So, you want to be a health coach…

appleSo, an interesting thing happened when I started my Holistic Health & Nutrition Coaching practice. As soon as I put up my web site and started posting on a regular basis on my blog and social media, I started to get inquires. Some of them were from people interested in optimizing their nutrition, losing weight, dealing with food sensitivities, looking to heal their bodies from illness and so on. But, many of the inquiries I get are questions from people that are inspired to become health coaches themselves!

I think a lot of people have this idea that I’m just hanging out at home in my PJs, posting photos of green smoothies on Instagram while sipping on herbal tea while raking in the dollars and not having to answer to a boss. I really wish that was the case! This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for awhile – my thoughts on my education and training and the reality of being a health and nutrition coach.

Where did you get your education?
I completed a one year health coaching certification program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (or IIN) in 2014. I chose IIN because it had a well-rounded nutrition program that covered many dietary theories and included lectures/videos from nutrition experts I respected and admired like Andrew Weil and Dr. Neil Barnard. It also had coursework on how to coach effectively and the business side of coaching like marketing, branding and finance. Finally, the school basically supplied you with everything you needed to get started: a web site template, program overviews, handouts, group program outlines and pricing suggestions. I was satisfied with this program, but felt it lacked in some science. Because of that, I expanded my education with several courses from the Holistic Nutrition Lab. Also, I later completed a plant-based professional cooking certification from Rouxbe.

I liked the format of IIN and was able to complete the program while working full time. I read every recommended book and watched/read all of the bonus material given to us in a reference library. I made sure never to fall behind, I “attended” all of my coaching calls, and did many free consultations. I feel just getting the information on how to coach, how to set up a coaching program, etc made IIN worth the time and money.

The format and length of the IIN program has changed in the few years since I completed my certification. If you are thinking of enrolling, I recommend you speak to a recent graduate.

Are you able to support yourself as a health coach?
The truth? This is a goal I am working towards, but I do currently work other part-time jobs in the health and wellness world for a steady income. If you go to the web site for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, you’ll see testimonials of many successful full time coaches – it can happen – and I hope to one day to transition to coaching full time. The truth is that in my few years as a coach there have been many ups and downs. I’ve had phases where I’ve successfully coached clients and created successful workshops, but I’ve also put hours into other projects where I did not make a great return on my time investment (i.e., lost money).

What keeps me going is that I really believe in what I do and am passionate about helping people. Seeing where my clients start on day one with working to me, to where they are health wise months later keeps me inspired. 1 in 3 Americans have high blood pressure. 30% of Americans are obese. 70% of deaths in this country are due to chronic diseases. We can prevent a lot of this with proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices. A lot of people need our help.

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