Total Health in Midlife Episode #169: Making Decisions w/ Kimberly Mathis

Making Decisions with Kimberly Mathis

Ever find yourself standing at life’s crossroads, overwhelmed by the buffet of choices laid out before you? Joining us on this journey through the labyrinth of decision-making is the insightful Kimberly Mathis, who pivoted her career from therapy to coaching. 

Now, she’s here to guide us with her lantern of wisdom. We kick things off by dissecting decision fatigue, those sneakily impactful choices that shape our daily routines, and the significance of aligning our actions with our deepest values—even when life throws us curveballs.

If you’ve ever felt the weight of societal expectations crushing your health and fitness goals, you’ll find solace and strategy in our candid discussion. We tackle the cultural pressures women face, urging us to play multifaceted roles while maintaining an often unrealistic health regimen. 

Together, we uncover how to redefine success on a personal level and discuss why neurodivergent individuals might face distinct challenges in crafting new habits. And remember, when your lofty aims and reality clash, it’s compassion, not criticism, that’s your true north star.

As we wrap up, we contemplate the delicate dance between conviction and flexibility in our choices. The beauty of reevaluating decisions with fresh eyes is not a sign of indecision, but a hallmark of wisdom. 

In a special segment, we contrast therapy and coaching, offering insights for those pondering which path might best escort them on their personal development journey—because when it comes to shaping the life you want, the compass of change is in your hands.

About Kimberly Mathis

Kimberly is a former licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, who left the therapy world for coaching in 2020. She helps people change things that feel unchangeable. Clients working with her learn how to make decisions for themselves, create plans for actions, and follow through. 

She’s a queer mom of two teenagers, has a spicy ADHD brain, and has often been described as a rebellious firecracker. You can find her on Instagram @thekimberlymathis, and can binge her podcast, “Decisions Change Everything” on Spotify or Apple.

Chapter Summaries

The Power of Decision-Making (0:00:21) 

The former therapist turned coach Kimberly Mathis discusses decision-making, decision fatigue, and the impact of daily commitments on our lives.

Challenges and Strategies for Health Goals (0:13:15) 

Women’s health goals, societal expectations, diminishing returns in exercise, and establishing realistic routines for neurodivergent individuals.

Navigating Self-Doubt and Decision-Making (0:28:12) 

Nature’s pitfalls of overthinking, traditional pro-con lists, addressing self-doubt, and making decisions based on values and excitement.

Importance of Flexibility in Decision-Making (0:35:43) 

Nature’s fluid decision-making and adaptability, re-evaluating choices, evolving habits, and identity tied to habits.

Coaching vs Therapy (0:46:59)

Therapy vs. coaching, benefits of both, and finding the right coach in an unregulated industry.

Are you loving the podcast, but arent sure where to start? click here to get your copy of the Done with Dieting Podcast Roadmap Its a fantastic listening guide that pulls out the exact episodes that will get you moving towards optimal health.

If you want to take the work we’re doing here on the podcast and go even deeper, you need to join the Feel Good Sisterhood - my group coaching program for women in midlife who are done with dieting, but still want to feel good! The Feel Good Sisterhood is open for enrollment, so click here to discover if group coaching is a right fit for you and your goals.

I am so excited to hear what you all think about the podcast – if you have any feedback, please let me know! You can leave me a rating and review in Apple Podcasts, which helps me create an excellent show and helps other women who want to get off the diet roller coaster find it, too.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode

  • Understand the profound impact of small decisions on your life journey, from daily choices like eating a cookie to larger ones like hitting the gym, shaping your future trajectory.
  • Embrace a mindset shift that empowers decision-making, recognizing the potential of each choice to shape your life and taking ownership of your direction.
  • Uncover the deeper motivations behind your goals, unlocking the secrets to setting meaningful objectives that align with your values and drive transformative change.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

I think a lot of people when they hear decision making, they think like the big, like immediately there’s change. Like you’re leaving a relationship or a job, getting divorced, something like that, moving somewhere else.

And yes, those are big ones. But I actually think like those small ones, like you mentioned that we don’t think are a very big deal. It’s those types of decisions that really set you on a path, years down the road. You know, that have like a much larger influence on you in some ways.

Welcome to Total Health and Midlife, the podcast for women embracing the pivotal transformation from the daily grind to the dawn of a new chapter. I’m Elizabeth, your host and fellow traveler on this journey.

As a Life and Health Coach, I am intimately familiar with the changes and challenges we face during this stage. Shifting careers, changing relationships, our new bodies, and redefining goals and needs as we start to look to the future and ask, what do I want?

In this podcast, we’ll explore physical, mental, and emotional wellness, offering insights and strategies to achieve optimal health through these transformative years.

Yes, it’s totally possible.

Join me in this amazing journey of body, mind, and spirit, where we’re not just improving our health, but transforming our entire lives.

Hey everyone, welcome to the Total Health in Midlife podcast. I am your host, Elizabeth Sherman. And today, we are discussing an amazing topic, ‘decision making.’

Now, I know that may not sound really fascinating, but the conversation that I am having with my guest, Kimberly Mathis is really thought provoking and amazing. And I think that when you listen to it, you are going to understand the impact and how many decisions that we make during the day.

Because we make countless decisions from the moment we wake up, until we go to bed. And to help us master this, Kimberly Mathis who is not only a coach but also a therapist is here to help us make sense of all of the decisions.

In this conversation, we’re not just talking about choosing healthier food options. She’s here to discuss how our choices shape our lives in ways that we don’t even really realize from the conscious decisions to the unconscious decisions.

For those balancing numerous responsibilities, Kimberly will share her insights on setting health goals that are right for you. Not just the ones that were socially conditioned to do.

If you’re ready to feel empowered and make decisions that will improve your health and happiness, let’s welcome our guest, Kimberly Mathis.

Elizabeth: All right everyone, welcome Kimberly Mathis to our episode today. Kimberly, I am so excited to have our conversation today. I’m super excited that you wanted to talk with everyone. And so, let’s start off with who you are, who you help, what you do, everything like that.

Kimberly: Okay. So, I am a former therapist turned coach. That’s what I usually say. And I’ve been coaching since full time since about 2020. I am just a general life coach, which means that I help people on a plethora of things.

But all of my work really involves helping people make decisions for themselves, and then create plans, and follow through on the plans that move those decisions forward.

So, a lot of times clients come to me, and we end up. Being able to create change for things that felt very unchangeable. Family relationships, partnerships, self-concept, just all sorts of things. I love it. I love this work.

Elizabeth: Yeah. You know, it’s so funny when I first started in health and fitness, I remember learning about decision fatigue. Like, we make so many freaking decisions within a day.

Kimberly: Yes. And we live by a lot of them that we don’t realize we’ve made also.

Elizabeth: Tell me more about that.

Kimberly: You know, like, oh, well, I think a lot of times we have like a routine. We have ways that we think about ourselves. We have things that we think about our family, our relationships. Like we have all sorts of thoughts and just ways of being, right?

That we wake up every day and like we go out into the world doing that same thing over and over. And we’ve kind of fallen into those things and have in a sense, like, made the decision to do that, but it’s not necessarily a conscious decision.

Elizabeth: Sure.

Kimberly: Like, we kind of fell into the habit, or it’s what someone else told us to do, or it’s just beliefs that we have that have never been questioned. Yeah, I think there’s decision fatigue and then I think there’s like the other end of the spectrum where it’s like, people don’t even realize the decisions available to them.

Elizabeth: Right. Well, yeah. And you know, it’s so funny. As a coach who works with women in midlife, I think that when we think about the younger version of ourselves, like the 20 year old version of ourselves. If she were to think about us in the future, she would not think about where we are today.

When we think about decisions, I mean, there’s lots of decisions, but I kind of think that decisions kind of fall into two different types of camps. Decisions that don’t really make that much of a difference. Oh, and we can talk about that too.

So, don’t really make much of a difference. But that over time completely change the course of your life. And then, decisions that can radically change the course of your life.

Kimberly: Yeah, that’s an interesting thing to think about. I think I have conversations like this a lot with clients and with colleagues. But I don’t know that I’ve ever used those particular words to describe it.

And it’s funny because I think a lot of people when they hear decision making, they think like the big, kind of like what you mentioned, like the big, like immediately there’s change. Like you’re leaving a relationship or a job, getting divorced, something like that, moving somewhere else.

And yes, those are big ones. But I actually think like those small ones, like you mentioned that we don’t think are a very big deal. It’s those types of decisions that really set you on a path, years down the road. You know, that have like a much larger influence on you in some ways.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And so, to tie this back to the podcast, like some of those small decisions, people who are listening right now, you might be wondering, well, what are some of those small decisions? And some of those small decisions are deciding to eat the cookie or not eat the cookie, exercise or not exercise. And I think that what happens in our brain is our brain tells us that it doesn’t really matter.

Kimberly: Yeah.

Elizabeth: And it’s a dangerous thought because it’s true on some level.

Kimberly: Yes. Well, you know, we were talking ahead of time about this podcast episode today and one of the things that kind of came up in our discussion was when people have made a decision. Maybe they have some goal that they’re working toward, and they have a plan and inevitably, every day they have to wake up and say, I’m like, with the plan today, or I’m not with the plan today.

That is a daily decision. A commitment to it. And things come up. Just like, if you have small children or you yourself, like, get sick, right? And suddenly, you can’t go out, you’re running a fever, or whatever. And you can’t stick with the plan. No, it does not matter if you miss that one day. Right?

And I think a lot of us beat ourselves up. So, we have to keep that in mind. Like, no, it doesn’t matter that one day. And if you want to really make a decision, it’s not necessarily the consistency of like, I do the same thing every single day and there’s no wiggle room and no flexibility. But you are persistent in working to toward the goal. Like you’re persistent in choosing that decision over and over when you can, and you have the capacity to do so.

Elizabeth: So, how did you get into this?

Kimberly: Oh my gosh. I know I could talk about decisions for forever. What’s funny is it never occurred to me to coach on this or even make this part of my coaching. I never.

Elizabeth: Make a decision about decision.

Kimberly: And I was one of those people like, I think a lot of women kind of joke about like, oh, I’m so indecisive, I can’t make any decisions. You know, like it’s the classic trope of you get asked where you want to go out to eat. And you’re like, oh, I don’t know. You know, I can’t decide. That was me, and that had a lot to do with people pleasing more than anything else. Just not choosing for myself.

So, I always thought of myself that way and I was in a coaching training. It might have been the same one where we met, that round.

And we were working on improving our coaching skills in session and one of the things that we talked about was like helping clients make decisions. And we were led through this kind of practice of making specific choices between choice A and choice B.

And I don’t know what it was, but there was something about that that just clicked for me, and I loved it because it wasn’t the classic pro con list, which I can get stuck in.

And it was also like a light bulb moment of like, Oh, I could make any choice work. I previously, it’s like, what’s the right decision. You know, I’m always like trying to figure out what’s the right choice.

So, that was a huge shift in my brain of seeing like, Oh, lots of choices can work. There’s not necessarily a right one.

And then, it just like snowballed from there, and I started seeing decisions everywhere. Not just with like big transitions or big changes, but decisions about how I want to think about myself, feelings I want to cultivate more of. Daily decisions of how I want to talk to myself and treat other people and show up in the world.

I think it really just aligned with me. There’s something I just felt pulled toward because when I think about making a decision, I have so much ownership over it. It doesn’t feel like everything’s out of my control anymore.

Elizabeth: For everyone listening, I really kind of want you to go back and listen to that again, because I think there’s so much wisdom in what you just said. And as we were talking about the cookie, and the chocolate, and exercising, and stuff like that. In the back of my mind, I was thinking about people pleasing.

And so, it’s just perfect that you brought that up because for so many women, we don’t make decisions because for many women, they don’t have the luxury of that with kids around. Right? And so, we kind of get out of that habit.

But even though, I don’t have kids, I know that in my marriage, I just abdicated responsibility for making decisions because I felt like my decisions, or my opinions didn’t matter or whatever it was.

Kimberly: For me, it was more about conflict. And I told myself for a long time that like, oh, I’m just so go with the flow. And I think that I am.

Elizabeth: Sure.

Kimberly: But what was really prompting that whole attitude was like, well, but if I want something, if I want to do something that someone else doesn’t want to do, then there’s going to be like an argument. I never wanted to say mine was like better than theirs, or mine’s the right answer, or I have that more important preference.

So, it was rooted in like avoidance of conflict. And also, I think when we’re people pleasing, a large piece of that is we’re trying to control someone else’s perception of us.

Elizabeth: That’s exactly what I was going to say. Like we all want to be perceived as like the cool girl, not the high maintenance woman, right? And so, if we just go with the flow and say, Oh, it doesn’t matter. Like whatever you want is fine.

Kimberly: Yes. And so, after you do that for so long, it’s really hard. It’s not like you are necessarily in that moment that you know what your decision would be. And you’re just like stuffing it down. I think after a while, when you do that so often, you lose touch with even being able to say like, what is my preference? What do I want to do? What’s my opinion? Because you’re so used to just being disconnected from it.

Elizabeth: Yeah. So, do you work with men and women?

Kimberly: I don’t not work with men. A lot of my messaging is like from a kind of intersectional feminist lens. So, I talk about a lot of things through that lens, especially like on social media and on my podcast. Like I just had a man reach out to me the other day about working with me and he’s like, do you work with men? And I’m like, sure.

They’re just not who is usually reaching out to me. But if a client is a great fit client, they’re a great fit client. I don’t think gender matters.

Elizabeth: Okay. What I was going to ask is do you help, and I suppose men struggle with this as well is really uncovering what it is that I want. Because I hear that a lot from my clients that when I ask, what do you want? We sometimes know what we don’t want, but we don’t always know what we want.

Kimberly: Yeah. I think that’s a lot of times where we have to get started. Because when you ask, well, what do you want? It’s just a blank. They draw a blank like they do not know. I think there’s still a little bit of that filter of like, well, what should I want?

And so, sometimes we can get started with, okay, you don’t want this. What’s an alternative? What would sound better? We can start there. Maybe it’s not the end game, but we can start there.

And I think for a lot of my clients, it involves some experimentation and exploration. Like just trying things out because you may not know for a while. You may not know until you try something different.

Elizabeth: Ooh. Okay. I love it that you said, I know what I should want. And I think that this ties in beautifully to our conversation. So, because I think that women operate a lot on the ‘shoulds.’

Kimberly: Yes. We all do.

Elizabeth: Yeah. There are so many cultural rules and judgments and things like that. And for so many of us, we just strive to be the good sister, the good mother, the good boss, the good employee, the good friend, the good blah, blah, blah, blah. And so, we know what the rules are of what that should is.

And so, in talking about health, I think that many women believe that we should be a certain size or shape, or we should be perfect with our diet, or we should be exercising, or we should even be concerned about our health. And then, there’s a lot of guilt and shame and judgment around that.

Kimberly: There’s lots of ideas about what exercise should look like. Right? And how often. And if you’re going to eat healthy, Lord, you just go on social media and there’s all sorts of arguments about what that should mean and how it should look.

Yeah. It’s overwhelming.

Elizabeth: It really is. It really is. Before we got on the air here, Kimberly and I were talking a little bit about the reasons why we start goals, continuing them, so on and so forth. So, let’s talk a little bit about those whys and uncovering those ‘whys’ that we make the decisions that we do make. How do you go about that? How do you help your clients figure that out?

Kimberly: It’s funny because as you’re talking, I’m thinking about a client that I had recently that was like, one of the things I want to work on is improving my health. And the goal, when I asked her, like what her goal would be. It was something to the effect of like, I eat more healthy food, and I’m exercising like three times a week, something like that.

I think my assumption now, that’s just like always there is that those are not necessarily their chosen goals. They’re the goals they see everyone else having.

So, the first thing I want to ask is like okay, if you were doing those things, what do you think would be different? How would you feel differently? How would you think differently? Like, if you were doing that consistently, what difference do you think that would make in your life?

Because I think sometimes, what the goal really is, is I want to feel like I can have more energy to play with my kids on the playground. Right? Or I don’t want to be exhausted at the end of the day. I want to feel like I’m not stuffing myself in my clothes.

My clothes that used to fit me a certain way like, they feel that way again. Or I want to feel sexy. So much of it is about how we’re thinking and feeling during the day, and there’s a lot of ways to get there.

When someone comes to me and they say like, I want to exercise three times a week, and they actually hate exercising, and they’ve never done it. I’m not necessarily going to jump in, jump on the bandwagon of like, okay, let’s go for that goal.

Because when we look at what the goal would give them, we can get really creative with like, okay, how do we start moving in that direction? Does it have to look like going to the gym, and doing weights, or doing cardio the way you see all these other people doing it a certain number of days a week.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Well, and what’s so funny about that is as you’re talking, I’m thinking about there’s actually a bell curve of diminishing efforts in terms of exercise specifically. But we can put this even across all health behaviors.

That when we exercise one day a week, it’ll be so much better than if we’re not exercising at all. And if we’re exercising two days a week, that’ll be even better. But the more days that we exercise per week does not necessarily give us that additional benefit. It’s actually a diminishing return.

Kimberly: That’s interesting.

Elizabeth: Right. And so, what if you could get pretty freaking close to the results that you want by doing the bare freaking minimum, by only exercising twice a week for 20 minutes a day. And here you are thinking that you have to do three days a week for an hour a day.

Kimberly: Yeah. I mean, I work with a lot of neurodivergent clients too, because I got an ADHD diagnosis a few years ago, and I’ve learned a whole lot about it. And it’s changed how I think about things and how I work with clients. And clients who whether they’re neurodivergent or not, I think if they’re neurodivergent, they have a little bit of some extra challenges to changing routines.

But any client, if they haven’t been going to the gym at all, to think about all the little steps like, when we really break it down, if they are telling themselves, I need to go 3 times a week, let’s start next week. Right? This is a huge change in routine.

It’s like, do I have the right clothes? How much transition time do I need to have to change? And then, how much time does it take to drive there? And do I know where I’m going? And which class will I choose? And does it fit into my schedule? And what things do I need to move around? There’s a lot to plan.

So, it’s highly likely that you’re not going to hit that goal the first week. Which then, just opens the door for a lot of like criticism, feelings of failure, I’m not committed enough. Like we start having this whole story about it. Instead of realizing like, we tried to go zero to a hundred right off the bat.

Elizabeth: Well, and it’s so funny that you’re talking about that because yeah, all of those little decisions and all of those little commitments, we don’t really think about. But it’s huge. Like making my own dinner, let’s say. I go to the grocery store; I buy a head of broccoli. Like this is something that I hear from my clients all the time is they’re like, I buy the vegetables, I don’t eat the vegetables.

Kimberly: Yes.

Elizabeth: Okay, why not? And we don’t think about it or we’re judging that I buy this stalk of broccoli. And when it comes time to cook it, I really don’t want to take it out of the bag and cut it up because then there’s those little florets all over the place. They’re a pain in the ass to clean up. Even cutting the broccoli is a pain in the butt. And so, we just say no.

Kimberly: Yeah. Clients with ADHD, it’s like the thought of that, it feels like it’s going to take so much effort and it’s going to be like a whole hour.

Elizabeth: Yes.

Kimberly: It’s like, I can’t do it. So, yeah, we have to factor all of that stuff in. Like we have to build it up because if you try to jump from, I’m not doing anything to I’m at the place where I think I’m supposed to be in like a week. We’re inevitably going to run into difficulties because we haven’t planned well enough. We haven’t like gotten used to something. We forget something. We haven’t taken to account, X, Y, or Z.

So, it’s much more sustainable to create a long term change that you keep up to just start in those small steps one at a time and build from there.

Elizabeth: Right. Oh, this is so beautiful. Because it actually plays into the cycle of self-trust that we were talking about. Because a lot of times, if we’re talking about exercise, for example. We start really slow. Our brain will immediately discount that that’s not going to do anything and it’s not worth the effort.

Kimberly: Yes. Our brains are kind of an assh*le. I didn’t ask if I could curse on your podcast.

Elizabeth: You can totally curse.

Kimberly: They are. They just are. And we have to remember everything it’s doing is from a place of trying to help us. Our brain is not like it’s an organ in our body that evolutionarily is designed to keep us alive and make things better.

And so, it’s never trying to be a pain in the ass. But when it’s saying things like that, it’s like, but no, you want this end result. We’ve got to get you there, right? So, don’t settle for this. Don’t take too long. Don’t make it too easy. That’s a whole other belief, right? That’s been given to us about how it’s got to be hard to be valuable.

Yeah. Some of that is just like talk that we also have to anticipate and expect to make it happen.

Elizabeth: I love that. Yeah. And I’ll tell my clients this. Okay, so first week, you’re going to do five minutes, walk to the end of your driveway and back. They’re like, that’s not going to do anything. It’s like, it’s building the skill of self-trust. Because then, you can walk a little bit further, or you can do the next step, driving to the gym and parking.

Kimberly: Yes. I always tell my clients, if we were using that as an example, that’s the goal for the week. You do that however many times this week. That is the main goal that you want to check off.

If you end up getting there or you walk to the end of the driveway and you’re like, actually, it’s really nice outside. I think I’ll walk down to the end of the street and back. Great. Nobody’s telling you, you can’t do anything extra. But I want to be really clear about the extras are just like, that’s just a bonus.

We’re not going to say that that’s what we should be doing every time. We’re going to keep the goal small. So, I don’t think they have to hold themselves back necessarily, if they want to do extra, great.

But let’s make it really, really easy to do the thing first of all, and to keep it going. And how good does it feel, right? Even if at the beginning of the week, you thought like, well, this doesn’t walk into the end of the driveway is not anything. But you can check Mark like every day that you did it. And you’re like, Oh my gosh, okay, I could do like a 10 minute walk next week.

Elizabeth: Right. Well, and you know, it’s funny that you say that you don’t have to keep yourself back. I struggle with that because if I say that I’m going to take a 30 minute walk, and then every time I go out, I actually end up taking an hour. What I think that gets us into trouble is when we only have 30 minutes, and we’re like, well, I’m scheduled to work for 30 minutes. But that’s not enough time. So, I’m not going to do anything.

Kimberly: Yeah. Yeah.

Elizabeth: Yeah. That happens to my people also.

Kimberly: There’s just a lot of ways for.

Elizabeth: Our brains to get in the way.

Kimberly: Yes. Yes. There so many things for it to think that are like, oh, this isn’t good enough or that’s bad, or it should be this way. Yeah, I think some of it is just learning how to manage that and catch stuff like that because it’s always bound to happen.

Elizabeth: And I think it goes back to understanding your reasons and understanding your thought process. Like, do I like my reasons for not exercising because I’m telling myself that I don’t have enough time?

Kimberly: Yup. Or are you doing like when you say, if I say I’m going to do like the expectation or the goal is 30 minutes, and I’m doing an hour. Why are you doing an hour? Is it because you’re really telling yourself 30 minutes isn’t enough? Or because when you get out there, you feel great. And you don’t want to go back inside. Like you have the time. It’s not a big deal.

Like we need to parse out like what’s happening, if that’s consistently what you’re doing? Like one day, fine. Like random one day. If you’re noticing that this is consistently happening, we can just look at it and get really curious about. Okay, so, why is it happening? Do you like that? It’s happening? Is it causing other problems? What do we need to tweak?

Elizabeth: Yeah. Oh, that’s so good. Okay. So, let’s talk a little bit more about our reasoning for making decisions. So, you talked a little bit about the pro con list. Let’s talk a little bit more about liking your reasons and how those are personalized.

Kimberly: Yeah. So, when I’m working with clients who have some sort of big decision to make, something either they’re wanting to make a decision. Like I had a client who was trying to decide, do I want to leave this job and work for myself? Do I stay with my employer? Or sometimes a decision has been put in front of them. Like external forces have been like, you have to decide something.

What I often do with them is I just have them first list what all the options are that they would really consider. Sometimes there are options that they know are an option and they just like, there’s no way and how they’re going to pick it, you know?

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Kimberly: So, we just list what are the things you would actually consider doing? For example, working part time, I might ask my boss if I could work part time and then I’m going to freelance part time. I stay with the company and keep doing what I’m doing, or I quit, and I decide I’m leaving.

Another option could be like, Oh, actually I can stay with the company for a year. And then, I’m going to leave. So, it’s kind of like a mix of both. That’s what we do first is just look at what are the options you would actually consider?

And then, I think what was so helpful to me, I have a brain that loves to overthink. I think most of us do. And the way I’d always like either watch other people make decisions or kind of been told was to make a pro con list.

And the thing about our brains, it’s like they’re a chessboard of like all these different pieces, and there’s a never ending supply of pieces. When we start thinking of pros and cons, we could think of some pros, and then there will be like even more cons, or we think we’ve thought of all the cons, but then the next day we actually think of another one.

So, you never actually get anywhere. And I think a lot of the time when I was making out these pro con list for different options. I was looking for the option that like didn’t have cons. If it did, the cons didn’t really bother me as though like one was going to stand out and that just never happens.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Kimberly: So, instead of doing that, we just go through each option. I ask my clients; tell me all the reasons they would pick that one.

So, that’s just what we do. We don’t look at what would other people say? We don’t think about well, what might happen if I did X, Y, or Z. It’s just, okay, what are the reasons you would choose that one? We move to the next one. What are the reasons you would choose that one?

And then, we look at each of those lists. I have them cross out any reasons that just don’t really matter to them. That they just don’t care about or don’t like. And then, I have them circle reasons that they love. Like it lights them up. It fits with their values, right? They just love the idea of it. It feels like who they are or what matters to them.

And I have yet, I won’t say it could never happen, but I have yet to run into a situation, where there wasn’t clearly an option that had more reasons circled.

Elizabeth: Oh, wow. Okay.

Kimberly: I know. It’s been close. But I haven’t run into that. And what always happens, it’s like, okay, clearly, I have more reasons for that choice. And immediately, their brain is like, okay, but we can’t pick that one because if we do that one, then here’s this obstacle and here’s this challenge. And this is going to be difficult. And what will so and so think, and then I’ll have to explain it to blah, blah, blah.

And part of what I have to teach my clients is like, your brain, again, is an organ, right? Meant to keep you safe and alive and comfortable. And so, it’s just doing its job. Those are the things that we coach on. Those are the things that we problem solve and action plan because every single choice is going to have that happening in their brain.

So, I would much rather my clients make a choice based on reasons that they love for that choice, reasons that feel aligned with them, right? More reasons that they can name, then the other options.

And then, if we’re going to have to problem solve any choice to some degree, there’s going to be things that are uncomfortable or challenging. We can do that, right? But we’re choosing the option that they’re really kind of leaning toward and feeling pulled toward anyway.

Elizabeth: Yeah. I think the thing that I’m thinking about right now is self-doubt. I’ve really been getting in touch with my self-doubt and there are so many different layers of it in my life. And I realized that a lot of the self-doubt that I have, you were talking at the beginning about decisions that we make about ourselves, who we are, what we’re capable of from a very young age, and how those are put upon us. And I think that that’s a lot of where this self-doubt comes from for many of us.

Kimberly: Are you saying, you’re noticing, if we think about if you had a big decision to make, like something that would come up. Even if you saw very clearly, this is the thing I want to do.

Elizabeth: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. So, here’s an example. I’ve been doing some marketing stuff where I’ve been reaching out to organizations. And I’m finding that those organizations aren’t responding back to me as quickly as I would like them to.

So, I’m having to follow up with them, and I’m having a lot of self-doubt about well, if I follow up with them, they’re going to think, so going back to controlling people’s opinions about me. They’re going to think that I’m pressuring them, or they’re going to think this about me, that I’m da da da da da, whatever.

And at the same time, realizing that if I don’t follow up that I’m not going to get what I want. Right? Yeah, that’s a 100 percent chance that I’m not going to get what I want.

Kimberly: I don’t think I can help but have a coach brain because as you’re talking, the thing I want to ask is when you’re saying self-doubt, like what’s the thought about yourself?

If you’re having to reach out again or they’re not responding back quickly enough. It’s pushing some button of a kind of like belief or worry about ourselves that’s already there. Because it’s just neutral that like whoever responds could have been on vacation.

Elizabeth: Well, exactly. Yeah.

Kimberly: Like start making it mean.

Elizabeth: Exactly. Yeah.

Kimberly: Yep. So, when I think about self-doubt, for me, it always comes back to my belief or my client’s belief that they are like, okay, that they are valuable, that they are worthy. That if this person says no, it means nothing about them. And another person would say, yes. Or that they’re capable. It’s like capability. I’m capable of getting to the place I want to get figuring anything out.

It’s like in the marketing piece, right? It’s like, either you believe, okay, well, this isn’t going the way I want it to, but I can totally figure this out. This is just a solvable problem. Or there’s a belief that it’s like something with you, right? That like you can’t do something. You do something the wrong way. You’re just not good at X, Y, or Z.

Elizabeth: Well, I think you said something at the very beginning also about making the right decision. And so, doesn’t that also play into self-doubt as well?

Kimberly: Yeah. I think when I was saying I was always indecisive and kind of a people pleaser. Like if I make the wrong decision and people see that, what will their thoughts be about me then? That’s embarrassing. What does it mean about me? All sorts of things.

So, there was that underneath. But I also think we get lots and lots of messaging that there is a right decision. Right? You have to figure out, what’s the right thing to do.

And the fact of the matter is if we zoom out and look at like all the people on the face of the earth, there have been lots of people in a very similar, if not the exact same situation, who have chosen this. And then, other people who chose this thing, and then other people who did something completely different. And it’s all worked out.

So, there’s not one singular right decision, there are just a lot of options. I think the reason things look like a right decision is because we create a plan that makes that the right one for us. We support ourselves in whatever ways we need to, to make that the thing that works.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Well, and how do you know that it’s the right decision or not? That you are safe and present, and things are going, you like what is happening right now. Right?

Kimberly: Yeah. Oh, I know. I think there’s kind of like, you have to come back and evaluate, frequently. Because sometimes what was the right decision for a while either like we have changed something about the situation has changed. We have new information that we didn’t have. And it’s like, oh, well, that was the right decision up to this point.

And now, we have to shift a little bit. Maybe it’s a completely different direction. Maybe it’s just a little tweak to what we had planned to do or what we wanted. And I think making sure that we remember we have permission to change our minds is really important.

Because I think I’m almost like allergic to rigidity in a way. When people are like, no, but that’s what I said I was going to do. It keeps people stuck.

Elizabeth: Yes.

Kimberly: And just like prolongs suffering, it prolongs discomfort. I think sometimes it even prolongs like the result that they want to have. Because their experience while they’re doing all the things is just not good. It’s painful even.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And we can bring all of that back to health and habits because what you were just saying, we will often start a habit for one reason and continue it for another. So, an example of that might be if you are waking up in the middle of the night because your kid is waking up. You’re training your body to wake up at two o’clock every morning.

And so then, you continue that even though the stimulus is gone, you’re still continuing with that.

Kimberly: Yeah.

Elizabeth: And then, to talk about the rigidity, I see people doing that all the time with their food plans as well as with exercise. I think about the trajectory that my life has taken as far as exercise goes and all of the different modalities that I’ve tried.

And it’s like, I never thought that I would end up where I am today doing all of the different things that I’ve done. Like, talk to me when I was 30, I would have told you, Oh, I’m going to be bodybuilding until I’m like forever. But no, I don’t want to pick it up anymore.

Kimberly: Yeah. Again, I think it comes back to what’s the goal and why do you have that goal because there are a lot of ways to get there. Right? Maybe it’s bodybuilding for a while. Maybe you get bored. Like a lot of people with ADHD, we just get bored with it. We need novelty.

So, it’s okay if you’re like, ah, I don’t want to go and do that thing at the gym every day. Just ask yourself, okay, if I want to spend X amount of time moving my body, what are all the other ways I could do that? What sounds fun? Maybe I go back to bodybuilding at some point.

But I’m much more likely to stick with the plan, if I allow for some of those adjustments and just make it fine, it means nothing. I’m not quitting. I’m not failing. I’m not like pushing through, you know. I’m not doing what I said I was going to do.

If you are moving your body, however much you wanted to do, like you are doing what you said you were going to do. It’s just the modality to get there is maybe different than you thought it was going to be.

Elizabeth: Yeah, exactly. And we get stuck in this well, I thought I was always going to, and I think there’s an identity level belief thereof I’m always going to be a runner. And so if I’m not running because I’m injured or because I found yoga instead. What does that mean about me?

Kimberly: Yeah. Oh, gosh. I feel like identity stuff is like a whole other can of worms you can get into, you know? But yeah, I mean, for me, again, like I’m allergic to anything that’s like very rigid. I feel like I’m allergic to rules. Because I think I’m a little bit rebellious at heart as part of it. I’m like, you can’t tell me what to do. Even if it was me telling myself, that’s what I’m going to do. I don’t like it.

But also, life just has things happen. People change. Situations change. Our bodies change. We could have an injury that forces a change. We could have like women, I mean, oh, my gosh, like perimenopause, all the things like there’s changes in your brain in different phases of life.

I think to be so rigid that you don’t allow for some of that nuance and complexity of just being a person. Like it’s going to make things so much harder, if not just set you up to fail.

Elizabeth: That is absolutely 100 percent true because everyone who’s listening to this knows that the techniques that they used when they were 20 years old to lose weight, or be fit, or whatever are completely different or don’t work for them with our changing body. Even though, they have not changed anything. Like it just our hormones shift.

Kimberly: Well, I didn’t think about like the seasons. You know, like winter, if I’m like out walking my dog or going for hikes every day in the summer, and I love it. And the sun’s out to 9 PM. It’s great. That’s not happening in the winter. If I tell myself, I need to continue that because that’s what’s worked best for me, or that’s the best way to get my exercise or whatever.

I’m going to make it so much more difficult than if I’m just like, okay, so, it’s freezing cold. The sun goes down at like 4:30. What are my options?

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Kimberly: Like as long as I’m still moving, that’s the goal.

Elizabeth: Well, and you know, I see that all the time with food plans too. Like people are like, okay, I’m going to have a salad every day. And then, all of a sudden, it gets rainy and cold and you’re like, I don’t want to eat the salad. Like I want something warm and cozy. And so then, they like feel like shit about themselves because they were like, well, I was supposed to eat a salad and I didn’t.

Kimberly: So, I’ve talked with clients too about instead of a plan or to do list, like we make a menu for them. Because a menu, if you go to a restaurant like a menu is all these choices. So, if they want to have movement, like I have a client right now who is pregnant and it’s like first trimester. And first trimester is just rough. You never know, it could be completely different one pregnancy to another.

So, her capacity is just not there. And she also doesn’t know what her capacity is going to be until she wakes up in the morning. So, instead of having a plan where she’s like, I have to walk every morning, take the stroller out with the little kid and my dog, and go walk.

It’s so much easier for her. She’s much more likely to actually move her body, if she can check in with herself and see what her capacity is. What is her energy level in the morning and look at her menu of options, and choose something based on her energy level, based on the time that she has.

If the school calls and she have to go pick up a kid because the kid is sick. She could chuck, well, the whole plan out the window. Like, I can’t get any movement at all. Or she’s like, well, what’s on the menu. Oh, I could dance around in my living room for 15 minutes. I love that too because again, I think if we just have more options, we’re much more likely to actually do something versus doing nothing at all.

Elizabeth: Yeah. I mean, right there, what you just said is basically listening to your body.

Kimberly: Yes.

Elizabeth: Anyone who’s out there who’s wondering, what does it mean to listen to your body? That’s what it means. Like deciding what to do and not being bound by the rules of what you’re supposed to do, quote unquote supposed to.

Kimberly: Well, you know, with people pleasing, I think it’s not even people pleasers. Like a lot of us just do not know how to check in with our body. We’re so used to pushing through like, well, on the agenda is X, Y, or Z. So, it doesn’t matter if I’m tired, doesn’t matter if I’m hungry. I just have to go continue with the plan or continue with the schedule.

Elizabeth: Right.

Kimberly: We just get so disconnected from it. It’s a practice that in and of itself is a practice for people and can be a goal all on its own.

Elizabeth: Yeah, absolutely. Like listening or doing what I call a body scan is one of the first things that my clients do because we have been conditioned as women to not pay attention to our bodies.

Kimberly: Yes.

Elizabeth: Right. Like through diet culture.

Kimberly: Yeah. Well, and also, I’ll just put my toe on my soapbox and not stand fully on top of it. Like the whole medical establishment has not necessarily been conducive to helping women pay attention to their bodies or taking themselves seriously. So, there’s that. That’s a whole other thing.

Elizabeth: Yeah. We’re not going to go in there. No. All right. So, Kimberly, is there anything else that you want to share with the listener?

Kimberly: Oh, my gosh.

Elizabeth: I mean, I’m sure that there’s a ton.

Kimberly: I think I’m going to just hold myself back because I don’t think so. You’re right, there’s a bazillion things. But I love what we’ve covered today. We’ve kind of been all over the place and hit on so many good things in the process.

Elizabeth: Yeah. This has been super fantastic.

Kimberly: Yeah.

Elizabeth: Okay. So, if people want to follow you or work with you, how can they get in touch with you?

Kimberly: Yeah. I love being on Instagram. I just find Instagram fun, so they can find me there. My username is thekimberlymathis, and I have a website,, and I have a podcast that launched last year, and it’s called, ‘Decisions Change Everything.’ They can find that on Spotify or on Apple Podcasts.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And I just want to put in a plug for you that since you are a former therapist, like anyone who’s listening, who is like, I think I need therapy, but I’m not sure if I need coaching. I think that you are just a perfect blend of that.

Kimberly: Well, thanks. I did a series on my podcast just in like the last month talking about this specifically, what are the differences between coaching and therapy? And how do you know who you should work with? How do you pick a coach if there’s like a bazillion out there, and it’s not regulated and licensed in the same way as therapy.

So, that would probably be really helpful. There’s a lot of good information there. Also, I want people to remember they can work with both at the same time. There’s nothing against that. I think that the biggest difference is just that therapy, it’s a medical model. It’s going to be about treatment.

So, if you have something that’s diagnosable and you are wanting to treat that specific diagnosis, therapy is the way to go. You can add in coaching on top of that. But working with a coach is not going to be coming at whatever you’re wanting to do through that lens of treatment.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Thank you for that. All right. Thank you for being on the show today. I really appreciate it. And thanks for just sharing so much value.

Kimberly: Yeah. So much fun. Thanks.

All right, that is a wrap on today’s chat with Kimberly. We talked about everything from the big life changing decisions to those small daily choices that sneak their ways into our lives and really shape the trajectory of our life.

Now, if you have a friend who’s feeling the weight of trying to keep her health in check, thinking that it’s got to be this huge all time consuming thing. Do her a solid and share this episode with her. It might just be the nudge that she needs to start thinking about her health in a whole new light.

And hey, if you’re sitting there, nodding along, feeling like you’re ready to grab the reins on your own health journey, I am here for you.

Let’s talk about how coaching can clear the fog and help get you moving towards what you really want in your future without your health calling the shots. Reach out and let’s see how we can team up to make that happen.

Have an amazing day, everyone. That’s all I have for you. See you next time. Bye-bye.

Thank you for tuning into today’s episode. If what we’ve discussed resonates with you and you’re eager to take your health journey further, I invite you to schedule a one-on-one call with me.

It’s an opportunity for us to dive deep into your health goals, explore your unique challenges, and discuss what you’ve tried before. To book your slot, simply click the link in the show notes.

Once you do, you’ll answer a few thought-provoking questions to get us started. Then, all you need to do is show up, and we’ll take it from there.

Let’s make your health journey a priority together. See you on the call!

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