In this episode of the Happiness Hive Podcast, Catherine chats with coach and online educator for emotional eaters, Kim Stevenson Farmakis. Using her Empowered Eating method, Kim helps clients to get off the dieting merry-go-round, by diving deep into the root cause of binging not just band-aiding it with another diet. Listen as this recent gold medallist at the IPL World Powerlifting Championships shares many tools and strategies to succeed and create your dream life.
In this episode you’ll also hear:
– what the major things are that lead people to becoming emotional eaters
– the importance of journaling for self-healing
– how Kim broke generational trauma and live a life she totally loves
– the pattern interrupter you can use to overcome binge eating
– the vital role cortisol plays in shifting weight for women… and so much more!
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Connect with Catherine here:
Connect with Kim Stevenson Farmakis here:
Empowered Eating the book
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This podcast is produced by Nikki O’Brien from Quintessential Being
today I'm chatting with Kim Stevenson for markers. And I've only just met him. And the week or two ago
at a dinner that was organised by a mutual friend of ours, the gorgeous Grace Costa. And I just struck
an instant connection with Kim. I got to sit next to Kim and I want to know all about how she does life.
But I want to know how she helps her clients do life as well. And just a really quick little intro, Kim has
an interesting story. And we didn't have enough time at dinner to find out about it. But Kim's first time
mum at 38 years of age, she's a recent gold medalist at the IPL world Powerlifting Championships. And
this is the bit I really want to dive into deeply with is coaching to emotional eaters who seem to just find
it really tricky to get off that dieting merry go round. So I can't wait to dive in. Tim, how are you?
Welcome. I'm good. Thank you. Thank you, Catherine. I love talking about this kind of stuff. So as you
guessed it, you know, we just clicked about just everything and we get passionate about and then we
got so engrossed in conversation. It was wonderful. I really enjoyed it. So thank you. And then I was
received your invite to come on your podcast, and I thought that was amazing. So thank you. Thank
Yeah, I love connecting. I really love connecting, like I love connecting with all women, and I am
genuinely intrigued as to how they do life. And you're super, super intrigued as you do. So I'm going to
quickly dive in. What was it like being a first time mom 38.
So I grew up in an area where most of my friends had kids really, really early in life. And I knew for me,
really at the beginning, I didn't want to have kids because I had gone through a lot of childhood trauma.
And for me, it was all how can I raise a child if I've got all these unresolvable behaviours and habits and
like binge drinking, binge eating, partying, just really, really unresolvable habits. And it was just a train
wreck. And then I started into the self development world, I got a therapist, I dealt with a lot of that
childhood stuff that was causing all that unresolvable behaviour. And I'm like, Oh, I'm okay. And I can
actually have children. And I'm not going to repeat those behaviours and patterns. And, like domestic
violence was part of the cycle. My grandmother, my mother, and I was very adamant, I was gonna
break that cycle. But also through that process, I picked up those unresolvable behaviours and
thoughts and beliefs. So when I actually dealt with all that, it was like a weight had been lifted and was
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like, I'm going to be an okay, Mom, I am going to be an okay mom, I can do this. And then, long story
short, I went on 49 different dates to find my husband, because I was very particular, having gone
through all that childhood trauma was, how do I find the right man to be the father of my child. And that
was really, really important to me. morals and values and standing. So I, after putting down dates,
found my husband, and we married in 2019. And had Natasha in 2020.
Oh, my gosh, I love hearing that I love. I want to wine back a little bit. Absolutely. Do you recall what the
impetus was? Like you knew you didn't want to repeat the cycle of what you had experienced in life?
Do you recall back to what some of that decisions were for you what the decisions were to say, I don't
want to live life like this anymore? Or was it as simple as going I don't want to live life like that anymore.
It was actually I did have one particular first boyfriend, you know, when you're young, you're a teenager.
And you have, I had a real anger problem. And I'd gone off with a friend and he'd got really jealous. And
he lashed out. And I'm like, No, I know this pattern of behaviour. I am not doing this. So for me, I was
able to identify the patterns because I've lived it. And I'd already at a young age, knowing that I wanted
something more. And that's why I left the Sunshine Coast, which is a tiny little town of Noosa where I
grew up, beautiful seaside town and great holiday spot, but not somewhere if you want to future and if
you want to grow out of your current work like home environment and go for work that's beyond
hospitality and nothing wrong with hospitality. I did it for many years. But I wanted something more and
I've always had that something inside me that wants more and after obviously I do a lot of self
analyzation and looking at all my stuff. Part of that had come from not having a biological father around
me. He left when I was two and I had this I'm not enoughness so part of that was awesome. Oh always
chasing the next promotion. So I moved out to Ola row when I was 20. And I started as a housekeeper,
which is quite low on the pecking order. And I finished as a supervisor, because I was always chasing
the next big thing. What is the next big goal that's going to fulfil me? Because I didn't feel like I was
enough myself. Now when I chase big goals, it's just to make me happy not to fulfil this, oh, I'm not
worthy. I'm not good enough feeling. I don't need all the accolades to go I am enough. I now adult
because I want to win because I love to. And also to show Natasha what's possible as well, like two
years postpartum, I'm up on the world stage powerlifting and coming away with gold. So when I tell my
little daughter that she can have be do anything that she wants to do, I lead by example, because kids
actually listened to your voice, but they listen much, much closer to your actions and what you actually
do. So for me to go, Yeah, I love you. You're very important. But mommy's training is also important.
She comes along with me. And I lead by example. And I really want to instal that in a lot of my clients,
and those that are listening to you that if you have young children, or teenage children, even, they're
the ones listening and watching, and they are watching every single thing that you do. So if you're
going to chase your dreams, you're going to lead by example for them to be able to do the same thing.
I 100%. Agree. 100% agree. And it sounds like it's interesting that, you know, not having a biological
father present when you were being able to identify what some of the patterns and maybe the reasons
for those patterns. Sometimes we it's a bit tricky to identify what the actual reason is that when we look
at what the pattern is, and is that resourceful? Or is it unreasonable, or like, place bad,
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and a lot of your listeners probably can relate to that like workaholism, and driving Driving driving so
hard in their work environment to go after the next promotion, or whatever it is, that it's to the point of
burnout, because they're fulfilling that need to be loved and accepted. And I was having a coaching call
with one of my clients. And she was at that burnout stage. And through all of our work, she realised, I'm
actually still chasing that masculine approval. And it just so happens that my boss is masculine is male,
that all this workaholism is actually derived from that need, we need to go fix that now. And then we
obviously went on that tangent with her coaching. So I just thought I'd share that in case some of your
listeners can relate.
Yeah. Without a doubt, I'm sure there's a lot of them that will relate. And it's for me, it's about knowing
what your why is, why are you doing something. So what you said before is it's you still have goals, you
still work hard, but the reasoning for it or the intention, the why behind it is now different. It's not about
proving yourself. It's not about external. It's not external. It's not about getting validation from others. It's
about doing it for you. And I love love that so much. Love that so much. I'm going to also just you
mentioned about you went on 49 dates, did you have a criteria for what you wanted in a partner.
And this may sound fickle to some people. I didn't want someone with kids that didn't smoke didn't
drink. Christian faith was important to me, and must be driven. They must train in some capacity,
because my highest value at that stage was health and fitness. I'm not going to mesh that well or live
my lifestyle or life with someone that doesn't value health and fitness. My partner, he doesn't train in a
gym, he trains at home, we've got an amazing home gym, and is committed to training. It doesn't have
to be an elite level athlete. Yeah, it's all about just eating well, because that's like you share mealtimes
together. And if one person's eating chips and hamburgers, and the other one wants to eat healthy, it
just makes life a heck of a lot harder.
Do not argue there. I hear that you're very clear about your values and what's important to you. And it
was about attracting somebody who was in alignment with those values as well. And one of the things I
do when I'm talking with people about what they want to attract in their life is how do they want to feel?
So it's not necessarily with a relationship. You know, I want to attract somebody you know, six foot four
is six foot four and got tac
toe you told me you
I'm five one, which makes me great for powerlifting. But it's just hilarious that you say
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exactly is Yeah. Because what I often get people to do is to say well how do I want to feel in the
relationship? I want to feel you know, an equal I want to feel loved. I want to feel that. All that will be it's
all there. are the bits there? So I think that's similar to what you were saying it's about being clear. And
it's the same as whether it's a relationship we're attracting, whether it is the next job, or promotion, or
the poem or the lifestyle, it's about when we get clear, then we can, we're more likely to attract what we
want. Exactly, exactly.
I just want to circle back to the value around food and just share something that I retrained the way I
thought, and food was about respect for my body. So trashing it with takeaway food and chocolate and
any other unhealthy food that wasn't respecting my body, and was learning to respect the inside of me
and the outside of me because I, in my 20s, I smoke and I drank to trash my body completely. So it was
reframing that Food is fuel for my body. And it also is a way that I show myself that I love myself by
giving it good, healthy, nourishing food. That's going to enable me to have energy and be vibrant. So
it's just that having that reframe, may just listening to this may help other people reframe the way that
they have a relationship with food, if you can just start with that, that will help people move forward.
And can I take that even a bit broader? I absolutely agree. It's about respecting not just our bodies,
ourselves, and the life that we're living in a life is very sacred. And it's about honouring that sacredness
of life. So when you're talking about respecting what you put into your body, for me, it's about
respecting how I live my life and how I choose to live my life. And my kind of mantra is about, you know,
creating the most your best and most beautiful life that you can and aligned to do that, then it's about
honouring who you are, but everything that's happening there, as well. Yeah, it's the same concept. So
tell me about your weightlifting.
So powerlifting I'm sorry. powerlifting. weightlifting is the Olympic lifting that you see in the Olympics.
powerlifting is just your squat bench and deadlift. So I started about nine years ago, off the back of
bodybuilding. Because bodybuilding, again, that was that pursuit for perfectionism. I'm a recovering
perfectionist, let's say. So because that was bodybuilding is the prime of oh, let's be absolutely perfect
and get judged for it, which was also all that unresolved childhood trauma and stuff with my biological
father. So I then moved into powerlifting, because I still love the gym, and I loved training. And then I
did my first international competition in 2014. So just a year later after starting, and I'm gifted in the fact
that I have really short arms, very mobile back, I'm an ex gymnast, and I love training. So put all that
together. That's how I became the queen of bench and had I've got numerous Australian records
Commonwealth Oceania records and finished top four and just recently gold at the World
Championships. So that with that love
Yes, you just for those listening on the podcast, you need to jump over to Kim's instant socials, and just
check out just what a dynamo she is. And for those that are watching on the YouTube, you'll actually
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see that just the gorgeous energy that you have. Yeah. Thank you. What you said there too, is that
you're perfect for powerlifting. You've got short arms, you've got a flexible back and you're driven. An ex
gymnast, it's almost like knowing what your gifts are. Yeah, and where you can utilise them. So that's
part of your gifts is utilise them in the powerlifting. But you also help other people in that space to don't
use the emotional eating coaching. I absolutely want to find out more about that.
Tell me let's talk a little bit about clients and strength training. So there's some really great lessons. First
of all, when you start strength training, guess what happens, your shoulders come back, you have a
more upright posture. So you appear more confident, and then the serotonin runs through your body
much more fluidly. And therefore it just has this flow on effect. And I've seen that and so many of my
clients they walk taller, because overall their posture is stronger as well. You also learn how to fail
faster, have a great relationship with failure, because that means that you can get back up and keep
going instead of just making it mean all these terrible things about you So that's why I love to teach
women. And that's why I haven't given up as much as it would be easy to have an online business, just
coaching women, I still have my foot in the door in the gym because I love seeing them have their
personal bests they I had a comp, couple of weekends ago where I was coaching. And it's just, I love
the feeling of seeing these women just go out and push boundaries. And for my mum clients to have
something other than their kids, this is my goal. And I'm working on this. And it gives them direction and
purpose and focus on Yeah, that's what I love about not only doing it for me, but teaching others how to
And it's more than just the powerlifting, isn't it, it's what this represents. It's like you said it's that
personal bests, whatever the result is, it's their personal best. And it's about having a measurement of
being able to move forward and grow. And, you know, attain goals. So there's a whole lot of goal
setting comes in into Dennis Well, like you said, failing fast that, you know, we don't always win at
everything that's about how we become resilient to be able to get back up. But I think what, what's that
saying? It doesn't matter how many times you get knocked down. The important thing is when you get
back up. Exactly. I think that for many, gosh, lots of my clients. You know, I've had lots of setbacks and
life hasn't always worked out how I've wanted it to, and it's about how I deal with and respond to that.
Yes. And I've said this many a time I have my five minute pity party I let be sad and angry and all the
emotions. But that's healthy. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely healthy to
feel those emotions. And if it's five minutes or two hours, that's right. Yeah. Feel the emotions because
I'm on the other end, helping my clients not eat those emotions and learn how to feel. It's okay to feel
angry. Yeah. Like society tells us I'll be good little girl and smile and pretend everything's okay. Where
No, it's okay to be angry. It's okay to be sad. It's okay to be frustrated. All these negative emotions.
They're okay to feel not okay that it can spiral you out of control. So like one of the things I talked about
with my clients is put a timeframe on it. Like you said, the five minute pity party, or longer if you need.
That's quite often.
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You don't want more than 24 hours? In my experience? Yeah, yeah.
I've been stuck in ones where it's just like, Man, I gotta get out of this. Like it is just, yeah, just the funk
is like I do not want to be here. And that's where I reached out to my people that helped me to shift stuff
that I can't shift through myself, because we can't do it always ourselves. That's why I guess in that
get blinkers. We can't see. Yeah,
I find that a lot. That, personally, that I can't get myself through everything. I can get myself through a
lot. There are some things that it's just like not I need to bring in the big guns. I need my, my other
buddies to help me. And you're right, that not It's not healthy to stay stuck or stagnant in that the bits
that are not working for us that are not feeling great. Yeah, I've shifted and I've said this on a couple of
podcasts, but I really shifted my thinking around the emotions is I really honour them. They allow them,
I honour them. I sit with them. And it doesn't feel comfortable all the time. Like quite often I'm just
wanting to like, Man, I want to get out of this. Just gloopy feeling, but I've learned that, you know,
honouring them because they're important. But it doesn't mean that they have to hang around.
Exactly. And it's like, if you say don't think of a pink elephant, you're gonna think of a pink elephant. So
acknowledging them and knowing that they're in the room with you is okay. Yeah, they can come visit.
Yeah, yeah, just can't reside and stay. That's the only thing we don't they can't set up camp.
Tell me about the emotional eating coaching that you do. How did you get into that? Was that sort of
through the journey of your own healing? Yes.
So I proudly say that I've been binge free since 2011. And that was a lot of work to get to that point. So
that was a lot of self reflection. That was therapy that was and I found it was actually hypnotherapist
slash life coach that helped me and that's what inspired me to do the life coaching because I'm not
dissing counsellors and psychologists, I just didn't find the right one. For me. It's like mixing paint, you
can find the right one. And I didn't get the right shade that I wanted. So this worked really well for me.
So I invested $30,000 with her, and I went on that journey, and it was, it was dealing with all that
childhood stuff. So a lot of our coding and our thoughts and beliefs and everything that we make
believe about ourselves, happens from the ages of zero to seven And then we spend the rest of our
lives backing up those thoughts and beliefs and what we made certain situations mean about us. And
then that's where I come in with my clients because it's that emotion that they're currently eating. But
actually, it goes back further than that, where does that come from? And like I was talking to a client,
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now I'll just use this as an example. For her. We were talking yesterday, it was about safety. So
someone, she's contractor, someone at work got fired, so she was really worried about her position.
And there's the COVID stuff coming around again, as well. So she again felt unsafe, I'm like, okay, but
where does this origin and she ate those feelings. And like, we have a coaching call every single week,
so we don't let it spiral out of control. And it comes from her childhood of not being safe and having to
move all the time for any uneasiness shows up as I'm not safe. So we did the work around there
forgiving her parents forgiving her mum for feeding her every time they moved, she fed them so that
uneasy feeling got fed with food, then we forgave the situation. And then we created some metres and
able to to move forward, a lot more other things came into it. But there's some of those are the key
things that we work through. And if she's done a lot of work with me, she can jump through the hoops
really quickly. So it is what's happening in this current situation where those limiting thoughts and
beliefs come from, what did you make that mean about you as a mini me and doing that inner child
work in looking after many me because many me was the one that was scared? Yes. Not adult me. And
you're the author in your story. You're not the actor. So let's go back and help many me so you can
become the actor, instead of just running this story that, oh, I'm not safe. And she's like, really, I can
take a year off, and I've got enough money saved. So I could take a year off. I'm if I lose my job, I'm
safe. But mini me was running the show mini me was screaming, gone. Hey, we're not safe. We're not
safe. It's like, okay, man, let's get you down. Have a chat. There. Okay, the safe there, we can move
forward. Some of the work that
I do know I get i It's hard, isn't it to sort of like it? Yeah, all the elements, but it's almost identifying what
the behaviours are. And then what are the triggers around those behaviours, and what's underneath
is a cover story. Something else, there's always something else that I need to dig into.
Yeah, we were talking, when we caught up about the book that I had written, I haven't got, I should
have got it. I can't remember the author, but it's called and it's not about the horse. It was about this guy
in America that runs, I guess, therapy, equine therapy, and assisted learning through horses, because
horses are a really powerful mirror to human behaviour. So people would go and interact with the
horse, and he would observe the interaction, some people will be very scared, some will be very
aggressive. And then that would sort of be his leverage into helping within therapy. And the thing that
stuck with me is it wasn't about the horse. It was about people's response. The horse was just a mirror.
And yeah, I've experienced the emotional eating and still do from time to time. And it's, and I say, it's
not about the food. Yes, actually, the food is just a representation of what's going on for me. And
through my journey. So when my mum passed away when I was 12, we didn't deal with the emotions,
and my way of dealing was to eat. And so when I was sad, it was kind of like, I didn't know, I kind of
didn't, I was sad, but I wasn't able to express that. So I would eat. Yeah, then if I was happy, it was kind
of like our the celebration, let's eat. So I used to say, you know, if you look up emotional eating in the
dictionary, my name would be there. Yeah, what I've learned over the, you know, the throw a lot of work
as well is what's happening when I'm going for food. I know I'm not hungry. But I'm wanting to comfort
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myself. Yes. So it's that self soothing. And, you know, still sometimes, you know, I do self soothing with
chocolate. And but I don't do it all the time.
And it's finding out like, okay, where in my body? Am I feeling that emotion? What's actually really going
on? And if you can identify in your body first, it helps you stop and connect to what's going on? Yeah,
what I was gonna ask you, what are some of the major things that you find that lead people to
becoming emotional eaters?
Generally, it's some form of childhood trauma. So I see stories of body fat on people's body as stories
and their stories about themselves. Not enough. not worthy. I'm ugly. I'm Failure I'm this I'm that I'm like
all the nasty things that we say to ourselves, but they haven't also eat. That's that story that they've told
themselves. So for me, it's unravelling all of that story. And taking it all back to the origin story, which is
that that childhood, first story, and then the layers and layers and layers and layers, and sometimes if
they're a client that's in their 50s, I've got years and years and years and years and years and years of
layers to go through. Yeah. And that's okay. We just take our time and go through them all.
Yeah, we talked to you about the psychosomatic therapy, which is mind body connection. And I do a
similar thing when I observe. I have a very different association with my body. now than I did when I
was younger. It's about giving me messages. That it's telling me a story about what's going on as well.
So, you know, some of where I'm storing excess energy, is giving me some clues about what might be
going on. For me and for others, you might as well, yeah. And my clients as well. Do you do
hypnotherapy? You know, it's
on the to do list. There's lots of training on my to do list that I because
yeah, I do hypnosis. And that helps sometimes people to get to some of that root cause. Yeah, some
people know it, you know, through asking questions. Some people, I think, and you went, you
experienced hypnotherapy, it's very, very powerful to help them
to see mine mon was more about reprogramming and our brain, which was important, it needed to be
to Yeah, I think you can do that as well. And what are some of the strategies then we sort of talked
about, some of it came about helping to peel back the layers and what is the root, the root cause
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around things, one of maybe some tips for our listeners, that who might be sort of emotional eaters
what they could do to help with their emotional eating.
The first one is when you're in that position, or that you're inside the pantry door, think of halt bass or
Holtby. So halt, usually we stop and I put the B on the end. So whole is m actually hungry. Hmm.
Hungry, a for angry. Yeah, l for lonely, T for tired, and be for bored. Yeah, there's some basics, but then
it could be lack of sleep. Kids are sending me crazy, there's like all different layers. But if you can get to
the heartbeat part, yeah, that's a good start. As to just being present. And that's going to take practice,
like practice makes permanent. The more that you practice this, I did things like I had a boredom list
inside my pantry door. Boredom was a big one. So when I opened my pantry door, there was the list of
things that I could be doing. Some of them will fund some of the things like cleaning, go clean the grout
in the bathroom. So it's doing what I call a pattern interrupt and getting myself out of the environment.
So that I don't eat half a jar of peanut butter. Because I could easily do that. Trust me, I could eat the
whole thing. Now I can have peanut butter and chocolate my house and there's no issues with it. So
there is progress.
I can't get to chocolate we have. We have to hide the chocolate. My husband has to hide the chocolate.
What's the story there that you're selling
yourself? Yeah, yeah, hope to be h for hungry. It could also be for habit. Like for me, sometimes it's just
and maybe it comes from boredom. But it's almost just like habit. I've just gone in the pantry. And I
really liked that hadn't interrupted that you said you need to do something
to out of the environment, get yourself out of the kitchen. Yeah. So that's, like, I remember a distinct
time that I really broke free. So it'd be easy for me to go to the service station get binge food, that's
usually where I got my binge food from. And I was really upset with my mom. We weren't talking at this
time. And she hadn't contacted me after I sent flowers for Mother's Day. And we hadn't spoken for six
months. And I was really upset and angry that she hadn't done that. And I distinctly remember driving in
my car and going just get to sit and get some things. And I ended up driving to the gym and going to flip
a tire, a big tractor tire. And that got out my anger and my frustration and my sadness and all those
emotions. So that was that pattern interrupt. Because I knew if I went home or to the service station, it
would have ended up and that was that moment. Just because it's so clear in my mind of the time that I
really broke free. I'm like, I'm not an emotional eater anymore. I got this. So that one went in the
evidence journal, to be able to then go out if I can do that I can do this. And if I can handle this, I can
handle this. So I call it tiny victories. Your TVs in the back of your journal, there needs to be a list of tiny
victories of all the times that you didn't resort to food or you change your inner dialogue. We might have
to just say stop to yourself, you stop can mean you may stop running the show. And put that in your tiny
victories. Journaling, I believe is a big part. And I tell my clients, they're the experts in their life. Get it
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out on the paper, so it's not running around in your brain and you don't eat it. So what is it that you need
to get out on the paper? What's going on for you? Yeah, really become present to what's going on. And
when you journal, you might find the answers.
That's a love that being present with what's going on. So not just doing it out of that automatic pilot, go
and eat. And you know, that unconscious ating unconscious behaviours. So being present, how are you
feeling about things and having interrupting, journaling? I am I love, love, love journaling. So I think
that's a really useful thing as well for people just to be able to catch up. And that could be the pattern
well. Yeah. Movement is the other big one. Definitely movement as well. I have put dining room chairs
across my kitchen. Yeah. As the peak of my bingeing to, like, have some form of physical barrier. Not to
go into the kitchen. Yeah. So yeah, cleaning your teeth and drinking water, then most people know. But
it's yeah, getting some form of movement or journaling. Yeah,
that's good. That's really good, too. So the way that you work with your clients, you said, some you
have weekly phone calls with you. And you also mentioned that you tend to do your coaching via
phone. Yeah. What's the reasoning for that?
I find my clients actually. And I've done in person like face to face. And I've tried with Skype as well.
And even because I ran a Tuesday night class, it's called empowered eating masterclass, and we're
talking about a lot of that personal stuff, about 70% will have their cameras off. And what that enables
them to do, they're not visible, because a lot of my clients have cover stories around being visible,
being not visible, and it enables them to open up and be authentic. So I allow that space. And I find it
actually better for the client that they don't have the camera so that they can be real and authentic, and
just go, bang, get it all out. And I can find all the little bits and join all the dots together for them and help
Yeah, that's great. That's, that's really good to do that when you're talking about it, that I don't I do my
coaching either in person or online visual, but that's a different, you know, preference to me. And I'm
not sort of focusing as much on the emotional eating as you
and I may have clients over 150 kilos. And they're not ready to be seen yet.
I think that is I really like when we were talking about it, just the differences in how we approach it and
the reasoning behind and things. Yeah, that's a really,