Health Coach Feature: A Conversation with Gut Health Course Grad Emily Fitts
With 74% of Americans living with digestive issues, more and more people are paying attention to their food and lifestyle choices – and understanding how these choices can wreak havoc on the gut. From stress and lack of sleep to poor diet and inactivity, so many things we do can cause a whole host of issues, including inflammation, allergies or intolerances, acne, depression or anxiety, and fatigue.
We sat down with Emily Fitts to hear more about her experience in the Gut Health Course, how she’s helping others heal their guts (and overall health!), and what she’s been up to in the health coaching space.
Q: Can you briefly share what led you to IIN and what you’ve been working on in the health coaching space?
A: I was led to IIN through an endocrinologist. I had met her due to continued adrenal fatigue, and her recommendations weren’t enough to support me through to healing as many supplements she recommended contained dairy, which I am intolerant to. An IIN graduate had connected with this endocrinologist and her practice, and I was given her name and number. I met with the IIN graduate and decided to give her three-week hormone reset program a shot. During this time, I had also seen an advertisement for a health coaching school in Arizona. Being a military wife, attending in-state was out of the question. I told the IIN graduate about my exploration of that school, and she told me about IIN and another functional medicine course I could look into. In the end, I felt IIN was most aligned with what I was already recognizing within myself: Blanket recommendations simply weren’t the right approach. I also wanted to better learn how to share all I had already learned along my health and wellness journey, and IIN offered health coach training with business support and educational components. It felt like it just fit.
As far as what I have been working on in the health coaching space, I have been working on the balance between what I give when I work as a Health Coach and how to manage that time so as not to overload myself when I am already hugely committed to my role as a mother and wife, living a military lifestyle. Almost all my clients have been other military wives, and it’s been eye-opening to see the struggles we have had as wives of service members and the impact this lifestyle has on our health and well-being. I’d say stress and loneliness are large contributors to many of the health-related symptoms these women experience. That’s not to say there aren’t other health issues, but the sheer stress of separation for deployments or other work trips, isolation from family and childhood friends, and moves – you can see the snowball effect this lifestyle can have over time.
Q: What inspired you to enroll in the Gut Health Course? What would you say was the most valuable takeaway?
A: Most of my health concerns had originated with gut-related problems. In fact, both my son and I had gotten so sick when he was 15 months old; put bluntly, we weren’t absorbing properly. Therefore, most of my personal journey has been learning how to heal the gut and regain healthy digestion. Therefore, by taking the Gut Health Course, I reasoned that it would fill any gaps and solidify the understanding I already had, while expanding my understanding on topics I hadn’t even thought of or been exposed to.
My most valuable takeaway from the course was that what and how we absorb is just as important as what we choose to nourish ourselves with. The saying “you are what you eat” has been used so much, but it really doesn’t fully explain how important the digestive process and the body’s ability to absorb actually are, and so we must, absolutely must, give our bodies the best sources and quality, regardless of which dietary regime we adhere to, and that includes supporting our second genome, the microbiome, which is crucial to the digestive process and our health and well-being.
As far as the course structure, the biggest takeaway were the two main moderators: Janet and Dr. Simmons, who both answered so, so, so many questions, were so incredibility patient and informative, and really helped tie together the coursework when misunderstandings occurred or greater understanding was needed or desired. I actually miss conversing with them. They are both a wealth of knowledge and so willing and desiring to have you succeed that they take the time to answer every question and answer it well.
Q: How has taking the Gut Health Course impacted your career? What influence did it have on your personal health?
A: Taking this course just really helped me more confidently speak about the gut, how it functions, what it needs to function well, and how to bring it back into balance when off-kilter. I had previous knowledge, but there were some gaps that this course filled and really built on what I knew already, while exposing me to some things I did not know!
As far as my health, I feel this course furthered my understanding of my on-the-plate and off-the-plate choices and how they directly impact my digestion and well-being. The course also really strengthened my understanding of the meditative state and the vagus nerve’s function in the gut-brain connection.
Q: Do a lot of the clients you work with have gut-related issues? If so, what are some of the most common?
A: Every client I have worked with (military and civilian) has had gut-related issues. Most are so out of tune with what is happening that they can’t pull apart the tangled mess to see that often the quality of their food choices, along with intolerances/allergies, is causing a host of issues, from irregular bowel movements or irregular consistency to reflux, gas, bloating, cravings, and more. Every single client has been deeply misinformed about normal and healthy eating as well as normal and healthy digestion/elimination, and all have needed gut microbe support.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to IIN grads who are interested in taking the Gut Health Course?
A: The one piece of advice I would give someone considering this course would be to take the leap. You will be so inspired by our amazing bodies, and you will gain such a deeper understanding of how our digestive state and ability is actually the beginning into seeing how the rest of the body can get off-kilter. It also teaches you how much we can do to bring that back into alignment and how powerful and life-changing that can be. If that isn’t convincing enough, having class moderators who can answer questions, solidify module understanding, and guide you with additional resources was absolutely worth every cent. I loved having this feature and feel it deepened the already-superb module content, and frankly I miss them both.
Q: What’s your favorite part about your work?
A: My favorite part of my work is just before a breakthrough for the client. The client is just at the tip of understanding, and then all of a sudden, it clicks, and you can hear the confidence in their voice. They get “it,” and they know what to do to fix/heal it, and they can now create that change at full force. They have come through it, and they see for themselves that the whole previous process, as unnerving and unclear as it was, was guiding them to the very moment they are at, and they got there because they stuck with it, even with setbacks. They feel it – the shift – and I get to watch, and it feels so incredibly humbling because the trusted space I gave them allowed them to get there, and they felt safe enough to share themselves with me; as a result, their life has changed for the better.
Q: Can you share with us what your typical day looks like?
A: I am a military wife, and my husband’s career tends to shift, depending on the day, so for me, I start the day with a basic outline of his day and work me and the kids around his schedule. I have breakfast with my kids, then drop my son off at school to either come home and do some house cleaning/tidying or shopping and then playing/reading with my daughter. When she naps, it’s my time to meet with a client, respond to emails, or take some time for just me. After her nap and my son is home from school, it is back to house stuff and dinner. After dinner is a nighttime routine with the kids/kitchen cleaning, and then I do some relaxation yoga, drink tea, and either read or watch a funny show. The end of the day, after the kids have gone to bed, is also a time with my husband, so we catch up as well. Someday I hope to be able to do more work-wise, but for now, with my choice to be a stay-at-home mother and being a military wife, which includes separations from my husband, I am helping clients as I can and keeping my client base small, and that is okay with me.
Q: What’s your top tip for balancing your work, family commitments, and personal well-being?
A: I decided a long time ago when I became a mother that I wanted my kids to have me present for them. I wanted them to know stability, as we are a military family and have lots of instability or at least lots of unexpected possibilities. Therefore, for me to balance work, family, and well-being, I work hard to make sure I get at least one hour to myself in the afternoon while my daughter naps, and I always make time to unwind before bed. These times of the day, which are used any number of ways (meditation, exercise, yoga, reading, tv, etc.), help me recharge so I can be ready to give again. I also listen to my body and will cancel or rearrange events or activities if I start to feel overloaded. I want my kids to see a mom who has time to read with them, or play, not a snappy mom who is overloaded with so many obligations they feel left out or another thing on my busy schedule to take care of.
My free time is also used for drawing, learning piano, and quilting. Whether you need that or not, I try to balance things, so I have creative and more playful things to do as well as the other things I mentioned, like meditation, yoga, exercise, reading, or watching a Hallmark movie. I also ask for help and speak to my own life coach of sorts as I need. She always helps me to sort through whatever I’m internally working on. I also have made my home my favorite place to be. Therefore, I feel relaxed and comfortable being in it, which really helps me feel good regardless of what is going on in my life.
Q: Tell us your favorite way to wake up each day!
A: My favorite way to wake up depends on if my husband (military service member) is home. If he is, he always sleeps less than I do, even when he doesn’t wake to an alarm, so he gets up with the kids and lets me wake up naturally. I enjoy waking up when my body is ready and lying in bed for a couple of minutes, feeling the warmth and comfort of the bed while I hear the kids playing in the living room. If my husband is away for work, an alarm wakes me up, and I take a minute or two to take care of me, and then I wake up my son and get my daughter. Being able to greet them in the morning in a loving way, after I have had a glass of water, etc., is a nice moment with them. This moment is before they’ve busied themselves in their “adventures,” before they are off and running, and when the house is quiet and I can hug them an extra second because they are still waking up and not quite ramped up with ideas of playing or where they will be going for the day.
Want to learn more about how to create a diverse microbiome, reduce inflammation, and optimize the health of your gut? Join our Gut Health Course, now open for enrollment!