I’m sure many people in my life have questioned what the heck I’m doing more times than I’d want to know. There have been so many pivots that I’ve lost count, but I do know this: I may be a bit of a late-bloomer, but I am here now for a reason, and it all finally makes sense. There is liberation in resisting the fear of admitting that something isn’t working, and then committing to taking a bajillion small steps to get to the final destination.
With a new health coach certification under my belt, I wanted to talk about some upcoming changes in terms of the focus of content, as well as some personal insights as to why I wanted to become a health coach (ACE-CHC to make it easier as we go).
Helping others find their way to the best versions of themselves is my passion. Finding ways to increase access is my passion. Empowering people to take control of their lives, and ultimately their health, with real-world information is my passion… And it was slowly killing me over time to ignore that fire. I began working from home in 2016 in a financial capacity (remember, I’m also a management accountant!), which enabled me to more easily focus on the fitness aspect of my health.
Movement changed my life in too many ways to outline here, and by 2019 I began looking into a personal training certification. While doing so, I stumbled across the information about the American Council on Exercise’s Health Coach certification and… that was it. It was like one of those cheesy scenes in a movie where time stopped and I saw my entire educational and professional past flash before my eyes in convergence with this path and I knew: becoming an ACE-CHC was my true path and I had always been on it without knowing the final destination. It was never multiple paths. It was always the same path. Mind blown, right? [*to read more detailed info about the multiple paths and how they converged, head to the blog at reyoutotalhealth.com]
There is so much more that goes into our health than just food and exercise (though they are incredibly important), and it isn’t one-size-fits-all. A health coach is a personal advocate – someone on your side to help decipher what YOU need in consideration with YOUR life; a true partner, a collaborator. I can’t give the same kind of personalized support this way, but I can at least provide as many tools and relevant information as possible with ways to incorporate them into your life because being realistic matters. I’m going to guess 99% of you reading this don’t have the luxury of spending hours to live someone else’s version of a healthy lifestyle. I’m not here to peddle that stuff to you; plenty of other people do that already.
The amount of misinformation out there upsets me. And I know it’s overwhelming – there’s so much to wade through. My goal is to help weed out the noise so you don’t have to. I want you to know that if you see something here, it’s not a fad or just my personal recommendation: it’s backed by science and/or an appropriate professional.
That leads me to the graphic. I’ve talked about the wellness pie before, and this is going to be more of a running theme moving forward. You’ll see the wellness wheel on some future posts to show which area(s) of wellness we are addressing to highlight how much of our health also isn’t related to the traditional physical elements of nutrition and movement. I’ve done previous posts about the effects of stress, and if you take a look at the wellness wheel, it’s easy to see how stress can accumulate from a multitude of those areas – it all plays together in the sandbox that is your body (which is a weird analogy since we’re made up of mostly water, but it’s fine). As a quick refresher and to give proper credit, the wellness wheel is based on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) eight dimensions of wellness.
As an ACE-CHC, it’s also important to collaborate with other professionals. Did you know that a trainer is not typically qualified to give personalized nutrition advice, meal plans, supplements, or macro recommendations outside of Average Macronutrient Distribution Range? It’s true, but definitely not always followed. Did you also know that anyone can call themselves a “health coach”? Also true, BUT not everyone can say they’re certified. It was important to me to get that certification to illustrate that my knowledge has come from an NCAA-accredited program and exam, for reassurance to anyone looking to me for information, but also to provide credibility in looking to collaborate with other professionals.
Certified health coaches do not necessarily have to be personal trainers, but I definitely wanted to be able to offer that additional component myself. To my fitness-loving people, don’t worry – that content isn’t going anywhere either! I’m working on being able to provide more robust workout formats so please hang tight.
Outside of that additional certification, please know: I will not be recommending things outside of my scope, and anything outside of my personal scope will be noted as reviewed and approved by an appropriate professional. For now, please keep your eyes peeled for the RD and LPC stamps of approval in the future. I also hope to add more like-minded healthcare and lifestyle medicine professionals to my network over time to continue providing tools and information for all facets of life.
As an ACE-CHC, I will be sharing general nutrition information. My goal is to help simplify things with clear pros and cons, and the “why” so you can make the right decisions for your body, your life, your situation. As an ACE-CHC, I will also start approaching nutrition from the perspective of managing and preventing chronic disease. From high cholesterol and blood pressure to diabetes to arthritis and osteoporosis…. Lifestyle medicine can be a game changer, and I’m all about changing the game. And hey, even if you are sitting here as a twenty or thirty-something with no health issues, first of all – that’s great! – but the same rules for management often apply to prevention, and there’s nothing wrong with starting to think about preventing chronic disease like, yesterday.
It’s still a lot, right? I know; don’t worry. I’m going to continue streamlining as much as possible. With that…
Did someone say, “Can’t you put this all in an app”? Stay tuned…
*A little more about the background that led to the ACE-CHC realization:
At the point where I began really changing my lifestyle in my early 20s, I also knew what I wanted to re-enroll in college to major in: history and political science to ultimately get to law school. I wanted to either go into adoption law or something related to policy because of my passion for helping people. I wanted to be a source to others, provide solutions. On a large scale.
I moved to DC after graduating college to do just that and realized… I had no idea what I was getting into. I definitely didn’t want to go into law, and now I was pretty sure I wanted nothing to do with direct policymaking. So? PIVOT!
Many don’t know, but I am one class shy of completing the coursework for a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling. I began the program while in DC because I was looking for a way to have a direct positive impact. I figured if I couldn’t make the aggregate inroads I wanted from a policy standpoint, I could at least try to help change the lives of individual people. Plus, it would allow me to focus on those other important areas to me like access, health disparities & outcomes, affordability, and the reduction of stigma related to mental health.
The issue I ultimately had with the mental health counseling program was the inability to focus on the present and moving forward; so much of counseling is focused on past trauma and issues, which is incredibly important, but I wanted a way to help people use tools moving forward to shape their future as they see it, more as a compliment to the services a therapist can provide. When I decided not to complete the program, it was time for another pivot.
At this point, I was back in Ohio and ended up going back to the work I knew I was good at but didn’t love: numbers. After settling back into bookkeeping/accounting, I decided to obtain a certification – as an insurance policy more than anything. Here’s the thing though: I don’t love it. Most days, I don’t even really like it. We don’t always like everything we are good at though, you know. Anyway, I had this constant hole where I was missing something, and I finally realized the hole was getting bigger as I ignored my true path.
It has been a wild ride in the last few months since realizing exactly what I want to do, but I wouldn’t change it. I’m stressed, overworked, under-slept – all the things I tell others to avoid. But I feel incredibly alive. And right now, that’s what it’s all about.