Back in January of 2015, I took a leap of faith enrolling in a health coaching program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). Why did I decide to do this? I had never entertained the idea before nor did I ever think I would be working in the health and nutrition field. At the time, I was working for a non-profit organization teaching about nutrition and food to 3rd-5th graders along with teaching cooking classes for an after-school program. I enjoyed these jobs and realized I wanted to learn more. As I’m not so interested in the exact science of food, but more in behaviors, I thought a health coach was more my style.
I started at IIN looking to gain more nutrition knowledge since this was the subject I was now teaching. I also agreed with their philosophy that our health encompasses so much more than just what’s on our plate. Little did I know this decision would set me on the path to finding my purpose.
When I was younger my dad encouraged us to eat healthy, but while our plates were full of healthier food, our emotional and mental health was not being tended to. In high school I developed depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. I dealt with low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and not having a sense of my own self-worth. I didn’t have people I could turn to for help with these conditions back then. It wasn’t even until my late 20’s that I found help from a professional. I think I went into teaching because I wanted to help others. I soon realized though that I cared about their lives outside of the classroom too and wanted to do more.
The more I studied at IIN, I became aware of how health coaching does more than offer nutrition plans and fitness guides. Working as a health coach, I’m able to create a space where clients are listened to and heard. This isn’t something we are often able to have day to day in our lives. Clients are able to look at how they view themselves and their relationships with food, with people, and with money. Unless we face these issues, we won’t make any changes. We must first shift our mindset believing we can be consistent with our health.
I was doing the work on myself, healing old wounds and wanted to share this knowledge and help guide others to a life of health. Trying different diets doesn’t get to the root of the problem. The root of the problem is our belief in ourselves, how we care for ourselves and sometimes who we surround ourselves with. The root of the problem is the words we say to ourselves every day. I became a health coach because I wish I had someone like me when I was younger sharing this knowledge about how what we believe or think affects how we live and the choices we make.
I’ve focused on 13 lessons that helped me change and adopt a wellness lifestyle. As I’ve said before this isn’t a quick fix or trying the latest wellness trends, this is about true long-lasting sustainable change in all areas of our lives. It truly is a shift in our habits that will create a healthier lifestyle. No, there is not a one size fits all program, but there are general principles that apply to all our lives when trying to create change. All these areas have helped me, and I want to show others how to use these tools to help themselves.
After IIN I enrolled at Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) to continue my learning where I earned a master’s degree in Health Promotion in Community Education. When I graduated, I became a certified health education specialist (CHES) so that I could create health and wellness education programs. Besides being a coach, I also work in children’s nutrition and wellness programming for a couple different non-profits. This allows me to teach young people skills now that they will need to navigate life as the get older.
I fully believe this is my purpose as I am driven to help people, it’s who I am. I want to help others realize that the life they want is attainable, we can change, we can pursue new goals, we can heal our past, all while looking and feeling fabulous!