Health Coaching: Why? Who? What?

I think there is a lot of confusion as to what a health coach is, what they do, who they help, and WHY? I wanted to take a moment to discuss, from my perspective, what a health coach is, who they help, and why we do what we do. Or more specifically, why I do what I do.

From a young age, I knew that I loved to help others. I feel like my superpower is connecting with others. It lights me up. I love to make people feel comfortable, cared for, supported, loved, and SEEN. I think one of the reasons it comes so naturally for me is because that is all I have ever wanted in others. Since I understand this about myself, I think that's why it is such a passion for me to be that person for others. I know that is what my purpose here on planet earth is: to be a servant.

I started first with working in the food industry. I love how food brings people together. I also love food. I love being creative, and working in a fast paced environment (although it took me a while to get my stuff together). They say that one of the leading contributors to someone being in good health is community. Do they have one? There is a town in Italy that has some pretty old, but healthy people. They eat what they want, drink what they want, even smoke! So what is their trick?! COMMUNITY. They spend a lot of time with the people in their community. They support each other. They are involved. They eat together. They play together. They relax together. It is lovely, and something I wish I had more of. Maybe you do too?

I grew out of the food industry. I believe most people do, but they get stuck there. I did all kinds of things, and I am grateful for the experience, the skills I acquired, the awesome people I've worked with. I really respect the people who work in the food industry. Not enough credit is given where credit is due. But, a lot of people who work in the field end up feeling jaded because there is a ceiling. There is also a lot of addiction. There is a lot of pressure, constantly. I made my exit. It just wanted serving me any more

Initially, I went to school for psychology and anthropology because I really love the mind, and people, and cultures, and learning to understand others so that I could help them was my goal. However, I got real with myself. There was no way I would be able to do that for a living and leave it at the door. It would consume me. I know myself too well to go down that road. So I thought, how could I find another way to help others?

Then my dad got ill with cancer. He went through chemotherapy and radiation, eventually stopping because it was affecting his quality of life (I applaud him for that decision, it was probably a really hard one to make). But I saw him learning how food was affecting his quality of life and I put two and two together: food is medicine. Sure, he had cancer. Sure, he had a lot of side effects. But he was using food to alleviate some of the symptoms! Maybe even prolonging his life (I have no evidence for this).

That is when I became obsessed with nutrition and dietetics. After returning to school for nutrition and dietetics with a minor in psychology, I realized that I didn't want to work in a hospital: I wanted to get to the people before they ended up there. I want to help others to PREVENT illness with food. Then, I was introduced to the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, and my perspective on health and nutrition CHANGED in a big way.

Yes, nutrition and exercise are important. I am not saying they aren't. You can change your health in a big way by just including more PLANTS into your diet. Or exercising more frequently.

But, I also realized that health is holistic; it is multifaceted. When one thing/area of our life is imbalanced, everything else becomes imbalanced! Our careers, our spirituality, our relationships, how we feel about ourselves, our finances, our creativity, and so many other areas of our lives play a BIG role in our health, not just nutrition and exercise.

Let me just get this out of the way: diets don’t work. Period. They aren’t sustainable and they are built on shaky ground. Plus, the whole “diet” mindset is toxic.

Also: one size fits all doesn't work either. We are all different, and thats what makes us beautiful. At IIN, I was taught the perspective of bio-individuality, which is just a fancy word meaning that what might work for one person, might not work for someone else.

If you know me at all, you probably know I can't STAND generalizations, or categories. I dont want to be defined by a category or generalization. For instance, I claim myself as vegan, but sometimes I mess up. So, does that mean I'm not vegan? Then all the vegans get on me and start questioning my behaviour. Do you see what kind of toxic environment and mentality that might accidentally create?

I bring that up because you don’t need a label to be you. You just be you, and do what feels right for you. Don’t let the dirty media make you feel pressured to call it something.

Now, let's get right to the nitty gritty.

WHAT is a health coach?

I am going to speak from my perspective and tell you what I offer as a health coach. As a health coach, I will:

  • Help you to set short term and long term goals

  • Hone in on nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle behaviours and habits, and how to make new ones that better support you, in a sustainable way

  • Guide you to find the root causes of your habits and behaviours so that we can better understand them

  • Focus on balance in all areas of your life