If you’re wondering whether you should become a Health Coach, here are six things you should consider. This will help you decide whether you should (or shouldn’t) become a health coach.
Reasons You Should Become a Health Coach
You Enjoy Helping People
The gift of good health – of living a pain-free and happy existence – is the best gift you could possibly give someone. When we feel better, our entire life becomes better. Personally, I became a Health Coach because I was outraged that no one ever told me that my acne, digestive issues, chronic illnesses, and weight issues were directly related to what I was eating. No doctor, dermatologist, or nurse ever brought up nutrition.
I thought I was eating healthy with my low fat cheese and whole grain cereal. So many people think they eat healthy, but can’t understand why they can’t lose weight or are struggling with various chronic conditions. The definition for “eating healthy” is slightly different for all of us, and no one is teaching us how to figure it out.
We don’t learn it in school. We don’t learn it from our doctor. And our parents are usually just as clueless as us. Health coaches are sorely needed to educate the public about healthy eating.
You Want to Improve The Health Of Yourself or Your Family
Even if I never coached or worked a day as a Health Coach, I would still be grateful for my time spent training as a Health Coach. I learned, grew, and improved my own health as a result. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition introduced me to new concepts – from Ayurveda to food politics, and to new teachers, from Harvard’s Walter Willett to motivational and meditation guru Gabrielle Bernstein.
You Want to Create a Wellness Business – Not Necessarily Coaching
Integrative Nutrition grads, myself included, go on to do many things beyond, or even instead of one-on-one coaching.
- They start healthy food companies such as Sakara Life Organic Meal Delivery, Purely Elizabeth granola, and Love Grace juice.
- They open healthy restaurants, such as Green Bar & Kitchen in Florida or Organic Avenue in New York.
- They write books, such as my Real Food Grocery Guide, The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda, or Mama Glow.
- They write cookbooks such as Clean Food Dirty City.
- They host retreats all around the world.
- They run corporate wellness programs for huge companies.
The list goes on. Once you decide to become a health coach, the possibilities are endless. It really lights a fire under your ass to start something that makes a meaningful difference.
Reasons You Shouldn’t Become a Health Coach
You Expect to Make Tons of Money Right Off The Bat
I did the 1 year Integrative Nutrition Health Coaching program while I was working full time (at the school, in fact). While the program is a year in length to make sure you are well rounded in nutrition, coaching, and running a business, you can start coaching clients after 6 months. I got my first two clients in my 9th month of the program, and I continued to health coach part time while still working full time.
Most people work, so they wanted night and weekend appointments anyway, so it worked out well. I had steady income from my full time job while I built a solid foundation of clients and an online presence. While I was able to cover the cost of the tuition within 6 months of graduating, it took me about 2 years to make an amount of money I would consider a “full-time” salary.
Now, I do make a full-time salary doing what I love, but I put in ALOT of effort, work, sweat, and tears to get to this point. In the beginning I worked 7 days and nights a week.
You Expect Clients to Fall into Your Lap
You can be the best Health Coach in the world, but if no one knows you exist, you’ll be out of business fast. There are a number of ways to find clients (or better yet, have clients find you):
- word of mouth referrals from friends, trainers, or doctors
- working in a doctor or holistic practitioners office a couple days a week
- public speaking events or workshops
- online through your website
- online through your social media
You must actively market yourself – no matter what business you’re in – in order to find clients. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. There are a number of functional medicine doctors and wellness centers that are now hiring health coaches. But, they are often part time, and the earning potential is limited (although it’s an excellent start!) It’s a good idea to link up with different doctors, chiropractors, or fitness studios in your area for referrals.
You Want to Work in a Hospital
Health Coaches are trained in helping people form new, healthier habits, such as eating more fresh whole foods and less sugar and refined foods. It sounds simple, but the results of that alone are profound. And as you know, it is not easy to get someone to change their habits – especially if they’ve been eating a certain way for decades. Health Coaches motivate, inspire, and guide people to live the healthiest life within the parameters of their current lifestyle.
If you want to go into more clinical nutrition, then a registered dietitian (RD) program may be a better route for you. In my opinion, though, I think it’s wise to supplement it with a more holistic nutrition health coaching program like Integrative Nutrition. Why?
As I explain in my book, The Real Food Grocery Guide, the curriculum taught in a RD program is based on the USDA MyPlate, which Harvard School of Public Health has suggested is influenced by “political and commercial pressures from food industry lobbyists.” So much so, that they’ve created their own version, called the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate, based on actual science.
What’s more, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which certifies RDs, has been sponsored by food industry giants, including Coca Cola, General Mills, ConAgra Foods (makers of Chef Boyardee and Reddi wip) and many more. One reporter recounted how McDonald’s sponsored this annual dietitian conference. To me, this screams conflict of interest.
So, while you will learn about biology and chemistry, and have a deeper understanding of nutrition on a micro level, you must be aware of these shortcomings. Doing both an RD and a holistic health coaching program gives you a more well-rounded view point.
What Is It Like to Be A Health Coach?
I get asked this question all of the time, so I started posting monthly Diary of a Health Coach posts to show you just that.
I know it’s a big decision, so I’m happy to answer any questions you may have and offer some insight in helping you decide. I also offer mentoring to new health coaches. Any questions, drop me a line here.
Maria Marlowe is a holistic nutrition and wellness coach who uses real food to help her clients improve their health, weight, and skin. She offers a healthy eating meal plan that teaches you how to batch cook, as well as one to clear up acne. She has ongoing group workshops both in NYC and online, and writes healthy and delicious plant-based recipes for her popular blog. She is also the author of the #1 New Release on Amazon, The Real Food Grocery Guide, the most practical guide to selecting the healthiest foods, without going broke, which has been praised by Dr. Oz and InStyle magazines. You can find her on instagram @mariamarlowe.