Kori L. Propst, PhD(c)
The Diet Doc Vice President & Wellness Director
“Kori, if we can back up a bit,” she said softly, “I think it’s important for you to know that I’ve spent the majority of my life covering myself up. I didn’t want anyone to see me. And I grew up with a father who was embarrassed for himself and felt guilty for giving what he had to his two daughters.”
I felt her fragmented words pulse through my chest, feeling compassion for this woman who had become so accustomed to hiding. A physical condition, expected to gnarl her hands, had simultaneously gnarled her self-assurance. She longed to be seen, and yet would not allow it.
She had contacted me for my Mental Edge – Peak Performance life coaching program—to get help with cultivating greater focus and confidence. Her goals of weight loss were encumbered with episodes of binge eating and self-sabotage. As we peeled back the layers thickened by years of protection, she expressed her desires for the following:
- to feel competent to achieve her physique and health goals successfully
- to develop her relational capacities for an increasingly authentic and meaningful marriage
- to improve her skills of self-awareness
I briefly described one broad realization I’d come to through intense self-reflection and my personal contract to engage in a lifelong improvement project: the individuals I’ve been fortunate enough to be a partner with toward unveiling the masks and secrets they’ve clutched so tightly to, are far from deficient.
In fact, they have been the most organically textured—emotionally sensitive—of anybody I’ve met. Their perceived brokenness offers a dichotomously gentle yet torturous indicator of longing for belonging and safety.
“You’ve cared deeply for yourself.” I said. “There’s strong incentive for you to do what you’re doing. You have been committed to protecting yourself from the pain of rejection for a long time.”
I could hear her voice crackle over the phone—“I’ve always looked at what I’ve been doing as something needing to be fixed. I’ve never thought about it that way…”
“You’re wearing shorts now to reveal a body you hid—your physical self is okay. Yet your emotional self continues to hide. It’s trying. But your perceptions of what might happen if you open up to its possibilities demand a refortification of the shield. The binge is that shield. If we push it back down, you can stay safe for a little while longer…”
“Yes!” she exclaimed with a new sense of energy. “When I binge, it’s like I can go so easily from off to on. Like a light switch.”
“So it sounds like we’ll be working on replacing that switch with a dimmer switch?” I smiled as she replied, “I’ve always known there was something in between…”
The way she described her reactions—the hurried, almost maniacal, instantaneous surge of energy prompting her to take immediate action—signaled the perception of a threat.
I asked her to describe what it’s like to be in her body when that happens and in vivid detail she painted a picture of a red, searing tenseness in her chest and a kinetic desire to run. Her words became rushed as she led me through her interior world. I jumped in, sharing my experience—“It’s like I want to peel the skin off my face,” I said. “It’s that intense huh.” I could feel her nodding—“Yep!”
The binge, though often related to ill-advised and rigidly constructed weight loss recommendations, is also an emotionally revelatory mechanism of protection. My client’s perceptions—her carefully yet unknowingly crafted mental framework of the world refined and reinforced by her experiences and most profoundly, her relationships—kept her paralytically stuck! Her perceptions were undergirded by fear, and her threat detectors were firing on all cylinders.
We explored the sequence that occurs when she’s upset and her husband intervenes. “He’s so supportive—he’d do anything for me,” she said. “What does he say?” I inquired. “He gives me suggestions.” I knew this would be the answer. “And what happens for you when he responds this way?” “I feel like I want to scream—usually I’ve already been through every freaking option and I don’t need that!” Again, she’s in a situation where she’s not being seen, doesn’t belong, and feels as if she needs fixing. The threat is thus perpetuated. And it’s not even her husband’s intention.
So the work began. Through the Mental Edge she was establish her growing edge! She would need to practice expressing herself in a new way, and he would need to practice being with his own sense of helplessness as he acknowledged her pain and demonstrated that he’s a safe place to land. As Robert Frost advised, she would need to “start with a big fat lump in the throat” opening up to new possibilities and redefining her restrictions. The bingeing would be beaten, but only through befriending.
Kori Propst, PhD(c), is the Wellness Director and Vice President of The Diet Doc, LLC. Licensed in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a Licensed Professional Counselor, Kori has earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology, a master of science in counseling, and is currently finishing her doctorate in health psychology and behavioral medicine. Her education is enhanced by certifications in personal training, health coaching, and lifestyle and weight-management consulting. She is an ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) clinician.
Kori specializes in a blend of coaching and therapeutic modalities, including cognitive behavioral, positive psychology, mindfulness, and strengths-based experiential techniques, all geared toward integrative self-determination. Her expertise includes physical and mental training and mind-body integration, optimal athletic performance, and overall well-being.
Published in the Journal of Nutrition and various community magazines, Kori serves on the advisory board for Oxygen Women’s Fitness magazine, is a contributing writer for UltraFitness magazine, is the managing editor of Alpha-The Evolution of Fitness, is an avid blog writer, teaches at national camps and retreats, and provides international webinars.
Kori coauthored 50 Days to Your Best Life with The Diet Doc founder, Dr. Joe Klemczewski in 2014. The new curriculum has become the foundation of The Diet Doc programming, including a sophisticated online portal resource system for clients.
Reach out to her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow her on Twitter: @dietdocglobal