Why I became A Health Coach
“Why’d you decide to become a Health Coach?”
I get this question a lot.
So, here’s my story.
I went to college at the University of Minnesota, and I studied Public Health. I mostly chose that major because by year 3 of me still not knowing what I wanted to study and having changed my major 4 times, my dad was like, “hey, pick something to study, okay?” I knew I loved anatomy, and I have always been passionate about nutrition so I chose a major that would let me explore and take classes in both of those areas of study. Public Health is a very broad topic. I was able to take classes on epidemiology, eating disorders, nutrition, anatomy, death and dying (it was just as depressing as it sounds), and more. I actually ended up loving what I studied – so there’s that. But like most people, after graduation, I didn’t get a job that had anything to do with my degree. I went to work for a non-profit in their marketing department and then carried on working for a digital marketing agency in Minneapolis. The people that I worked with were great, but the work I was doing was not fulfilling to me.
I decided to enroll in IIN the week after I returned home from living in Southeast Asia while teaching English in Thailand for 7 months. Now, before I dive into the negative parts of that experience, I want you all to know that was one of the best times of my life and I wouldn’t take it back for anything, but I learned a lot about myself while living in Thailand. But the good didn’t come with some bad. I had been living there for only about 3 months when I missed my period – it never came. It actually didn’t come until I returned home to the states about 4 months later. My hair was falling out in clumps in the shower, I had no energy and was suffering from serious brain fog – to the point where I’d feel drunk when I was dead sober. My nails were breaking off and I’d have dark circles under my eyes everyday until about 2pm. I’ve always been a pretty healthy eater, so moving to a country that most meals consist of white rice, a meat, and a fruit rolled in sugar (I’m not kidding they roll their pineapple in sugar) was a severe shock to my system. I would ask for a salad when I’d go out to eat and they’d bring me shredded cabbage with mayo on it. My favorite food there was a dish called Som Tum which is a papaya salad, it’s delicious, but loaded with palm sugar. My body was completely lacking nutrients that it had been so used to getting daily for the last several years. Although I was by no means hungry, my body was essentially starving from the proper nutrients. As a result of lacking important nutrients, my body craved sugar. I’ve never had a sweet tooth in my entire life. I craved it so hard that I’d go to the convenience store down the street and stock up on peanut M&M’s and banana bread cakes and eat a disgusting amount in one sitting. The more that I consumed sugar, the more that I wanted it. I became so aware of not only how these dietary changes were morphing my body, but also my mental health.
Another reason I wanted to enroll in IIN, was not only to be able to educate and help others with their nutrition needs, but to help and educate myself. I’ve struggled with emotional eating disorder for a good portion of my 20’s – and still struggling with it today. When one consumes food that brings them joy (for me that’s usually pasta), your brain releases a chemical called Dopamine – which creates feelings of pleasure and reward. Dopamine is the same chemical that is released when you have sex, cuddle, and exercise. It is also released when you’re high on drugs such as Marijuana, MDMA, or Ecstasy. I found that when I had a negative change in mood, such as anxiety, sadness, or loneliness, I’d resort to eating foods that would give me a quick surge of Dopamine – which tend to be some unhealthy foods. I used food as a coping mechanism to distract myself and as a temporary relief from the negative emotion. Throughout my time at IIN I have learned a lot about this type of eating disorder, what triggers it for me personally, and healthier ways to cope with it instead of resorting to foods that I know will make me feel worse in the long run.
Now that I have a better understanding of how food impacts our physical and mental health, I feel confident that I can help people who struggle with the same things that I’ve been through. Whether that be strong food cravings, emotional eating, or just simply the need for better nutrition, I’d love to hear from you to find a way that we can work together.