Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What Are YOU Hoarding?

“Obsession gives you a plane ticket away from a situation that’s giving us heartbreak.”     
Geneen Roth

I must make a confession:  While the only “reality TV” I’ve admitted to following very closely is The Amazing Race, lately I’ve developed a fixation with Hoarders:  Buried Alive on TLC.  I haven’t quite figured out the regular airing schedule, but on certain nights of the week you can watch back-to-back episodes for hours on end.  I must carefully monitor my watching, however, or I find myself in all out anti-hoarding-mode for a few days afterward (I’ve never been that into keeping stuff, but these days, I am even more pared down thanks to my recent down-sizing from a 4+ bedroom home in the suburbs to a 2 bedroom city condo…), sometimes to my husband’s concern…  He’s taken to encouraging me to limit my Hoarders in-take to no more than two episodes at a time and then shows me closets and the pantry to prove that WE do not have 15 jars of expired spaghetti sauce or 50 pairs of flip flops or several hundred rolls of toilet paper filling our spare shower stall…

Thanks to something I heard on a re-airing of an Oprah segment, I’ve been thinking a lot about the similarities between hoarding and habitually eating poorly (ie:  overeating and/or eating unhealthy foods in excess).  People in both camps have great logic and arguments about why their excess is perfectly logical – in the case of hoarding one might say it’s “because we never had anything when I was a kid.  We just don’t throw perfectly good things away!” or with the overeater:  “I was never allowed to eat this or that when I was a kid.  I don’t want to feel deprived/I deserve this.”  Yet, when pressed, both groups can trace “The Beginning” of their condition to a particular event or period of time they are often trying to avoid, but even sometimes trying to recreate.  Burying or pacifying the emotions of a particular time with stuff – whether food or excessive weight or poor health – is a great distraction from the realities of life, but no matter how justified someone may be, these distractions FROM life are always a detraction OF life.  They don’t ever enhance.

On the Oprah show, this guy who specializes in working with hoarders said that it really does no good to argue with a person about why they don’t need 2-dozen plastic pint-sized berry crates or bags and bags of little gifts for their grandchildren.  They’ve got their justifications down to a science, otherwise, how could they live with themselves if they truly admitted that their “collections” made no sense.  What does break through the hoarding haze, he explained, is focusing on the “big picture” by asking the person what they envisioned their home to truly be in terms of how they would want it to nurture themselves and the people they loved – what kind of environment would make that happen.  Never did he have anyone say that they envisioned their “perfect” home being stacked full of junk with only narrow walkways to navigate from room to room, or stacks of papers and magazines falling over at every turn. 
After seeing the “big picture” it is then easier to get people to be willing to part with years – sometimes decades – of accumulation.  They had adjusted their perspective (as well as benefited from some form of counseling/coaching throughout the process).  Their condition was not really about the things, it was about something else, something bigger.  By telling someone to stop buying things would not conquer the craving – that need - coming from a deeper spot.

The same can be said for the excessively unhealthy eaters.  It won’t do any good to argue the merits of eating fruits and vegetables when met with the response, “I just don’t like fruit and vegetables.  I won’t eat them.”  They’ve got their argument.  It does not do any good to address the thing that they’ve used as an explanation to themselves about why they’ve gotten into the condition they are in.  If it were not an iron-clad argument, they would not be able to keep believing it for years or even decades.  Instead, it might be helpful to ask how they envision their own ability to nurture themselves and those they love for years to come, and how they might make that happen versus how they are detracting from that by the way they are caring for themselves.  Rarely do I imagine anyone saying, “I envision ending up with Type-2 diabetes, going blind and getting my right foot amputated after having someone care for open wounds on it, to no avail for three years…” or “I imagine not being able to fit into an airplane seat, so that I can’t visit my grandchildren or participate in any meaningful family events.”  Addressing an over-consumption of fast food or a craving for ice cream won’t conquer the cravings that are coming from a deeper spot, but looking at the “big picture” and how to get their from here just might.

I’ve seen some amazing breakthroughs with clients in my holistic health coaching sessions when they finely see their “big picture”.  The holistic approach looks beyond the fat grams and calorie counts.  Rarely is there any measuring out serving-sizes.   Rather, we examine the why’s of how you are caring (or not caring) for your body.  No one has to resign themselves to a life of overeating, low energy levels and poor health.  It is not “just the way it is”…

If you are curious about looking deeper into your quality of life, relationships and interactions in your future, contact me for a free breakthrough! session.  For the rest of the month of August, I’ll be offering these sessions for free.  During this session you will have the opportunity to examine your current health habits and set some health goals.  I can offer some simple steps to get you pointed toward the path of increased wellness and a fuller life.  This is also a great opportunity for you to experience my coaching style and see what it would be like to work with your very own health coach.  Recently, after one of these sessions, a new client actually lost 6 lbs in 10 days simply by making a few changes in the way they’ve been eating!

Contact me today to set up your free breakthrough! session - elly@elementalfit.com.

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