Hey, friends! This is a post that I probably should’ve written a really, really long time ago. Why? Because I created this blog to be a resource for better health, wellness, and more happiness. And yet, somehow I’ve managed to ignore the most popular question that comes through my email inbox! Whoops. So for peeps that want to know how I became a certified Integrative Health Coach, this post is FOR YOU!
A little backstory. I graduated from the College of Charleston with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Science is my passion. Few things excite me as much as learning how and why things work in this world. (Side note: I’m fairly new to studying Astrology, but apparently my hunger to better understand the meaning of life is basic Sagittarius behavior. Or something like that. Basically, I’m basic.)
While I did not go on to further pursue a career in Psychology post graduation, I did take my love for digging through clinical studies into an 11 year stint in Pharmaceutical Sales. And for the first 6-7 years, I mostly loved it. The Pharma industry has gotten a dubious rep over in the last few decades, and that negatively cast shadow is certainly warranted in a myriad of regards (which is a big reason I left, but we’ll get to that in a minute). But like most things in this world, you can’t paint the entire Pharma industry and it’s essential existence with the same dark brush. There is contrast, including some very valuable light. It was in this light of being able to share and discuss scientific research that I thrived.
Remember– science is what makes me “tick”, per se!
Something happened to me though as I entered my late 20’s and early 30’s, and it ultimately changed my life forever.
(This post contains affiliate links. Please see full disclosure and medical disclaimer at the bottom of this page.)
I got sick. Over the course of 6 or so years, I was diagnosed with the following. Irritable bowel syndrome, chronic urticaria (chronic hives with no determined reason), eczema, dermatitis, chronic fatigue, acid reflux, hyperlipidemia (high Triglycerides/cholesterol), elevated blood sugar, hypothyroidism, and more. I gained almost 25 lbs despite training for a bunch of half marathons. I was so tired I slept in my car during work lunch breaks out of fear of crashing on the way home. My normally thick, wavy hair was falling out. My body was covered in hives to the point of taking Benedryl almost daily. I was on more medications than I could count.
And I felt as if an alien had hijacked my body. Despite seeing a multitude of specialists, not a single physician discussed nutrition with me– not even the Gastroenterologist that I saw about the severe stomach pains I had regularly. When my cholesterol counts reported my Triglycerides to be close to 300 (normal is 150-199), I was asked about family history of heart disease. My father and his side of the family do have a strong connection. Given that I was still fairly thin and exercised often, it was basically all chalked up to genetics. I was given yet another pill and sent on my way!
Thankfully, my path crossed with two physicians that cared about me enough to really LISTEN. One actually happened to be a pediatrician I was meeting with to discuss a work related topic. I casually mentioned I was on 6 + medications at the age of 30 and I was convinced it was something more than just getting old. She was astonished as we chatted more in the depth and suggested I might have a gluten allergy, particularly since this is common for those that suffer from other autoimmune disorders (like hypothyroidism).
BINGO! Within 3-4 weeks of giving up gluten, my hives, eczema, dermatitis, severe stomach pains, and acid reflux either disappeared or vastly diminished.
All this wasted time on endless doctor’s appointments with no real solutions… wasted money on prescriptions… frustration… suffering… and you mean to tell me much of it came from an amino acid found mostly in bread????????
It was at this point I decided our healthcare system, including the Pharmaceutical industry, has a gaping hole.
That hole is nutrition.
I’ve said this in a number of other posts and I’ll say it again so there’s no misunderstanding. In case you’re new here, let me be very clear on my stance towards western medicine. I DO support western medicine and its general practice. I absolutely love the physicians and clinicians I utilize today as a patient. I take medicine when needed! Also, I will never claim to know everything a physician has learned in their long journeys through medical school, residencies, fellowships, and experience. I am not a doctor, nor will I ever pretend to know all the answers. I typically have tremendous respect for those that dedicate their lives to helping others, particularly in the field of healthcare.
But, I do not support the notion of simply giving out a pill without further attempt to better understand or treat underlying causes first. I think this happens too often in modern medicine for a number of reasons… and please know I don’t entirely place this fault in the hands of medical practitioners! That being said, I think there is undoutedly not enough emphasis on the role nutrition plays in good physical and mental health.
I guess I would summarize my feelings as I wish our modern day healthcare system had overall less of a “band-aid approach”.
Example. Remember my elevated Triglycerides? I stopped (under my doctor’s supervision) taking meds for them about 2 months after they were prescribed. Asked him to give me a chance to see what a dietary change would do. Guess what’s happened since I dramatically reduced my sugar intake? My last lab work reported my levels at 70. 70!!!! From a gal whose grandfather died of a heart attack at 49 and whose father had quadruple bypass at 61, I jumped for joy. Genetics are definitely real, folks. But so is our opportunity to play the best of our hand that’s been dealt by taking better care of our bodies (and minds!). And we need people to help us do this too.
Anyway, to make a longgg story a teeny bit shorter, I decided something needed to be done about this missing gap in healthcare. I enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. IIN is a year long program that teaches students about holistic health and wellness, as well as how to assist others in adopting a healthier and happier lifestyle through coaching. It’s an innovative online learning system, so I was actually able to attend while I was still working in pharmaceuticals (yes, I see the irony).
My year spent studying in this program was easily one of the best of my life. IIN gave me so much more than a certification and an opportunity to health coach.
I walked away with a treasure trove of new information to help myself and others eat more intuitively. My experience studying opened a Pandora’s Box to a more fulfilling, creative way of life. IIN connects you with thousands of other people from around the world that are typically incredibly passionate about living life with INTENT. There is so much support for others to step outside of the “daily grind” and to choose a life fosters purpose… not JUST a paycheck.
Today, over 3 years since I’ve graduated, I am THRIVING in my Wellness career. And that goes far beyond simply as a health coach. I have had the privilege to work with so many wonderful people in their pursuit to adopt a healthier way of living. Nothing makes me happier than when a client reaches out to me after a yearly physical to let me know they got to come off a cholesterol/diabetes/blood pressure pill, etc! I get chills when others write me to say they have officially ditched their bad relationship with the bathroom scale that previously ruined their day! (Btw, you, your health, and your happiness are worth SO much more than a number on a machine that sits next to a toilet.)
Was it easy? F*ck no. Have I made a bunch of mistakes? Hell yes. But that’s what happens when you step outside of your comfort zone to pursue something you care about. Sitting on the sidelines is easy, but rarely evokes joy.
I learned about IIN from a really rad chick my husband actually grew up with, named Jenny. (She’s the author of a great blog called HealthyCrush.com) After picking her brain about her experiences, I decided it was an investment I could not pass up. I knew my life was somehow going to move in the direction I so badly craved if I enrolled.
Side note: Becoming a health coach or studying at IIN might not resonate with you at all, even after you check out the info below. That’s totalllly okay. What’s not okay, however, is living a life that doesn’t inspire you on the reg. Bad days happen in any occupation, but don’t convince yourself that being adult means doing something you hate every day just to pay bills. I did that for way too long after the rides changed for me in pharma, and the only “mistake” I regret is believing I had no other option.
So, since I do get questions all the time about what the IIN program is like… here is a sample of the curriculum! Click the box below and it should send ya to the right place.
And here is an example of a sample class (again, click the link below, peeps).
I sincerely hope if you’ve ever considered learning more about holistic health and nutrition, you’ll at least check IIN out. Will you learn everything there is to know about nutrition in a year? No, silly. Of course not. Even the smartest experts in any field are going to be lifetime scholars of their craft!
For me, it was really the perfect foundation and certainly enough to begin a new career. Yes, I do have a heavy background in physiology and general science but there were many that didn’t! So don’t cut yourself short if you failed college Chem ; )
I’m more than happy to further chat more about my time in the program and my road to becoming a certified health coach! Oh yeah, and they offer amazing scholarships and tuition payment plans so please don’t let money be what holds you back if it means that much to you : ) Please feel free to hit me up with any questions!
To creating a life in color,
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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult with your physician first before trying any new physical activity, supplement, or dietary changes.