Elisa Haggarty Brings Health Education to Hong Kong Schools
2011 graduate Elisa Haggarty realized two things upon her arrival in Hong Kong, where she relocated from Morristown, New Jersey. One: her new job as an English teacher was not all she had hoped it would be; and two: her students suffered from a poor level of health and nutrition.
After contemplating where she saw her future self, and how she could make a difference in the health of her students, she enrolled in Integrative Nutrition’s Health Coach Training Program and sensed a new path emerging in her career. Elisa continues to teach English, but is now sharing her knowledge of health and wellness in her school and introducing new practices that her coworkers and students otherwise may never have learned. She hopes to eventually transition to educating others about whole foods and eating well full-time, since she has found in her travels that the strong need for health coaches is universal. Read more about this graduate’s journey below!
What were you doing before Integrative Nutrition?
Before enrolling in IIN, I was teaching English at an International School in Hong Kong. I came here from New Jersey in the pursuit of an adventure, change of pace and a new challenge. As soon as I arrived, I knew this job was not the right fit for me. I had no support system here and felt frustrated by teaching English when I KNEW there was more important information and more issues for me to tackle. At one point, only four years into teaching English, I even contemplated quitting teaching and finding another profession. I felt an overwhelming sense of apathy because I saw so many of my students were overweight and headed straight towards bad health and disease.
What led you to explore Integrative Nutrition's program?
I was at dinner with a friend, who was also feeling frustrated by her job and we began talking about where we might be in a few years professionally. I mentioned I just couldn't see myself teaching English anymore and she felt the same about her job. I brought up IIN and we looked into the program later that night. I soon started to feel like the universe was pointing me in this direction, towards holistic health and helping to heal others. I went into school and saw my young adolescent students with grey hair, and decided that I needed to help make a change in the school's approach towards food and health. While I felt my days teaching English were numbered, I could sense a new door opening that would have a greater impact on the world.
What happened since you enrolled in Integrative Nutrition's program?
My entire energy, perspective and sense of purpose have changed! I am working really hard in trying to make health coaching and whole foods educating my full time job. I have started monthly whole foods cooking classes at my school for the staff, and I started a "Green Smoothie" club for the students where we serve smoothies twice a week! I have also started doing nutrition seminars for parents at various schools all around Hong Kong. Personally, I am more balanced, happy, and motivated to make a positive change in the world.
What did you learn at Integrative Nutrition?
I have learned to question everything. I have learned that no one way of eating or living applies to everyone. This has been invaluable to me because I always thought everyone could be vegetarian! I have also learned to listen to my body and that although I am eating "healthily" my body may need certain things to keep it working at optimal levels. I have been so impressed by the podcasts and the lectures, and I have been challenged and pressed to rethink all ideas and opinions I used to hold. Mostly, though, I have learned that we are constantly evolving and changing and we must listen to the clues from the universe about where we should go and follow our inspiration.
What do you love about the school?
I love the diversity of the seminars and lectures. I have learned so much from the modules and the information, I feel that I honestly need to listen to the seminars and lectures five more times in order to soak up all the information. I was really impressed by the energy shift it started in me and my life. I think that’s the biggest thing, hearing all the success stories and positive energy radiating from former students was invaluable. I was in a place in my life where positive energy and optimism were scarce, and now I feel abundant.
How has studying with an international Health Coach Training Program benefited you?
I feel that I have been able to grow and learn from the best minds on the planet even from a distance. I didn't think it was possible to feel so connected being so far away, but I do. I think you build a little community and it becomes your family. The program has been invaluable and I have probably learned more in this past year than in four years of college!
Is there a need for Health Coaches where you live?
YES! After traveling throughout Southeast Asia the past two years and throughout America, the need is so apparent everywhere! I honestly can't think of anyone who wouldn't benefit from a health coach, including myself! I think despite fast food going global, people are acutely aware that things with health and wellness need to change.
What do you love about your work?
I love helping people. Seeing a client connect the dots between their illnesses and their diet and lifestyle is priceless. I love being able to educate people that food is medicine and we should look to the earth for the answer. I love educating people in my whole foods classes and seeing their eyes light up when they get to taste healthy food. The biggest thing I am trying to show the world is that eating healthily can and should taste good! Being healthy isn't about deprivation; it’s about abundance and feeling good!
Tell us about your practice.
Although I'm still teaching English full time, I am currently practicing holistic health and have five clients. In addition to this, I hold monthly whole foods cooking classes for the staff at my school. Each class has an educational/nutritional theme, such as: "Learn why understanding acid v. alkaline forming foods is vital for optimal health and wellness." I'm also running seminars for parents at various schools around Hong Kong. The theme of these seminars is “how nutrition influences child development," during which I'll give a quick food demo to the parents so they can walk away with education, inspired and able to take their health and their families’ health into their own hands. Ideally, I want to be a food ambassador in schools!