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5 Questions to Ask Yourself If You're Thinking About Becoming a Health Coach

The chief revenue officer at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition shares how the program works and the myriad of ways you can use a health coaching certification.

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Jim Curtis is someone who is not afraid to make a change.

"I've been in finance, I've had careers in media, I've had careers as a coach, as a business owner, as an author, as a solo entrepreneur, and as a chief revenue officer at a major company," he said.

While pivoting can be scary, Curtis says everything he's done up until this point has been a natural progression because he knew where he wanted to go.

After he wrote, The Stimulati Experience: 9 Skills for Getting Past Pain, Setbacks, and Trauma to Ignite Health and Happiness, he was managing a wellness spa, Modern Sanctuary, and thinking of what he would do next.

"I wanted a bigger challenge, and it just so happened that the Institute of Integrative Nutrition was looking for someone," he said. "They contacted me, and it just turned out it was a really great fit. So I decided to make the leap."

Now, Jim Curtis is the company's chief revenue officer and head of brand. He sat down with Jessica Abo to talk about what it means to be a health coach and how to identify if this career path is right for you.

Jessica Abo: Tell us about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN).

Jim Curtis:
It is a really highly renowned school that has been teaching people to live better for a really long time and cultivating people to create a career in health coaching. The school actually identified the career of health coaching about 30 years ago with Joshua Rosenthal, so it's been a little bit of a New York institution and it has grown into a global phenomenon. It has 175 countries with students in it and 155,000 graduates. But it's also become a place where people can come for a lot of information, wellness topics, and other education.

IIN is really for those people who are looking to transform their lives in some way or their careers. So we get a lot of people that come to us that are experiencing something negative in their life. They are not feeling great physically or mentally, they don't like their job, they have diabetes, they have a physical ailment or they're just not feeling good about their bodies, not feeling good in their bodies, or they're suffering from stress. So IIN is really for those folks who want to make a change in their life or their career because we teach so many different modalities in a learning management system with behavior change from 95 of the most respected people in the world when it comes to these topics so that a student can learn easily how to change their lives for the better through nutrition and also become a health coach, starting a whole new career that is extremely rewarding.

For those who are interested in pursuing this path, what can you tell us about the curriculum and how it's structured?

Curtis:
The reason why we set up the curriculum in the way it is because it leads you down a learning pathway that allows you to change your behavior and make real changes. So it starts with an explanation of the primary foods. So these are all the things that you ingest, that feed you, that are not food on your plate. They are relationships, spirituality, connection to other people, and your career. Secondary foods are really the foods that are on your plate and we teach 144 different dietary theories. So we do this over a six or twelve-month program and by the end of it, you are ready to go out and either live your life better and change the health of other people around you and your family, your friends, or your community, become a health coach and actually start coaching people as a career because we also teach coaching skills and business skills, or many of the people who graduate go on to do so many other things in wellness.

What are some of those things? What are some of those careers that people pursue after they graduate?

Curtis:
People often think that the only career that you can do when you graduate as a health coach is to be a health coach. And that certainly is one career. So people go on to coach other people on how to better their lives and better their health, and oftentimes they choose a niche, so you're a hormone health coach or you're a health coach that focuses on behavioral change through changing the subconscious through hypnosis, or you focus on gut health or many other things. But there are so many other things you can do as a health coach because you start to provide credibility to the product you want to create. You could write books, you could become a content creator, or go to work for a doctor's office or a wellness center. If you decide to go the route that is more of content creation or product creation, there are so many successful grads that we have that have created amazing products like Purely Elizabeth, Sakara Life, Days Off Candy, and White Tiger. I get so excited talking about it.

Finally, Jim, what do you think are the five things someone should think about if they're considering becoming a health coach?

Curtis:
That's a really good question and I think it really starts with education. There are a lot of options out there in terms of where you can actually get educated, and oftentimes people start to give advice and coach people without any formal education. Formal education is more than just understanding nutrition. You start to understand how to coach people, how to be a guide, and then the business around it.

So the first thing you should consider is where you're going to get educated, what you want in a school, and how you are going to be using that credential.

The second part that I think that you should consider is a lifestyle. Do you want a lifestyle that gives you the freedom to schedule your own time and to work the hours that you want to work but also find the clients and schedule with them, meaning that freedom to work on your own time, also tends to create a little bit of ambiguity around when you'll work? Or do you want to be someone that has a more structured job that may be in an office and works 9 to 5? That will really help you identify which type of health coach you want to be.

The third part is are you excited by health and wellness? Are you excited to look at the new trends in the world? Are you excited to really dive deep into nutrition? Do you have a real desire and zest? Does this stuff excite you because that's needed as a health coach?

Number four would be doing you have a desire to help other people. If that gives you purpose, and if that really allows you to feel great and contribute to the world in a positive way by creating a ripple effect of health in the world, then health coaching is definitely for you.

And the fifth one is do you have the energy and excitement to transform yourself? First, look in and continue to work on yourself so that you can then radiate out what the world really needs for wellness.

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