When looking at all that Diana Herrera has achieved, most notably a position as the vice president of a photo-imaging firm, one would never assume she was struggling to find an internal balance. Though she was excelling professionally, her health was deteriorating, and she knew she needed a change.
After graduating from the Health Coach Training Program in 2010, Diana is what you could call a professional life juggler. Living in Miami, Florida, she continues to work full time at the photo lab but also maintains a part time health coaching business. She has nailed down the act of balancing her career with her personal life and health by learning to connect her emotions to her eating habits.
She now helps others do the same through her practice Embrace Balance, and is one of the founders of South Florida Health Coaches, where she collaborates on retreats and events, and supports other Coaches’ individual business growth.
This interview highlights how Diana discovered the balance she desired in her own life, and how she’s helping others obtain it for themselves.
What led you to enroll at Integrative Nutrition?
I was burning myself out working at my photo-imaging firm. I was losing the joy of what I was doing while losing myself, and the worst part was disconnecting from my family. I have always had an interest in food, fitness and well being, and when I met for lunch with graduates Andrea Beaman and Pablo Garcia one sunny afternoon on their visit to South Florida, I saw the happy and healthy glow in each of them; you know, the one we all see when we meet fellow Health Coaches from IIN. I knew that IIN was a special place that would enhance my journey, so I made a commitment to enroll by the end of that week. It was the best investment ever.
How did your life change after the Health Coach Training Program?
Since I enrolled at IIN, the magic started immediately. I learned many new things about how food affects us and at the same time met great people that have touched my life – not only teachers, but fellow students as well. I remember going on the Student Dashboard and realizing that I was home. There are so many like-minded people in my age group who come from professional backgrounds with the same desires to enhance our own lives as well as touch the lives of others to create a healthier community.
Tell us about what you’re working on now?
The name of my company says it all: "Embrace Balance." So many people are caught up in one extreme or another, which is only short term. My goal is to empower people to understand how important the connection of mind and body is, and to awaken them to feel. This may be feeling emotions and being okay with it, understanding how certain foods affect them, or how their taste buds awaken after just a few days of eating clean. We work on clearing old suppressed feelings or thoughts. Emotions are at the root of poor eating habits. I always tell people that your body is simply your vehicle for this life. If you drive a luxury car, would you put leaded gas?
How did Joshua Rosenthal impact your life while studying at Integrative Nutrition?
"Find work you love, or find a way to love what you do," said Joshua.
I found new life and inspiration in his words. After 25 years of business, I felt that the drive and enthusiasm was over and I was searching for something more.
With Joshua's words in mind I found new inspiration in my career as the vice president of a large commercial photo lab, and found a way to incorporate other interests in my life to create balance. Because of IIN, and my quest to find more out of life, Embrace Balance was born. I work with my clients, and help friends and family find new life in old relationships, create balance in their lifestyles and get more pleasure out of life.
How has the Health Coach Training Program benefited you?
I feel more empowered in my life and clear on what my purpose is. The first day of school we were asked to write down what our intention was for this program. I wrote down "LOVE, to share health and happiness with my family and friends." Well now I know how to guide clients, friends, and family to a better sense of well-being and balance in all areas. Since IIN, I have become a spinning instructor and raw food chef. IIN has inspired me to continue learning and growing. Although I am actually doing more, I find balance, pleasure and energy because of what I learned at IIN.
Why is embracing balance so important for people who have been working at their jobs for a long time, who may be excelling but are burning out?
Just as the Circle of Life exercise shows, if you don’t have a balance in all areas of your life, something will suffer, and normally it will show up in your health. From personal experience (and documented physical exams) the year I was most successful in business was the same year my health was declining. I was gaining weight, my blood pressure and my cholesterol levels were rising, and most importantly my family life was in crisis.
You seemed to have the balancing act down. Was it an easy transition for you or did you struggle at all while changing your lifestyle?
It still requires special “techniques” to balance and set boundaries. I have found when you take time to do the things you love, with people you love, then you are more energized to accomplish other tasks.
Do you have any specific tips for creating balance in one's life that you always refer to or recommend?
Rule number one is to sleep at least 7-8 hours per night. When your body is well rested and well hydrated you will naturally tend to make better choices, specifically around food. If you are not rested, your body will crave energy and then we try to fuel it with caffeine, sugar or both.
Why do you think you are able to pack more into your life now, yet can find more balance than ever before?
I learned to listen to my body and to trust my intuition. When I have a feeling or a need, I don’t just wave it off as if I am nuts. I stop and listen, I question, and I pay attention. There is so much “noise” around us these days, it’s important to stay centered and tune in.
How do feelings or emotions (and balancing them) connect to poor eating habits?
It’s all about cravings: many times we are lonely or sad, so we grab sweets or heavy meals to comfort ourselves. Other times we reach for the crunchy salty snacks to quiet our anxiety. After the binge, all we’re left is with the same feelings, plus a bit of extra guilt. The best thing to do is to breathe deeply and acknowledge the feelings. Work through it or patiently wait for the feeling or the situation to work itself out.
How have you helped your clients create balance in their life, some of who were heading down a dangerous path or were too focused on only one aspect of their life?
My clients have an overall success of taking ownership and getting into the driver’s seat of their own lives. Clients have gotten back in the kitchen or learned how to prepare their own meals; they’ve started regular exercise regimens.
They have found increased energy, started doing the things they enjoy and stopped doing things they did not. Major life changing has taking place from enhanced family lives, to career changes, to ending relationships where they’ve been stuck.
What do you love about your work?
I love the getting close and personal, and seeing the “aha” moments in clients’ eyes. Most of all I enjoy watching people learn how to love themselves and understand that it’s okay to take care of themselves and make themselves a priority, so there is more to give.