What is a Health Coach?

I’ve described my story of how I came to be a Health Coach and Personal Trainer in the About section of this blog. Many have asked about the certification process to become a Health Coach, so I thought I would share a little about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and how it has helped me reach my career goals and helped shape who I am today.

When I decided I wanted to help athletes and post-sport athletes understand how to fuel their bodies, exercise for both their sport and once they are finished competing, as well as deal with the mental toughness it takes to be an athlete and psychological impact when an athlete “retires,” I searched for a program that went beyond nutrition. I searched for a program that took into account all the other things that nourish us besides food, and would teach me how to coach people effectively no matter what the problem was for them.

The reality is that I didn’t have the money or time to go back to school full time to become a Registered Dietitian, or to get my Master’s in Sports Psychology or Counseling. I needed a program that was intensive and extensive enough to be taken seriously (longer than just a few months to actually learn something), but flexible enough so I could still complete a program while working full time. Around the time I was searching, I was talking to various health professionals in my area for some direction. A Health Coach at a local athletic club explained her work and the online program that got her there, and I was intrigued. Not only did it give her the qualifications to help people with nutrition, but also changed the way she views food and feeds her family.

So what is a Health Coach?
I love the way graduate Sarah Wilson (author of I Quit Sugar) puts it on her blog: “A health coach is to a nutritionist what a personal trainer is to a physiotherapist. Or, a health coach is to a nutritionist what a life coach is to a psychologist. A health coach steers and motivates clients to fulfill their health outcomes.”

We are not nutritionists. If you come to me, I won’t be giving you an exact meal plan for you to follow  to solve all your problems. However, I do have a basic understanding of biochemistry and how foods affect the body. A Health Coach’s approach is to review your health history, discuss your goals, and together work on the areas you would like to see improvement.

Every person is different. There is no meal plan that works for everyone.

After each session, you are given a focus for the next week or two, and then we discuss how it went, build upon it, work on something new, etc. It’s about making gradual changes for an improvement in your lifestyle, not giving you a food plan that you will follow for a few weeks or months but won’t be able to maintain. We address not only the food that goes into your mouth, but what’s going on in your life that is making you choose those foods (issues in relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality – whatever that means for you). The point is to support you in reaching your goals, and train you to heal yourself in the future.

IIN brings in experts from more than 100 different dietary theories – from raw foods to paleo diets, high carb, low carb, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan… you name it. Understanding these theories help us to narrow down what works best for each person. The class has also opened my eyes about what’s going on in our food industry today and has made me passionate about finding the best food to put into my body so that I’m able to function the best I can.

The great thing is that graduates are able to apply this knowledge to what they already know. I use this information, my 15 years in competitive sports (including at the college level), and knowledge of the body through my personal training certification to help athletes understand how to fuel and support their bodies and minds in and out of their sport. Other graduates focus on their expertise, like coaching mom’s to cook healthier for their families, or working with corporations to create a healthier environment for their workers.

Interested in learning more about the course?
You can take a sample course by clicking on the IIN icon on the sidebar.

I am an ambassador of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition program. This means I am paid a commission when someone enrolls in the course having learned about it through me, and I am also able to offer discounts. If you are interested in learning more about the program, email me at katie@wimberlytraining.com. Or if you have specific questions, feel free to post below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2017!