Ten years ago I was working in Big Advertising, getting married, teaching yoga and starting my journey as a health coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
1 decade, 1000’s of clients and 2 children later…
Here are 10 lessons I’ve learned, in no particular order.
1. Working from home is…hilarious.
According to Instagram I should be traveling the world, running my empire from an exotic beach. Instead I have two little kids at school and I pray the school nurse doesn’t call because someone has pinkeye or is puking. In short, I’m a not-so-glamorous working mother but I do have the perks of wearing yoga pants 24/7, starting dinner early and avoiding any and all office politics BS.
2. No one eats enough vegetables. This includes…um, me.
After reviewing bucketloads of client food journals through the years, I can safely say that not 1 has ever included enough vegetables. Isn’t that fascinating? Eating veggies is the most basic of nutrition advice…but easy to overlook.
I’m not flawless in this area either. It helps to check in with a casual food diary just to see where you’re at…averaging 0-1 serving? 2-5? 6-10?
3. Often, nutrition has nothing to do with food.
Ah, now here is the irony of my entire profession. Most people think that what they need are healthy snack ideas. Or grab-and-go breakfast options. Or to eat more of this, less of that. We think that more information = change.
That is false.
To create a positive change in your health, you have to deeply believe that you are worth it and that the world is a better place because you are in it. You have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and be seen. You have to be looking forward to a future where your health allows you to do the things you love.
Otherwise…why bother? You’re just going to order pizza and blame a lack of willpower.
As a coach, my job is to see where my clients are stuck. And RARELY is anyone stuck not knowing what the healthy option is. Instead, they get stuck being able to choose it for themselves.
4. Running your own business takes balls.
I love every second of having my own business. Occasionally I’ll consider giving it up for a “real” job but at this point…frankly, I’m unemployable. I have too many of my own ideas. I love having control over the whole shebang. But it’s hard when there’s no boss to blame or take orders from. There are sick days, but no coverage. And although I now have a team that helps me with administrative tasks, web design, strategy, etc….I still wear many, many hats. I have matured in ways I never could have predicted because of my role as a business owner.
If you’re like me and never fit neatly into a box, this may be the life for you.
5. Antibiotic resistance is the most pressing health issue we face.
In case you were wondering.
6. Doing work you love is everything
This idea is probably backed by science, but doing fulfilling work definitely plays a big role in my health and happiness. Since my first week working as a health coach I remember bouncing out of bed on Monday mornings. Gotta get to it!
And there is absolutely no better feeling than a client having a big breakthrough. Just ONE of those can fuel me for another 10 years.
7. But make sure your work loves you back. Otherwise it’s an abusive relationship.
Be careful. Sometimes loving your work means working too much or too hard. It can mean denying your own self care and sanity for the sake of the business. I’ve learned this through painful trial and error. These days, MY needs get met first. It means I pay myself a salary and structure my work around my life (not the other way around.)
8. Everyone has a story and if you listen closely enough you’ll be brought to tears.
I read that once and it’s true. I’ve had the privilege of listening to the stories of thousands of women around the world. Sometimes they are stories of pain and suffering, sometimes they are stories of massive joy and resiliency.
It’s really informed the way I live my life and how I interact with others.
9. Slow down! Life is long.
Have you ever noticed how fast some people talk? Or how quickly they move through life?
(What are we rushing towards?)
Our culture expects us to keep up with this pace as if we’re robots, not human beings. And it’s one of the major things causing burnout in women I work with.
When I was becoming a health coach they told us that it could be overwhelming at times (to start something new, to have so many ideas, etc.) but not to worry – life is long. And it’s true.
So, I’ve learned to slow down. It is not easy so I guess you could say I’m STILL learning.
10. You don’t have to see the whole staircase
Just take the first step. (Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for that one.)
A decade ago I thought there was NO WAY I’d ever take the leap out of corporate America. I was much too scared. I never thought I’d be seen as an expert, run my own business or help anyone at all.
It’s actually a huge relief. You don’t have to have it all figured out.
Just get started.