Health Coach Feature: A Conversation with Launch Your Dream Book Grad Michelle Baker
Michelle (Cady) Baker is a former finance executive turned wellness author and highly sought-after Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. Michelle’s personal experience of recovering from adrenal fatigue and burnout influences her coaching and focus on nutrition, fitness, and stress management. Michelle’s book, Self-Care in the City, brings to life the core principles of her private health coaching practice, where she teaches high-achieving go-getters around the world to reach even greater levels of success.
Q: Can you briefly share what led you to IIN and what you’ve been working on in the health coaching space?
A: In 2014, I was finishing up my seventh year working in finance in New York City. After securing several coveted promotions over the years, I had the shocking realization I had *enough* and knew I had to finally pursue my passion for health and wellness. Not only was it important to me to change career paths, but on a personal level, I knew that my health was at stake and I was suffering from adrenal fatigue and severe burnout. I’d been reading and learning everything about food and fitness in my spare time, but I believe in top-level education and started to research high-level programs to enroll in. In June 2014, I made the big leap, left my cubicle in Midtown Manhattan, and enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!
Over the past six years, I’ve created a thriving private health coaching business, FitVista, working with high-achieving, go-go-go women to optimize their nutrition, fitness, and self-care. I’m passionate about teaching my clients the tools of stress management, how to take care of their hormonal health, and efficient strategies to prevent burnout – and in turn reach even greater levels of personal and professional success by incorporating wellness practices into their daily lives.
Q: What inspired you to enroll in the Launch Your Dream Book Course? What would you say was the most valuable takeaway?
A: After a few years of working as a practicing Health Coach and seeing over 100 clients, I knew I had a unique perspective in the wellness industry. My personal experience of working in the fast-paced financial industry, combined with my education at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and my practical work with so many clients, allowed me to fine-tune my philosophy, messages, and strategies that actually resonated and worked with individuals. I wanted to share my strategies with a wider audience, far beyond those who could ever work with me one-on-one. Also, I was an English major in college, and writing is definitely my medium of choice for sharing my work! The IIN Launch Your Dream Book Course was a huge factor in being able to write my book, Self-Care in the City: 100 Ways to Optimize Your Nutrition, Fitness & Wellness in an Urban Environment. Here are my two biggest takeaways: First, write your book now because people need to hear your message. And second, write your book directly to your target audience. The course helped me craft my message to my ideal clients, which has been a great funnel for my one-on-one health coaching business.
Q: Your book, Self-Care in the City, shares a message that so many people can relate to: No matter how busy or fast-paced your life, you can make small, simple changes that will improve overall well-being. If there’s one change we should all implement right now, what would it be?
A: Great question, thank you! I’ll give you three that I just love to talk about:
- Be the CEO of Your Nutrition: How can you take a minute or two a day to plan your snacks and meals in advance? Do you need to outsource anything (e.g., grocery delivery or asking for help preparing food)? What high-protein/healthy fat snacks can you keep at your desk or in your purse to fuel your brain, mood, and energy for the day?
- When in Doubt, Go for a Walk: Walking is meditative for the system and can calm you down after a busy day. If you feel overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, etc., one of the best things you can do for your system is get away from your computer, go outside, and take a walk (maybe even without your phone!).
- Try a Tech Detox: I’ll venture to say that we all need mini breaks from technology and endless scrolling. I challenge my clients to put their phones to bed for the night by a certain time and try a relaxing bedtime routine, or go a few hours on the weekend without your phone in your hand. You will survive!
Q: How has writing a book impacted you both professionally and personally?
A: First, it’s been such a relief to get so many of my stories and strategies written in chapter form to share with the world. I love that my book is a resource for both my private clients and thousands of people who may never work with me but who I can still guide or help in their busy lives. Second, from a career perspective, Self-Care in the City has opened doors to speaking engagements and book talks at prestigious schools, such as Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, and Wharton, and financial institutions, such as Blackstone and Ernst & Young, to name a few. Finally, on a personal level, I feel proud that my past experiences can all be tied together in some way – I’ve been an avid reader since I was a child, studied literature in college, and then found myself working in finance before switching to the wellness world. It all makes sense now that I have a book that talks about all of it!
Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to IIN grads who are interested in taking the Launch Your Dream Book Course?
A: Do it! Even if you don’t feel prepared right now, the course gently guides you through what steps to take and breaks down the intimidating concept of writing an entire book. I didn’t feel ready when I started the course, and that’s exactly why the course was perfect for me. It’s so important to feel supported as you complete what can be a very solitary exercise – writing a book.
Q: What’s your favorite part about your work?
A: My work with one-on-one clients will always be the heart and soul of my business. Seeing clients realize that health isn’t just about weight or body size, and instead about how you feel, how you talk to yourself, and how you can optimize your long-term health and happiness, is the greatest joy to coach and witness. My clients often say that working together is the best investment they’ve made in themselves.
Q: Can you share with us what your typical day looks like?
A: I love my days! I’m definitely someone who likes to work independently and be their own boss. I’m all about my schedule and my calendar, and that keeps me focused and motivated. I typically wake up by 6:30 and have a quieter start to the day, drinking coffee, making breakfast, and spending time with my husband around the apartment. By 8 or 8:30am, I’m starting to check emails and get started with my workday in my home office. I start by responding to client emails that came in overnight, doing administrative tasks, and maybe posting on Instagram. I work for a couple of hours and then often take a break to exercise – go for a walk, do a Peloton workout, or go to a yoga class in the middle of the day. I then make my own lunch at home and mentally prep for my afternoon clients. I see all my clients virtually via video calls and tend to have 2–3 client sessions on my client days. I make sure to save one day a week without scheduled clients to focus on writing, business calls, or sometimes a total self-care break, like going for a hike in the woods north of NYC. I wrap up my work by 5 or 6pm and either go for another short walk, cook dinner, or relax. I’m all about boundaries and sharing them with clients in a healthy way – they know I’m off email at night and on the weekends.
Q: What’s your top tip for balancing your work, family commitments, and personal well-being?
A: Well, this all may change once we have a baby! I’m currently six months pregnant with our first, and this question has certainly been top of mind. Over the last six years since I went to IIN, switched careers, and healed from adrenal fatigue and amenorrhea, my mantra has been that my health comes first.
Sure, I still have busy and stressful days, and I care deeply about my business, but I fuel my body, make sure to take breaks, get 8–9 hours of sleep, and don’t rely on four cups of coffee or four glasses of wine to feel better (like I did in my 20s). Even when planning our wedding in 2019, if I felt stress start to overwhelm my system, I’d force myself to press pause, stop, and get outside for a walk or do something fun. When you prioritize your health first, you find it‘s much easier to make supportive decisions across both your personal and professional life.
A second motto, “Do Less!” – I’m always trying to take things *off* my to-do list or schedule!
Q: Tell us your favorite way to wake up each day!
A: I’m such an early bird! I love mornings, whereas at night, I can crawl into bed by 9pm and be done for the day. My mornings include my quick morning routine (drinking a glass of water, washing my face, going to the bathroom), walking to the nearby coffee shop with my reusable mug for a breath of fresh air and a short walk, and coming home to have breakfast and talk with my husband. This is all before I even look at my phone! Taking care of yourself and your family first – before the demands of the day – is very important, helps you stress less, and something I try to teach all my clients.
Feeling inspired to write your own book? Join our Launch Your Dream Book Course, now open for enrollment!