Supporting clients with Eating Disorders at Christmas:
‘Feed your business, whilst nourishing those who invest in it’
For all of us, it’s Christmas…
OH JOY TO THE WORLD!
Yet for some, it’s Christmas with an Eating Disorder…
”Get me OFF this world!”
From a personal perspective, December & January were the worst months to live with anorexia. It was when I restricted to extremes, and wholeheartedly exercised for punishment.
YOU, and your role as a fitness professional is so important, especially at this time.
So how CAN you support your clients in a fitness setting at Christmas? (Whether or not they have an Eating Disorder).
- Remind your clients this is JUST another month, in the run up to JUST another day. The more you normalise this time of year, the less pressure those with eating disorders will feel to restrict and/or exercise more.
- Be careful with your language. I always say this, but it’s even more important right now, as we’re plagued with guilt over our food choices, and pressure over movement. We can’t get away from this in many places. So make your space an extra safe one.
- Choosing to bring chocolates and Prosecco to class? DELICIOUS… but best not to pressurise or question the members of your class who CHOOSE not to consume them. This may be an eating disorder based choice, but it’s one they need to do to feel safe. Eating a single chocolate when you have an Eating Disorder can dictate and trigger your WHOLE DAY and may result in a decrease in daily overall food consumption.
To you it’s “just a chocolate at Christmas”. To them it’s so much more.
- Are others in your class upping the diet culture Christmas chat? Validate what they’re saying (we’ve ALL grown up listening and embedding this sh*t into our rhetoric) before gently reminding them this isn’t what you or your classes are about. Doing this not only helps those with ED’s. It helps ALL OF US change the ‘norm’. If more of us do this, the better chance we have of creating a NEW NORM.
- Think about the Christmas/New Year ‘offers’ you create. 12% of gym members join in January and most have gone by February. Question why this is. Movement is a gift you can offer all year, not just in the months the patriarchy tells us to. Feed your business while nourishing those that invest in it.
- If you’re worried. Concerned. Have a gut feeling you just want to…reach out. Do it! (Look out for a blog post in January delving more into this!)
A simple “Are you okay?” might be followed by a quick, sharp “Yes I’m fine”. But it might also be the 3 words someone needs to hear more than ever.
You can’t change this for them. But you can be there with them.
- Sometimes, investing in you (online and offline) won’t be about the workout. It won’t even be about the movement. It’ll be about leaving a likely tense environment at home to move with people who don’t know the pain of what’s going on. Perhaps they’ve screamed at their partner over a crumpet that morning. Or lied to their mother in despair the night before. See them. Hear them. But also just ‘be’ with them and hold that space for them.
- Go easy on yourself too. There are SO MANY possible triggers for those with ED’s it’s INEVITABLE you’ll be unsure. Trust me, you can’t get it wrong. You can only learn from the times when something doesn’t feel quite…right.
I’m so grateful you’re here. We’re so lucky to have you here!
One thing you could do for me this Christmas?
Spend the tiny time it takes you to open and eat your advent chocolate to think of one way you can create ‘safety’ for you clients this Christmas.
Thank you! From me. And from them.
*This is purely experienced based. Please refer or speak to professionals if you have concerns over a client and always remain within your professional remit.
For their safety, but also for YOURS!*