Lydia Knight grew up in an impoverished home in which disorder – literal feast or famine – epitomized the family’s food environment. So the irony doesn’t escape her that after overcoming such extreme odds to build a successful health and wellness business, she found herself trapped in a cycle of food restriction, bingeing, and obsessive exercise.
“Outwardly, I was an example of ultra health,” Lydia says. “But every day I felt like a failure and a fraud.”
In a recent podcast, Lydia recounted the painful process of recognizing her eating disorder, coming clean with her thousands of clients and followers, and healing herself. She did not want to manage her eating disorder or triggers, she wanted real freedom to not have an eating disorder any longer. After finding that freedom, she knew it was possible for others.
We talked with Lydia about how she re-built her practice based on the new data, feedback, and research she acquired. We also learned about the key role Marco Polo has played in helping to transform her clients’ lives, while also streamlining the business of Beat the Binge.
The key ingredient: connection
“Eating disorders are isolating,” Lydia begins. “You think you’re the only person in the world with your particular brand of ‘food crazy.’ Your disorder is the biggest thing holding you back, yet you’re terrified of life without it.”
That’s why Beat the Binge centers on highly personalized face-to-face coaching, via Marco Polo, that blends nurturing with practicality. Rather than analyzing or deconstructing the origin of someone’s eating disorder, the program helps them break the cycle permanently, both physically and mentally.
In the beginning, Lydia and her coaches taught lessons via weekly live meetings, providing supplementary support with phone calls and private messaging. Feedback and data showed how well the program worked. People were getting better.
Yet, Lydia knew results could get even better if clients could reach out at the exact moments they needed her support the most. She found the perfect tool with Marco Polo.
“Marco Polo gives our clients the ability to reach out any time of the day or night, in a real and personal way, while still living their actual lives,” she says.
Marco Polo: Personalized group chat
When new clients enroll in Beat the Binge, their introductory materials include a link to download Marco Polo. There, a welcome Polo awaits from Lydia and the client’s individual coach, who have already formed a Marco Polo group for just the three of them.
Each week for eight weeks, the coach introduces a personalized set of lessons and exercises via the Marco Polo group chat. Follow-up questions, conversation, and coaching can take place throughout the week, in real time, or any time the client seeks support or to share a celebration. With Marco Polo, no one has to schedule to be live – a huge improvement, since Lydia’s clients and staff are distributed worldwide.
Because coaching Polos are saved and always available, clients can review each lesson as often they need to. Lydia and the coach can also review Polos to check progress and offer feedback as needed.
“Practice and repetition are key to re-training our brains to overcome eating disorders,” Lydia says. “The ability for a client to practice the skills for freedom, get customized feedback, and have a record of their progress all in one place enables rapid results.”
When we know how to free ourselves from the prison of an eating disorder, we possess the skill to set ourselves free from any cage. Stepping into our power is how we change the world.
Keeping the business on track
With hundreds of clients and a team to oversee, Lydia has also turned Marco Polo into a management multi-tasker.
- Groups transform internal communication. Lydia created an all-team group for general broadcasts. She manages specific areas of the company such as enrollment, admin, and operations via their own internal company groups.
- Pre-recorded FAQs streamline operations. As her staff grew, Lydia noticed that certain questions came up repeatedly. So, she pre-recorded a series of FAQ Polos. “Instead of having to answer from scratch – again! – I can just forward the answer. It saves time, and my team member still gets a personal reply.”
- Notes replace to-do lists. Lydia uses Marco Polo’s built-in text-based Notes, similar to text messages, to keep a record of everything. “If the ops team needs to update a page on our website, I drop them a Note, and they can Polo me back a confirmation to close the loop. I don’t have to hunt across different apps to reference it later.”
The top 3 ways Marco Polo helped increase the impact of Beat the Binge
#1: Business scaling. “Shifting from live one-on-one sessions to schedule-friendly group recordings enabled our coaches and myself to become more available to more clients, without sacrificing personal attention.”
#2: Trust zone. A significant number of Lydia’s clients are high-profile psychologists, psychiatrists, and health and wellness leaders who specialize in eating disorders yet have one themselves, as Lydia did. “They want to address their problem without jeopardizing their careers. Marco Polo provides crucial confidentiality and privacy.”
#3: Mission-driven. After switching from a live-meeting model to Marco Polo, Lydia and her team observed a significant increase in clients being served and reaching their goals more quickly. Clients who had been struggling with disordered eating for decades now found peace in a matter of weeks. As Lydia says, “With Marco Polo, we see amazing people all over the world who are not just getting better, they are getting free.”