Chocolate Chip Cookies and Why I Am A Health Coach
I work with adolescents and primarily women in areas of self-compassion and gentleness with their bodies.
When I was about twelve years old I was up very late one night in my bedroom kneeling on the brown-flecked carpet as only young, stretchy bodies can do. I was surrounded by my original Strawberry Shortcake dolls, Little House on the Prairie books, a Hello Kitty purse, and Laura Ashley yellow wallpaper that my mom had probably chosen with her love of all things Princess Diana and British. I was in the liminal space between childhood and young womanhood and I was drawing the long, limber figures of ballerinas in my sketchpad while sneaking still warm chocolate chip cookies from the kitchen. I remember that night viscerally because it was the first time I was aware of my body as something that felt like it was betraying me in my appetites, my emotions and the way I looked - all of which left me with the feeling of being utterly alone in the world. A feeling I realized many years later was common for women in all stages of life.
I didn't realize until I was in my forties that I had been looking for a health coach for almost my whole life. I had no idea what they were until I had gone back to school, to study psychology, and my practicum track was training to work as a functional medicine health coach. All of a sudden I was surrounded by practitioners in the fields of neuroscience, nutrition, positive psychology and mind-body medicine who were teaching me an integrated approach to our bodies - and helping me understand some of the very things I had tried for years to understand about myself!
Migraines, miscarriages, endometriosis, prenatal and postpartum depression. Fatigue, overwhelm, and loneliness. Weight loss and gain. Menopause and unexpected surgeries. Sleep struggles. Grief, big life transitions, and needing help to navigate every question that keeps us up late at night when the house gets quiet, in a safe place with reliable, compassionate help. Where had health coaches been was I was 16? 30? 43?
I looked around and saw women younger than me who were being offered freedom and insight to explore what their bodies were going through, backed by the validation of researchers. I saw young mothers being given empathic space and support for postpartum depression, changing hormones, and how to understand the way they navigated relationships with both themselves and others. I saw teenagers being taught about their brains and why their emotions could be feeling the way they did - and being shown the beauty of how they, as adolescents, saw the world. I wanted in on this!
As I dove deeper into this field and made it my profession, I loved offering support to my clients to be informed and in charge of what their bodies, emotions, and brains were telling them, and knowing how to interpret it all well. I found so much enjoyment in offering the kind validation and resources to my clients that I had spent decades longing for - since I was that young girl drawing bodies she thought looked beautiful and struggling to understand her own.
"The field of health coaching has become increasingly sophisticated as it draws from a growing body of evidence-based coaching psychology, positive psychology, adult learning theory, motivational interviewing (MI), and new findings in neuroscience. Health coaches tap into theoretical frameworks and conceptual models including self-determination theory, adult development theory, learning theory, MI, transtheoretical model, social cognitive theory, internal family systems, locus of control, self-efficacy model, appreciative inquiry, and nonviolent communication techniques. The training and education for health coaches concentrate on more than 50 years of research in social psychology, health promotion, organizational leadership, behavioral and positive psychology, and the latest findings in neuroscience and the workings of the brain."
- Coaching vs Psychotherapy in Health and Wellness: Overlap, Dissimilarities, and the Potential for Collaboration; Meg Jordan, PhD, RN, CWP, United States; John B. Livingstone, MD, FRSH (UK), United States