In last week’s journal entry I said that the week-one workload was a little on the light side. This week felt much busier. The amount of content was roughly the same, but what really filled up the week was the live sessions — a 60-minute teacher assistant session, a 90-minute mentor coach session, a 90-minute instructor session, and an hour of self-scheduled peer-partner practice time.
The content is released on Saturday mornings, which makes Friday the last day of study. I worked my way through most of it on Saturday and Sunday and finished up the last of the live sessions at 1:30 AM, Thursday morning. The only thing left to do is my journalling, which is what you are reading at the moment.
The Functional Health Track
My feeling is that the Functional Health track is just warming up. This week we watched a series of Chris Kresser videos on the importance of nutrient density, and read chapters two through four of The Paleo Cure to supplement the content.
Key points of emphasis:
— Nutrient density is important. Animal-sourced vitamins and minerals are generally more bioavailable than plant-sourced vitamins and minerals. Partly due to the fact that many vitamins and minerals are fat-soluble — they need to be consumed with fat. Partly due to the presence of antinutrients in plant foods.
— Vegetables and fruit that are high in phytonutrients and polyphenols are powerfully therapeutic in the treatment of chronic illness and autoimmune conditions. They are especially effective in combatting oxidative stress and inflammation.
— Gluten, industrial seed oils, and refined sugar are the primary contributors to inflammation.
— Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is more common than generally believed.
There was an optional podcast interview in which Chris Kresser spoke with Jo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side, about the evolution of fruits and vegetables since the the dawn of agriculture. In short, most modern fruits and vegetables bare little resemblance to their paleolithic ancestors; they’ve been bred (for taste) to contain higher levels of sugar and are consequently less nutrient-dense. A very interesting listen.
I’m really enjoying the motivational interviewing materials as presented by instructor Ken Kraybill. This week we dove deeper into ideas around coaching clients through their ambivalence to change. We focused on tools for recognizing “change talk” — client speech that falls on the “pro-change” side of ambivalence and can be used as wedges to go deeper. Change talk can be subtle or overt, and can range from a seedling of desire to action and commitment.
The MI materials included a link to an optional YouTube video lecture by William R. Miller, the founder of motivational interviewing. Miller developed a motivational interviewing approach through his work with problem drinkers and then went on to be a leading researcher in the field. Key takeaways from his lecture were: 1) the key to motivational interviewing is that the impetus to change comes from the client, and 2) the effectiveness of motivational interviewing is largely dependent on the empathy capacity of the therapist, or coach, employing it.
This last point is a similar idea to my journal entry from last week in which I discussed the potential pitfalls of nonviolent communication. In his lecture, William R. Miller stated that motivational interviewing is not very effective when it is employed as a “technique,” without heart. It’s very much dependent on the quality of connection between the client and therapist/coach.
The highlight of the week for me was participating in my first 90-minute mentor coach session. It was kind of an intro session, facilitated by Shelley-Anne McKay, but gave a good sense of what this element of the curriculum will entail. Shelley-Anne specializes in stress and addiction coaching and has a warm, almost vivacious vibe about her. Very likable.
Our group was full but small (the MC sessions are limited to 24 people), which made our discussions feel intimate. At one point we broke off into pairs and practiced rapport-building with our partner, then reconvened in the main room to share our experiences. I’m not very comfortable in group sharing situations, which is something I hope to overcome during this course. I appreciated that Shelley-Anne, sensitive to that fact, put me on the spot toward the end, asking me to share.
The morning after our mentor coach session, I met with my peer-practice partner for a one-hour Zoom session. We had some get-to-know-you conversation and then took turns coaching each other for 12-minutes at a time. My partner is a solid chap based in the land down under. I appreciated the vulnerability he brought to his turn as “client.” It drove home the point for me that with the coaching seat one inherits awesome responsibility.
The final activity of my week was a 90-minute instructor session with Forest Fein. It started at midnight Thursday morning Mauritius time, ending at 1:30 AM. I set an alarm and went to sleep at 8 PM, got up at 11:55, and went downstairs to join the session. The next morning I slept a little later than usual, and though I did manage to get in about seven hours of good sleep, I had to shake the cobwebs off to get some work done.
The fact that a mindfulness track is part of the ADAPT course was one of the selling points for me, as I plan to incorporate my background in yoga and meditation into my coaching practice. That said, I find myself mildly disappointed so far with this aspect of the curriculum. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it, but as an experienced meditator, I’ve found both the video presentations and this live session to be redundant and not personally useful.
I must say, however, that many of my fellow trainees seem to be embracing the mindfulness track with much enthusiasm. I’ve seen a couple of people express in the forum that it is their favorite part of the course so far. This doesn’t surprise me at all. I think modern people are starved for a sense of the spiritual in their lives. And I think it’s great that many of my fellow trainees are exploring meditation practice for the first time.
I want to stress that I expected the mindfulness track to be entry level stuff. That’s why I said I’m only “mildly” disappointed. It’s early though. Perhaps some of the material will be new to me. Perhaps the content will become less redundant.
If it doesn’t though, I’m perfectly okay with that. What I most hope to get from the mindfulness track is a clear feel for how to teach meditation to absolute beginners. I think it will deliver in that respect.
I’m extremely happy with this ADAPT course so far. It’s multi-dimensional. The material is presented, as promised, in easily digestible chunks. The fact that we are getting so much hands-on coaching experience so early is probably the best thing about it. It’s one thing to understand something like motivational interviewing theoretically. Practice applying it is essential.
I’m feeling confident that I will be more than ready to start coaching real clients by the end of the pre-practicum.