renee-michelle-harris_web.jpgEditor’s Note: South Florida Times Associate Editor Renee Michelle Harris has set out to lose weight once and for all. Harris has enlisted the support of a life coach team to deal with what she says is the inner journey and will join exercise programs in the tri-county area to transform the physical. She will chronicle her experience in South Florida Times. This is her second installment.

South Florida Times Writer

I had my first coaching call with Charles Taylor, one-half of Charles and Shakira Unlimited, and was it an eye-opener!

Taylor’s suggestion that I embrace and fully embody the ideas that “each moment counts” and “every choice matters” struck a nerve and evoked unexpected emotions. As it relates to losing weight, the phrases have enormous significance – but they also apply to every aspect of my life.

Taylor also made it clear that, for me to be successful at getting fit (or achieving any goal), I must take 100 percent responsibility for my life. I’m good with that.

Because I revisit the past only when necessary, Taylor’s advice to take full responsibility resonates. In my April 28 column – the first in this series – I explored the “whys” of my weight gain – for the last time.  To continue discussing any of that means that I’m placing the responsibility for losing weight elsewhere.

It’s time for me to own up and do what it takes to get fit. And, importantly, I’ve got to examine whether my daily actions move me closer to or away from my goal. That brings me to the number of times I’ve worked out since I began this journey two weeks ago: zero.
I’d convinced myself that my reasons were valid, until I heard myself explaining them to Taylor. One of the most effective coaching techniques that he employs is listening. When he asked me to explain why I had not worked out, he got quiet — very quiet, almost too quiet — and allowed me to do all of the talking.

The silence made my excuses sound extra loud — and silly. In mid-sentence, as I explained that “my new eating plan gave me a headache, I was planning to go to the gym on Monday, but….’’ I stopped mid-sentence, acknowledged that I was making excuses and simply said, “I’m working out today,” which I did.

Part of my responsibility as the client is to write a journal after each session to explore what I got out of it. Here’s what I learned for sure: Each time I eat the wrong thing or fail to work out as scheduled, I am making a choice. And every choice matters.

My current condition is the result of years of poor choices. Each time I tell myself that it’s OK to eat poorly because I can always “start again tomorrow,” I am making a choice that takes me away from, not closer to, my goal. And if I am not taking 100 percent responsibility for my life, it means that I’m blaming something or someone else. Not good.

“Poor choices become a way of life,” Taylor told me, “and there is no such thing as a meaningless choice.” He helped me to further identify with it: “When I begin to live as though my life really matters, I will make choices that matter.”

Being totally present by taking full, deep breaths is also part of making good choices, as is paying attention to my emotions which are “there to teach us something.”

In my pre-coaching questionnaire, I told my coaches that I was willing to embrace new approaches, as long as they made sense to me. Such is the case with my first assignment, a process that Taylor and Shakira call the “Clean Sweep Program” or CSP. It requires that I look at different areas of my life to determine what needs to be cleaned up.  Taylor explained that physical, mental and emotional clutter block our access to our natural energy which is needed for any meaningful progress.

I get it. I actually understand how any degree of clutter – extra, unneeded stuff – in my living space is connected to clutter – extra, unneeded weight – on my body. So I’m off to do some spring cleaning.

Charles and Shakira Unlimited is a comprehensive, spirituality-based life coaching program that inspires clients to live H.I.P. — Healthy, Inspired and Purposeful – lives. They may be contacted at 954-598-3901.

Renee Michelle Harris may be reached at