Our Health Coach Feature series shares the inspiring stories of Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches who are cultivating positive health choices and educating others to live more wholesome lifestyles. Join us twice per month on the IIN Blog to read more about what brought our grads to IIN and what they’re up to now!
Jess Baumgardner is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, cofounder of The GOOD Fest, and mom of two. She worked in the corporate marketing world for a decade before deciding to make a change and pursue her own ventures. She’s now producing wellness events through The GOOD Fest, bringing wellness enthusiasts together to build real-life connections. Read on to learn more about Jess’s journey and all that she is accomplishing. You can find more from her on her website and Instagram!
Q: What were you doing prior to enrolling at Integrative Nutrition?
A: I worked in marketing and advertising for ten years before totally switching careers. (I was still working while enrolled at IIN and also for a few years after.) My dream was to work with big brands on really cool campaigns. I worked with Food Network, Diageo, Comcast…some really cool places, but I was finding myself more and more numb to advertising and strategy.
Q: What led you to explore the Health Coach Training Program?
A: Specifically, the Detoxinista, Megan Gillmore. I stopped counting calories in 2011 and started researching a more whole foods, balanced way of eating. She was one of the early blogs available at the time with amazing recipes, and at the bottom of her page she mentioned she was a Health Coach. I had no idea what that was, but I really wanted to be one! I called IIN from the bottom of Chelsea Market and enrolled while working full-time for Food Network.
Q: How has your life changed since becoming a Health Coach?
A: I definitely love what I do now, finally. And I also have a ton of flexibility to work with who I want and be home with my kids when I want. I will also say – the financial pressure is obviously more apparent, as well as the constant push to be innovating what I am doing. But I am okay with these challenges.
Q: Which topics and modules were most beneficial for you?
A: I loved learning about all the different dietary theories because I personally found them interesting, and I also think it’s important for a Health Coach to understand them all, even if they don’t necessarily want to practice any one specific diet.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you now?
A: I wake up around 6am when my youngest wakes up and either get her or exercise (my husband and I switch off). And when I say exercise, I cap this at 10–20 minutes. The morning is spent with the kids and getting them ready for their day. Some days I am home with one of them, depending on what is going on, and most days I am working from a coffee shop from 9–4. I work on my health coaching practice, but more so on The GOOD Fest – a wellness events business that I have created with my two business partners: Kate and Jen. We are either writing emails, strategizing what we want to do next, or meeting with people in our city (Philadelphia).
Q: What makes you and your practice unique?
A: To be honest, I’m not sure I can say that there are not other coaches like me. Maybe the only thing that truly sets me apart is that I have trained in culinary nutrition and plant-based cooking (and used to teach it) and run a wellness events business. I think perhaps that brings in some new perspective.
Q: How do you help your clients be successful? Is there a recent example that stands out for you?
A: I try to put the power in their hands. I am there to educate and guide, but they need to be in control. If they are not in control, I can’t expect them to be successful when we are not working together.
Q: What do you love about your work?
A: I love seeing change and aha moments – on a small and large scale. I see this one-on-one with clients, and I see it at our events on a larger scale.
Q: How have you seen the need for Health Coaches change over the years?
A: No one knew what I did when I started this journey in 2012. I see a trend and think eventually Health Coaches will be side-by-side with doctors in all facilities.
Q: What’s your tip for balancing your family, work, and personal wellness?
A: Set boundaries. I could work on my business 24-7, and I could be with my kids 24-7. I need to set time for work and time for family. I also love time blocking – so I say, “I’m going to work on email for one hour,” and that is the amount of time I have to do email. I find it a lot easier to get things accomplished when I group them together into categories and set a timer.
Q: Tell us your favorite way to wake up each day!
A: My favorite way would be in Hawaii with a fresh papaya covered in lime juice, but that isn’t really possible right now.
Are you interested in pursing a career as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach? Click here to speak with a graduate today!