Sharon’s Take: How Being “Unhealthy” Makes You a Better Health Coach
A huge obstacle to people considering a Health Coaching career is the idea that they’re not healthy enough themselves to give wellness advice to others. Well I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s also a huge myth about Health Coaching.
I decided to enroll in the Health Coach Training Program at Integrative Nutrition because I needed a new career. I also enrolled because I needed to do some serious work on my own health.
Let me back up a bit.
Inner Demons and Unhealthy Habits
I came to New York to pursue a career in musical theater, and—shocker—it was much harder than I’d imagined. Working the crack-of-dawn shift at a Starbucks and dragging myself to auditions at night, my life didn’t look like the one I’d envisioned.
On top of the career stress, I was also putting some serious stress on my body. Having struggled with body issues my whole life, I took drastic action to drop weight when I moved to New York. I hit the gym every day and cut my calories severely—by consuming little more than coffee and ice cream.
Not healthy, that’s for sure. But hey, the pounds came off.
I realized just how unhealthy I was when I quit coffee for a cleanse and the withdrawal symptoms were so bad that I thought I was going to die. I knew I needed to make some big changes.
Learning More and Letting Go
Fast forward to a few years later, and I was still battling my food and body demons, but had gotten off the coffee-and-ice-cream kick and had taken an interest in health and nutrition. Friends and family members had started coming to me with questions about food and diet, and though I usually had a response to their inquiries, I definitely didn’t feel qualified to be the go-to health expert in the group. Doling out tips to people who looked way “healthier” than I did made me feel like a fraud.
Then I found the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
It was perfect: I needed a career shift, I needed to improve my own health and relationship with food, and on top of that, I was interested in the subject matter.
As I learned about dozens of conflicting dietary theories, I finally understood that there is no “right” diet, no “right” answers, and no “right” weight or body. I learned about Bio Individuality—the idea that there is no one right way of eating that works for everyone—and realized what was nourishing my raw vegan peer’s body might leave mine feeling lethargic and sick.
A New Definition of Healthy
I also came to understand that there’s no perfect version of “healthy” that we can achieve once and for all. Our definitions of health evolve, and our bodies change throughout our lives. The journey to health never ends—I would be on it for the rest of my life, as would everyone around me. And that’s okay. In fact, it can help you:
- Empathize with the struggles your clients share
- Speak from a place of authenticity
- Get experience: you’re your own first client!
- Keep learning after your training ends
- Provide a relatable and inspiring example to clients
You’ll always be working on your own health, and that doesn’t make you unqualified.
It makes you human.
Do you feel “healthy enough” to be a Health Coach? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments below!