It was four years ago this month that I graduated Holistic Nutrition School at Bauman College and began my own nutrition practice!! Snaps for me! I seem to remember my beginnings with fondness, but then I realize that I have severe memory lapses, and have forgotten all of the crazy times that I felt completely lost, or fell prey to feeling like I was a failure (like two years ago when my dad earnestly looked me in the eye and said, “maaaaaaybe it’s time you start looking for a real job??”), or had a client that I felt that I couldn’t reach.
These past four years have been full of growth; a time to hone my craft and also figure out my own entrepreneurial path, and figure out the logistics of owning my own business! Yikes. A LOT. So much so, that as I’m writing this I realize this is more than just one blog post! We’ll have to break this into parts folks……
First: Honing the Nutrition Coaching Craft
Holistic Nutrition itself is pretty straightforward. Educating, especially since I have a teaching background, is much like lesson planning for the adult. Coaching people, however, is another thing entirely. How do you get someone to be excited about putting in work to overhaul their life? It’s not a simple pill to pop, nor can you just do it once and done. It’s a complete change (at least for some people) in lifestyle and how people look at their health. I did take a coaching course, which helped a lot, but I learned the most from doing the work. The most important lesson is to LISTEN. What did this person need right then? More information? Less information? A recipe? A book? Encouragement to go to the grocery store? Snaps? A kick in the pants? What did they need that was going to help them incorporate a few steps over the next couple of weeks? Ask questions to help clarify. Stop yourself from giving too many suggestions, the best coaching is with inception. The clients figure things out on their own, and it’s immediately more powerful.
Of course, along the way I have also had to figure out the type of person I work the best with, which of course isn't everybody. I realized that I wasn’t a drill sergeant; some people want someone to hold their feet the fire, but that just isn’t my personality. I am much more of a gentle cheerleader, but I’ve still had to develop the side of myself that can say to the person…wtf? Let’s move forward already! Ultimately, it’s up to the client how quickly they take things on, and the quicker you deal with what’s stopping you from making change, then the more progress you make. It sounds simple, but at the same time, I can understand why it isn’t. That’s where the coaching comes really handy. Plus, after 4 years, I’ve become a lot better at feeling out someone the first time we speak if it’s going to be a good experience for both us… most of the time I call it right, but I’m still learning.
Another part was to get REAL with what inspired me. I mean, this is the fun part of the job. What is it about food and nutrition that I really like to do??? I HATE calorie counting for people (cause that just sucks the joy out of eating), or telling them what to eat at every hour of the day. This for me, takes the self discovery away. What I DO love is playing around and exploring in the kitchen, and showing people that it is easy to make a simple delicious meal, and to put my own self care up at the top of my priority list. What inspires me is what I like to inspire in others.
The last thing I want to share here is that I had to learn to value what I was doing, and my own time. Working as an elementary school teacher, I had an extremely low monetary value to my time. (Which is also bull sh*t, because teaching is an incredibly complex craft and a LOT went into learning it, but as a society, we just don’t value education. But we value lawyers at hundreds upon hundreds an hour, right? Where’s the middle ground? Expertise is expertise, is it not?) As I got into the work, I began to see that what I was doing was incredibly valuable. I mean, honestly, nutrition and self care can change your entire life! Giving people the tools to then go on their own and learn how to best thrive is the sh*t, and people love you for it! Which, I admit, feels pretty darn good.
Keep on the lookout for the next anniversary blog post, which I’ll talk about figuring out my own entrepreneurial path.
Happy Nourishing until then,