#54: Self Care For the Health Coach

Entrepreneurs often work harder and stress out more than anyone else. (Yes, even health coaches!) In this episode, forget about clients for a bit as Michelle tackles the task of bringing extreme health care into your life, and hers.

This episode is brought to you by Michelle’s free training, How To Market Your Health Coaching Business So You Can Go Full Time:

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Well hello there health coaches! How are you doing this week? It’s nice to be back with you today and I have a question for you. I need to know if I’m the only one or has 2019 been crazy so far? I’m like, Whoa, whoa. What is this still January? Where had the time gone? I feel like I’ve been going personally like a mile a minute ever since January 2nd that first day back after the holidays and it’s kind of cool because my business has been growing by leaps and bounds changing. I love all of it, but I’ve also been really thinking much having too little downtime, forgetting to take my supplements, forgetting to eat, having trouble sleeping. You know, all the rest that comes with it. Am I alone here or can you relate? So this week I really committed to recalibrating and that’s why today we are talking all about self care for the health coach.

By the way, if we haven’t met before, my name is Michelle Pfennighaus. I have been doing this work for 10 years and counting as a certified health coach. I’m also a mentor for my fellow health coaches. Obviously that’s why I do this podcast and I’m part of the curriculum at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. So if you are here and you’re watching live, please go ahead and tell me what you want to talk about today. You can put a comment into the chat area.

Hi Tanya, I see that you’re here. Hi Jane. And I will get to those questions in just a few minutes. And just to note by the way that this episode is sponsored by my free training for health coaches, it’s called how to market your health coaching business so you can go full time and you can sign up for that training at healthcoachpower.com/earn as in earnin’ money.

It should be called something like how to market your health coaching business so you could go full time without crashing and burning. I really do try to take this into consideration whenever I am speaking to health coaches about business marketing, all of the things that we have to do, we’re still health coaches. So unlike in other professions where yeah, maybe you are burning the candle at both ends constantly. If you’re selling real estate or if you’re developing software and these industries kind of move at that pace as health coaches, Ooh, we really need to pull it back and take care of ourselves. So yeah, I decided that today we’re going to talk about it really based on my own recent experience. But also when I saw this question from Melissa, I was like, yes, this is going to happen.

So Melissa posted this in our group. She said, I have an obsession with my business and helping people. I love my family to pieces, but I wouldn’t mind sitting on my laptop and doing business stuff and reading, learning more and more. 24 seven, this is five years now. And I have to make myself stop to enjoy my kids who are already getting too old and my hubby, who I adore. Does anyone else have this issue?

And I know a bunch of you commented and said, yes, I know what that’s like or yes, I know how that feels and I’m right there alongside you. And Melissa, I love my work. It’s kind of this double edge sword. We all want to love the work that we do in the world. We don’t want to hate our job, but then when we love it so much that we never want to stop doing it, that also creates problems, doesn’t it?

I find there’s a lot of these double edged swords in this field. So for example, when you’re an entrepreneur and all you really need to work as a phone, a laptop, who know, the good news is, hey, you can work anywhere. You can work on your own schedule. Sounds really great, doesn’t it? Yeah. That’s why you see all pictures of like entrepreneurs on vacation and the beautiful ocean in front of them. And yet they’re be like posting from Instagram or from the computer, like how it’s so cool that they can work anywhere and it’s like, no, actually don’t you maybe just want to be on vacation sometimes. So that’s the bad news because, because you can work anywhere and make your own schedule. The offshoot of that is that sometimes it’s hard to step away. I have absolutely brought my laptop on vacation. Partially because I want to, partially because I kind of have to. What if something happens? What if my online course goes down and nobody can access it? There is a problem. What if someone’s trying to reach me? What if, what if? What if you work for yourself? There’s a lot of pressure there. So I think we just need to acknowledge that when you’re a solo-preneur it’s kind of all on your shoulders at times and that can be a lot to bear. Let’s just take a breath.

I needed that. Did you need that? Okay. So I think that when we’re with our clients, we can talk a really good game but then end up doing the opposite. So I know that recently I have had this client who’s just taking on way more than she can handle. She’s doing like PTA stuff and she’s working and she’s got, you know, kids with special needs and the whole bit. And so here I am encouraging her to do less and get support and delegate and say no while I find myself at times kind of doing the same exact thing. This cannot be so just like raise your hand or hit the like button if this is resonating with you. So far here we are telling our clients to take care of themselves and eat well, but then rushing to the next client appointment or rushing to the next thing we have to do.

You know, maybe you grab a slice of pizza. It’s like this secret irony of being a health coach. Sometimes we don’t take care of ourselves. So that is true. I think that we can agree this is just the truth of the matter. And the other thing that I want to bring to light is that helping others all day long can be draining. It is true for any profession where you’re giving of yourself. Nurses for example, or any any profession where you are helping, helping, helping you are giving. All the energy is going out, out, out all day long. Who can really drain a person, can’t it? So the answer I’m just going to have to say is not just self care, but extreme self care and noticing when you get into a place where you’re not happy, where you’re not feeling balanced, where you’re like, wait, didn’t I get into this whole thing so that like I would be a healthier, happier person and I’d be helping other people be healthier and happier.

When you reach those points, it’s time to hit the pause button. And I really recommend sitting down with yourself like I did this week and making yourself your own most important client. I think if you do it on the fly, if you kind of just say to yourself like, oh, like if I said, oh Michelle, like, you know, you know, get to bed earlier tonight. And then the other part of my brain goes, yeah, yeah, yeah. So I think when I’m more formal about it and kicked myself through the same process that I would go through with any of my clients, what’s going well? What challenges are you facing? What actions can you take to make change? You know, ask the tough questions, make lists, and really see it in black and white. We start to see that there are lots of places that we, although we are the so called experts, might be falling down a little bit, might need to support ourselves better if we’re going to continue to support everybody else.

One thing for everybody right now, please take out a pen and pencil. If you’re listening to this while you’re driving or something, do not take out a pen and pencil, but do commit to memory. What are your work hours? When do they start? When do they end on what days? You got to pretend like you have one of those shingles that you hang on the door or you know the little thing that says open and then you get to write in with marker Monday nine to four or whatever it is. You need to know what your work hours are. Too often our work hours bleed into all of our waking hours and this is not a healthy way to live obviously. Even if it’s for the good of your clients, the betterment of the world, that doesn’t really matter if you’re doing good work or if you’re selling used cars, you still need to set those boundaries.

Ginger’s saying, I really needed this talk. Exactly what I’ve been thinking since January. Oh Ginger, I have this talk with myself about once every six months. I think I’ve been doing that for the past decade at times. It’s my husband who has had to break in and give me this talk. It’s like, Michelle, I thought you got into this because you didn’t want to be stressed out with the corporate job and this was going to make you happy. And I’m like, okay, all right, I hear ya. I hear ya. Need totake a step back. So first step, everybody got your work hours, please write them down and treat them like you are an employee of your own business, which you are, which means you’re going to adhere to those hours and not work over time cause it’s not like you get paid for overtime. The next thing we have to do less.

Sometimes I call this ruthless prioritization, so this means you’re going to look at your calendar and start slashing anything that does not absolutely need to be there. I know this is hard. It’s hard because you’re looking at all the things you want to do with your business, which are many and varied. I know me too, but also your personal life, you know a lot of times we get invitations for birthday parties for my kids. I got two kids and each one has like 30 kids in their class or whatever. So that’s 60 birthday parties. So that’s more than one a week. I mean it’s crazy. So we’re just like, no, I’m sorry we can’t make it. No, I’m sorry we can’t make it and then maybe I’ll every third one I’ll say, yes, you’re allowed to do that. Like you’re allowed to say no to things and so that is true with your business and in your personal life.

And please do. One thing I like to think about my business is really what is my business goal? Very specifically for like the next month or for the next two months? Is it building my mailing list? Is it launching a new program? Uh, for me right now, the next big thing in my business is launching a brand new website and podcast, which is no joke friends. So does that mean I can also take on another project? Oh yeah, I’ll do this other thing. Oh yeah. Let me get involved with snapchat this week. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. So we’re just getting rid of all the extras when you start feeling overwhelmed, so you actually have some space in your calendar. You know, it’s funny, I do time blocking in my calendar, which I think is a terrific method. It helps me get a lot done. So if you looked at my Google calendar, it literally looks like a bunch of squares.

Like from this time to this time, I’m going to do this task. Like right now it says on my calendar, you know from 3 o’clock to 3:30 you’re going to do your live broadcast for the podcast and it helps. However, I have stopped allowing time in the schedule for taking a shower for eating because sometimes it’s so easy to say, oh yeah, like I’ll just kind of eat while I’m doing this other task or oh yeah, I’ll fit in a quick shower, but then you don’t friends make time, time block the shower. This is something that I used to do. It fell out like by the wayside when I got too busy and I am bringing it back in a big way along with time to eat. Not just eat but cook some food. Right. It’s not like I’m getting some drive through meal to eat. I cook my food. I’m sure you do too. And that goes back to why health coaches are different than other entrepreneurs. You do need to take the time to actually make the eggs, cook the Kale, whatever it is that you’re eating. So put that into your calendar on this idea of food.

What about a food diary? Like when was the last time you did a food diary for yourself? I haven’t done one in a very long time. My eating habits are generally very on track. I feel good. Um, I don’t often go wildly off in any direction, but I did keep a food diary a while back, um, for this practitioner that I started to see She wanted to see a food diary and it was amazing to me to even just look and see what I was actually eating every day. I highly suggest it.

And actually if you refer back to last week’s episode, episode 53, I talked all about how to do a food diary with your clients. Well guess what? You can make yourself your client and do the whole thing for yourself. So that’s an idea. If you’re feeling off balance to take a step back and really, again put down in black and white exactly what’s going on in your life.

Tanya’s saying, I need to figure out how to be more productive during work hours. I feel like I spend so much time working, but I get very little done.

Yes, that is a big problem for so many of us. Tanya. So just going back to the time blocking idea, when I time block, my time block never looks like this “work on website from two o’clock to four o’clock,” that would not be a useful way for me to block my time because when I actually get to that task, it’s going to be like: Work on website. Okay, well I guess I should. Hmm, what should I do to work on my website? Maybe I should do this, maybe I should do that. So instead of saying that you’re going to work on something, a great tip is to think about what you’re going to produce. So in this time, let’s say from two to 4:00 PM I am going to produce the copy that’s going to go on the homepage of my website or I’m going to produce the graphics. They’re going to go with my blog post or whatever it is. So think in terms of what’s going to be produced, not where you’re going to work on. Because of course we could quote work on our businesses from now till kingdom come and still not be finished.

And then of course you guys, I know about 7,000 health coaches. That’s how big our group is right now and growing. You can hire a health coach and many do. I have been a health coach for other health coaches more times than I can count. Or you can hire a life coach or you can hire somebody else who’s going to support you in the same way. Just because you are the so called expert does not mean that you don’t need support. In fact, you would be very smart to support yourself so that you can continue to be the expert and run your own business. So what I’m saying is when things start to go out of balance, be your own best support, but also find support systems elsewhere. And I’d love to hear if any of you are doing that and how you’re doing it.

With all of this in mind, I figured how about we have some transparency here. There’s some things that I’m doing right now to sort of write myself, to pull myself back to center. This is gonna be different for everybody, but I thought it might be interesting to actually share with you what I’ve decided needs to change so that I can move forward. So interestingly, for about six months now, I’ve been doing a version of intermittent fasting. Where, it started with in the morning, I wouldn’t eat until about 10 or 10 30 or maybe 11 o’clock and that was fine. And then I noticed that as my body adjusted, I wouldn’t even feel hungry around 11 o’clock so then I wasn’t eating until about 12 o’clock or if I got busy, sometimes it would be like 1230 or one o’clock not even on purpose, but I wasn’t hungry and I’d forget and I was fighting myself going longer and longer hours without eating.

This is not good. I think for me, I know other people have all kinds of fasting routines and schedules that they put themselves on. But I think for me, I was getting to a point that by the time I was eating, my body was going into a little bit of a state of panic, right? Fasting is, it’s telling your body like there is something going on where your body’s thinking, oh, we don’t have food. Like at some point your body feels that that’s a problem and that’s not a good state for your body to be in. That’s not a calm place. That’s a place that’s very anxiety provoking. So I thought, you know what? Forget this. I’m going to go back to breakfast for awhile. Normal breakfast, normal lunch, normal dinner. There’s absolutely no reason that I need to be fasting until one o’clock in the afternoon, so I’m going to try that.

I’m going to see it. That helps me keep my cool a little bit better throughout the day and just feel more calm and grounded. The other thing I decided is that typically I go to the gym about five days a week and do weight training for about 30 minutes and I mean generally it works very well for me. The other thing that I do is I have a treadmill desk. So while I’m working, I’m often walking on the treadmill at about one mile per hour. No group. You know, it’s not a lot, but I’m certainly not sitting still and I like that. However, when you’re all amped up and you’re stressed and you have to work, do you also want to be walking the whole time? I just felt like maybe I need more stillness in my life. So I’m going to trade in some of the weight training and some of the walking for more yoga time cause that feels really good right now.

And I’m not talking about power yoga. I’m talking about, you know, child’s pose with a lot of breathing for like 30 minutes. That’s kind of the yoga that I feel like I’m needing right now. The other thing, when things start to feel haywire, taking care of the basics always makes me feel grounded. Right? Cleaning the house, getting the dishes done, folding the clothes, paying the bills. Isn’t it the worst when you’re crazy busy in all these different things you’re doing and then you walk into your kitchen and it’s just a disaster. I thought I’m going to flip this on its head. I’m going to take care of home first, business second. What a concept you guys and of course I’m hitting the pause button on anything new in my business right now.

Like I mentioned, yes. We’re going to be putting out a new website. Yes, there’s going to be a new podcast. However, this podcast will remain by the way. It will be a second podcast. Do you see what I’m saying about getting too busy but no new launches? No new products, no new anything else right now that’s going to be it for the next couple of months.

Aisha’s saying that she’s been thinking about getting a business mentor or a coach or an accountability buddy. Thoughts, pros or cons.

I think it’s a great idea to get somebody to help you and support you in your business. I think it is also best if you pay them. I know that we don’t want to do that, right, because maybe you’re not making a whole lot of money or you want to be careful with how you spend your money. But if you kind of find a peer mentor, what happens, like I want to say nine times out of 10 is it’s not an even match.

One of you needs more help than the other and it doesn’t feel good. Like the energy exchange starts to feel awkward or the other person flakes on you and you know one person’s really committed and the other isn’t so committed or they get too busy or they have something going on in their life. So if the goal is to truly support yourself, neither of those scenarios are going to do it. So I really suggest that you hire somebody because then the energy exchange will be equal and you will get what you are actually looking for. I hope that’s helpful.

Bev said something up here about setting good boundaries. Oh my goodness, absolutely! Not only with your yourself and your work hours. How about with your clients? Are you allowing clients to text you anytime of day or night? Are you responding to them? If you have a Facebook group, are you constantly in there talking with everybody answering every last question? Chill. It’s actually a good thing to give your clients some space because they will come to rely on you too much and you are not here to create a codependent relationship. You are here to help them invest in themselves, build up their strength and go out and conquer their lives. So actually is better for you to take a step back. You will be doing them a favor and you’ll be doing yourself a favor. So with all of that in mind, I do have some other questions to cover today and if you have any for me, feel free to put them into the comments.

But now that we’re all feeling very zenned out and calm down, let’s talk about Jessica’s question. She said, I’m working on my Freebie, meaning her lead magnet. What is your opinion about asking your Facebook group? What freebie resonates most with them or which one they love the most?

So Jessica, I think it is a fabulous idea to use your audience for market research. That’s an amazing thing about having a Facebook group or even if you have a mailing list and you can pose questions to them, definitely use your audiences in this way. However, what I would not do is put like say two covers in front of them with a picture and a design and a headline and say, which Freebie do you like better? Because people are going to respond to the color, to the photo, to whatever. They’re going to be like giving you art direction. Like, well I like that one but I wish it had less red in it. That’s not super useful. What you want to know really is what does your audience want from you?

So actually about six months ago I asked this group of health coaches, I said, what do you want to learn from me? I think I said this at the end of 2018 I said, what do you want to learn from me in 2019 do you want to learn more about social media? Do you want to learn more about whatever, whatever, whatever. And the overwhelming response was that you guys wanted to learn how to create a signature program and I heard you and that’s why in February we did our signature program challenge where I taught you how to do that and it went over very, very well -very successful. And um, that’s because I listened. So Jessica, I suggest that you ask the question, but don’t give them too many details to say, what do you want to learn about what area do you need the most support with something like that. And they can give you feedback without critiquing anything that you have already created because that just won’t be helpful.

Here’s a comment from Lisa. She said, it’s so hard for me to stop expanding. I recently said no to something that I knew would be fun, but I know it would take too much energy without too much return. And it felt really good. That’s wise.

Think about that sometimes. What’s the return going to be on this? I can think of a situation in my business right now where it’s kind of a mess and I really think I should clean it up, but on the other hand, even if I put all my attention on this, solve the problem, tied it up with a bow, what’s the return on that going to be? It’ll feel good to have it all figured out, but on the other hand, monetarily speaking, the return’s going to be pretty low. It’s not causing that big of a problem that’s causing a problem, which is kind of irking me.

So what’s the return on investing my energy there? Point is that problem’s going to wait for another day. Well, I focus on things that both energetically and monetarily are going to give me a greater return.

Here’s another question from Jackie. She said, I have no idea where to get started with my social media. I’ve created all the accounts, but I have no idea what I should be sharing. I’ve been recording some youtube videos that are ready to launch, but I don’t know how to build up hype for them before they launch. I’ve been told I should poll my audience to see what they would like to see posted except I can’t do that if I don’t have an audience yet. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Hey Jackie, who’s your target market? That’s my only question for you. I think that when we don’t have a real firm grasp on our target market, it becomes really hard to know what to post to social media and if you think your target market is something like I help busy women be more healthy and happy false, like if I had a big Gong back here, I would hit it every time I heard a target market like that.

If it’s too broad that you don’t know what this person needs to hear, then that’s a good sign that you need to think about your target market a little more specifically. If you don’t know what problem you’re helping your target market solve, that’s another thing. A very specific problem. Not like helping somebody be more healthy. So vague, right? So I think if you don’t know what to share, it means you probably don’t have a firm grasp on your target market. We have past episodes that you can go back to and listen about how to determine your target market and make sure it’s specific enough that now if I go on my Facebook or I go on my Instagram or something, I can think of like 30 ideas of what I should share because I know exactly who I’m talking to and what she needs to hear.

The other thing is it sounds like you’re trying to do everything at once. Like you mentioned youtube and you’re just getting started with social media in general. Youtube is a tough one. You know video is, it takes a lot of effort to create video compared to like a quick Facebook post. So I would really encourage you to just start with one social media platform and use it, figure it out slowly. You’re going to gain an audience slowly and make it more of an organic process. Then when you feel really comfortable on that platform, you will sort of graduate and be able to take on the neck. So maybe you start with Facebook and then you’re feeling really good about that. And maybe Instagram will be something that you start doing in a couple of months and then you’ll get really good at that. But personally I think it is way too hard to try to hit all the social media platforms.

I just flat out do not use Twitter because I just don’t like it. I’ve tried so many times and I just don’t like it at all and it’s too much. It’s too much for me. So like I really heavily focused on Facebook. I focus on Instagram. Sometimes I dabble in Pinterest and like those are my big three. Youtube is something that if, if you ever see anything from me on youtube, it is repurposed material from elsewhere or it’s something that my assistant is doing for me. Um, you know, cause it really becomes too much to try to take it all on. So for all of you, you probably only need one or two social media outlets that you’re really involved with. Um, and in terms of building up hype for your videos before they launch, that’s going to be quite hard if you don’t have an audience to get hyped up.

That’s like all marketing stuff. Same thing with podcasts. They tell you like, oh, you know, I have to create hype around your new podcast and I’m like, the day of your launch you have to do this and this and this so that everybody listens on that first day. It’s so much pressure. I’m going to tell you something else. Create really good content that people want to consume. Again, you have to know who they are so that you can create content for them. But great, solid, meaty, interesting entertaining content will always trump anybody’s marketing plan. You will become famous just because you consistently, consistently as the keyword put out really good content that your audience wants, wants to listen to or watch, pay attention to in some way. So I would start there with great content, one social media platform and knowing your target market inside and out. I hope that helps Jackie.

Alrighty. Let’s see, I got a minute left. I’m going to do one more question. This one comes from Sarah. She says, I currently work in healthcare and I hear from patients all the time that they can’t do things like physical therapy or a certain medication or get weight loss support because they can’t afford the extra expense. I feel like those are the people that need help the most. I’d love to hear any of your creative ideas to offer resources to this population.

You know, Sarah, this made me think about one of the guidelines that I always give to health coaches, which is you want to price high, you want to attract a premium clients who’s going to pay you well? And the reason is because so many health coaches are just scraping by and if you’re just scraping by, can you afford to take on a pro bono client?

Can you afford to talk to this person who says that they can’t afford the for weight loss support? And say, oh, okay, well I’ll let you into my program anyway. You can’t do that if you’re just making enough to survive as a business or maybe not even making enough to survive as a business. So what I used to work in advertising, every ad agency always has a bank client and as an art director, all of us creatives hated the bank client cause it’s boring to work on. You’re not doing much interesting stuff for the bank. Same Old, same old, right. Guess what? The bank pays the bills and it’s a big client. They’re paying our salaries so that the agency could then take on other more interesting projects that didn’t pay very well. But if they only took on the interesting projects, the ones that they wanted to do with the ones that we as creatives wanting to work on, nobody would be getting paid.

So it’s really important that you pay yourself first. That you go after the premium clients charge I high ticket price for your programs and your services so that you have the bandwidth to offer something low cost maybe two or three times a year. You run some group program that is $99 maybe you do take on a certain number of sliding scale clients, but you can only do that when you’re getting paid well and you can survive as a business. Make sense?

Alrighty you guys, before we go, I want to give a big shout out and thank you to whoever ‘Be and Eat Well’ is on iTunes. Who left this review? She said, I listen to Michelle’s podcasts when I’m getting ready in the morning, even when I’m all caught up, I’ll go back and listen to past episodes. I’m in the process of restarting my business and her content has helped me stay motivated and think about how I can do things differently, whether it’s related to marketing, creating a signature program or how to build an email list. Thank you for all your expert advice and knowledge, Michelle.

That is amazing. I loved reading that and Be and Eat Well, you are clearly a coach who’s motivated because not only are you listening and you’re really listening, but you’re making it part of your daily routine to learn and grow and stretch the way that you think about your business. So thank you so much for that review and to thank you, I would love to send you a little gift. So please send your mailing address to support@healthcoachpower.com and just let us know that you are this iTunes person, Be and Eat Well. And for everybody, please head over to iTunes and leave a five star rating and review. I put out so much free content every week and I’d love to be able to keep doing that for you, but I do need ratings and reviews to help us reach more health coaches. Thank you in advance for that. I’m going to be back next week, so keep asking all your great questions and I will keep answering them. Bye Bye everybody.