Voices of IIN is our content series where we talk with IIN students, graduates, and staff members who make up our diverse, vibrant, and passionate community ‒ from all over the world! IIN’s commitment to improving health and happiness is what brings us all together, and we aim to celebrate this commitment by sharing the unique stories and backgrounds of IIN change makers. Through this series, we hope to continue working toward creating a more inclusive wellness community, where all feel welcome to create a healthier life.
Sheetal Ramchandani is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and was one of the 10 Health Coaches from her graduating class in 2017 to have received the Leadership in Health Coaching Award. She specializes in hormone health, emotional eating, and functional medicine, focusing on root-cause analysis with her clients to understand the underlying causes of disease and health concerns. Sheetal is also a public speaker, offering workshops to corporations and not-for-profit organizations.
To learn more, check out her website and Instagram page.
What did health and wellness look like for you growing up?
I grew up in a small town in India (Pune, Maharashtra) with just three family members ‒ my mum, dad, and sister. When I was just 9, my dad was diagnosed with cancer, and he battled with it for nine years. I saw my parents go back and forth to hospitals for various treatments, and I thus learned a very important life lesson early on: that health is your most valuable asset and must be your number one priority. I had to quit medical school when my dad passed away, to support my mum. At 17, I was studying biochemistry and taking care of household finances and my mum. It was not an easy time.
Why did you ultimately decide to come to IIN?
Fast forward in my story: I was married at 22 and became a mother to two wonderful boys at the ages of 26 and 31, respectively. After the birth of my boys, I gained more than 30 kilograms (66 pounds) and was experiencing low energy and brain fog often.
I joined a gym, for the first time in my life, and exercised two hours per day and tried several fad diets. I would lose some weight and gain even more, and this vicious cycle led to hormonal imbalances. Doctors had me on medications and artificial methods to balance my hormones ‒ but all in vain. This left me very anxious and worried, as all I wanted was to be the best version of myself and not have my boys go through the same struggles I went through as a child.
That’s when I decided to find solutions to my health issues, and during this research, I found IIN. Once I started, there was no looking back.
Perspectives on Nutrition and Health Coaching
How are you using your IIN education?
I practice in Dubai as a Health Coach, and I am the founder of a company, LivLively. I conduct one-on-one coaching as well as group coaching sessions at my office and online, and my approach is based on three key principles:
- Diet and nutrition: One person’s food is another person’s poison, and that’s why fad diets don’t work. We all are unique bio-individuals, and so are our dietary needs. I’m helping people listen to their bodies’ wants and needs and find what works for them rather than against them.
- Beyond food: While nourishing food is important, so are other lifestyle aspects such as physical activities of choice; good-quality sleep; and management of stress, which may be due to relationships, career, or other aspects.
- Advice and accountability: I support clients in identifying the specific steps needed to achieve their wellness goals in a sustainable way.
What about your IIN education inspired you most?
The most inspiring thing about IIN was the focus on other aspects of wellness aside from food, such as meditation, gratitude, affirmations, and positive psychology, and how they’re equally important for feeling whole and complete. Inner joy and happiness are key to everyday decisions and choices that we make.
The concept of bio-individuality and listening to your body’s needs has been key in transformation for myself and several clients I’ve helped so far. I’m grateful for these learnings from IIN, and I will continue to spread the ripple effect of health and happiness for as long as I can.
What does being a Health Coach mean to you?
As a Health Coach, I’m guiding you through positive changes in your life with the food choices that you make, physical activity, quality sleep patterns, and stress management with a positive outlook. Just like your football or cricket coach, I don’t play the game for you but am on the sidelines, holding you accountable, step by step, until transformation happens.
How do you apply bio-individuality in your life? Your clients' lives?
Bio-individuality: This unique IIN concept means that we’re all different and must embrace our uniqueness to best take care of our health, from the food we eat to the environments we thrive in and everything in between.
I apply this concept at the gym working out, doing only what my body needs (rather than hours of cardio) and understanding if my body needs to rest more, as well as eating foods that are nourishing for me. Also, good choices only happen for me if I have the right mindset for it.
After transforming myself, I knew I had to take this to the people here in UAE. My clients are understanding this concept more and more as they see positive changes happening within their health. As lab work changes and symptoms reduce, they feel more confident and belief in themselves. As a coach, it’s completely rewarding to see healthier and happier people.
Nutrition, Healthcare and Equity in the Wellness World
If we traveled to your country, what would we find in terms of food, wellness practices, etc.?
UAE is the land of expats and nationals. Food from diverse cultures is available in abundance. Organic food cafes and vegan options are now in abundance. People are more aware of how to make good food choices, and those better choices are easily available at most supermarkets here in UAE. Restaurants are very aware of food intolerances and always make space to accommodate, making dining out supereasy, too.
The government has worked on creating more pedestrian walkways as well as running and cycling tracks in every part of the country, creating an environment where healthier living’s more accessible. Corporations have brought in healthy meals and catering for their employees, and organizations have made wellness a mandatory part of their employees’ health.
Many other holistic-approach practices, such as wellness retreats, meditation centers, yoga, and sound healing modalities are easily available in most parts of the country.
Is wellness accessible to everyone who wants/needs it in your country, or is there still work to do to make it more accessible?
Wellness options, for some organizations, are mandatory in terms of annual workshops and insurance. However, I feel the need to make it mandatory for all companies.
While medical insurance’s provided to all, wellness and preventive health come only as a choice for some who can afford it. Hospitals, clinics, and doctors should partner with Health Coaches to provide complete health packages for their patients, thus making them more accessible.
Personal Goals for Social Impact
What is your “why”?
“Why” – This refers to one’s purpose and the reason(s) behind their chosen work.
“The greatest gift you can give your kids and loved ones is your own health.”
Not having my parents around as a child, giving up the dream of medical school, and suffering with my imbalances taught me that health, indeed, is my number one priority ‒ and while it’s important for me, I wanted to spread this message to as many as I can so that I’m able to help people create healthier families.
If you wanted your audience from your country to know one thing about health coaching, what would it be?
That health coaching or preventive health care is not an option only when you’re diagnosed with a disease. Start it as early as you can, for yourself and your kids. Health coaching provides a 360-degree approach to health, and hopefully, it’ll become a part of all clinics, hospitals, and schools. We, as Health Coaches, along with doctors, can create a more complete medical model, providing a holistic solution for our patients, and reduce so many chronic diseases.