You know the bumper stickers that say:
“Honk if you love cats.” Or my personal favorite…
“Honk if you have a horn.” Classic.
Well, in this case: honk if you like your job, but don’t love it and feel called to do something else you know you were born to do. (You can always let me know what you’re honkin’ for at the bottom in the comments section!)
I’m ready to move on from my job and be an autoimmune HEALTH COACH! This isn’t some new dream either. I’ve wanted this for a long time. The best part is… it’s finally happening!
But, I need to elaborate… because becoming a health coach might sound great and all, but why not go big and become a doctor? Or a nurse? Or a chiropractor?
Before I answer that, I need to set the stage…
People are (chronically) sick, the rates are rising, and I can’t be on the sideline any longer.
The CDC data shows 60% of Americans have a chronic illness. I don’t think I need to explain that stat any further. But!… I will go further, and note that 40% of Americans have multiple chronic diseases.
But not all chronic diseases are created equal.
The numbers cited above are for ALL diseases categorized as chronic (or lifelong). So, this would include diabetes, heart disease, and other NON-autoimmune specific diseases.
That said, the National Institute of Health estimates that approximately 8% of Americans have an autoimmune disease. Seems low, but that number stems from only 4 autoimmune diseases with large epidemiological studies to cite.
Whereas, another authority, the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association believes the number is closer to 17% (when including the other 80-100 recorded autoimmune diseases).
Look, the important part, no matter whose numbers you use, or what chronic disease you want to review is:
People are sick.
In fact, SO MANY people are chronically ill, that it is now considered normal. Imagine that. It’s more common to be chronically ill than not.
Being CHRONICALLY ill… is normal. Is the gravity of this situation sinking in yet? And keep in mind – this isn’t just limited to adults.
How can I possibly sit (and for hours) at my desk, collect a paycheck, and receive minimal fulfillment, while the state of our country is in dire need of help? The answer is: I won’t!
Especially when my wife, Anna, and I recovered from our autoimmune diseases just by changing the way we eat and live.
So, I’m training to be a health coach. Not a doctor or other form of practitioner, but a health coach. And hopefully you’re wondering… why?
Why not become a doctor or practitioner?
I thought a lot about this, actually. And in short, the system is broken.
“Whether an individual receive[s] expert guidance from [a] doctor of medicine, a doctor of chiropractic, a naturopathic doctor, a physical therapist, or a licensed acupuncturist, the patient often [leaves] the clinic with a great deal of information about changes to make and no clear plan as to how to make them.” (Karen Lawson, MD, ABIHM – read full paper here.)
People aren’t sick because they don’t have the right information (usually). It’s because the system aims at, and misses the underlying issues:
- Diet and lifestyle are known to be the most powerful health influencers, but are ignored at the behest of profitable drugs, and a lack of time to help coach (not tell) the patient to make positive changes.
- Preventative medicine, screenings, and physicals have been paired down to waiting for 1+ hour for a mere 10 minute “discussion” with your doctor that usually results in a prescription and some advice that never gets followed-up on.
- Our environment consists of an endless onslaught of mental, physical, and spiritual burdens that keep us stressed, sleep deprived, nutrient-deficient, and inflamed. And nothing in the current medical paradigm can fix this.
When it comes to autoimmune disease, these systemic flaws make healing from autoimmune disease pretty much impossible.
So, it seems I am single-minded in this issue. I’m not. I don’t think the system needs to be totally scrapped. It still has some working parts, but also requires some new ones.
A recent example of the system functioning correctly, was when doctors were able to screen-for and diagnose my step-father’s prostate cancer so early that he never even showed a symptom. He is completely free of it now. It’s obvious the preventative screening and treatment worked.
But, what if we took the medical advancements that work, the functioning parts of the current system and paired them with the proven benefits of a healing lifestyle, including diet? We might actually become the healthiest population ever recorded!
So instead of being another cog in the machine, I decided on becoming an autoimmune health coach.
Now that I have painted this pretty little picture, I should probably let you know what the heck a health coach even is. Chris Kresser (seeing as I am in his health coach certification program) sums it up like this:
“Health coaches are experts on human behavior, motivation, and health. They are “change agents” who help their clients set and achieve health goals and build new habits.”
Many of the primary triggers of autoimmune disease are a result of poor diet and lifestyle choices. Health coaches fill a major gap in our healthcare system by partnering with clients to give them the necessary tools, resources, and insight to facilitate lasting change, and hopefully recover from their conditions.
I’ll sum it up like this… most of us know we need to eat better, exercise more, sleep more, etc., so the problem here isn’t the lack of information. The problem lies deeper; more in the realm of actually making these changes. We have plenty of doctors, research, books, blogs, podcasts that TELL us what changes we need to make. But… no one to actually help us make them.
This is why the world needs more health coaches.
Doctors and other practitioners play a VERY important role, and they may have the answers we need as patients… but unfortunately, due to dictations from the health insurance companies, medical lobbyists, and salesy pharmaceutical companies, they don’t have the time or the resources to facilitate change in their patients.
“Patients [need] someone to know and understand their unique strengths, challenges, and desires—someone to walk with them through the demanding process of implementing new beliefs and behaviors in their lives—in a way that [promotes] their own health and healing at the pace for which they [are] ready. This person needed to be in a trusted relationship with the patient, to be readily and frequently available, to see the patient as the capable expert in his or her own life, to understand the nature of the change process, and to be able to hold the vision of greater health for and with the patient. This person was, and is, a [health coach].” (Karen Lawson, MD, ABIHM – read full paper here.)
The Power of a “Change Agent”
Have you ever tried to lose a few (or a lot) pounds, start exercising, watch less TV, or get more sleep but couldn’t?
Was it because you are a weak person? No? Maybe no ambition, or just a general lack of carelessness? Still, no?
Then why couldn’t you just put your mind to it and succeed?
Because change is incredibly difficult. We are wired NOT to change. Our brains don’t like it. The basal ganglia and cerebral cortex program the brain to learn, adapt, and to eventually leave us stuck in autopilot (via the basal ganglia) as much as possible. Autopilot is one of the ways the brain achieves its objective to keep the body running as efficiently as possible (using minimal energy).
So, it should be no surprise that sometimes we need a little help to make changes, especially after being told that we can just take a drug to “fix” (enter autoimmune disease here).
And this is where I mention that I strongly believe I’ve been shaped over time to be a great change agent, or autoimmune health coach. I love connecting with people on a deep level, being optimistic and instilling hope and promoting happiness, sharing useful information when prompted, and helping others become better versions of themselves.
All of these qualities are some of the things needed to help people make genuine, long-lasting changes. I had my first glimpse of the possibilities when I met my friend, Don.
Autoimmune Health Coaching – Take 1
My first exposure to health coaching happened when I helped a co-worker reshape his lifestyle to reduce the severity of his Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (autoimmune disease) symptoms.
And it was amazing.
Once I witnessed such a drastic change and improvement in someone, I was hooked.
During that time, Anna and I started this blog because of our joint passion for wanting to do more, and actually help people overcome autoimmune disease.
As our blog grew, our passion grew with it. We realized we aren’t in the business of telling people WHAT to do (because that should come from a doctor), but rather – how to take control of their lives and become their own change agent.
Now, with our blog growing, as well as our passion, there is only one thing left to do…
Actually Becoming a Certified Health and Wellness Coach.
Kresser’s approach and ideology is evidence-based and highly effective. We learn the fundamentals of functional health, and hone-in on the intricacies of health coaching by practicing multiple times a week.
I am on track to finish the program and pass the certification exam about a year from the time I write this post. During that time, I plan on writing more about what I’m learning. I hope to connect with our readers, and help them make long, lasting changes in their lives!
And I encourage you to connect with me (leave a comment, or write an e-mail) and tell me – what are YOUR biggest struggles when trying to make a change to your diet and lifestyle? How can I help?
Finally, I’ll leave you with this: the system is broken. People need help making changes to overcome the sick world we live in. The only way to accomplish it is if we help each other on a personal level (below the surface). That means changing the system by adding more health coaches! Maybe I will eventually inspire you to become one and spread the wellness.
I look forward to being fulfilled by my work. I am ecstatic at the opportunity to serve and help people, and start to whittle down the grotesque disease statistics… one person at a time.
(If your interest is piqued and you want to dive deep into the power of health coaching and learn more about why it’s so vital for the future-state of our health… or want to become a health coach yourself, then click through to the following link to learn more: What is a Health Coach?)
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Hey there! I’m Frank, co-founder of Healthy Habits Reset. My wife, Anna, and I have battled our respective autoimmune diseases for over a decade. We have fumbled through and eventually learned that REAL mental and physical healing requires you to be your own advocate, to think for yourself, and to determine what information works for YOU.
We created this blog to teach everyone how to use the resources and tools available to make the best personal decision surrounding any health, faith, and lifestyle choice.