What is a Health Coach? (Month Two at Integrative Nutrition)

Credit: "Yoga" by artzsamui from freedigitalphotos.net

Find Balance with a Health Coach …….. Credit: “Yoga” by artzsamui from freedigitalphotos.net

Have you ever been super excited about something and just wanted to scream it from the rooftops? Maybe you lost the last five pounds you had been working on or improved the speed of your 5K? This is how I feel about being a student at Integrative Nutrition right now. This past month alone, we have studied raw, vegan, macrobiotic and whole foods ways of eating. We have also learned about superfoods, eastern vs. western approaches to medicine, listening to your intuition, and entrepreneurship. At times, I feel as though I can’t possibly take in enough information and other times my brain is too full for anything else! But explaining to others exactly what my ‘job’ will entail is a bit tricky…

It might actually be easier to tell you what a health coach is NOT:

1. A Health Coach is not a doctor, yet might be able to help you find a ‘cure’ for the issues you might be having. Headaches, digestion issues, joint pain? Often these issues are tied to a reaction you are having to certain foods. A health coach is there to help you discover the connection between the two and could help alleviate some of your health concerns.

2. A Health Coach is not a dietitian, but I will be able to help you find the foods that work best for your body and lifestyle. Maybe you would like to eat more veggies, but have no idea where to start. I will be able to help you with discovering new foods and recipes. I can even head to the grocery store or farmers’ market with you to give you support!

3. A Health Coach is not a personal trainer, though I will be able to help you add physical activity to fit your schedule and needs. I can help you find which activities really work for your body type and personality. Like to workout with someone or alone? In the morning or at night when the kids are asleep? We can get there.

4. A Health Coach is not a magician, but I will be able to help simplify healthy living and assist you in creating more balance in your life. Are you over-booked and over-tired? Do you meet everyone else’s needs but forget to care for yourself? I’ve been there and you can move beyond that.

From the Integrative Nutrition website:

What is a Health Coach?

A Health Coach is a wellness authority and supportive mentor who motivates individuals to cultivate positive health choices. Health Coaches educate and support clients to achieve their health goals through lifestyle and behavior adjustments. Proper health coach training programs and health coach certification ensure that Health Coaches know how to work with diverse groups of people and equips them with the tools necessary to best fit the needs of their clients.

“Chronic diseases such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes wreck our quality of life and cost a fortune. In recent years, a new and intriguing concept has emerged in the prevention and treatment of chronic illness: the health coach.” –CBS News, October 2009


“The primary objectives of health coaching are to educate the patient regarding self health management and to encourage patients in taking a more proactive role in staying healthy.”-Medical Economics, Nov 2010

So, yes. I am excited to work with others to develop healthier lifestyles and families. I am completely motivated to work on my own health issues so that I will be more knowledgeable about how to help others with theirs. But am I ready right now? Not yet. I have sooooo much more knowledge to fit in my brain and still more balance to seek 🙂


Books, eating and healing…The China Study


I love books. I love to read. I guess that’s a good thing, since I teach 6-year-olds to read for a living. 🙂 But seriously, when I was little I loved that I could dive into a book and live in another time or place. I loved the adventures that came in books and couldn’t wait to read what happened next.

While I can still get lost in a good work of fiction, my love of books these days has helped me change my life. Eckhart Tolle helped me see life in an entirely different way in A New Earth, thank you Oprah! Dr. Greene’s Collaborative Problem Solving approach in The Explosive Child helped me see children’s minds in a different light and taught me how to help children work through the toughest problems. Dr. Furman’s book, Eat to Live, reminded me of the purpose of food and brought me to a better understanding of what a relationship with food should be like.

Recently, I began reading The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, and I know that it is going to be my next ‘game changer’. Dr. Furman had cited and discussed much of Campbell’s research in Eat to Live. It was also the focus of the documentary Forks Over Knives, so it wasn’t entirely new to me (click here to see an interview with Dr. Campbell on The Dr. Oz Show). But the depth of the research, conducted over three decades in many parts of rural China, is astounding.

The following is from www.thechinastudy.com:

Americans spend far more, per capita, on health care than any other society in the world and yet two-thirds of Americans are overweight. As trendy diets and weight-loss frenzy sweep the nation, more than 15 million Americans have diabetes and our children are increasingly falling prey to a form of diabetes that used to be seen only in adults. If we’re obsessed with being thin more so than ever before, why are Americans stricken with chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, as much as we were 30 years ago?

It all comes down to three things: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

In The China Study, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University, details the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Recognized as the most comprehensive nutritional study ever conducted on the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease, The China Study cuts through the haze of misinformation and examines the source of nutritional confusion produced by government entities, lobbies, and opportunistic scientists.

The China Study, a national bestseller co-authored by Dr. Campbell and his son, Thomas M. Campbell, MD, has sold more than 750,000 copies since it was first published in 2005. It is the foundation upon which a nationwide plant-based diet movement is based. The China Study presents a clear and concise message of hope as it dispels a multitude of health myths and misinformation.

The science is clear. If you want to be healthy, change your diet.

The book is long…and full of medical facts and study statistics. It is not light bedtime reading. If you want the 10 most important facts learned from the book, click here.

Besides all of the great information about what we should eat, what made me react most strongly was the realization that this research has been available to the medical community for years. The research regarding turning cancer on and off with changes to diet were made public in the early 80’s (if I am remembering right), yet others scoffed at the idea. There was, and still is, fear that if the medical community supports such notions, the ‘health industry’ might collapse. It seems to me that a ‘health industry’ (and I use that term lightly) that is built upon pharmaceuticals and not on scientific research, is a sad one to put our trust into and might need to be rebuilt. If my knee and leg issues of the past year have taught me anything, it is that doctors do not heal you. You must take your health into your own hands and heal yourself. (I’m now getting off the soapbox….)

Basically, food matters…a lot. For whatever reason, my son and I both have food allergies, so we have been forced to confront this reality. But for those of you without that push, you have to find another reason to commit to eating for your health. Try a few of the recipes on the recipe page to see what healthy eating can be like (I would personally recommend the almond joy bars, almond butter chews or veggie tacos as a start). I promise that I have real children that would love to run to McDonalds, just like any others. But we don’t, and they are starting to crave healthier options and complain when things are “too sweet”. Would I have thought that would ever happen a year ago? No. Good luck to you, and if I can support you in any way, let me know!

Have you read the China Study or watched Forks Over Knives? What were your takeaways? Did you change anything about your diet as a result? Let me know in the comments below.