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What is a health coach?

I recently shared that I started a six-month program to become a certified holistic health coach. And while some people expressed their excitement for me, many asked me the same question…”What is a health coach?”. It wasn’t until two years ago that I finally heard what a health coach is. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I am currently enrolled, defines a health coach as:

a supportive mentor and wellness authority helping clients feel their best through food & lifestyle changes by tailoring individualized wellness programs to meet their clients' needs.

A health coach is NOT a nutritionist, dietitian, or medical doctor. So, what does a day in the life of a health coach look like? Some are employed at corporate companies, doctor offices, or wellness centers. But my goal upon completion of this course is to become self-employed. I will work with future clients and help them assess ALL aspects of their health; diet, exercise, relationships, career, spirituality, etc. I like to think of the role of a health coach as a sort of cheerleader. Some clients may have diet and exercise regimes given to them by doctors and nutritionist. My job is therefore to figure out how best to incorporate those guidelines into a sustainable lifestyle. Other clients may just want to talk about all aspects of their health and learn more about intuitive eating or how to transition towards a plant-based diet.

A health coach can play many roles, it all depends on the type of clients they attract. Health coaching is an increasingly growing field as other healthcare professionals are overwhelmed with numerous patients and a limited number of hours in the day. My job as a health coach does not undermine the work of others but rather will act as a complimentary piece to the puzzle.

Why do I want to become one?

I entered college not knowing what I wanted to do with my life…and left four years later, if possible, even more confused. At the beginning of my senior year I had made the switch from vegetarian to veganism and found myself increasingly interested in the field of health and wellness. I read an article about Alyse from Raw Alignment who was a certified health coach. I decided to checkout her Youtube channel and discovered that she was a year older than me, ate raw vegan, and talked about holistic health. I was immediately intrigued and began watching all of her content.

It didn’t talk long for me to discover a video describing how she became a health coach and what organization she had gone through, IIN. As I went through my senior year I didn’t think much about health coaching yet continued to follow along with Alyse’s journey as well as numerous other vegan/ holistic Youtubers and Instagramers. I felt so incredibly aligned and inspired by these people I had never even met. As much as I love my friends and family, I was craving to find and connect with people who shared my values and interests around health, wellness, veganism, and holistic living.

Fast forward to December 2017, I was hating working as a barista and desiring a creative outlet. I started this website/blog and discovered my love for sharing my personal experience with others. A few months later Alyse announced that she would be hosting a live webinar with another IIN graduate, Amelia from Salt, Sand and Smoothies, about their experiences being health coaches and how that got them where they are today. I figured I had nothing to lose so I signed up for the webinar and marked my calendar. I don’t mean to get too cheesy (because you know I’m #vegan) but this webinar changed my life. After listening to them speak about IIN and having a representative from the school talk about health coaching, I felt something deep with me. A calling, passion, desire…whatever you want to call it, I had it. I remember closing my computer over flowing with excitement. My intuition was speaking, no screaming at me telling me THIS was what I NEEDED to do! I wrote in my journal that night that for the first time in my life I heard about a career that I wanted to do. One that combined my love of helping others, sharing my knowledge of holistic health, veganism, and fitness, all while allowing me to work for myself.

As much as I wanted to take the plunge that night and sign up for the next cohort of classes…I couldn’t. I had recently quit that job that I hated, and knew I needed another job before I began paying for the program’s tuition. I waited until I got a job and to my delight was able to signup for an accelerated program; meaning the coursework normally takes 12 months but I will be completing it in 6 months.

Really this whole process has been a blessing in disguise. If I had never quit my barista job I wouldn’t have been able to listen to their webinar. If I had signed up that night I would have been in a yearlong program rather than being done in just six short months.

Why IIN?

I looked at numerous health coaching programs but found myself coming back to the Institutive for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). Why? The school offers a holistic view of health. This means that they believe health is so much more than diet and exercise. I’m learning to navigate these areas as well as topics such as career, relationships, and spirituality. Another reason why I chose IIN is because they teach such a wide range of dietary theories. As much as I love eating a whole food plant-based diet, I understand that every person is unique; what works for me may not work for one of my future clients.

As I continue to study my health coaching curriculum, I find myself becoming increasingly excited for what lies ahead. I feel so call to do this work and help others on their path to living a healthy and vibrant life. I plan to continue my blog and offer in-person or online coaching (more details to come in the months ahead). Thank you for taking the time read about something that is very near and dear to my heart. I can’t express how it feels to be so aligned with my soul’s purpose. Here is to the beginning of manifesting the life I dream about.

Interested in learning more about my journey towards becoming a heath coach? Interested in being a future client of mine? Be sure to follow me on Instagram @holisticherbivore

Also, be sure to share my Instagram and website with anyone you think would be interested!

Institute for Integrative Nutrition

Alyse, Raw Alingment

Amelia, Salt, sand, and smoothies


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