DeAnna Zein helps save lives — ones lost to paralyzing anxiety, depression, or physical health issues. As a registered counsellor and certified fitness trainer who has faced her own personal struggles, DeAnna is uniquely equipped to meet her clients’ needs head-on and design counselling and coaching programs tailored to tackle their specific challenges. Compassionate, non-judgmental, and results-oriented, she guides them to clarity so they can overcome mental and physical health obstacles and begin enjoying life as they were meant to live it.
DeAnna also works with clients suffering from PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), which can rob women of their well-being, hamper their careers, and destroy their relationships. Refusing to accept the hopelessness brought on by this severe form of PMS, and the belief that surgery is the only way out, she creates a 5-step plan of attack to help women take back their lives. She can help you reclaim yours.
I was thrilled DeAnna took the time from her busy schedule to talk to us about the empowering work she does.
What first fascinated me about your work is that you combine counselling with coaching, addressing both the psychological and the physical. What a powerful mix! Given the loop between the mind and the body, how do you begin when a client comes to you? What are some of the first questions you ask?
I always begin with the client’s current story. Questions are tailored specifically to each client, and really vary depending on their individual circumstances. First we explore what’s not working in their life, get crystal clear on the current picture and the outcome we are looking for. Together we then develop a step-by-step plan based on the client’s specific vision they want for themselves.
We explore past events that may be contributing to the current situation, and we also explore the client’s values, belief systems, passions, and interests.
Our step-by-step plan involves eliminating any anxiety and worry, controlling the client’s relationship with food, or untangling the confusion that has built up over the course of their life. My counselling and coaching is very action focused. We don’t stay in the problem very long; we move quickly into taking the steps to help them change their current situation.
This brings me to your weight-loss coaching. Another salient principle of your work is the importance of maintaining discipline and forming better habits. This can apply to so many aspects of our lives, but why do so many struggle in this area of well-being?
There are so many factors that contribute to one’s struggles with weight loss. I find the individual’s relationship with food is the biggest struggle for most people. After years of trying every diet out there, my clients come to me exhausted and feeling hopeless about achieving weight loss. My first course of action is to eliminate dieting completely!
Diets are the WORST culprit for weight loss, and research shows that 30 percent of people who lose weight through dieting actually end up gaining more weight than before starting their diet.
The truth is, the more you restrict your eating, the more likely you are to binge eat or over-indulge later. More and more research is showing that intuitive eating:
- Promotes long-term weight loss
- Improves self-esteem
- Increases good cholesterol
- Helps a person gain control over their eating
- Helps individuals identify and address their true emotions
- Promotes body appreciation and acceptance
- Decreases binge eating episodes
- Decreases emotional eating
In addition to intuitive eating, we focus on the behavioural habits as well as the emotional, social, and biological aspects that may be preventing the individual from achieving their health goals. This can include:
- Life stressors
- The individual’s social network
- History of eating disorders
Tell us a bit about your background, your personal challenges, and why you ventured into the work you do.
I have honestly been interested in the human mind and body for as long as I can remember. From a very young age, I was a peer counsellor at school, and I can remember having friends over after school to do workouts as far back as middle school.
Having these interests did not come without challenges. I struggled with eating disorders and body image for many years. I’ve been inactive and overweight, and I’ve also been through stages of compulsive exercise and starvation. Looking back, there is ALWAYS an emotional/situational factor that contributes to the “desire to be thin,” as well as the need to stuff one’s emotions — a.k.a., to binge eat.
The devil inside our heads plays such a role in every aspect of our lives. Back then, the story inside my head was that I was only worthy if I was thin, if the number on the scale went down every day, and during my divorce I remember only feeling beautiful if my ribs were showing. Looking back, this makes me so sad to think I felt this way.
Since then, I have grown immensely. I truly feel this is what contributes to my passion to help and serve others. After living the hell firsthand, you can really connect and relate to the individual you work with, and you can truly instil hope for change.
In addition to weight-loss struggles, I have struggled with depression and anxiety for many years. I feel that so many individuals struggle with this at some point in their lives, and the symptoms can be detrimental to their careers, their relationships, and their health. I am equally as passionate about helping individuals overcome depression and anxiety as I am about weight loss. Often my clients struggle with all of the above.
I truly love what I do. I love seeing my clients experience the changes I’ve been through. I love watching them evolve from feeling insecure, anxious, and unhappy to feeling confident, relaxed, and loving themselves from the inside out.
How are the current conditions of this pandemic presenting new challenges — for you and your clients — and how are you dealing with them?
From the momentthe pandemic started, I focused on the opportunities, not the challenges. As a mindset coach, I teach my clients that challenges are always 20 percent logistics, 80 percent psychology. We will continue to have challenges our whole lives, and with every challenge we will grow more mental muscle that will help us take on the next challenge.
I am not disregarding the severity of what’s happening in our world. All I’m saying is that we always have two options when challenges arise. We can buckle with fear, anger, and despair, or we can adjust our sails and alter the way we do things.
My clients and I have used this time to reflect on our lives. Some clients have evaluated their careers and are now pursuing their passions. We practice gratitude daily, still set intentions for each day, and we have found we have more time to focus on our health than ever before.
We focus on the things we can control, not the things we cannot.
What do balance and well-being mean to you?
I could write a whole book about this! I feel that in order to maintain your well-being, you must have balance. The two just go together. I think we can all relate when I say that when one area of your life is out of balance, you don’t feel well.
I do believe that being in balance is different for each individual. For me, I feel in balance when my time is dispersed appropriately between my career, my family, my health (mental and physical), as well as leaving time for personal care — including time to “just be,” with no prior engagements, no responsibility, and pure silence. When one of these is out of balance, my well-being is definitely compromised, I feel stressed, fatigued, and completely out of sorts.
I believe that when a person is living their life based on their true values and they are living life with true authenticity, they have well-being. When our actions become out of line with what we value, we become distressed and unwell. In my practice, I see a lot of distress coming directly from this. Clients know what they value; however, their actions don’t always align with those values.
An example of this is someone who values health. I have women who want to start their families soon, and they want to be healthy and strong not only to bear their children, but also to play an active, healthy role in their children’s lives. These women come to me feeling distressed because they can’t stick to a healthy diet, and they have no motivation to do any physical activity. The distress comes from being out of line with what they value. Together, we work to increase that motivation, develop an action plan, and then work together to keep that accountability and get them back to feeling well.
Tell us something about yourself many might not know — a fun fact, interesting perspective, or entertaining story.
I think I’ll go with a little mindset work here. To anyone out there who lives in the limiting belief that they can’t do something, that their cards weren’t dealt right, or that they aren’t worthy or good enough to achieve their dreams, it’s total BS!
Let go of any belief that you are a victim, and choose victory instead.
Don’t let the devil inside your head tell you anything else besides how capable and worthy you are. No matter where you’ve been, no matter what your past looks like, the future can be anything you want it to be.
- Practice gratitude.
- Connect to your dream and your purpose everyday.
- Focus on serving your client, and the money will follow.
- Whatever you want from life, just ask. The universe will deliver (careful what you wish for).
Tom Kernaghan, owner of Oak Writer
I write stories about people, businesses, and communities so that people will remember what makes them uniquely powerful.
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