Chocolate Chip Cookies and Why I Am A Health Coach
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, 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 and the way I looked - all of which left me with the feeling of being 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 involved 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!
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 felt 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 looking for - since I was that young girl drawing bodies she thought looked beautiful and struggling to understand her own.
“Health coaching gets to the heart of what providing good health care is about: acceptance, partnership, compassion, and helping patients feel respected and understood.”
- Dr. Amitha Kalaichandran via the New York Times