Health Coach Feature: How Sílvia Taveira de Almeida Helps Busy Humans Find a Safe Space of Individual Well-Being

September 20, 2019

Sílvia Taveira de Almeida is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, a healthy eating mentor, and the founder of Glow Chef. She helps busy humans – men and women – find the healthy lifestyle they need to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way, while also helping them manage their stress and find a safe space of individual well-being. Sílvia is a business woman, wife, and mother of two. She believes that cooking at home and healthy eating have made her happier and stronger.

Q: What were you doing prior to enrolling at Integrative Nutrition?
A: Prior to enrolling at IIN, I was already blogging about healthy eating and did some teaching, including private cooking classes and workshops. Additionally, I have a business investment firm, which I’ve cofounded with a few fellow alumni from Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics (where I got my economics degree).

Q: What led you to explore the Health Coach Training Program?
A: When I started helping people in my private classes and workshops, I felt there were internal barriers that were deeper than just not knowing what to eat. My dialogue became more and more personal. I realized that if I wanted to have the impact I was aiming for, I needed more knowledge and more tools to help people change from the inside, in a way no healthy recipe could.

Q: How has your life changed since becoming a Health Coach?
A: These past six months have been a season of deep personal growth. I changed a lot with this program! In my previous corporate life, I was expected to provide answers all the time. I evaluated myself by my capacity to provide fast and intelligent answers to every question or situation I came across. Now, as a Health Coach, I’m not supposed to provide answers; I create the space for my clients to get to their own answers, while asking questions and listening carefully. This was mind-blowing for me, and it totally changed my personality – or maybe tapped into a side of me that was dormant – and even my relationship with my family. I feel so much better now, comfortable in my own skin and super happy.

Q: Which topics and modules were most beneficial for you?
A: I loved all the nutrition knowledge – that spoke to my analytical self. But the modules that changed me the most were definitely those related to primary food. Starting with the Circle of Life – so simple but so powerful. It guides all my conversations with clients, and prospects. Again, in corporate life, you’re expected to be very one-dimensional, but you have permission to be so much more!

Q: What does a typical day look like for you now?
A: As my business is web-based, and in two languages, I need to create a lot of content. So I have two types of day: the “creating day” and the “coaching day.” 

The creating day usually starts with a bit of research and then writing. I write all my content and recipes in the morning. My brain is way more creative in the morning! In the afternoon, I either shoot videos for my YouTube channel or cook and photograph my dishes.

The coaching day is dedicated to clients and usually entails a review of each client’s progress prior to the calls (my coaching is done over Skype). After the calls, I always do a little résumé of progress, highlighting individual successes and challenges and reminding each client of particular suggestions for the upcoming weeks.

Q: What makes you and your practice unique?
A:
I believe that what makes my practice unique is the combined effect of my personal story regarding my weight, food, and health, my broad perspective of life and the role mind and body wellness plays in it, and my communication style. I’m focusing my coaching on healthy and sustainable weight loss, and that stems from my personal story. 

And the fact that I know what it’s like to have a fast-paced job, being away in meetings for days, having small kids, and then having grown-up kids – I’ve been through it all! I remember what is was like to be 20 years old and feeling immortal; 30 and aiming for perfection – the perfect body, the perfect career, the perfect family; or 40 and starting to see my body slowing down. All this experience gives me a bird’s-eye view of the roadblocks that my clients are facing and enables me to gently guide them, free of drama, dogma, or other restrictions. 

As I’ve grown to be an extrovert (I was not born this way), I tend to make people feel at ease quickly. I have written a manifesto for my practice: “The Glow Chef Manifesto,” where I state my values regarding this journey, and that provides the context of everything I write or suggest.

Q: How do you help your clients be successful? Is there a recent example that stands out for you?
A:
I truly meet the client where he or she is: in terms of openness to change, their relationship with food, and also in the context of his or her life. I also make sure I’m able to speak the same language! The first thing I work on is usually killing what I call “the guilt trip” language, such as “I’ve been bad – I ate ice cream” or “I’ve been really good…” Everything I suggest, even words, comes from a place of positive choice, never of denial.

One recent success case I’m super happy about was with a male client who was worried about gaining weight and seeing his lab work worsening – cholesterol rising, blood sugar, blood pressure (the usual). This was a high-powered executive with a very demanding work schedule, as well as a dynamic social life – all things that play against being free to choose your eating habits!

As we started working together, he was able to not only consistently lose the excess weight – at a rate of four pounds per month – but also learn more about himself and his true stress levels. This opened a little drawer of awareness to his spirituality. The fact that such an analytical mind was able to open to the notion of creating a safe space of personal choice was, for me, the proof that I was able to generate the necessary empathy to put our methodology into practice within the segment I wanted to target: the old me!

Q: What do you love about your work?
A: I love feeling that I’m helping people with their health, and I love that I get to do it in a way that is very free and creative.

Q: How have you seen the need for Health Coaches change over the years?
A:
My point of view is probably a bit different given where I come from, which is a less mature market. However, even in Portugal, the trend is one of rapid growth, and I see it as the result of three factors:

  1. The need for self-improvement: More and more people feel motivated and safe relying on coaches to help them establish and accomplish goals, be it at work or in the context of personal life.
  2. Access to information: In today’s abundance of information and peer-to-peer sharing, people are more aware of the fact that the symptoms often ignored by doctors do have solutions.
  3. Life expectancy: We definitely feel the need to stay healthy to make the most of living until 80 or 90!

Q: What’s your tip for balancing your family, work, and personal wellness?
A:
Good question! I’ll give you three: The first tip would be quality over quantity. Prioritize, make your choices, and be present – no matter where you are, be there! There is no need to think about work during a parent-teacher meeting. The second tip would be to create little routines that help fulfill your own needs. Whether it’s a few moments to breathe over warm tea throughout the day, ten minutes for gratitude journaling, or hugging time in the evening, these are the little things that warm the heart. The third tip is to plan weekday meals and batch cook them. This is a huge time (and anxiety) saver. One of my podcast episodes actually explains how to do this in a very simple way!

Q: Tell us your favorite way to wake up each day!
A:
I wake up early, even without an alarm clock. Before I get up, I bring my knees to my chest to stretch my lower back a bit, which is always a little “moody.” After that, I get up and open my window. I take a few deep breaths, opening my arms and reaching up toward the ceiling, and I smile – this is the start of a good day! I follow with my ritual of warm water with lemon, preferably facing another window – sunlight has a huge place in my life.

Interested in becoming an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach? Learn more today!

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