Integrative Nutrition Blog

Health Coaching Goes Global

October 6, 2012

As our international community grows, our graduates are increasingly addressing the needs of different countries and cultures. Dr. Marion Alvarez, class of 2011, is an outstanding example of a cross-cultural Health Coach, striving to not only serve her local Los Angeles clients, but also the people of her home country, Mexico.

What were you doing prior to enrolling at Integrative Nutrition?

I went to medical school in Mexico and, after graduation, decided to become a surgeon. So I moved to Los Angeles to prepare for the medical board examinations, took the exams, and successfully passed them all. But before applying for my US residency, I decided to move back to Mexico for a while, where I completed a fellowship in aesthetic medicine (cosmetic dermatology) and opened a medical office. Things were going well, and I had a lot of patients, but something was missing...

So that’s when you discovered the Health Coach Training Program?

I already had an interest in nutrition and, during my last year in medical school, started a huge research program on childhood obesity. So when I did move back to the U.S., I started researching disease prevention, watched a few documentaries about the relationship between disease and food, and decided nutrition was what I wanted to pursue.

How did your life change after enrolling?

My life has completely changed. I am a healthy new person, and am even involved in yoga and spirituality. The guest lecturers that influenced me most were Mark Hyman, Joel Furhman, and Deepak Chopra. I've since spread the word, not only to my patients, but also family and friends. I see how the people around me are changing the way they eat and becoming more conscious about the food-disease relationship.

What is it like to be a Health Coach in Mexico?

I am a pioneer in Mexico, where the idea healthy eating is very new. Mexico is now the leader in childhood obesity, and there is a huge need of Health Coaches. I know there are a few but we have to unite to be stronger. I want to help my people before it's too late.

Can you explain how you structure your program for clients?

Individual clients come to me for four to six sessions in which I teach them how to eat healthy and explain why. My first session consists of explaining, scientifically, how the food a client is eating can damage their health. For example, how processed foods cause inflammation, which is the cause of chronic degenerative diseases. Then I tell them about all the benefits of eating a healthy and beautiful whole foods diet, and how this diet will change their lives and their relationships with the people around them. If my patients live in the Los Angeles area, I also provide a supermarket tour and a pantry-cleaning visit. If the patient is long distance, we meet over Skype.

What are your proudest achievements since graduating?

I recently started a blog in English and another in Spanish. I am also on a show called The Doctors, which currently airs in Mexico, but has been bought by Univision and will air sometime around December in the U.S. Long-term, I would also like to do conferences and publish my book.

That’s really exciting! What do you love most about your work?

I have never been happier or felt more proud of my work. The part I love most is the chance I have been given to help people - to truly prevent disease, to create a better world for humans and animals, and to teach others that they can help our planet by eating healthier. I also love to see my patients grow and help other people change - the ripple effect!

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