Inspiring Women Spring 2018


Sport & Fitness-Antidotes to Life’s Challenges


Through my life coaching practice, I have worked closely with

people who have used sport and fitness as motors for moving

through their challenges. To be clear, I am not talking here about

athletic challenges. Rather, I am talking about moving through the

life challenges of loss, abuse, and doubt – in other words,

emotional suffering. Suffering is part of the human experience, and

moving through it means you are alive. Indeed, every life begins

with the physical suffering experienced in the birth canal.

A life coach accompanies a person as they move from where they

are to where they want to be. As a result of a decade of

coaching, my heart is filled with my clients’ inspiring journeys. I can

rattle off the names of people who used sport and fitness to help

them move forward: among them are Simon, Joanne, Pamela,

Alice, and Peter.

Simon and body building

When Simon was a skinny 14 year old who required extra time for his tests at school, he spent

more than a little time angry and insecure because of the disrespect certain kids showed him,

some of whom were big and strong. He decided to take things into his own hands. His body

building started simply enough a few times a week in his bedroom with 20 push-ups, 20 sit-ups, 10

pull-ups, and an arm work-out using his mother’s one kilogram free weights. Steadily his muscle

mass increased. Simon’s mother would find him in front of the mirror flexing his muscles, and soon

enough his classmates noticed. At 16, his work-out includes 150 push-ups with handles, 50 sit-ups,

and 60 pull-ups. He has moved from 1 to 2 to 5 kilogram free weights. His doctor recently

embarrassed him by mentioning his tres joli buste. When he is disrespected at school it doesn’t

bother him like it used to. Simon built more than his body and the ability to throw a mean punch,

if needed. By sticking to a demanding fitness program, he proved to himself that he is selfdisciplined

and courageous, and that has built his self-esteem.

Joanne and yoga

At 39 years old, Joanne was still

suffering from an event that had

occurred almost three decades

earlier. Upon her father’s sudden

death, her mother “checked out” of

life. Joanne became a dutiful little

soldier, taking care of herself from the

time she was 11, and doing her best to

comfort her mother. She repeated the

pattern by marrying an alcoholic; until

she left him. With a new stable

husband, Joanne became a mother,

and it was then that the little soldier started to fall apart. She had always thought of herself as

resilient, but now the anxiety wouldn’t stop. Motherhood made it impossible not to

acknowledge that she had never come to terms with her own mother’s neglect. When Joanne

was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, her doctor suggested that she practice yoga.

Among other benefits, yoga can reduce levels of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress and

linked to auto-immune disease. Joanne followed her advice. At the start, her balance was so

poor that she could hold the tree pose for a mere 10 seconds. Her strength was at a low point,

and her body was inflexible from years of physical inactivity. Nonetheless, she persevered. In

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