strength – being able to honestly track your progress, ask for appropriate support along the way and not shy away from disappointments or failures. As a coach, being aware that more is going on behind the scenes, and that honest feedback should be balanced with warmth to keep this person engaged.