Monday, June 17, 2013

Hi, My Name is Tara and I'm a Health Coach.

Hi, my name is Tara and I'm a Health Coach. I love being able to say that out loud as people cock their heads to the side and ask,"What exactly does a Health Coach do?" Well, now that I have the experience, I can give a little inside information as to what it is that I actually do to help others reach their health goals.

First, let me just say that I've written in previous blogs about my own experiences in losing weight and bettering myself, so I won't include that in this post. I want people to know that I have struggled and that it's not an easy road, but from what I've gone through I feel that it's a lot easier to help those who are going down the exact path I once wandered upon. That's the main reason I decided upon studying holistic health counseling, to inspire others to become what they've always dreamed of becoming because I know it's absolutely attainable.

I am not a nutritionist. I don't have a meal plan set aside for my clients. I don't tell them what NOT to eat, nor do I MAKE them do anything they don't want to do. I merely teach them about better food choices and make recommendations along the way. The sessions don't solely focus on food and exercise. I lend an ear for anything they may want to vent about or just openly discuss with me. We talk about relationships, family, financial issues, health concerns, and whatever else might pop up during the call. Being a good listener is very important as a Health Coach. I'm somewhat of a therapist who offers a safe and confidential space, allowing my clients to open up to me and speak about things they may not talk about with others. Sometimes that's all anyone ever needs. An ear to listen without judgments or solutions.

I also want to stress the importance of wanting as opposed to needing to change. If you NEED something bad enough, you most likely aren't in the state of mind to attract whatever it is into your life. You are desperate at this point. You don't want it for yourself and you're definitely not willing to make any changes in order to get there. You have to WANT it more. Let me explain. Let's say you don't have a job and because of this it's very hard for you to pay your bills each month. You are constantly complaining about never having money or being able to do things you once enjoyed doing. You start to become desperate for a job because you NEED money in order to feel secure. It's hard for you to be happy because all of your focus is on not having enough money even though you have a roof over your head and you're able to feed and clothe your family. Instead of being grateful for all that you do have, you think about what you don't have. If you became grateful for the things you already have before you and are able to make changes in order to get a job so that you can pay your bills on time and enjoy past luxuries, that's when you start wanting it more. You begin to attract that desire by believing that you can do anything to have the money you once needed before. The same goes for being healthier or losing weight. Once you stop needing it and start wanting it, then you're ready to take the steps by making positive changes to become what you have envisioned for yourself. You're more open to recommendations and trying out new foods, you WANT to work out because you know it makes you feel better emotionally and physically, and you're able to open up about things that were holding you back before.

With that said, I am not a miracle worker. I can't simply wave a magic wand and make all of your troubles disappear. I'm here for support and motivation. I can give you a thousand different recommendations that might have worked for me, but if you're not ready to open up to trying them, then you don't have it in you to want to make the change for yourself and any amount of healthy eating and exercise probably isn't going to work as well as it would for someone who is willing to put in the hard work. Make sense?

One more thing before I go, I do not believe that there is a fast fix to what eating healthy and exercise does for the body and mind. I don't care how natural or healthy it may seem, there is NOTHING better than being able to say,"I don't crave sugar like I used to," or "I can't wait to go on my run today!" If you can get excited about working out and know that eating right makes you happier and healthier, then you've reached the point of no return. I'm not saying you can't enjoy a cupcake every now and then, but the difference is in the way you know how that cupcake would make you feel if you ate 2 or 3 like your old self might have done. Knowing that you have your limits and sticking with them, that's the change you were striving for. What you worked so hard to achieve. THAT'S what makes being a health coach worth it, to me. To be able to see how far you've come, celebrate that success with you, and knowing that I have complete faith that you can carry the knowledge with you for the rest of your life.

*If you know anyone who may benefit from what I do, please direct them to my website for further information on how to contact me.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Testimonial Time

As most of you already know, I recently graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition as a Certified Holistic Health Coach, where I learned about Primary and Secondary food along, with a plethora of different dietary theories. Halfway through my schooling I acquired my very first client, who was more than willing to trust in me to help her on the path to a healthier, happier life. Not only did I teach her about new foods and introduced her to different lifestyle changes, but she also taught me how I wanted to conduct my business as a professional health coach. That's the best part of my new venture. I learn from others while they are learning from me. With that said, I wanted to share with you the amazing story and transformation of my awesome, first client, Carla Morris. Here's her testimonial in her own words, along with a before and after picture (she was already 20 pounds down in her before, but check out that definition in her after!):

My name is Carla Morris and I would like to share my experience with you. For the last 10 years I had put my health,weight and well being on the back burner which I think many of us have been known to do! I made the decision a year ago that enough was enough...I was tired of feeling bad! I struggled not only with weight but also with anxiety and self worth issues. I began my journey alone in March of 2012...I started with a simple weight loss goal of 25 lbs. I began exercising and eating right and I had success but I still felt something was missing...that was where Tara came in!

It all started out simply enough with her taking my health history and offering me her services. I never could have imagined how at that point my life would change!Through her program I not only learned how to feed my body but also my mind. She gave me the tools and I used them!Whether it was new foods and recipes,exercise tips,meditation or just some good laughs I learned so much about myself and what me and my body were capable of if I just chose to do what I needed to do to live a healthy, balanced life!

So here I am 6 months later and let me tell you the changes in my life are overwhelming! Not only did I reach my original weight loss goal, I surpassed it by almost 25 pounds! I have lost a total of 50 pounds and kept it off! This was done strictly through healthy eating and exercise. I have total confidence in the food choices i more second guessing what my body needs to be healthy. I am also happy to report that my anxiety is all but gone...I believe that through personal growth and confidence building I was able to overcome this. I have grown in so many ways and I have Tara to thank!It is hard work and determination that will get you through this program..never give up and watch your body and mind change. Be open to trying new things and see how she will guide you to being a happier ,healthier you!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Nowhere in Particular

The wind through my hair
the sun on my face
no inner dialogue to succumb to
just pure peacefulness filling me up

Stress relieving, thigh strengthening, sweat producing bliss

Riding to nowhere in particular
taking in the scenery

Surrounded by nature

Enveloped in love

Enjoying the company of family with racing hearts and laughter

Pedaling through life, thinking only happy thoughts

Speeding backwards in time to when things were simple
things were real

To childhood hopes and dreams

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Not Just Another Idea

In life, we go through so many stages trying to find ourselves. We enter school, for the first time and search for friends who are fun to play with, but as we get older we yearn for one who will not only understand us, but accept us even when they don't. Friendships have come and gone my whole existence. I seem to gravitate towards the weirdos or loners, if you will. The ones who seem to have lost their way. Some of those friendships are still hanging on by a very thin thread, while others got tossed by the wayside for one reason or another. Some have even blossomed into the best friendships I've ever had. And just like friends, ideas have come and gone. Exciting me at their presence, making me fall head over heals in love and then boring me when I, or they, have nothing left to offer. I think I've "found" myself several times over, yet nothing ever seemed to stick, until now.

If you know me, you know I've been on the path to getting healthy for a number of years. Even in this moment, I'm finding new ways to incorporate new health practices into my lifestyle. Which brings me to the main point of this blog. Sure, I'm studying to become a health coach and I'm virtually surrounded by health nuts galore, however I'm still not quite as healthy as most of them, which is fine. I don't need to be a Raw Vegan to be thin or to have ultimate health. I haven't even given up on meat. What I need is to remain who I am while finding out what works for my body and that's exactly what I intend to help my future clients figure out for themselves.

I live in a town where we have the limited options of Meijer, Walmart, Kroger, or Chief to shop for groceries. Meijer has the best options as far as organic produce goes. We don't have the luxury of a Whole Foods or Trader Joes. We have our dinky, little Farmer's Market during the end of Spring and throughout Summer and that's about as local as it gets around here. The people I want to work with are struggling to find healthy because it's hard to find it in our smallish town. It's been difficult for me and my family and we're as healthy as can be right now. Sure, we can be healthier, who couldn't be? Precisely my point. This is my target market. Real people who have families and jobs. Mothers who need balance between kids and husbands. Women who want a permanent fix in the weight loss category. Individuals who are unaware of how to eat healthy or what to cook for dinner. Real people just like myself. I may eat healthy, but I'm still learning how to add in more whole foods and crowd out sugar and processed foods. I have no clue how to prepare tofu or tempeh. Shoot, I recently just learned how to make quinoa. So yeah, I'm learning and experiencing it for myself so that I can share that knowledge with others to help them live better lives.

Health coaching, from my perspective, isn't simply me handing over the secrets of living healthy. It's me, lending an ear and possibly a shoulder for people who have real problems they want solved. It's not just showing others how to eat better or to motivate them to fit more physical activity into their lives. Being a health coach means being there and helping others find balance in their chaos. It's me, slowly changing the world, one person at a time. This is my passion. This is my life and I intend to do the very best job that I possibly can so that this idea isn't just an idea years down the road.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Body Image

Recently, an old friend tagged me in some really old pictures from my youth. Looking back, I came to the realization that I didn't look quite as bad as I once imaged myself to be. You see, growing up, I always considered myself to be of the chubby variety, mostly in part of the way others treated me. My step dad used to ask me if it was necessary for me to be eating certain foods because I didn't want to be a fat kid. I always retaliated with,"Well, look at your belly." Of course, that usually got me in trouble, but now that I think about it, he was partly to blame for the foods I was putting into my mouth. Also, I was in the 4th grade! Thanks for the words of encouragement, "dad". I took his harsh criticism and instead of using it to make myself not turn into the kid he envisioned me, I ate Little Debbies as afternoon snacks, cookies and cake for breakfast, drank plenty of soda, even though my mom soon limited us to one per day, but my point is, I obviously became an emotional eater. No, I was not overweight, but I did have a problem.

I remember looking down at myself, many a time, and silently hating my stomach, which I was pretty much doomed for life to always tote around. To me, that was my body and I would always have to live with the rolls or the extra layer of flab that covered my pre-teen mid section. Boys didn't like me because I wasn't as thin or pretty as the other girls. Soon after, I developed the "I'm not good enough" mindset and settled on being the chubby girl. I wasn't raised to watch my figure or to exercise, although my mom did cook great meals for us growing up, making us eat all of our veggies yet I was the only kid who had body issues. My sister could eat an entire bag of Doritos and wash it down with a Pepsi and not gain a pound. My brother still eats like he's a Sumo wrestler and you wouldn't be able to tell because he has not one ounce of fat on his body. It was very frustrating for me, living in a house full of unhealthy foods and watching my siblings eat everything in sight without any repercussions. Nope, not me. I ate what they ate and it showed, in my face, my thighs, my stomach...I had the bad genes, apparently.

When you view yourself a certain way, regardless of what the mirror is bouncing back at you, that's how you look in your mind. Even now at 125lbs and the healthiest I've ever been, I still think of myself as that chubby girl. Only when I actually see myself do I remember that I'm not her anymore. I remember when I went off to college I actually lost 20 pounds instead of gaining the popular Freshman 10 or 15. My friends thought I was starving myself because they weren't used to seeing me sans meat on my bones. I'll be honest, I felt awesome! Sure, I wasn't entirely healthy, but I was skinny and that's all that mattered to me. Admittedly, I was mirroring the eating patterns of another student who was addicted to exercise and not properly fueling her body. She was the reason I grew to love pasta and salsa as a meal followed by many cigarettes. It was working for me, so I didn't see how damaging it was to her body until I watched her pass out, not once but 3 times in the same hour. I believe we stopped hanging out shortly after this event.

I've struggled with weight my whole life, that's a fact. At my heaviest, I was 192, with child. One of the reasons many will never see a pregnancy picture of me. I was a cow in an over-sized t-shirt. Seriously. Of course, I lost most of that weight after giving birth and breast feeding, but even after, I was still pretty puffy around the edges. I worked with some extremely skinny girls and that certainly didn't help because they ate the same crap I was eating, yet my body wasn't the size of an arm. Oh yeah, I compared the shit out of myself with these girls. I remember one of them getting me to go on walks with her a few times. I don't know if she was trying to help me out, but I appreciated the gesture. We would often go out to bars or clubs and I always felt inadequate dancing next to them. Like they were a part of some club that I'd never get into. It sucks when you feel that way about yourself. It's demoralizing. I didn't know how to be skinny without harming my body in the process and I wasn't about to go back down that road, so instead, we tried diet pills. Boy was that an awful idea. My husband had gained weight right along with me so we decided to diet together. The pills were some off brand of a popular new diet craze and we paired them with the ever so healthy Atkins Diet. We were like walking angry zombies on steroids. That diet didn't last long. Eating all meat zapped any and all energy from our bodies and made our breath smell like the inside of a cats butt that was scrounging around in a dumpster. I don't recommend it to anyone.

Now that I know what proper nutrition and exercise actually does for the body, I can look back and laugh at our attempts to be healthy. My body image may still need a little tweaking, but at least I can teach my daughter and other women how to feel better about themselves without the need to step on a scale everyday. It took me years to be able to know what I can and can't eat and to stay at a steady weight and to show others that it's possible to live your whole life not being that person you had stamped on your brain as a child. Being thin isn't the be all end all, it's about being healthy on the inside and letting that shine through to the parts others can see. It's about being grateful for the struggles and learning to be a better person despite our losses or mistakes. Body image is in our minds. It's in the way we are treated and in the way we treat ourselves. You don't have to be the chubby girl if you don't want to be the chubby girl. You simply have to want to change in order for change to happen. It seems hard to grasp when you get started, but I promise you, one day you will love what you see on the other side of that mirror if you just have the motivation to do so.

Monday, February 20, 2012

IIN Love

Let me start off by saying that I am completely, madly in love with IIN. It's nearing the end of the 2nd month and although I'm not up to par on my modules and training, I am not only learning a lot, but have made many new and wonderful connections with the classmates. I even have a health coach of my own, to help and guide me along this journey through schooling and starting up my very own business. My coach is amazing! I assumed the school paired us up with people who were similar to us because we have so many things in common and get along so well, but yet again it was one of those things that happened by pure chance. So far, we've spoken twice on our phone sessions. She makes herself available to me via email and telephone if I should need her assistance and she already has her own business complete with website and blog that I can not only apply to my life but recieve tips for my future career as well. I seriously couldn't be happier or luckier to have connected with such a great person!

The January class made a Facebook page for any questions or suggestions we may have through out the year. What an awesome place of support! I have met so many new people! I was even able to gather a small group to virtually study together on a bi-weekly basis. Our first meeting went so well, which I conducted myself, with the help of another classmate and new friend. I was extremely nervous the entire day at work, trying to figure out how everything would come together. I didn't even have Skype at that point. Luckily, one of the group members walked me through exactly how the meeting should go and what we'd be going over and as 9:00 rolled around we were all talking and laughing and getting to know each other so well that it barely felt like a meeting at all. Everyone had something of importance to share and I learned a lot from each person. I can't wait for study group this wednesday! Hopefully I can wind down and have a dreamless sleep after this one. I was so keyed up from the last meeting that I dreamed all night and barely slept at all. Too much adrenaline I guess? I'm a little relieved to be able to sit back and let someone else take the reigns, this week.

The most exciting thing that's happened thus far, would be figuring out my official business name. I wracked my brain for a few weeks to see what would come to me and although I didn't end up with the original name I picked out, I was able to find one that fit me and would represent my health coaching business completely. I jumped ahead quite a bit by purchasing my domain name, but I felt as though I had to grasp onto it before it was taken by someone else. I won't reveal the name publicly until my web page is fully operational, but that time will come soon enough. Until then, my plan is to continue learning and studying my bum off because my time at this school is very short lived and I want to enjoy every tiny moment that gets me on the road to true success.

Monday, January 23, 2012

School Update

I am taking this opportunity to share with whomever is interested in how school is going for me, so far. Last Monday I received my big, red box with everything I need to study and use for my journey to becoming a health coach. I'm not gonna lie, I was pretty excited about the ipad and so was my daughter. School officially started on January 17th and my first module was posted so I could begin my training. Let's be honest, I was pretty stressed out and nervous about what was taking place. For a person who used to get bored with the norm, I often find myself freaking out about change. This is a huge step for me and as I don't know the exact outcome once I got down to business I began to feel more at ease with what is about to transform. I had a lot of time, last week, to get some of my fundamentals listened to and to be able to join in on the discussions and started on my first, real assignment. What this school is teaching is something I believe in heavily. Everything I was hearing made so much sense to me and I realized I was smiling halfway through the video and audio learning objectives. Teaching proper nutrition and holistic healing is what I've been passionate about for a long time and what I'm learning is exactly what I've been trying to help others with in their struggles to live healthier lives. Even though a part of me is still a little fearful of what's ahead, I know that whatever comes of this experience will be something I will be able to be proud of. For right now, I'm happy in my decision to start this process. There will be ups and downs and things I'm not going to want to do, I'm sure, but I know it will all be worth it in the long run. 

"It's never too late to become who you might have been." George Eliot