guest post: becoming a certified health coach.

by Janetha on July 18, 2012

in guest posts

hey, guys! i am jetting off to costa rica tonight! eeeep—super pumped. i have some guest posts lined up for while i am away. i have a wide variety of topics that several fabulous ladies have shared. i hope you enjoy reading them all!

first up is michelle. she is in the process of becoming a certified health coach and offered to share some information on the process and experience.  enjoy!


Hello! My name is Michelle and I am a newbie blogger (but long time blog reader) at Eat Move Balance.


A few things about me:

  • I am 32 and live in a suburb of Chicago
  • I am a high school mathematics teacher
  • I just got married last summer
  • I adore Colorado, and try to visit every summer
  • Since college, I have been interested in all things health and fitness
  • Working out is my favorite time of day. Strength training, yoga, biking, and . . .
  • I love to run—when my body lets me . . . I’ve had to work through a few injuries
  • I enjoy cooking wholesome meals, usually keeping it simple. Sometimes I like to experiment. And luckily, my husband, family and friends don’t mind taste-testing.

So, I’m in the midst of making some major life changes. And I’m so excited!!!

I’ve made a hobby out of educating myself on all things health and fitness (to read why, see “About Me”). When I’m not teaching calculus, I enjoy reading current studies about nutrition and various reviews on fitness trends. I like experimenting with different foods in the kitchen and have enjoyed reading healthy living blogs to know there are others with the same interests as me. Friends and colleagues often come to me for advice on healthy food choices and questions regarding fitness. I love it!


One day I found myself researching various nutrition programs and wondering if it might be something I’d like to pursue. I threw the idea out to my husband and a close friend. Half expecting them to think I was crazy, I found myself giddy with excitement that they were both more than supportive. I have spent a huge amount of time towards earning a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, a master’s degree in Teacher Leadership and National Board Certification. I knew I didn’t want to stop teaching. But I was being pulled to do something to fulfill my passion for healthy living!


This isn’t about a new career. It’s about studying health and wellness combined with my desire to help others. I began looking at certification programs, but nothing caught my eye. That is, until I came across the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

They offer a year-long program to become a certified health coach. A health coach is “a wellness authority and supportive mentor who motivates individuals to cultivate positive health choices.” They guide people to find what works for them so they can become their happiest, healthiest self. Students in the program learn about pros and cons of numerous dietary theories and holistic approaches to overall wellness. This was right up my alley! It was as if someone was whispering in my ear: You could be good at this.

So, I registered! It was a bit scary, but I am thrilled with my decision. I am currently 5 months into the program. Like any distance-learning curriculum, you get out of it what you put in. Let’s just say I jumped in—both feet—and am taking advantage of all the resources I now have at my fingertips. Besides watching or listening to multiple lectures on my iPad every week, I am in contact with other students around the world through online forums and social media. In addition, there are about 12 other students in the Chicago area that I have met and interact with on a regular basis. There’s a lot going on, but it’s all incredible.


Most people are curious as to what I will do with this certification. There are so many options!!! Personally, here’s what I envision:

  1. Offering wellness classes on a variety of topics (this is already in the works!)
  2. Helping teenagers and young adults understand nutrition and it’s impact on wellness and lifestyle.
  3. Working with individuals that are looking for guidance on how to improve their health and quality of life.

I am truly energized by what lies ahead. In the meantime, I have been inspired to finally create a blog of my own! My goal is to be a resource for healthy recipe ideas, fitness tips and general well-being. Eat Move Balance.

I am really happy with my decision to follow my heart. It was a bit scary at first, but the support from family and friends helped me get past my fear. You know—the voice in your head that says, “This is crazy”, and “What are people going to think?”

Have you ever experienced a desire to do something others might think is crazy? Did you act on it?

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meggi July 18, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Wow! I love your post Michelle! I love that you pursued your dream of being a health coach while also not letting it take you away from a life you already loved :)

I did the crazy thing of moving to another state for a man I had only seen 4 times in person. My friends and family thought I was totally crazy! But we’ve now been married 4 years and love living life together :)

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 18, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Thanks meggi! and that’s awesome about following your gut instincts–sounds like you found a great guy!

Momma b July 18, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Michelle thanks for this great post! I’m excited you followed that voice…you’re going to do very well…I can just feel it!!

Yes I decided to be a realtor when I was 40….I’ve managed to have a rewarding career serving others who need real estate assistance and still love it!

Good luck!

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 19, 2012 at 6:08 am

I feel so honored to have a reply from momma b! Thank you! I have always admired your relationship with Janetha, as it seems to be very special. :)

Corrie Anne July 18, 2012 at 11:45 pm

That sounds so fun! I just quit my job to open a piano teaching studio. Lol. I will admit that my husband is definitely the primary breadwinner so not a HUGE leap of faith. But I’m still really excited about it!

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 19, 2012 at 6:10 am

That’s great! I played the piano and violin growing up. Good luck!

Nicole C July 19, 2012 at 12:12 am

Becoming a resource for people like me who are absolutely lost when it comes to eating healthy food and adopting a better eating lifestyle is incredible. I really need and want to make a change so I look forward to your blog.

Everyday I battle myself with doing something people might think I am crazy for. I am 30 with zero desire to have kids and I want to become a roaming soul who travels the world and experiences other cultures. A wanderer, traveler, free being. Not many people understand but it’s something that will happen one day. I also love that quote you posted.

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 19, 2012 at 6:16 am

Oh Nicole, hang in there. Stay true to what you know is right FOR YOU. I’ve learned (the hard way, usually) that just because it’s what I “think” I should be doing (getting married at a certain age, having kids at a certain time, etc.), doesn’t mean it actually is. Trust yourself. :)

Kim@hungryhealthygirl July 19, 2012 at 5:03 am

Very inspiring, Michelle! I have often thought, I would love to go back and become a registered nutritionist, but with a busy life, three kids and still paying back my master’s degree in special ed. It’s just not happening. Way to follow your dreams!

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 19, 2012 at 6:18 am

Thank you, Kim!

Danielle @ Clean Food Creative Fitness July 19, 2012 at 5:46 am

So awesome Michelle! I just recently graduated with my MS in Nutrition and am starting IIN this July! I just started Monday and am so pleased with everything in the program thus far! It is always so exciting to find others in the program too!

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 19, 2012 at 6:17 am

Awesome!!! Good luck, and keep in touch if you want to chat about the program. :)

Alex @ therunwithin July 19, 2012 at 6:08 am

what a great post, this a career I have always found so much interest in but never thought was possible for me to just start. I loved reading about her!

Tina July 19, 2012 at 7:16 am

HI Michelle, this post really struck a chord with me. I have been wanting to become a personal trainer and consultant for a very long time and have always been too afraid to make the huge jump. I am not getting any younger and I know I need to just follow my passion already! Thanks for the push I needed!! I live in the Chicago burbs too…maybe we are not too far :)

Kelly Black July 19, 2012 at 7:35 am

This program sounds just what I want to do. This post made me cry. This has been on mind for a while. Whats wrong with doing something that you love while we have our time here in this world. I am so checked out with my job now as a HR supervisor. I would like to know more about this program. Sometimes I think “who am I to tell someone how to eat and be healthier, when I am just learning myself. This is my dream and my inner voice is telling me to go. Thanks for sharing! I am looking into this today!

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 19, 2012 at 8:03 am

Hi Kelly!
“who am I to tell someone how to eat and be healthier, when I am just learning myself”–wow. I totally understand. but that’s the thing–we are all constantly learning. There is no one answer. No definitive finish. but if you have the desire to help, to learn, to share, which it sounds like you do, then that’s what matters most. :)

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 19, 2012 at 7:59 am

Hi Tina! I say, go for it!!! :) I grew up in Naperville and now live in Arlington Heights.

Tina July 19, 2012 at 8:08 am

We are in Crystal Lake!

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 19, 2012 at 8:15 am

Yay! :)

Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner July 19, 2012 at 8:09 am

I’ve been thinking of going into Health Science with a Health Promotions emphasis. Thank you so much for sharing your story towards becoming certified, Meggi! :)

sherice@foodieluvsfitness July 19, 2012 at 8:52 am

I’ve heard GREAT things about Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I have a friend who is going to start the program soon also. Good luck to you! :)

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 19, 2012 at 9:12 am

Thank you!!! :)

Whitney @ One True North July 19, 2012 at 9:43 am

Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve looked into the Institute for Integrative Nutrition program a few times over the years. I am still on the fence about it but hearing about other who have taken the plunge is a huge encouragement.

Kirsten (Kirsten Captures) July 19, 2012 at 11:36 am

Hi Michelle, I am currently an IIN student too! It is such a wonderful program and I feel like I can truly make a difference in people’s lives as a health coach. After a year and a half of an uncertain future and unhappy job working for my dad, I became a certified personal trainer, enrolled at IIN, and am moving to China in September to be with my boyfriend and become a trainer! It is so satisfying to finally take control of my life, even if it is certainly less than ordinary.

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 19, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Wow Kirsten! That’s awesome–and so inspiring! :)

Annette@FitnessPerks July 19, 2012 at 12:53 pm

This is so great!!

I am a personal health coach for an insurance company and I love it! I also do my own coaching services through my blog-fitness coaching and disordered eating recovery coaching. SO fulfilling.

WAY to go after your dreams!

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Thank you! :)

Amy Q July 19, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I’d actually love to do exactttttttttly what you did. Timing isn’t right with kids’ school tuition. Sigh. Maybe someday.

ANDREA July 19, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I have been thinking about doing IIN, but I keep going back to cost. I really want to do it, but I am not sure I could afford it right now. Do they work with you on affordable ways to do it? I have my degree in Exercise Sport Science, and have been thinking about how to make my career last longer (as I approach my 40s).

I keep getting their emails and they always make me think…

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm

If you keep an eye on things, they sometimes offer some tuition scholarships. At the beginning of the program, I was able to give a scholarship to one person. Keep in touch if you’re interested, and if they offer that to me again, I’ll be sure to post about it. They also have payment plans that you can set up, if paying tuition in full is not an option.

Erin @ erinberries July 19, 2012 at 6:40 pm

I’m a Blogger newbie too! I think it’s really cool and inspirational what you are doing.

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 19, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Thank you, Erin! I’m loving blogging so far! It’s definitely a fantastic creative outlet for me. I hope you’re liking it as well! :)

Lexi July 19, 2012 at 10:19 pm

This story is so inspiring and totally something I would love to do in the future. This year I took a risk of my own and completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training. A lot of people questioned why I was doing this at only 19 years old and while I was in school full time and had two jobs, but, for me, it was perfect timing. I have been practicing yoga since I was 15 and it has truly changed my way of life. I have become far more healthy and active since I started doing yoga and I wanted to be able to share that with others. I am so grateful every day that I took a risk and did the teacher training – I love teaching so much! I hope to do more trainings soon (in yoga sculpt, yoga barre and aerobics) as well as possibly a nutrition program. Michelle I hope you enjoy the rest of the program and good luck!! >^.^<

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 21, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Wow, Lexi, that’s amazing! Way to go after what you love to do most!

Katie @ Talk Less, Say More July 19, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Janetha – have a fabulous trip!

Michelle – YOU GO GIRL! (and yay Chi-town! I don’t live there anymore but I’m from a suburb!) I’m currently looking into my certificate for personal training but I’ve been wondering about tacking on a health coach certificate as well. There are really so many opportunities this day in age to help guide people who are looking for more information about eating and living a healthy lifestyle. And since it’s interesting to me, it just makes sense!

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Hi Katie! Yes–there seem to be lots of opportunities to help, which is what makes me most excited (and sometimes overwhelmed). :) Good luck with your personal training certificate!

Rocio July 23, 2012 at 7:27 am

Hi Michelle!
I’m so glad you did this guest post… I am also interested in becoming a certified health coach and am saving up to start IIN in December. I also live in the Chicagoland area so I’m excited to have a fellow IIN student nearby. I wish you the best in the program and hope to keep in touch with you as I get into the program :)

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm

definitely keep in touch!!! good luck–you’ll love it!

Stephanie July 23, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I love this post! I’m on track to becoming a certified holistic health coach thru IIN as well. I’ll be fully certified by the end of February. And, I’ll also be certified as a personal trainer by mid-December. My goal is to coach families who want healthier kids. I also intend to offer personal training services to kids and teens. I am determined to stop the diabesity epidemic one kid at a time.

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm

that’s awesome, Stephanie!!! :) sounds like a wonderful plan!

Janetha July 29, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Michelle! Your decision is inspiring and makes me want to get out there and chase my goals. Thank you for sharing your story with my readers (and with me!) I sooo appreciate it and I loved reading!

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aida madrid March 5, 2013 at 11:33 am

I have so many things to say!!! Reading your post kept me on my edge because I feel like I’m reading something I see played out in my head almost everyday but afraid to really put it out there. I signed up to get emails from Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I read all the emails and wonder, when will I sign up because I really want to. However I decided end of last year to start small and see how it went. I signed up for a personal training course with AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) I signed up to get an intro to fitness and help myself with my training and to learn from others as well. I keep pushing the class further and further because I’m afraid of what people will think. I’ve suffered from pain on my left arm and leg for about 5 years now, same as you I went to several Dr’s. finally someone said they “think” its fibromyalgia..that was beginning of 2012. I met a chiropractor in August who said he could help me and I love it! I’ve learned so much about healthy eating thru his office. I’ve achieved running goals this year and I’m so hungry to learn more about making me stronger mentally and physically by educating myself on food, nutrition, fitness. You have given me that hope that I don’t need to do it for a certain “career”. I’m going to finish my personal fitness course and look into Institute for Integrative Nutrition more, it’s no loss at all! I’m giving myself (and family) some very helpful information if anything. Whatever crosses my path in which I can grow career wise with this will just be a blessing. Thanks so much for sharing your story!!!!

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