So, you wanna be a health coach? {My Personal Experience with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition & all your qs answered}

So, what’s a health coach, anyway?

What was your experience like at IIN?

I want to be a health coach…where do I begin?

What’s a day in the life look like for you?

Is health coaching right for me?

As a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), these are the types of questions I get each week both online, and in real life. While I love a good ol’ coffee date and certainly don’t mind typing emails, I figured it makes more sense to have all this good, juicy info in one place: here on the blog.

My journey all began back in the Summer of 2011. I was jumping from part-time job to job (everything from barista to spa concierge), searching for my purpose. I had all the passion in the world, but couldn’t figure out how to turn it into my career.

At the time, I was regularly blogging here on Healthy Chicks, and had just gone through some major body breakthroughs. That year, I learned that I didn’t need to count calories, go on restrictive diets or give up bread to be healthy. I learned that nourishing your body (through good food and soulful activities) is the best thing you can do for yourself! It’s as if a huge weight was lifted off of my chest, and I was finally free…I felt alive! I had recently broke up with the scale for good, and felt glowing in my skin. For the first time in a while, I felt beautiful. I was happy.

And then a kind o’ crazy thing started happening: I began losing weight, almost effortlessly. The weight I had held on from years of dieting, bashing my body, and weighing myself 5 times a day. The weight I kept as I told myself “You’re not pretty enough, skinny enough, or good enough.” The weight that haunted me when the nutritionist told me I needed to cut back even more on calories if I wanted to lose the weight for good. When I stopped depriving (and trying so damn hard), everything began to fall into its place.

I became one of those girls, the kind that didn’t own a scale, who skipped the gym sometimes, and could eat a piece of pizza without feeling guilty. And this whole holistic health thing suddenly became super intriguing to me — that there is more to life than counting calories and that this whole “you must be happy in your own skin” thing may actually be legit.

As I continued to feel better about myself & exude confidence, I naturally started receiving questions (everyone from my readers to my college besties to my mom’s friends.) So I got to talking! I began sharing my little positive mantras, words of wisdom and favorite recipes. I shifted the focus on the blog to discuss more than just “health stuff,” but also lifestyle, happiness and general wellness.

The more I shared, the more I realized this was more than just a hobby. That maybe just maybe, I could turn this into a career.

That’s when I discovered IIN.

I enrolled June 10th 2011 for the fall course, and haven’t looked back since. The rest is history (well kind of!) Below, I answer all of your burning questions…

My Experience As a Health Coach Through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition

What’s a health coach, anyway?

I get this question a lot, especially right after graduating! “Health coach” was a foreign word at the time, and it took a bit of explaining to do. In short, it’s someone who helps guide & support clients through making healthier lifestyle changes. You can totally cater your health coaching niche & style to the kind of people you’d like to work with. (For me, I work with women who are looking to break free from dieting & depriving so they can start living a life full of bliss!)

Unlike a doctor or dietician, you don’t prescribe meds, complete medical reports or have your clients weigh in. Rather, it’s more holistic-based, focusing on general wellness and lifestyle.

Why did you want to become a health coach?

As I mentioned above, I knew I had sooooo much to offer, and just didn’t have the platform nor profession to do it. I was super passionate about helping other women make positive lifestyle changes, and wanted to share that with the masses! Not to mention, entrepreneurship is in my blood, and I wanted to be my own boss lady!

What is the Institute for Integrative Nutrition?

IIN is the wold’s largest Nutrition School! They offer a cutting-edge online training program geared toward those looking to improve their own wellness, as well as those with an interest in launching a brand new career as a Health Coach. Founded by Joshua Rosenthal, the program was built on the premise that food changes everything, and that through holistic education the world can be a much happier, healthier place!

Why IIN? What’s unique about the health coaching program?

When I decided to get after a certification in the world of nutrition & wellness, I did tons of research first. I was super curious to see what was out there! There were times when I considered becoming a nutritionist or dietitian, and I also looking into various Natural Food Chef programs, and other coaching certifications.

At the end of the day, IIN was the best fit for me — almost like when you find your dream college (ahem, JMU)! I wasn’t interested in the medical side of things, and knew there was much more to wellness than counting calories and tracking someone’s BMI. And while I love food (and learning about food & dietary theories!) I wanted more than that. You know, like understanding cravings, overcoming emotional eating, and finding your passion.

Once I discovered IIN, there was no turning back. I just had to do it…I knew I was meant to! I also knew several graduates I admired, who only had the best things to say about the program.

Get the curriculum guide here to see if IIN may be a the perfect fit for you too!

How long does it take to become a certified health coach?

The course takes 1 year to complete, and at the end of the year you’ll officially be a Certified Holistic Health Coach. Did I mention the entire program is done online? (That was a huge perk for me since I had no interest in moving to NYC!)

What are the lectures like & how does this whole thing work?

As a student, you’ll get access to IIN’s cutting-edge learning center, which can be accessed from your laptop, tablet, and even your phone! Each week, a new series of lectures are released that you can take at your own pace to complete. You can also connect with fellow students & staff throughout the program, which I highly recommend to make the most of your experience!

You’ll learn about a variety of topics, including mindfulness, raw food, women’s health, superfoods and craving control, hearing from renowned experts like David Wolfe, Deepak Chopra and Christiane Northrup to name a few.

Bonus: the entire program is done online, and can be done from anywhere (during your commute, late at night when the kids have gone to bed,  on the beach!)

Listen to a sample class here so you can get the gist of what the program’s like!

Do I have to quit my full time job during the health coaching course? What did you do?

No, most definitely not! I have several friends who worked full-time throughout the program, then slowly transitioned out as they began to take on clients. I also know others who quit their full-time jobs once they enrolled, and went gung-ho!

For me, I kept a part-time job throughout: I worked at a spa and picked up freelance writing gigs when I could. Throughout the year, I took the program very seriously, and spent quite a bit of time each day listening to the lectures, studying, reading and participating in the group discussion boards. I was all in.

At the end of the day, you need to do what works best for you & your schedule! However, I definitely recommend keeping your day job while you figure it all out so you’re not stressing about money.

Is health coaching right for me?

That’s a question you have to ask yourself! If you love empowering others, want to be your own boss, and are passionate about helping others live a healthier, happier life, you’re on the right track! As a coach, you need to be OK with not having a set schedule all the time, rolling with the punches, and taking your own emotions and “stuff” out of it; at the end of the day you are there to guide your clients rather than “fix” them or tell them what to do/eat/be.

What’s your favorite part about being a health coach?

That I feel like I’m living my life’s purpose! I feel such a sense of joy and gratitude when I get to work with other women who have gone through what I’ve gone through. For years, I struggled with food, body image and feeling like I wasn’t enough, and I was able to overcome that (without dieting, restricting or doing anything crazy!) I want to help other women do the same, to show them that they are so worth it.

I also LOVE LOVE LOVE my group programs that I run throughout the year. There’s nothing quite like bringing a group of women together to share, laugh, cry and just be together…judgement-free.

Oh, and it also doesn’t hurt that you can make your own schedule, and work with clients on your time!

But there are so many coaches out there already…how do I stand out?

It’s all about finding your niche, baby! When I first started out, I wanted to work with everyone. I didn’t know who my ideal client was, and would work with anyone who would give me money. I quickly learned that’s not the best way to roll. Finding your niche means digging deep and asking yourself, Who do I want to work with? What’s my special sauce? Who can I best serve?

Usually, it’s something you’re passionate about and has to do with a personal struggle you went through yourself. For me, it was plain to see I needed to work with women who were obsessed with dieting, and constantly comparing themselves with others with very little confidence in themselves. This woman was me…8 years ago. The more I began to honestly share my story (without jazzing it up or trying to make it into something more), I began to attract clients who could relate.

Oh, and do your best not to compare yourself to others (this will actually work against you)! They can’t offer what you do because, well, there is only one you.

So I graduated as a Health Coach, now what? What are the different career paths?

This is the beauty of having a career as a health coach: there are endless options and there really is no one, right answer! I know of several graduates who have went on to launch their own wellness products (like the gals at NibMor Chocolate!), others who have a successful online businesses & travel all over the world, and then those who pair their coaching with another specialty like yoga, massage therapy or personal training.

You can be a full-time health coach and made a solid salary, or work part-time while you take care of your family, hold another side job or even keep your full-time corporate job. I really do mean it when I say the options are endless!

For me, my road as a health coach has been quite the journey! By the end of school, I already had several clients in both my 6-month and 3-month programs I had at the time. As I gained confidence, I began to re-define my niche and opened up the gates to work with clients who I could really resonate with. Throughout the process, I also hung onto several part-time freelance gigs to support myself financially as I built my business. One of these part-time gigs unexpectedly turned into a full time job offer with sweetgreen, which I accepted in 2013. My job was flexible, creative and allowed my to live out my passions for healthy living and empowering others (but there was a piece of me that deeply missed focusing on coaching)!

This past June, I left my job to go back to pursuing my health coaching business & writing full time. I always knew it’s what I’d do eventually, and I can’t think of a better time than now!  Working for yourself can be scary, and it takes a lot of work, long days, and dedication. It’s definitely not easy, but at the end of the day, it’s all worth it!

How do you make money as a health coach?

I get this question a lot! Again, this depends on the type of work you want to do and who you want to work with. You can make money in many ways from one-on-one coaching, group programs, and even retreats! Right now, I’m focusing mostly on my one-on-one clients, seasonal group e-programs (done 100% online!), and Soul Sisters retreats I recently started with my friend & fellow health coach Kelley. You can take a peek at some of my program offerings here.

Clients will pay good money when you are helping them make meaningful, positive shifts in their life. (You can check out some of my client testimonials here to see what people are saying!) At the end of the day, I believe that if you have the passion and ambition, the money will come.

How can my IIN certificate help me further my education?

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition also has educational agreements with Goddard College, Maryland University of Integrative Health, SUNY Purchase and Excelsior College, among others, for graduates who wish to continue their education to achieve a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

What’s your #1 piece of advice to someone who is on the verge of signing up?

My #1 advice is to close your eyes, and envision what you want your life to look like in 3 months, 6 months, 2 years. If this kind of career is speaking to you, I suggest listening to that little voice! Also know that you really can do anything you set your heart to…and don’t ever give up. There will be times when things will get hard, when money fears or comparisons to others hold you back, but once you forge through those self-limitations you’ll be able to experience the true beauty!

If a career in health coaching is something you’d like to pursue, feel free to reach out with any questions via email at rachelAThealthy-chicksDOTcom! You can also contact me directly for an exclusive savings offer on your tuition if you’re ready to enroll! In the meantime, get the curriculum guide here to see if IIN may be a perfect fit for you too.

On other notes, if you’re interested in working with me as your health coach, I’d love to meet you! Sign up for your free BODY LOVE Nourishment Session to see if we may be a good fit.

5 Responses to “So, you wanna be a health coach? {My Personal Experience with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition & all your qs answered}”

  1. Monique @ burpees to bubbly Says:

    really informative post, Rachel. I loved reading about how you got over the diet/calorie counting and to a healthier way of life!

  2. Rachel @Healthy Chicks Says:

    @Monique Thanks girl, glad you found it helpful! <3

  3. Healthy Chicks» Blog Archive » Healthy Chicks in the Community: A Margarita-Pizza-Loving, Spiritual Yogi Says:

    […] I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring you this week’s spotlight on Healthy Chicks in the Community — one of my best friends and Soul Sister Kelley. I first met Kel 4 years ago when we were working at a spa to make ends meet while completing our Health Coach Training at Institute for Integrative Nutrition. […]

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