Integrative Nutrition Blog
Build Your Own Health Coaching App with Visionary Lindsey Witmer
“Supporting other Integrative Nutrition grads who are doing incredible things is one of my favorite things to do.” These are the inspirational words of 2011 graduate Lindsey Witmer, who in 2011 received a Seed Grant from Integrative Nutrition to help fund an initiative to make the world a better place. Lindsey developed MyOmBody, an integrative health app that was called one of the “Ten Startups to Watch” by the Boston Globe and one of the “Five New Startups Worth Mentioning” by the Boston Business Journal.
These days, Lindsey is busy with her next project: making it possible for all Health Coaches to have their own customizable apps that send clients or potential clients a daily fact or health tip. If you’re interested in developing your own app, let Lindsey know! Read on to get inspired by Lindsey’s energy, optimism, and vision.
What led you to explore the Health Coach Training Program?
I was working in global poverty relief abroad and then for an international development consulting firm in Washington, DC.It was difficult for me to reconcile the disconnect between the work I was doing in my office in Georgetown and any positive change that might happen in villages thousands of miles away.
Krishnamurti said, "As you are, the world is. Without your transformation there can be no transformation of the world." It was evident to me that global change started right here in this body and mind and right there in that city. I was craving a return to direct service, and this time in my own backyard.
I began searching for PhD programs that would teach a multi-perspective approach to nutrition. I couldn’t find any school that did this except for IIN. It wasn’t a PhD program, but it was exactly what I was looking for, and boy was it affordable by comparison! I’m a practical person, and let’s face it, IIN seemed like a better option than tens of thousands of dollars of debt, four years in an ivory tower, and a degree that came with no guarantees. And, at the end of the day, I wasn’t looking to be an academic; I really just wanted to eternally immerse myself in this stuff, and it was great that with IIN I could also add value to the field sooner than later.
How did your life change after enrolling?
The biggest boon for me has been the friends I made from IIN. The Costa Rica conference I went to in 2011 introduced me to a big group of fast friends. It is amazing to meet so many people who are passionate about the same things you are and who have so much to teach you. My fellow alumni have changed my life, definitely.
Which topics and modules were most beneficial for you?
IIN’s primary foods approach really struck a chord with me. That philosophy is the basis of everything I do now. Every time I explain this concept to people, I can tell it strikes a chord with them, too. It feels like a real a-ha moment, like something you’ve known all along and just didn’t have the language for. I also love that IIN is not a school that teaches weight loss as an end-goal.
The reason I came to IIN is because I wanted to look at nutrition from an anthropological perspective. I wanted to learn the eastern and western perspectives, the ancient and modern, the popular and the obscure. And I was craving this version of nutrition that would include the emotional and mental bodies in its definition. When I looked at the list of teachers at IIN, I was sold. What wouldn’t I do to work with Dr. Doulliard, Dr. Weil, Deepak Chopra?
What are you doing now?
I’ve been building an integrative health app for the past 21 months. I hope very much that people will like it as much as I do. MyOmBody is a health tracking app that tracks diet and exercise, but more than that, it tracks all those other things that feed you: relationships, exercise, career, and spirituality.
The idea for the app began with an egregious bout with IBS and my inability to find an app that would help me find my ideal diet. As most people know, the cause and cure for IBS is somewhat unique to everyone who has it. I wanted to track my consumption of potential trigger foods (dairy, wheat, etc.) and symptoms in one place. And then I wanted to see if they connected.
But also, being a student at IIN really woke me up to the fact that over-exercising and over-stressing and under-happy houring might be playing a part, too. So I wanted to track all of that as well. And I figured, hey, other people would probably want this, too. And it would be cool if Health Coaches could use this with their clients. The fact that I had no experience building apps never daunted me for some reason. Some cliffs just beg to be jumped off of.
As much as I love the questions and quizzes in MyOmBody, the one-click connection to IIN health coaches is the heart of it.
What are you up to next?
My next project is making it possible for Health Coaches to have their own mobile apps. I think this is the next frontier after websites and newsletters. It’s a killer marketing tool! A way to deliver pre-planned and curated content to your subscribers in an easily digestible format that keeps you top of mind on a daily basis. I am really jazzed about this.
My primary goal is to make having your own app accessible in a way that it isn’t now. So to take the cost down from $4,000-$8,000 per app to the $500 range, I created a simple design that I can do in bulk. These apps all have the same functionality – they send your subscribers one fact, tip, or piece of information every day for however many days you want it to. The branding and content, however, is 100% personalizable. You create your own app icon, name your app whatever you want, put your logo as the wallpaper, and more. The possibilities are endless.
Other ideas are at http://www.myombody.com/courses, and you can view a mock-up of a sample app here. How about adding a “Download in the App Store” badge on your website? If you’re interested, let me know! Supporting other IIN grads who are doing incredible things is one of my favorite things to do.
Connect with Lindsey