Help me be comfortable with getting a coach
November 22, 2021 1:34 PM   Subscribe

I've developed the capacity to self-teach a wide variety of skills, but I'm reaching the point where I might benefit from hiring a coach in specific domains. I'm looking for advice on how to handle that from a psychological perspective.

My resistance probably stems from two areas. First, I have the ability to get a good baseline of knowledge on my own, so I often find that I'm not learning something new from a coach, especially early on.

As an example: I wanted to improve my weight and so met with a registered dietician. In my first session, the dietician was amazed that I was tracking my calories and macros and didn't have any productive suggestions for my eating challenges. That kind of experience has happened a lot, which makes me feel like hiring a coach is wasted money.

A second source of resistance is related to my ability to self-teach. There's a part of me that insists that I could figure it out myself with enough effort. While I know that the right coach can probably get me there easier, I still struggle with thinking that hiring a coach is a copout.

So - how can I overcome these concerns and be more open to investing in finding the right coach for me? The top areas I think about relate to dieting, strength training, and meditation.
posted by philosophygeek to Health & Fitness (4 answers total)
What if your coach isn't your teacher, but your collaborator/encourager/more experienced guide? It sounds like you don't need a coach for the 101 education about whatever the coaching relationship addresses, but maybe having someone to support you, talk about X topic with, give you expert tips, might still be beneficial. Far from being a copout, that kind of support could give you a valuable second perspective.
posted by epj at 1:42 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]

I notice in your post that you're very focused on information and kind of smartness, which is fine - the dietician story reminds me of a dietician story and I feel your pain.

However, you don't hire a coach to necessarily be smarter than you. And they should have expertise in their field but they don't have to have more information than you in any one specific area of that field. What they do need to do is help you get results.

So when you're interviewing your next coach, ask them what they will do to help you get results. If they say "give you a sheet on the food pyramid and a calorie counter," don't hire them. If they talk about how they or their program or the way you interact with them helps motivate and track progress, then keep talking. If you don't know what your goals should be that's okay, but you need to have some.

The best coach I had was really not smarter than me, but she was way fitter. She sometimes didn't arrive on time and she gave me some wellness bullshit about diet. The exercises she showed me were pretty basic - lunges, squats, curls, etc.

But she gave me what I actually needed most - an ability to be comfortable in a gym full - FULL - of Real Fitness People and still complete my own Not Fit workout. That's helped me so much since then.

Then at a certain point I needed more/different so I moved on to another situation and coach and that's okay too.
posted by warriorqueen at 1:47 PM on November 22 [7 favorites]

I would look for a qualified life coach (or similar) who specialises in diet, wellness, or fitness. The reason for this is that a person with a coaching certification has the training and experience to understand their primary role is to advance your thinking, NOT to do your thinking for you or tell you what to do. A coach should be listening, observing, reflecting back and challenging your thinking. Like any service professional, it might take a while to find a good fit for you.

That said, it sounds like what you may actually be after is more like a trainer or mentor—someone who will tell you something you don’t already know and share their expertise, make recommendations, give advice. This is fundamentally NOT what coaches do.

Regardless, I’d get specific about what you want (or be open to exploring different approaches) and ask whoever you’re considering about their style, method, what they will or won’t do for you. Plus what someone said above about outcomes.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:05 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]

I took about a dozen lessons from a good bass teacher, after a few decades of being self-taught. It was a great experience but somewhat difficult psychologically, because it confronted me with the extent to which I was deluded about having mastered fundamentals and certain other things. It can be a little jarring to go from everyone telling you you are real good to paying someone to tell you you have serious problems. The first thing he had me do was play him something conceptually simple (I VI ii V) blues turnaround, only roots with approach tones) , but with as many variations as I could, within certain limitations (stay in one position) and I was.....not so good at it. Some of that was me choking, but not really that much.

The other big thing that was sort of a blow to my self-image, formed in childhood, as a super smart person who can learn anything themselves, is that almost of what I thought was me practicing bass wasn't. It was goofing around in my comfort zone, reinforcing stuff I could do well and neglecting things I can't do well. Practicing is hard work and not too much fun, it's finding your weaknesses and isolating them and slowly improving them.

So the psychological part of it got kind of heavy for me. Being confronted with how not objective I was about my level as a player made me ask how many other pursuits that I have engaged in are also in the same state. How much my pride in my audodidactitude was pretty much just vanity or even narcissism. How much time and effort I wasted by not getting a good teacher when I was young.

Not promulgating that as what to expect - just my experience.
posted by thelonius at 6:03 PM on November 22 [5 favorites]

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