It’s been awhile since I shared some of my clients’ own stories. To me, fall is another reset time. Summer has ended, days are longer, and eating and activity patterns change yet again. Please note the names of these clients in addition to some identifying factors have been changed. However, the words are theirs and I am so happy to share them with you.
I started caring about my weight when I entered college freshman year. What started as a goal of keeping off the “freshman 15″ and getting on the treadmill a few days a week, turned into losing 20 pounds and running a marathon. Slowly, through college and postgraduate years, I started eating less and working out more. My thoughts became consumed with planning out what I would eat and when I would exercise. I would often turn down invitations from friends, because I had scheduled a workout and wanted to avoid any extra calories from drinks. I was completely exhausted by the planning and restrictions I had put on myself. My parents saw how unhappy I was, and suggested I start working with a psychologist.
My counselor suggested I visit a nutritionist, which I hesitantly agreed to. My first nutritionist was not Robyn. I left that first meeting in tears, after being told that I was malnourished, I would likely never be able to have children, and I had put myself at high risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. I was given a huge list of foods to add to my diet. I felt completely overwhelmed. Needless to say, we stopped meeting after a few visits.
Months later, I was still constantly thinking about food, running every day, and struggled to gain any weight. That’s when I decided to start working with Robyn. During our first meeting, we talked about my past, my feelings towards food, and what I was nervous about. I didn’t get weighed. I left the meeting with three concrete things to work on for the week – one of which included going to yoga. Robyn and I met every week for months, and each week I would get a few new foods to try. It was always dictated by what I was comfortable with, where I thought I could add new foods to my diet. We talked about non-food issues too, like the anxiety I had over buying new clothes and who I should go to the mall with to buy them.
Throughout my work with Robyn, I’ve become much more comfortable with foods that I completely restricted before. I’ve also cut back on my over-exercising. I’ve worked on allowing myself the freedom to eat when I’m hungry, as opposed to my strict meal times. We’ve worked on becoming more intuitive with my exercise, and being comfortable with not working out every day. I’ve even skipped planned work out days for happy hour with my friends.
Robyn’s approach looked at my health holistically, and has helped me slowly relieve the burden of my eating and exercising disorder. I have a new found energy, without the burden of always thinking about when I would get my next run in. While I am still on the road to recovery, I’m so thankful for Robyn’s help in learning how to trust myself and my body.
Thankfully, I found my way into the capable and patient hands of Robyn Kievit Kirkman in April 2015. With an eating disorder that started in 1985, it took me 30 years to get to her and it has been an interesting journey to say the least.
It started with bulimia at the end of my first semester, during my freshman year of college. I think it may have been an idea I got after watching a movie on TV. I had gained 15-20 lbs in the first 2 months of school, broken up with my high school sweetheart, been abandoned by my parents, and was in way over my head in financial debt…It was probably the only thing I had control of at the time.
I found out later that my mother made some attempt for me in “getting help”, but was told there was nothing she could do because I was 18. Somehow having a conversation with me was never a thought she entertained. Thankfully she and I are reconciling our relationship but it took awhile to get there.
My eating disorder evolved over the course of the years to include restricting, excessive exercise, and bingeing and purging. At various points in time I was significantly underweight but it seemed to be around the time when “heroine thin” was chic so my appearance was acceptable.
I had been in therapy for many years never divulging my eating disorder, and no, they didn’t figure it out. I had become very adept at hiding my secret which also included a progressively worsening dependent relationship with alcohol. I did not actually become abstinent from alcohol until November 2015.
I cannot say enough about how grateful I am to have found Robyn as she seemed to understand that my path would be more of a tip toe…a gentle testing of the waters. I was probably the least compliant client when it came to documenting my meals, using Recovery Record. Robyn understood that I needed to take baby steps at first, only eating fat free foods for a while before incorporating fat into my diet. I suspect that she may have known that I was struggling with the accepting, and more importantly, trusting that what she was saying was going to be true about the meal plan, my body’s ability to consume “that much” food, to not lose control of how my body would look or function. I never doubted that she was very knowledgeable and skilled at her profession it just took me time and a little longer to accept it.
Robyn graciously spent a fair amount of time talking about my concerns about bowel habits. She was also extremely patient with my negotiations about goal weight and again waiting for me to catch up with her in acceptance.
It was only within the last year that I finally took a leap of faith and fully embraced working with Robyn on my recovery. I am learning how to think like a healthy eater, understand portions and find “the joy of cooking”. I am still working on the goal to incorporate yoga into my life, but it’ll happen.
Most importantly, I just recently moved into my own apartment after having lived with family for the last two years after hitting bottom. Robyn has been instrumental in helping me to mentally prepare for living on my own and now helping me to set up my new kitchen. It is my first time living alone as a person in recovery. This week I boiled eggs, next week, who knows, maybe I’ll cook a chicken!
I have a lot of work ahead of me but look forward to working with Robyn to continue to evolve into the healthy individual I aspire to be. She is an incredibly gifted healthcare provider and I am honored to work with her.
I sought Robyn’s help because I could not figure out how could I be doing everything “right” and still be so “wrong”. By that I mean that I thought I was eating well but still not losing weight. Why was I stuck?
This is where my journey began.
Robyn helped me untangle my thoughts so that I became more clear and focused and so my behavior and nutritional desires and activities became more clear and focused and aligned.
In our meetings, we talk about me and my thoughts and my needs. We do not talk about a plan and then judge me on how I did on the plan. Robyn’s approach is very freeing. There is no perfect plan that I am following, so there is no cheating. Robyn has cleared my mind of all the “good and bad” self-talk and we just think about and discuss what I need and how I can approach nourishing myself to be healthy and active in a way that suits me.
Robyn creates a safe, calm, focused, clear environment for me to connect with myself and my ability to nourish my body. There is no perfect way, just my way. This is working for me!
I am working daily on feeling more connected to my nutrition and that is very empowering. I do not want to go back to “cheating” or lying to myself about my own behavior. I have become much more connected to my thoughts and therefore my behavior. It no longer makes sense for me to sabotage myself.
I want to be healthy, so my all my actions are aligned with that goal. I feel very supported by Robyn on this journey. She always tells me that I am the one doing the work. Robyn has helped me to clarify my thoughts and create my own nutrition goals and activities to create the way of living that I desire. I feel empowered to do just that everyday.
The above stories are so clear on the mentoring approach each of these amazing clients have been working on in our work together. Just today, I got 3 hugs from clients. Three women I worked with (not the 3 who wrote their story above!) asked if they could give me a hug at the end of our sessions and of course I obliged.
Please remember that each client I work with usually has a team of clinicians working with them and their work is not universally from one provider. I absolutely love what I do and it’s not about counting grams of this or that – although we do talk a lot about nutrition science and how this affects us. It’s about empowering the body and mind while practicing the best nutrition possible – individually. Once we are attuned to our minds, bodies, and bellies, the rest will follow.