You love geeking out about health and wellness, right? Me too. Whether you’ve been considering a career in health coaching or are just starting to explore what this field entails, I’m here to guide you through the steps I took to become a health coach (back in 2009!) and offer insights that can help you make informed decisions.
The First Step: Embrace Your Passion
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details, it’s essential to understand that becoming a health coach is a journey that starts with a genuine passion for helping others lead healthier, happier lives. It’s not a get rich quick scheme and it’s not a normal “job.” Most health coaches feel that it’s a calling just as much as a career.
Immerse Yourself in Your Interests
In the early stages of my exploration, I was drawn to various wellness practices in an effort to heal my own health issues. I became fascinated with yoga, healthy eating, and exploring alternative approaches to health. The more I delved into these subjects, the more I realized that my heart was leading me towards a career in health and wellness.
My advice to you is to fully immerse yourself in your interests because this is where your journey begins. (Yes, well before any certification process!)
Create and Share Your Knowledge
One pivotal moment was when I decided to start a blog and began writing about my experiences, insights, and discoveries. This was in the early days of my journey, and I had no strategy or plan in mind. I was simply following my heart and sharing my interests with the world.
You don’t need any official credentials or certifications to start creating and sharing your knowledge. If you’re passionate about health and wellness, you can begin your journey by starting a blog, podcast, or social media platform to share what you learn and help others along the way.
(Bonus: If you end up starting your own business, this will be a head start in building your own audience.)
Embrace the Unknown
Your path to becoming a health coach might not follow a linear trajectory.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to embrace the unknown. Life is full of surprises and opportunities that you can’t predict. But when you’re passionate about something, the universe has a way of leading you in the right direction.
For example, I never could have predicted that one day I would have coached clients on 6 different continents!
As they say…if you don’t see the whole staircase, just take the next step.
Choosing the Right Path: Health Coach vs. Registered Dietitian
In the early stages of my journey, I faced the choice between pursuing a career as a health coach or becoming a registered dietitian (RD). This decision was a significant crossroads. Here’s what I learned about the distinctions between the two paths.
Registered Dietitian (RD): Clinical and Prescriptive
I initially considered pursuing a path as a registered dietitian (RD) to gain the credibility I thought I needed. However, I discovered that becoming an RD would require extensive coursework, time and financial investment. RDs are typically prepared to work in environments like schools, hospitals, and prisons and focus on prescribing diets and managing diseases. Their training follows national standards based on government guidelines.
Health Coach: Holistic Wellness and Coaching
I chose to become a health coach because this path aligned more closely with my vision of holistic wellness. Health coaches focus on facilitating behavior change, providing support, and helping clients create a balanced, healthy lifestyle. We don’t prescribe diets or diagnose illnesses. Instead, we emphasize habit change, motivation, and accountability.
One of the core principles of health coaching is considering all aspects of a client’s life, such as career, relationships, spirituality, and home life. This aligns with my belief that true health goes beyond just the food we eat.
Exploring Health Coach Certification Programs
Once I made the decision to become a health coach, I faced the challenge of selecting the right training program. These days there are tons of programs to choose from, and they all offer something different. Make sure the school’s values align with your own.
Institute for Integrative Nutrition: My Choice
I chose the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) as my health coach training program, and it’s been a fantastic journey. IIN has been a pioneer in the field of health coaching for decades.
One of the unique aspects of IIN is its focus on teaching students to view health coaching through a broad lens, encompassing not only nutrition but also life’s other important dimensions, such as spirituality and relationships. They also do not push one particular style of eating. Instead, it’s about making dietary choices that work for each individual’s unique body.
Financial Viability from the Start
Are you worried about the financial aspect of transitioning into a career as a health coach?
When I first started my profits were small, but I’ve never operated at a loss. Unlike many other businesses, health coaching doesn’t require significant overhead costs. You don’t need an office, and you don’t have to maintain inventory. So, I was never in the red, and within six months, I had already earned back the money I invested in my health coaching education.
You Don’t Need Fancy Tools
Health coaching doesn’t require much to get started. If you have a phone and internet access, you’re ready to go. The simplicity of the setup allows you to dive into health coaching without a massive financial investment, setting you up for success from the beginning.
Being Your Own Boss
While not all health coaches operate as independent entrepreneurs, I found that being my own boss was a perfect match for me. (I’m always home when my boys get off the school bus!) Health coaching has given me the freedom to manage my business while balancing family life and other responsibilities. It’s an ideal career for those who want the autonomy to design their workdays and lifestyles.
Embrace the Exciting Journey Ahead
As you walk the path towards becoming a health coach, remember that there is no one right way to do it. You can turn coaching into the exact right career for you, your interests, strengths and lifestyle. Plus, you can work as little or as much as you want.
But one thing’s for sure – you’re going to help make the world a healthier and happier place just by exploring this career path. (And certainly if you decide to go for it!)
If you’d like to learn more about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and explore a sample class, here’s the first step toward your own transformative journey:
Remember, it all starts with a passion for wellness, a desire to help others, and the willingness to embrace the unknown. Enjoy every step of it!