Why I Became a Health Coach
I was going to say that it all started in 2020/2021. But now that I reflect on my journey, it didn’t really.
Throughout my 30’s I was a full-time yoga teacher and part-time sports massage therapist, mostly vegetarian occasionally eating chicken and fish. You’d have thought with all that yoga that I would be zen, chilled out, relaxed … in control of my life. The thing was, despite me loving my job, my periods were awful; off-the-charts painful, my iron levels were seriously low, my sleep utterly dreadful, my anxiety and occasional depression at times pretty high and my personal life a bit of a mess. I didn’t feel very well to be honest. I was exhausted. But isn’t everybody tired?
When I was 41, I injured my shoulder, a new job arose (which didn’t work out but that’s another story) and this became the opportunity for me to explore being a full-time sports massage therapist and to have a bit of a rethink about my life. I felt really depressed and burnt out and I felt very, very lost. I’d given up all my teaching work and I had few clients. I was diagnosed with adenomyosis, my period pain was still excruciating and my PMS was pretty shitty too. I was 45 and mostly likely beginning perimenopause.
Time off gave me time to reflect. What did I want to do next? Whilst the sports massage therapy work continued, I wanted something bigger that pushed me. I looked at physiotherapy degrees, psychology degrees, paramedic science, occupational therapy degrees. What interested me the most was human psychology.
Then the pandemic hit. By this time, I was 46.
For many, 2020 and 2021 were the years of embracing change and I was no different. Looking back at the turmoil that surrounded us, it was an opportunity for me to dig deep and find out what I wanted for my future client-facing work. How could I continue to help and support people? What could that look like and what course could I do to support a new career whilst still working alongside people on their personal growth journey? What could complement my existing work and add another layer to what I was already offering?
Then I got a job in an osteopathic clinic. I worked with an awesome women’s health specialist. She treated me, and advised me to go on a Low FODMAP diet and my next period was a breeze. I wasn’t out of the woods though. It wasn’t much later that I started skipping periods and I knew then that I really was in perimenopause. I still wasn’t sleeping well, I still felt anxious and was tired all the time.
I wasn’t that interested in food. I loved good food, but didn’t always prioritise cooking and didn’t really fully understand how food would be my medicine. I was moving my body, eating “healthily” most of the time, but my hormones were all over the place, so was my sleep and now I know, I wasn’t absorbing my food properly either. My health simply wasn’t great and I didn’t realise it until I started to make changes.
The thing is, I’ve always been really interested in human psychology and how I could help clients build on their motivation to incorporate new habits into their lives. How could I help create the right mindset shift in order to create that commitment to themselves? I would set homework for my clients, but they would struggle to find 10 minutes a day to do it. I could see why they weren’t doing it (stress, work, lifestyle, mental health issues), but somewhere along the lines I wasn’t communicating in a way that was helpful either.
Whilst I was at the osteopathic clinic, the osteopaths there had a keen focus on functional health. I learned more about the psychological, biological and social impacts that can prevent people from healing. What did it mean to be functionally healthy and why did our current healthcare system appear not to be addressing those things?
I went on a bit of a mission to find a course that could help me find a way to address these questions that covered human psychology and where I could make a difference, not just with hands-on work, but help clients to make changes in their lives.
After some searching, I found the Adapt Certification in Health Coaching from the Kresser Institute in California. I was inspired by this one-year long, in depth programme which covered functional health, ancestral health and what it really means to be healthy; how to inspire change and work alongside my clients in helping them set small goals toward their greater vision of vitality through the art of coaching conversation. I was inspired by Chris Kresser’s story.
and how sick he was and how he too, went on a journey of exploration looking at Eastern and Western medical systems. What came to be at the forefront, was looking at a real whole food, nutrient dense diet decreases inflammation changing chronic disease outcomes along with addressing sleep, exercise and stress. We really are what we eat; we are who we choose to hang out with and we are a reflection of our lifestyles.
So here I am, an Adapt Certified Functional Health Coach.
This course changed my life. It changed the way I eat, think about food and my hormones. I started using my food to help support my hormone fluctuations, support my mood and address the lingering anxiety and awful sleep. I changed the way I train in the gym, how I train and how best to address my mental health issues. I dug deep to look at my diet and slowly but surely, with every change I made, I started to have more energy, I started to sleep better, my periods got better and became regular again and my anxiety improved hugely. I can also say I no longer have bouts of depression either. It changed the way I have conversations with my loved ones and helped me address what I want in my future and what is really important to me; what my values are and what makes me, me. All this allowed me to reflect on my own patterns of behaviours; what was useful to me and what no longer served me.
I’ve been coached weekly for the past two years. I couldn’t have made those changes in my life without the support I’ve received. Coaches walking alongside me, holding my hand and deeply listening to me, reflecting back and guiding me along the way.
This is what I want to share with my clients.
I know it works. I have clients whose lives have changed as a result. It’s not always about what the blood numbers are saying. Sometimes it’s about having enough awareness that knowing change is needed and knowing that support is needed. Sometimes it’s just one small step towards change that can lift mood enough to take slightly bigger steps. And all of this makes a difference because if it affects us on an individual level, it’s affects those closest to us and that ripple effect is all it takes for bigger changes to happen in our lives.
Here are some examples to name a few:
- I have a client with disability following brain surgery who I’ve supported in getting back in to mainstream work after being out of work for 5 years.
- Another client has found ways to build exercise into his incredibly busy schedule and improve his sleep. His partner said he’s a much nicer person as a result.
- Another has found out who she is after losing a child, working full time and being mum to two amazing children, one of which has significant special needs.
- And another client has come off his type 2 diabetes medication, has lost a significant amount of weight and now has a personal trainer twice a week. He also stopped smoking and drinking.
They have all inspired me to continue with this work, help ease the NHS and support people in spending less time at the doctors’ by helping them make lifestyle changes.
Making change does take time and does require support, but taking one small step can have a huge impact. If you could change one small thing right now, what would it be?
I feel so passionately about this. I want to help people in a way that carries more weight, has more depth and is longer lasting. I love our healthcare system, but they need support too. I really believe that change can happen. It all starts with helping one person. If I can help one person, I can help five more.
However you choose to label it; call it Lifestyle Coaching or even Life Coaching, coaching is conversation which requires deep listening from the coach, reflecting back, offering affirmations, and guidance. It doesn’t have to be about health and wellbeing, but all know when we start to feel well again, we have the energy and drive to make other changes in our lives too.
So here I am, heading towards 50 and I feel great most of the time. It’s far less about sticking my legs behind my head these days and much more about building strength, working with my hormones and managing my stress levels. I’m in the throes of perimenopause, but taking care of these core components and the relationships I have, are allowing me to glide through this transition in my life. Of course, things can change, but I now have the tools to adapt as and when I need to.