Ask A Health Coach: Did You Ever Doubt the Health Coach Career Path?
Absolutely! I was dealing with so many of my own demons when I enrolled in the Health Coach Training Program, I had no idea what my health coaching future would hold. I just knew it was time to start living again and my hang-ups on food were holding me back in all areas of my life.
I found Integrative Nutrition, as I mentioned in a previous post, because I was working with a Health Coach. She jump-started my journey towards finding health, and my year at IIN solidified my lifetime love affair with health and wellness.
It wasn’t always this way. Taking control of my health didn’t come easy. When I enrolled in IIN, I was still in the throes of a pretty terrible eating disorder I had been dealing with for the previous 5 years. I had acne, about 30 pounds to lose, and I was miserable in my own skin. I would find the one skinny “perfect” person in the room and compare myself to them endlessly.
Before IIN, my focus was never on health – my focus was always on appearance. It wasn’t until Integrative Nutrition that I realized my inside was the place I needed to start to heal to reach the physical place I wanted to be.
Over the course of the year, I used an IIN concept called crowding out, adding in healthier choices so there was less room for the bad stuff, and filled myself up on fruits, veggies, whole grains, a range of proteins, full healthy fats, and love. Yeah, love - vitamin L - my favorite ingredient. I stopped beating myself up when I made a mistake, breathed through it, and moved on.
I fell in love, graduated from college, started a new job, moved to a new apartment, and graduated from IIN. Through all the change, I lost about 25 pounds the right way, and graduated with 11 clients. My focus became supporting other women who also struggled with body image, disordered eating patterns, and relationship to food issues. In my coaching practice, I view everything as a relationship, and it starts with how you treat yourself – food is simply a reflection of that.
I won’t lie, when I first started coaching I was plagued by insecurities. Was I too young? Too heavy? Would anyone take me seriously?
But I found that these women – my clients – needed me. We had a shared experience, and they were happy to have someone who had walked in their shoes as their supporter and champion. My own journey inspired them to take on their own.
I struggled so hard for so many years. If I had found Integrative Nutrition earlier, I would have avoided years of pain. I feel so blessed to know what I do now so that I can help others. I’ve helped family, friends, and countless women through my coaching program and blog and I want to continue inspiring them for years to come.
If you are worried about being an effective Health Coach, you are not alone. I remember hearing stories from my classmates that broke my heart. I enrolled people into the program as a member of the admissions team that literally floored me with their will to overcome. They made me realize, it is never too late to make your health a priority. If I can do it, if they can, so can you – you just need the tools. And that’s what IIN is for!
Shannon Brennan-Cressey is a graduate of Integrative Nutrition’s 2008 health coaching class and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has worked in wellness centers, with private clients, and coached other prospective Health Coaches as a member of the admissions team at Integrative Nutrition. Shannon supports women in finding better balance in their lives and in finding peace with food. She also runs a health and wellness blog where you can find her posting about things like green wedding planning, body image issues, self-empowerment, and healthy delicious recipes.