How Health Coaches are Helping Solve Lifestyle Disease Epidemic

Jennifer Turner

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Some of trendiest careers these days are in health and life coaching fields. Over the past few years, I have seen many friends and influencers claim this title. So, what exactly does their coaching entail? Are there qualifications required to call oneself a health/life coach? Do you need a life coach? I got these answers and more when I interviewed a local health coach, Jennifer Turner as well as the co-founder of the fastest-growing online health education platform, Carey Peters. 

When Austin health coach Jennifer Turner of Wild Acorn Wellness isn’t working with clients, you can find her teaching yoga at Black Swan Yoga or serving as the Austin Ambassador for Remote Year. 

What exactly is a health coach? 
“There is not an exact definition—a health coach’s role is dependent on the coach’s skills, trainings and passions. A health coach can be everything you wish your MD would be and works in a holistic way taking many aspects of health into consideration including diet, exercise, mindfulness, stress reduction and supplementation.” 

Do you need credentials to be a health coach? What training did you complete prior to start coaching? 
Technically, you do not need any credentials to be called a health coach. However, credentials are needed to use the titles “nutritionist,” “dietitian” or in reference to any other specific accreditation. I completed the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Program and thus can call myself an FDNP (Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner). 

Many health coaches blend a variety of health- and fitness-related certifications to better serve their clients. For example, I am also a registered Yoga Alliance RYT and hold other fitness-based certifications. 

Why did you decide to become a health coach? 
In childhood and early adulthood, I struggled with severe stomach pain, nausea, nervousness and bloating. I was extremely shy and scared of pretty much everything. The stomach pain and nausea was often debilitating keeping me in bed and away from enjoying life. Doctors dosed me with OTC drugs, but I still spent the first few days of school in the bathroom vomiting. It would subside for a while, but as soon as a new stressor (school, parental conflict, death of my mother, new step-family) was introduced, the stabbing pains would begin again. High school came with cystic acne and excessive sweating. Things continued to worsen in college, and symptoms would flare up when my roommate would belittle me or I had a big test coming up. It wasn't until I started to dive into nutrition and practice yoga that these symptoms began to subside. For the first time I was able to express myself without fear (that manifested in pain, vomit, sweat, and acne). This was a long journey and an ongoing process. Now, I hope to help others along their own healing journeys. 

What do you help clients with? 
When seeking to heal, we must assess your life on a WHOLE-istic macro level. Taking inventory of one’s diet, rest, exercise, and relationships is a a good place to start, but it must go deeper than that. Acknowledge the oneness and interconnectedness of your mind-body-spirit and seek the root causes of stress and disconnection from your truth. True healing comes from deep within, and not from the trendiest diet, perfect prescription drug cocktail or sexiest workout plan. 

Carey Peters is the co-founder of Health Coach Institute, the fastest growing online education platform that teaches people how to turn their passion for healthy living into a career as a health coach. Carey is a Certified Health Coach, Marketing and Soul Business Coach, a Certified Money Breakthrough Coach, a Certified NLP Practitioner, and a Certified Intuitive Coach. She created her first six-figure coaching business in under 10 months, and since partnering with fellow coach Stacey Morgenstern in 2010, built a multi-million dollar coaching business called Holistic MBA™ in under two years. Carey and Stacey have educated and inspired more than 8,000 health and personal development coaches from 27 countries create truly sustainable money-making businesses they LOVE while deeply serving themselves and the world.

What inspired you to co-found the Health Coach Institute? 
Basically, I had terrible stomach problems myself. I was really struggling with horrible IBS. I went to a gastroenterologist when I was 28. 
The doctor was like, "Well, you have terrible IBS, and here's a prescription for Zelnorm and you're going to have to take it for the rest of your life." 
I was like, "Wait a minute. That doesn't sound right. Really? For the rest of my life?" Because I'm sort of rebellious by nature, I was like, "I don't know. Can that really be?"             

I started researching food. I thought this guy didn't even ask me what I eat. Is there something maybe that I eat that could be causing my stomach issues? I started to just get really obsessed with food and nutrition, and I read every book I could get my hands on. I realized that I was eating an enormous amount of sugar and a ton of gluten which, at the time, people weren't necessarily talking about. So I thought...I'll just start changing my diet. I'll start cooking, I'll start eating more vegetables. I got super into it. At the same time, I was feeling really disenchanted with my career. I was professional actress, and I did fairly well. 

There were times when between jobs where I had to do temp jobs here and there and I'd be sitting at an office and I'd be like, "What am I sitting here for? This is crazy." I'm doing that I don't love to do. To me, it's very hard to get up in the morning and do something that I don't love to do. If it doesn't feel meaningful, it's very hard to do it. As I was approaching 30, I realized that my career was not looking the way I wanted it to look. When I looked forward as an actress, I [wasn’t] seeing the kind of career that I want—financially and otherwise. I started to feel restless and that I was meant to go in a different direction I knew I wanted to help people because, as an actress, telling stories is meant to help people elicit emotion, feel, and learn more about themselves. That's the point.                    

I [wanted] to translate that into a career—and here's this newfound passion for health. Wouldn't it be amazing if could put those two together? I was looking at becoming a nutritionist or a licensed clinical social worker. Finally, I found health coaching, which was very new at the time, and I wanted to help people be able to transform their lives through the doorway of diet and lifestyle. I started my actual education in 2005 and really never looked back. I've been coaching professionally and successfully since 2008. For a couple of years, I struggled because I realized I didn't have the right training. I didn't know how to coach, which is a problem when you're a health coach. I had a little bit still to learn. My initial training fell a little short, which I didn't realize until it was too late. Once I finally figured out here's how you coach, here's the business of coaching, then my career took off. I had my first six figure year. Actually, it took me 10 months to get to that income. It's been six figures every year since then. 

I ended up partnering with Stacy, who's another successful health coach, and we ended up just having coaches come to us separately and say, “Tell me how you're doing what you're doing. How did you get clients? How did you create products online? How are you doing this in a way that's making money?” We started teaching people informally. Then I finally was like, “I should start interviewing coaches who are doing this for a living and doing a great job.”

[Stacy and I] thought about it for many years, and we wanted to make sure that if we were to create a training [on health coaching] that we really were able to articulate our specific points of view about what that meant and how to do it. It took us a couple of years to develop Health Coach Institute. 

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