#31: Credentials, Diplomas & Certifications, Oh My!

Have you been considering getting additional certifications beyond your health coach diploma? Hormones, digestion, herbs – you name it, there’s a program out there to teach it. In this episode, Michelle shares:

– How she decided on her own recent continuing education in the area of functional & integrative medicine.
– Guidance around preparing meal plans for individuals vs. groups.
– Pros/cons to starting a Facebook group for your business
…and much more!

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This episode is sponsored by:
Master Class: Turn Your Health Coaching Business Into a Full Time Salary

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Alrighty. Hello health coaches! Welcome to the Health Coach Power Community Q&A. my name is Michelle Pfennighaus. Thanks so much for joining me today. Have you been considering getting any additional certifications that go beyond your health coach diploma? I know some coaches who have done two, three, four, five, so many trainings and are still learning about digestion and hormones and herbs. You name it. There’s a training program out there for it today. I’m going to be telling you guys about a training that I recently did and how it’s made such an enormous difference in my health coaching practice. So if you’re here with me live and we are streaming over at healthcoachpowercommunity.com. Here’s what I want you to do. You can go into the comment area and just tell me what certifications or trainings beyond your health coach diploma have you been considering or have you already completed?

I know a lot of people are always asking this question like what’s next, what’s next? So as we go ahead and I’ll wait to see your comments pop up. I’ll let you guys know that this episode is brought to by my free training for health coaches called how to turn your health coaching business into a full time salary and you can sign up for free at findyourbalancehealth.com/earn. That’s e a r n because after all you can know everything about health and wellness. You can know about all the herbs, you can know about all the supplements, whatever. You can have credentials up, down and sideways, but if you don’t know how to market yourself, you’re just not going to be able to reach very many people and it’ll be harder to earn the salary that you want. So my training is free and it is available at findyourbalancehealth.com/earn.

Alrighty. So this question came from, Jess just said, just curious what other credentials you’ve supplemented your holistic health diploma with. I’ve been looking at a few other courses for when I’m done personal training, precision nutrition, herbs for health, any kind of integrative health coaching, etc. Just curious if anyone has taken any of these courses as well and what you recommend.

So great question Jess, and I know we probably have graduates of lots of these programs and in our group and you got some feedback around this already, but I thought I would just let you guys know what I’ve been up to. So just as a quick background, I graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2009 long time ago and I loved it. I mean it definitely launched me into this whole career, so I have nothing bad to say about it, but I will say that as I went through the program, I felt like many of you, I’ve heard many of you say, Gosh, there’s not really a whole lot of science here.

It was such an interesting program. I learned so much about coaching, but yeah, kind of lacked some of that more academic rigor that I had been hoping for. I know I’m nerdy like that. So I have that certification. Um, I did a 200 hour yoga teacher training way back when in 2007. I think so I have that for whatever that’s worth, right? I’m been quite immersed in yoga and I have a bachelor’s degree in art and that’s all I got, right. So I’ve been able to help thousands upon thousands of women. I’ve been successful as a health coach without any higher diplomas or certifications or anything like that, um, for, for about 10 years now. But around this decade mark, I guess I started to reconsider like what am I doing with this business? How am I meant to help women in this world and, and where do I want to go next?

So I just want to lay it out there that if you’re still in school or if you’re just in your first year of business, if you’re just still new to the whole industry, my goodness, you’re already able to help so many people. You do not need to jump into another certification program. And I would encourage you to use your clients as the greatest PhD that you can get because you will learn so much, especially from one on one coaching. And I know that I did so. So that’s, that’s kind of my background in my thought process around all this stuff. But again, at that 10 year mark I was like, no, I’d really like to step up my game. I had had some clients come to me where I saw a wall. I was like, oh gosh, this woman really needs testing for such and such, or oh gosh, this person really needs to talk to someone who has more knowledge than I do.

And that was bugging me. It felt like, Hey, I wish I could go further with this client. I wish I could go deeper with her instead of having to refer her out. So, um, when I started looking into doing an additional training, I was looking for something that would go beyond nutrition. Right? I got a pretty strong handle on the nutrition side of things. I was looking to definitely go deeper. So that was one thing I personally was looking for. And this will be different for everybody. The other thing I was looking for was a breadth of science based information. I, first of all, let’s talk about breadth. I did not want to just focus on like thyroid health or hormone health or whatever, like I didn’t want to just go deep into one topic because I feel like with all of my clients, you know, rarely does somebody show up with just one symptom.

Everything’s connected, right? So like if I’m going to learn about hormones, I better also learned about digestion. If I’m going to learn about digestion, I also better learn about, you know, whatever. It’s all connected. So I wanted something that was going to be quite comprehensive instead of siloing me and to just learning about one topic and the science based aspect is important to me as well. I’m all for energy healing. All of the alternative modalities out there. I know that for the women that I work with, I will hold the most credibility if I can say to them, you know, this has been proven or science shows this or there have been studies done about that. And so that law, that’s not my personality entirely or the way that I maybe act in my own life. I knew that having a more science based practice was going to really help me work with the women that I tend to attract.

So I was looking for that in a training program and you know what, I wasn’t just looking for knowledge because I guess you could pick up a textbook or something, you know, there’s lots of books out there. Um, you know, there’s so many different training programs. I guess what I was really waiting for with something that was going to inspire me because if you’ve ever done anything for a long time, I don’t know anything. If you’ve been a teacher and a school system for a long time or whatever you do, you’ve been an accountant for a long time. At a certain point it gets like, oh, this again. So I needed to be like reinspired. I wanted a flame to be lit underneath me. Like this is why I’m doing the work. So I was looking for a program that was really going to inspire and reinvigorate my practice.

Again, you could be looking for something totally different, but that was me. And let me tell you what I was not looking for just personally, I was not looking for a diploma or a certification or something that I could hang on my wall or extra letters after my name because I have found in my business that none of that really matters. It would matter maybe if I was a medical doctor or being held to some standards where I needed more letters after my name, but generally someone works with me not because I have such and such certification. In fact, I rarely if ever asked to share what my certification is or prove it or anything like that. So it didn’t seem necessary that I needed a diploma per se. I also personally was not looking to like run lab tests or a urine samples or like, I know there’s lots of things like this a health coaches can get involved with, but I don’t have an interest in doing that.

So that’s not something I was personally looking for. And I guess the last thing that I was not looking for as different programs come across my desk, I would just be like, oh, I don’t think so. Maybe, maybe not. I didn’t want to be a different kind of health coach. I didn’t want to go to a school that was going to try to make me fit their mold and be that kind of health coach. Like I me, I’ve been doing this a long time and I didn’t want to be told like that I needed to do it differently. So I guess that was just kind of bugging me about doing another health coach specific training. Anyway, so some time had gone by and nothing was really lighting a fire for me. So I had signed up for anything. I wasn’t really in a rush. But then I learned about a Viva Roms, functional and Integrative Medicine Professional Training Program.

This was last year and I was just like, this is it, this is what I’ve been waiting for. I don’t know if you guys know who have you know who Aviva Romm is, Dr Aviva Romm. Uh, you can look her up. It’s avivaromm.com. But I had been following her for years. She’s my role model. The woman is a Yale trained medical doctor. Before that she was a midwife. Before that she was an herbalist and before that she was a midwife. So she’s got it all going on. She really brings the whole picture to the table. She’s not just coming at it from an earthy, crunchy point of view. She’s not just coming at it from a science base point of view. I love of Aviva. So when this opportunity arose, I’m like, that’s it. Like that’s what I need because nobody inspires me more. My husband has even said to me, why don’t you go back and get your md?

Like Aviva did. Aviva, I think she was in her 30’s. She was pretty old, older than most medical students. When she went back to school to become a medical doctor. My husband’s like, why don’t you do that? I’m like, Oh my God, I think I would die. But that’s how he knew. He knows how inspired I am by her. So I remember I ran outside. He was in the driveway and I’m like Aviva’s doing functional medicine training. I have to be part of it. He was like, of course you do. And I’m like, of course I do. So that was very easy for me to say yes to because it appealed to me on a logical level, but also on an emotional level. I just felt my heart go like, yes, this is, we have to do this. So I’ll just tell. I’ll share a little bit about what I got from the program.

Um, which by the way, I’m just graduating this week and it has been such a cool thing to be a part of. I was the first class to go through and some things that I’ve noticed in my health coaching practice as a result is that I’m able to get results for my clients much more quickly and much more completely. So I think I’ve always got good results for my clients in the past. Most of them at least you always have one or two that doesn’t work it out. But, uh, I can think of one client that I’m working with now who came to me with lifelong constipation and within days she was feeling the best she had felt in a really long time. Um, I have another client with terrible, terrible pms and in the past I would just be like, stop eating sugar, eat more real food and all of that is good and all of that is true.

But I was able to give her more specific guidance to help relieve her immediate symptoms and so often people need that. They need to feel some sort of relief and feel like it’s working, even though if they were to change their whole Diet and stop drinking soda and stop drinking coffee and all the rest and they did that for six months, they really would feel better and sometimes it happens quicker. But you know what I mean, like I have more tools in my toolbox to help people feel better quickly. So that has been awesome. I feel like I am literally wearing a tool belt with so much more in it than I had before. So that’s one thing I got out of the program and I hope that anyone who, if you’re thinking of doing any kind of training, you’re thinking about how will this enhance my practice?

Like how will, how will I learn this because I love learning, but how will I put it into use, how will I impress people so that they are referring me so I actually start earning more money and you know, getting that wait list of clients that want to work with me. So it becomes a real return on investment. The other thing that I thought was really unique about Aviva’s program is that it’s not just health coaches. In fact, I would say I was in the minority as a health coach. There’s doctors, there’s nurses, there’s midwives, there’s acupuncturists there, social workers, Nutritionists were all in there together. So I got this really cool insight into how other health professionals are working with their challenges are and how health coaching can really fit in to a functional medicine model. There’s so many doctors that are like, oh, I really wish I had a health coach to hire.

How do I find one and then you know, if you ever look in our Facebook group, HealthCoachPowerCommunity.com, you will find so many health coaches going, I really want to work with a doctor, but how do I make that connection? So like they’re looking for us and we’re looking for them and it’s, it’s really interesting to get the behind the scenes look at how other practitioners are, are running their businesses. So that was extremely cool and overall I just want to say that it was like getting a download direct into my brain from a woman who has such extensive expertise in so many areas of all kinds of medicine, midwifery and women’s health urbalism. It was pretty amazing and she was able to teach not just the academic, you know, the facts and the figures, but put it into real life scenarios for us because she’s still a practicing doctor, you know, she has patients that she sees.

So, there’s lots of case studies that were just from maybe within the past couple months of her practice. All very relevant. She was able to share stories and just made it really come to life in a way that helped me bring it to life for my own clients. I didn’t feel like I was just memorizing a bunch of facts that would have been boring. So this has been super cool for me. Um, and as a matter of fact of Aviva’s going to be joining us for a women’s health and functional medicine, mini-training for health coaches. And this is going to be a Facebook live session happening tomorrow. So mark your calendar September fifth at 2:00 PM eastern time. Please, please try to join us. We’ll be at healthcoachpowercommunity.com for this special event. She’s going to talk about some of the basics of functional medicine for health coaches and I’ll be hoping to publish our conversation as a bonus podcast episode as well. This way everyone will be able to listen in. So yay! Look for that tomorrow. Very excited. Like I said, love Aviva.

So that’s what I have to say about choosing a training program. I guess to summarize, use your head and use your heart. You should be really excited about this. Let’s move on to some other questions. Oh, let’s see. Sharon saying, I am looking forward to taking a Aviva’s course beginning this month. Um, I must disagree however, in one aspect I’ve learned so much from other courses I’ve taken. Clearly I have learned from my clients, but I’m a better coach knowing what I know as well as what I do not know. Yeah, I don’t think we’re disagreeing, Sharon. I think that courses have a lot to offer, obviously. And working with clients has a lot to offer as well. So let’s move onto the next question that I have here and if there’s anything you want to ask me, if you’re here live, go ahead and put it into the comment area so I can, um, give you some live feedback. Very happy to do so.

Laurie asked, what would you charge for putting together a meal plan complete with Grocery List and recipes for someone? This is not health coaching client. This would be more of an a la cart service.

So Laurie, what I wanted to say about this as you might want to be careful about offering this type of service, I don’t know if you have other certifications, if you’re a registered Dietitian, but to have someone come to you and maybe I don’t know, complete a short form and then you are going to give them a set of meal plans, might put you in some tricky out of scope territory, especially depending what state you live in. So I’m not telling you don’t do it. I’m just saying be careful about how you offer this because it really would come across as you prescribing a meal plans specific to a person.

I’m an individual and that could get you in a little trouble. Again, depending what state you’re in, it can be more or less of a problem. I think that if you include meal plans as part of a health coaching package, you can couch it a little bit more as here are some suggested meal plans to go along with what we’ve been talking about. Or You told me that you wanted to go vegetarian. So here’s a sample vegetarian meal plan that I put together that you could be inspired from and it can take on a slightly nuanced, it’s definitely nuance, but you just want to be careful that you are not giving direct, you know, here’s what you should be eating advice to anybody because we are not really allowed to do that. So at your own risk, proceed and do check perhaps with some, uh, some legal advice for your state.

Okay. Another great question that came in is from Stacey and Stacey said, do you recommend having a business page or a group page on Facebook?

Great question. In fact, I have a link for you, Stacey. I don’t have it right here in front of me, but I’ll post it into the comments when we get off of this live broadcast. I have a link that kind of goes into this more in depth, but a lot of people are always asking about this and I know it can be super, super confusing. So I’ll just tell you how I am using the two types of pages and kind of what the pros and cons are and everything like that. So I would say that everybody should have a Facebook fan page or business page. It’s not because it’s going to work that well for you. I know that sounds really funny, but Facebook has changed their algorithms so much that you don’t get a lot of reach from your fan page unless you’re paying to boost all your posts and you’re paying for Facebook ads.

Um, but it’s still something that people do. If they hear about you, it’s just they go on Facebook, they’ll look for you. If you have a page, you look so much more credible than if you don’t. Sometimes I see people in their profile, it’ll say like, you know, my name is Jane so, and so, and I work at health coach, but it’s, you know, you click on it and there’s nothing there. It’s just the generic health coach that, you know, it’s not really their business page. So it’s one way of coming across as more professional and for your friends and family to get a sense of what you do. Um, sometimes they don’t want to talk to you about it or ask you about it. Friends and family can be the worst. So you know, if you have that presence on your Facebook page is helpful, but also for anyone you might meet, it’s almost like a business card just having that Facebook presence.

But the main reason to have a Facebook fan page is because you have to have one. If you ever want to run any Facebook ads, that’s just how it works right now. I don’t know if that’s going to change. So if you ever want to boost any, do any ads in ads manager hire somebody at some point to run ads for you. You have to have it connected to your business page. So that would be a reason to start one. And I don’t put a ton of time and effort into mine because I don’t think it gets a ton of reach. But post once a day, something like that. So you’re just kind of up to date and your last post wasn’t like six months ago. That never looks good. Just to have it though. Yes. Now as for a group on Facebook, that is a whole other can of worms.

I have run many Facebook groups. Health Coach Power Community is the largest I have ever run and I can tell you it is a lot of work. It’s so much work, especially in the beginning because you don’t have very many people in there and you’re trying to engage them in conversation and you got to be in that group, like constantly posting a prompt, trying to get people to talk, posting some interesting articles. You know, you really have to be like the party dancer at your own party and it takes an awful lot of work to get a Facebook group to a point where it’s kind of running on its own. And even then there’s a ton of administrative tasks behind it. What you guys don’t see is that every day I’ve got like 10 weird people trying to join the group. You know, they got some weird name.

I’m pretty sure it’s a fake profile or it’s some marketing person that’s just trying to get in here and like sell you stuff and they’re not a health coach at all and it’s like I got to go through those and decline, decline, decline, decline, and try to weed out the good from the bad. That’s a lot of work. You always got people posting stuff. They’re not supposed to post like, Hey, join my mlm or whatever, you know, breaking the rules of the group. You got to delete that stuff. You got to kick people out. It’s not all fun and Games folks. So I’m not trying to poo poo on the groups. I’m just trying to let you know that starting a group is a real investment of your time. So I would start a group if you know that you have a reason for it existing beyond like, oh, this is a place where I can talk with people.

It really helps for a group to have a purpose. Like in this group we talk about how to turn health coaching into a real business, into something profitable. We’re not here talking about, you know, this is not the group that I, I try not to run a group where everybody’s like spouting off their favorite supplements. Sometimes we do that, but most of our topics are around business building. So you should have a group where you know, what your focus is going to be, how are you going to help people achieve a goal? Um, so stacy, I hope that’s helpful in short, yes to the page. No for the group, unless you know for sure that you want to get into that business because it is a whole business in and of itself. Going to read a comment here from Michelle. She said, so do I.

So I do create customized weekly meal recipes based on what my clients say they liked to eat. I have checked Virginia laws and have a nutrition degree, so I know I’m okay as long as I don’t use certain titles. So I’m giving them recipes. But I was wondering, isn’t this similar along the lines of using subscription meal planning services where you’re paying for a week’s worth of recipes that are catered to your eating style? Okay, so Michelle, maybe you have a certain degree or certification that would mean this won’t be a problem for you, but for a non licensed health professional to tell one individual here’s what you specifically you should be eating can get into tricky territory and it would be less tricky. And um, take, by the way, I’m just taking this from what Lisa Fraley has told us. Lisa Fraley is a lawyer for health coaches.

You can look her up at LisaFraley.com and she’ll often say that doing things in a group atmosphere as much safer because if let’s say I have a group of five people or let’s say I had 100 people who subscribed to my meal plans, then I could create that meal plan for every body. It’s clearly not personalized. It’s clearly not like here’s what you should do for your specific condition or whatever. Um, and that’s a safer way to go. So do check with your state. I’m not an attorney, but there are issues out there that you should be aware of. Thanks for posting, Michelle.

Alright, I got a few more minutes. So I thought we could get into this question that Jane asked. She said, so last night, one of my children’s school events and I want you to put a pin in that children’s school event. Another parent asked me, do you work? And she hesitantly said, yes, I’m a health coach. And then I guess the other person said, are you a nurse? Not a nurse. That pretty much ended the conversation. What’s up with me with that? I froze. I couldn’t find the words. Maybe she asked if I was a nurse because she didn’t know what a health coach is and Jane said she would love to hear others’ experiences with this situation. What you say and how you handle it.

I think it’s so funny, Jane, because a lot of people answered you on the Facebook group saying you need to have your elevator pitch ready, have your elevator speech and being like, let’s get real you guys. This comes up so often. Jane’s at her children’s school event like there could not be a more casual setting that you could possibly be and it’s like if you’re at the park or you’re at like a party with your neighbors or something like that, imagine you go up to someone and you’re like, just being friendly, you know, making small talk or whatever. Oh, what do you do? And he’s like, oh, I help corporations evade tax laws and Dah, Dah. That like gives you a whole elevator pitch of what he does. But what it really comes down to is the guy’s a lawyer. You’d be like, why didn’t, I mean, why did he just say he was a lawyer? Or if someone’s like, oh, I, I provide you a wonderful table side service, too, hungry diners, you’d be like, what? That person’s a waitress. So I totally understand that idea of an elevator pitch and I think these things are useful.

If you were onstage and they’re introducing you and you’re about to give a presentation in a professional setting. Yes. Use Your elevator pitch. Tell everybody what you’re all about. Introduce yourself or if you’re at a networking event, same thing, but with like at the park and someone asked me what I do, I’m not going to say I help women 40 to 50, reduce the bloat and gain energy. They’d be like, what’s the matter with you? So I just want to say like, it’s hard to answer this question in the beginning. I remember choking on those words. I’m a health coach because it just didn’t feel natural. I didn’t believe I was a health coach. I hadn’t worked with that many clients yet. I was not used to saying those words, but you do not need to go the formal route of having an elevator pitch that you whip out at your children’s school event.

So the way I usually answer the question, it happens all the time. We moved here where I live now. We moved to about two years ago. My son started kindergarten and we met everybody all at once. I tell people, I usually say I’m a nutrition coach because if you say health coach, that could mean a lot of things. Health is really broad. I’ve been using the word nutrition and then I say I have my own online business because I think most people when they ask that question, I don’t really care what you do, but they’re trying to get a sense of like, are you a stay at home mom? Like if they’re asking me or are you like a mom? Who are you off to the city every morning on the 6:00 AM train, you know, what kind of person are you? What are you into?

So when I tell them I’m a nutrition coach, they immediately know I’m into nutrition. They get it. My kid’s not going to have to Doritos in his lunchbox and if I have my own online business then they know I likely work from home. I’m an entrepreneur. No, I’m not taking the 6:00 AM express train into New York City. So anyway, I suggest that you go a little more colloquial with it and not get all wrapped up and projecting this perfect business persona at your child’s school event. That’s just me though. Okay. Let’s see if we have any other questions that are being asked live and if not, I’m going to take one that I have here.

This one came from Jennifer. I’m going to answer real quickly. Jennifer said, does anyone have any experience with live online cooking classes with their clients and if so, what software or platform did you use?

So you guys, this is something that any of you can be doing. I wanted to invite you, if you go to my Facebook fan page, it’s Facebook.com/Michellepfennighaus and you go into the videos, you’ll actually see a bunch of cooking classes but I did within the past 12 months or so and I love Facebook live as a platform for doing cooking classes because you can have that live audience and you got the replay that continues to live on in the group. Like I have a video for Korean beef and when I first made the video, you know, maybe 10 people saw maybe 10 people were there with me live, but now almost 2000 people have watched it because it lives in your library and we’ll get more views as a replay. I love doing Facebook lives for so many reasons. When you do video, Facebook actually pumps up the algorithm like so more people start visiting your page.

That’s always a good thing. Your video gets more views plus your other posts, get more views. Facebook likes video, so that’s another good reason to be using the platform. And then you can take that video and you can embed it somewhere else. So I took the code from Facebook to embed the video and I put it on my website and created a blog post for the same recipes. So if you go there, you know the recipe is written out, but you can also watch the video or you can even download the video and upload it to youtube and create a youtube channel as sort of getting more mileage out of your content. I never actually took that last step. I never did the youtube part, but I encourage you to. So the only thing you need if you’re going to do a cooking class in your kitchen, the setup is really important, so I would use my phone to do the filming to act as the camera and the phone needs to be on a tripod where you can see the cooking space.

So it depends on the shape of your kitchen, how you’re going to set this up. If you have an island or peninsula, it works. It’s more, it’s easier to set it up because you could put the camera on the other side. The other thing that you’re going to need is a microphone. You can just shout at the camera and it will be okay, but if you turn around to like go do something at the sink, then no one’s going to be able to hear you. So it really helps to have a level II or microphone, one that clips onto your shirt or even something like I’m wearing right now. Even though I looked like a phone operator, but whatever it is, it has to have a very long cord because it has to go all the way from your phone on the tripod to where you’re cooking and you need to be able to move around.

I did try wireless microphones. They all were really horrible, so I never found a brand that worked well. They were very staticky. Anyway, like Facebook live for the cooking classes and Jennifer, if you do some, let us know so that we can take a watch and help you boost your views. Alright, you guys, we were at 3:30. Please remember to join us live tomorrow at 2:00 PM eastern time for our women’s health and functional medicine mini training for health coaches with Dr Aviva Romm and if you can’t be there, look for the replay in the group or the podcast version coming out soon. All right, take care of you guys. I’ll see you next time.