How a One Drop Personal Health Coach Helps Employees Conquer Body Shame in Chronic Condition Management
When it comes to weight and body image—especially in the context of a chronic condition such as obesity or diabetes—it can be easy to sense judgment around every corner, from a co-worker’s comment at lunch, to the way your doctor talks about how “compliant” you are. What can employers do to help employees overcome stigma and shame to better manage their weight and the cost of care?
Chauntel Herrod, MS, CDC DPP lifestyle coach, shows how One Drop personal health coaching can help. She leverages her experience as a diabetes prevention and weight loss specialist and her own journey to better health, to help employees move beyond stigma.
What led to your diabetes and chronic care focus?
As a kid, I remember my grandmother with type 2 diabetes used to eat the “cool treats” when her blood sugar was low, but I didn’t know much about the condition beyond that. When I went to take care of her in college while I was working on my Masters, I started applying my own studies about health and social determinants to my grandma’s situation—where she lived, what she had access to, and what she didn't have access to—to try to help her.
How did your specialization in weight management emerge?
I've had my own run-in with body confidence, body shaming, and really struggling to fit in as a young Black girl living in a predominantly white community. I was never taught or understood that bodies are different. I always knew that I didn't look like everyone else, so I would subconsciously try to hide, but you can't. I used to weigh over 320 pounds. When my family moved, I started playing basketball not because I wanted to grow up and be a basketball player, but because I felt accepted for who I was. So I lost the weight not through a traditional diet or anything, but through social acceptance.
Are you able to help others find that “basketball moment?”
Absolutely. I love helping individuals practice mindfulness and just take a conscious look at their lives. I ask, “When was the last time you really enjoyed living?” We’re so often on autopilot: we go to work, we come home, and have all these responsibilities. I ask, “What about you? What happens if there are so many people relying on you, and your own health declines?” It’s really diving deep and making sure they’re giving back to themselves.
I like to use the metaphor: When you’re on a plane, there’s a reason you’re told that if something happens, you need to put your own oxygen mask on first. It's the same for your life. If you're trying to save everybody else and you don't have your own oxygen, you're going to lose yourself. Save yourself, then you can save other people.
Does social media make self-acceptance challenging?
Study after study shows a link between social media use and negative body image, with weight stigma on social platforms being especially difficult for those living with health issues such as obesity or diabetes. It’s hard because you see a lot of people only sharing what’s going well and looking really fit, which can leave you thinking, “Well, I want that, but I don’t have that.” That’s called “double-sided reflection.'' So how do you do things within your control to start achieving your own dream in a way that’s not intimidating? Reprogram yourself to achieve it, turning obstacles into opportunities.
How can a clinical care team be most supportive in setting goals?
Among people with diabetes, studies show that healthcare professionals tend to focus more on what their patients are doing “wrong” instead of what they’re doing right.
A shift is definitely underway. Rather than focusing on a problem, many are now getting to the root of the problem. For example, if someone is experiencing high blood pressure, they might ask, “How are your stress levels?” or “How’s your lifestyle? Is it sedentary?” So they're building rapport. They're getting curious, too.
What I've seen in the past with people I coach is they come back after a diagnosis with no hope. I had one member say that she went to her appointment and learned she had borderline diabetes. When I asked her what the staff told her to do, she replied “lose weight,” but she didn’t know where to begin. She needed the tools to feel like they had her back and were on her team.
How does coaching help with self-care?We build trust with members, so they're more open to share. When I worked for Teach for America, I had to let the kids teach me over the course of a year what they needed, so we could brainstorm strategies to help them succeed. This really carries over to my coaching.
Coaches are collaborators. Members are driving their life, their outcomes, and what they want for themselves. Ultimately, we want to give members autonomy and empower them to self-advocate and make changes.
One experience in particular stands out. An employee enrolled in One Drop texted me. A doctor had given her a stage 4 kidney disease diagnosis with 10 to 15 years to live, and she was not going to sit still. On that day, she became a true advocate for herself and took proactive steps to live healthier. Now, we chat every Friday at 1:15 p.m.
One Drop personal health coaches are qualified, caring, and ready to help your employees navigate living with obesity, diabetes, or other chronic conditions. One Drop helps employees and employers improve health and cut down on costs related to obesity that top $147 billion annually in the U.S. alone.
If you’d like to find out more about how One Drop can help your organization and your workforce improve health outcomes, download our program overview below or get in touch with us directly at email@example.com.