This article is a guest post by IIN
Maybe you’ve made some discoveries and changes in your personal health that has everyone asking, “What in the world have you been doing?”
Maybe you’ve contemplated doing a complete career 180° that has you toying with the idea of working in holistic health.
Or maybe you’re already a wellness practitioner and want to incorporate additional or related modalities into your current work that ties everything together.
As a graduate of the Health Coach Training Program and a member of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) team, I have experienced both firsthand and through our students an evolution of sorts in our incentives for pursuing health coaching. When first beginning, students place themselves into one of the above categories, which quickly becomes a summary statement of the allure they saw in the wellness space.
Ask students again at the end of their training (or alumni who are well-immersed in the field), and they’ll probably have a different perspective on the benefits of a health coaching education that goes beyond the framed proof of expertise that hangs on their wall.
Here are four overlooked benefits of a health coaching education that contribute to the long-term success of our students and graduates:
It might seem counterintuitive at first – because IIN’s program is 100% online – that community would be an advantage of the program…but it’s probably one we hear the most. Personally, it’s one of my favorite parts of the training.
When you enroll, you’re given access to a private Facebook group for you and your cohort to connect with one another during the course. Staff moderators connect students by geographical region to allow for in-person meetups. Not surprisingly, students are able to create study groups, seek out accountability partners, collaborate on ideas, form business partnerships, and cultivate long-lasting friendships.
Upon completion of the program, graduates gain access to an Alumni Facebook group, where they get updates on professional opportunities for Health Coaches, continuing education options, live events and meetups, and advancements in the wellness industry.
2. Versatile Application
“Health” is such a nebulous concept as there are so many components within it (physical, mental, emotional, etc.) and so many factors that impact it (food, water, sleep, physical activity, self-care, work-life balance, quality of relationships, etc.). Because of this, the potential for what a Health Coach can do is just as infinite.
Think about that for a moment: What you can do as a Health Coach is infinite.
IIN’s curriculum explores over 100 dietary theories along with lifestyle elements of well-being to provide a strong understanding of how varying nutritional modalities and lifestyle shifts can positively affect health. While this holistic approach facilitates customizing recommendations to clients’ unique needs, it also allows students to discover specific areas of interest within nutrition and wellness and identify their niche market. More important, the inclusion of coaching skills along with business and marketing training encourages students to reflect on their individual strengths and experiment with different strategies to shape their career in a distinct way.
If you have healed yourself from an autoimmune condition and enjoy working with people one-on-one, you may consider private consultations centering on autoimmune health. If you love innovating in the kitchen, you could consider hosting cooking workshops or launching a health food product. If your strengths lie in activism and grassroots change, you might consider going into school food policy or community wellness programs. Find the intersection of your talent, passion, and vision, and use that to map out the possibilities for using your health coaching training.
3. Opportunity Launchpad
Health coaching is no longer a “foreign” concept – the global wellness industry having crossed the $4.2 trillion mark in 2017 is a testament to the rising need for Health Coaches. The profession has evolved from one dominated by private practice to one actively sought out by medical practices, insurance companies, corporations, schools, gyms, yoga studios, restaurants, and spas.
That being said, health coaching may not be as prevalent, depending on where you are in the world. Even if it is prevalent, you might not see that dream position encompassing everything you envision doing as a Health Coach.
And that’s okay, because here’s where a simple, yet powerful concept I learned at IIN can help you create your ideal job opportunity: get clear on your message.
It sounds like a no-brainer, but if you don’t know how you want to help others, what you enjoy doing, and what your intended impact is, how can companies you want to work with know what it’ll look like? Devoting ample time to introspective exercises included in the IIN curriculum is an extremely valuable step. Visualizing techniques, listing your skills and strengths, writing and rewriting your story, condensing that message into three sentences, and crafting your mission statement are some of the many action steps you’ll be guided through to gain clarity and communicate who you are and what you’re all about with confidence. These resources are covered in the Health Coach Training Program at IIN and are prioritized from the start to set students up for success.
4. Personal Gains
One of the themes of IIN’s Health Coach Training Program is bio-individuality, which captures each individual’s unique needs in terms of what feeds their body, mind, and soul. To make sense of that and address personal health goals, students are encouraged to experiment with different nutritional modalities to see what foods and lifestyle shifts allow them to thrive.
When I started at IIN, improving my own health was an advantage I hadn’t actively been thinking about; it was only through conscious application of different nutritional approaches and wellness practices that I realized how much space there was for improvement in my health. From dropping 10 pounds to improving my skin, energy, and ability to manage stress, I came away with a deeper understanding of my own body through the program’s structure than I had through years of reading nutrition studies.
While I have figured out what works for me, things like age, environment, and life circumstances can change what we need to optimize our well-being; what’s working now may not hold true a few years from now. Realizing this, I find myself going back to the Reference Library for myself just as much as I do for my clients.
Aside from the potential for personal health discoveries, examining your own well-being while studying gives rise to two other advantages to help you hone your health coaching skills: leading by example and cultivating empathy.
Step-by-step application of what you learn demonstrates that you can “walk your talk,” as we at IIN like to say. Clients and others around you can see the impact nutrition and wellness have on overall health and can use that as inspiration to achieve their own breakthroughs. When you’re taking steps toward your own health, you’re basically coaching yourself. You’re playing the role of the client and understanding what it’s like to face challenges and make progress toward your goals. This builds your ability to meet your clients where they are, guide them on a transformative path, and empower them in taking full control of their health and potential.
How to Become a Health Coach
IIN offers an online Health Coach Training Program consisting of 40 modules of holistic nutrition and lifestyle elements of well-being, coaching skills, and business and marketing education, taught by leaders like Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Marion Nestle, Gabrielle Bernstein, and Dr. Mark Hyman. Students can choose from the standard yearlong track or an accelerated six-month track. Halfway through the training, students receive a Mid-Certificate badge, acknowledging their ability to start working with clients. Upon successful completion of the course and graduation requirements, students receive an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach certificate. Learn more about IIN.
Stay tuned for Part II of our series, showcasing behaviors of our most successful Health Coaches!