Have you ever wondered why you’re here? Do you wonder if you’re making a difference with your life? Do you wonder what your legacy will be? I get it. I asked these same questions (and a thousand more).
Perhaps you love your life, but you feel something is missing. Perhaps you don't love where you are at today and know you're meant for something greater. Perhaps you have no idea what you want to be when you grow up - been there.
- Do you geek-out on health and wellness (like me)?
- Do you want to support other people in their health journey?
- Do you wonder what opportunities exist for you?
- Do you day-dream about being your own boss?
If you said 'yes' to any of the above, you may want to think about becoming a health coach. If you have a passion to help others, you can make a switch no matter your current circumstances.
My background is in advertising and marketing. I had a great career and worked with a lot of great companies. The work was never boring. But the long hours, deadlines, constant stress, and travel were taking a toll on my health (and maybe even my sanity).
During those years, I was also battling chronic pain and migraines — the result of an unfortunate car accident.
I tried everything. Alternative medicine. Traditional medicine. Chiropractors. Massage Therapist. Pain Management. Shots. Physical Therapists. Acupuncture. And the list goes on. The doctors kept feeding me pain pills and muscle relaxers. Hello, opioid epidemic.
I worked out and took care of myself. But it wasn’t the same after my car accident. I was in pain - all the time. Then the numbers on the scale started to creep up. It was frustrating, and no one seemed to have any answers.
I discovered that I felt more pain if I consistently ate acidic, processed, sugar-heavy or fast food. I didn't have time to cook with my schedule. I was moody and in pain. There had to be some connection.
At that point, I knew I had to do the research and take matters into my own hands. That began my journey into the health and wellness world.
Your journey may have begun with your own health challenges. Or maybe someone close to you has been struggling for years. Perhaps you are the go-to person in your circle for all wellness questions. Maybe you find yourself telling people of the latest health trends. Maybe you want something more for your life and want to help people.
You want to learn more. You want to make this to the next level. No matter where you are at today, it's possible to make the transition. You can become a certified health coach.
This post is meant to serve as a guide so you can get clear on what you want and find the best health coaching program for you. It's all about taking the next best step so you can make your dream a reality. Let's dive in.
Here are 5 Questions to Ask BEFORE Signing Up For A Holistic Health and Wellness Certification Program
- What’s your vision?
Imagine, you are already a certified health coach. What do you see possible?
Your calendar is full. You have clients coming in to see you. Your clients love working with you. You have the freedom to live the life you always dreamed. And more importantly, you are making a positive impact on this world.
What does this look like for you? Are you doing this part-time or full-time? Is this a side hustle? Do you want to make 6 or 7 figures? Do you want this business to grow so you can quit your 9 to 5? Does this allow you to travel more? Does this help you save up money for your kid’s college tuition or your retirement? Does this enable you to buy your dream home?
Sketch out the details. Vision is more about the feelings and the overall picture. Next, you can set up goals that will bring your vision to life. It will evolve as you learn and grow. But you still want to take time to paint this picture for yourself. What’s your dream? Visualize it. Write it down.
- Who do you want to serve?
Take a moment to imagine WHO are your clients.
Who are they? What do they do? What are their health struggles? What’s their age? Are they single, married, divorced, widowed? Do they have kids? Do they have busy careers? Are they stressed out moms? All of the above?
You can’t be all things to all people. You will find out that as you go through a program that they are going to ask you to find a niche for your business. Helping everybody may be a great goal, but it’s not realistic.
When I first researched this health coaching thing, all I wanted was to have less pain. Of course, I wanted to help other people too. But my immediate concern was for myself. I know that sounds selfish, but I’m keeping it real. Many health coaches get into the wellness business because of their journey.
Think about your experiences. What have you been through in your life? Have you had specific struggles? You want to choose something that you can relate to in some way. Your people will connect with your story. And that’s what’s going to draw your clients toward you.
You don’t need everything figured out; however, it does help to have an idea of who you want to help when you get started. Who do you want to help? Why do you want to help them? Knowing this before you go in can keep you focused.
- What’s your philosophy on wellness?
Your philosophy on wellness will change. You learn through every single experience. Every book, course, or certification program will take your knowledge to another level.
I believe we need to be life-long students. Staying the same is boring. Taking our experiences, learning from it, and sharing with others so that they can side-step a few hardships is the type of transformation this world needs: more compassion, kindness, and understanding.
You will learn all the nutrition and science when you become a health coach. But there is so much about our life and wellness that goes beyond the surface. Meaning it goes beyond eating the “right” food and doing the “right” exercise. To create lasting change, you need to address the WHOLE person. That includes our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of who we are as a human being.
When you research a program, find out the details of what they are going to teach. Does it align with your philosophy on wellness? I selected a program that believed in treating the whole person. That addressed the root causes of the issue. That took into consideration a person’s mental and emotional diet. There is a lot of psychology involved, so it was important (for me) to have a program cover these topics. Don’t be shy, ask for more information to make sure it’s a fit for you.
- What are you willing to do to make your dream happen?
Everyone is busy. It doesn’t matter if you are single, married, working one job or two…we all have stuff going on. Are you willing to get up early before work? Or stay up after your kids go to sleep? Or study on the weekends? Will you skip meeting up with your friends to study?
How committed are you to make your vision a reality?
There is more to it than getting your certification. You spend time building your business, marketing, getting clients, and spreading your message to the right people. That takes dedication, energy, money, and time. How much time are you willing to invest?
Here’s the deal. Being the boss can be rewarding. But it isn’t easy. There will be ups and downs. That’s part of being an entrepreneur. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you a big pile of B.S.
That’s why I asked you about your vision. If you aren’t willing to make a few sacrifices, then this may not be for you. And that’s okay too!
- Do you have a support system?
Bringing your vision to life is not simple. There will be twists and turns along the way. There will be bumps in the road that will derail you. Life happens!
So, you want people by your side who will be there to encourage and support you. It might be a spouse, parent, best friend, co-worker, sibling, etc. Share your dream with someone. And ask them to encourage you to keep going when things get complicated.
There will be people that will question you. They will doubt you. You will have people tell you no, I’m not interested. It’s easy to take it personally and get discouraged.
You will meet other like minds in whatever program you select. That will help you. But I believe it’s vital to have someone that’s already in your life today that will be a cheerleader when you have those moments of uncertainty or when you feel like you want to quit.
Write down 3-5 people that come to mind. Once you think through these questions, perhaps you can share your vision with them. Ask them if they would be willing to encourage and support you. It may seem silly or even awkward at first to have this conversation, but it will make a huge difference. I wish I would have done this before I started.
Must-Haves: Holistic Health and Wellness Certification Program
Now that you have an idea of what you want. It’s time to start researching the type of program that will best fit your needs.
When I began my journey, there weren’t as many options as there are today. Back then, my options were to go back to school to get a degree in nutrition and become a registered dietician, or I could do an online certification program.
I chose the online certification route because it worked best with my schedule. I knew my limits. The reality was I couldn’t dedicate a lot of time to study during the week. That’s why I needed a flexible program where I could do it on the weekends.
Do you have what it takes to be a health coach? Take this quiz and find out.
But that wasn’t my only requirement. Here are 9 things to consider when evaluating a health coach certification online.
Prepare a list of questions, so that get the answers you need to make the best decision for you and your future. If you do your homework upfront, it will prevent buyer’s remorse later.
Will you be able to take a national or state board exam when you complete the course? Some states have specific requirements when it comes to giving health recommendations. Find out what those are in your area. Make sure the program you pick is accredited. You want to select a program that qualifies for any exam you may need to take in your state.
- Business and Marketing
If the program doesn’t teach you about how to set up your health coaching business and how to approach the marketing, then I would skip it. This is a huge piece of the puzzle. You need this to be successful. I have a degree in advertising and worked in the field for over 15 years. But I found out that was an entirely different skillset. So even if you have a background in marketing, don’t be arrogant. If you don’t want to start a business, then this may not be a requirement. If you want clients, then get a program that includes business and marketing. You want to know the short cuts and learn from those who have been successful.
Find out if there are opportunities to collaborate during and after you graduate from the program. You may want to partner with a student for an event. You may want to write a guest blog. You may want to have an accountability partner. Whatever your goals, you will want a learning environment that knows the value of partnering with others.
- Continuing Education
After you complete the program, do they have opportunities to expand your skills? Maybe you are interested in a specific specialty such as autoimmune diseases, hormones, mental health, etc. If you think you might be interested in a specialty, find out if the program has opportunities to dive deeper. Even if you aren’t sure right now, it’s still good to ask what additional programs they have after you get the basics. You want to align with a program that is comprehensive and thinks about the long-term needs of the students. Why? Because that sets you up for success.
- Course Delivery
How do they deliver the course? What do they include? Do you have a specific learning style? Meaning do you prefer to watch videos? Do you prefer to listen to audio-only? Or maybe you prefer worksheets and transcripts? Depending on your learning style, make sure that the program that you are reviewing has what you need. If they only have videos and you prefer to read, then that might impact your results. You may not be motivated to complete the program if it’s not in the format you want. And you don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on a program that you won’t finish or use.
Is the program flexible with your schedule? How is it structured? Do they have exams? Are there calls or meetings you have to attend? What are the requirements? Most online certification programs are flexible. They get that we are busy and purposefully designed it so that we can study in our time. But make sure there aren’t any surprises. Do they outline due dates for projects or exams? Ask how much time they recommend you study each week? Compare that realistically to your current schedule and see if it will work.
- Ongoing Support
Many programs give support, and then once you graduate, you are on your own. There is no ongoing support. I recommend that you look for a program that highlights the importance of connection and support both during the program and after you graduate. Can you contact them with questions? Do they have a Facebook or Slack group to keep in touch? What do they offer in terms of ongoing support?
How much are you willing to invest in your vision? It costs money to educate yourself properly so that you can create a money-making business. That’s why the quality of your program is critical.
You can find a program that is cheap so you can say you're certified. But if you don’t know your stuff, you are shooting yourself in the foot. You could end up making mistakes at the expense of someone’s well-being. Not cool.
Think about it. How much is your dream worth? It is called an investment for a reason. You can invest now in comprehensive training so that you can make more moolah.
What if you can’t afford it? You may have to save up for a while. Skip the coffee, happy hours, or the latest fashion trends. Maybe you can sell a piece of furniture you never use that is collecting dust to help pay for it or sell clothes you don’t wear anymore online. Also, check to see if the program you are interested in has payment plans or any scholarship opportunities. That can help with the cost as well. Remember, where there is a will, there’s always a way.
Do you know someone who has graduated from the program? If so, ask if you can pick their brain about it. Find out what they liked and what they didn’t like so that you can go in with eyes-wide-open. Find out if they are using what they learned from the program. If you don’t know of anyone, contact the program/school and ask for a list of references or any former students who would be willing to chat with you. Chances are they will be able to find a few people for you.
Depending on your goals, you may have additional criteria. This is a starter list of things to consider. Feel free to add to it. It's like buying a pair of shoes. You need to find the right fit for you. It may look great on the shelf. Butt you have to find out what they are made of and try them on to see if they will work for you.
My Choice: The Certified Health Coach Program
There are a lot of great programs out there, especially today. When I first started researching programs, the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) was the biggest player. If you weren’t going back to college for a full 4-year degree, IIN was the way to go. But in a random twist of events, I chose a different program.
I was researching plant-based recipes and came across a cookbook called The Hungry Hottie Cookbook by Cynthia Pasquella-Garcia. I didn’t just skim it or drool over the pretty photos. I read the whole thing. And in the very back of the book was an unexpected invitation:
I read the description, and it clicked. It’s about the whole person - not just the food or exercise. It dug deep into the psychology of it all. Why do we make the choices that take us closer or farther away from our goals? What’s going on? What’s happening on the inside?
It hit home for me. Suddenly, I had all these questions. I reached out to them and set-up a time to chat. But I was a bit skeptical. I mean if they didn’t have a track record of success, how was it going to work for me?
To my (pleasant) surprise, Cynthia was the one on the phone. ITN was brand-spanking-new. I would be in the very first class.
After the call, I was 80% sold. Next, I went online to see if I could find out more. She built this amazing coaching business and was all about serving others. She was successful, and now she wanted to teach others. That was clear.
But what about these other programs that had been around longer? I made my decision based on my intuition. I have ZERO regrets. It was a fit for me because it aligned with my philosophy and how I wanted to show up. Today, ITN has added more to the program and has been going strong ever since.
But today, there are so many options. It can be overwhelming. I chose the Institute of Transformational Nutrition (ITN) because it met all the criteria I discussed and more.
But here’s the deal. My personal opinion is that you need to find the best health coaching certification program for you. It needs to align with your goals and what you want. Otherwise, it’s a waste of money.
Do your homework, research your options, and follow your intuition.
What’s Next? Decide What’s Best for You
Maybe you are at a crossroads. You want to become a health coach, but you aren’t sure what to do next. You have goals. You desire to make a positive impact on this world.
Perhaps you feel you don’t have time to add something else to your plate. Maybe money is tight, and the thought of investing in something like this makes you cringe. Perhaps you feel like you don’t see a way between your current reality and where you envision yourself to be.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s easy to research your options and then…well, do nothing with it. The road isn’t a cakewalk. When it comes to making your dreams happen, it takes effort. It takes some serious work. There will be bumps and bruises along the way. At some point, you’ll want to give up. I guarantee it.
But on the other side, it’s the freedom you always wanted. What’s that worth to you?
If this is something you truly want, you will find a way to make it happen. That might mean you have to sell some of your stuff to pay for the program. It may mean working in your full-time job for a few more years while you do the side-hustle thing.
Think about your vision. Think about your goals. Now, what’s the best next step?
Do you need to brainstorm what’s important to you? Is it researching programs? Is it contacting the schools and setting up a time to ask your questions?
Taking small steps with consistent action will make your dreams happen. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen if you keep going. You can do this!
Wanna Be A Certified Health Coach?
Check out these free resources. I wish these were around back in the day...so don't miss out.
- The Ultimate Guide On How To Become A Health Coach: Get your questions answered and discover how to kickstart the career of your dreams! Grab you copy.
- QUIZ ALERT: Do you have what it takes to be a health coach? Take this quiz now.
- Health Coaching 101: Check out this free video course that gives you all the details. Did you know that Wellness Mama, Katie Wells, is an ITN graduate? Click here to get access.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do you become a certified health coach?
You research health and nutrition coaching programs. You select the one that resonates with you. And then you do the necessary steps to graduate. This may include reading specific textbooks, exams, writing papers, and getting practice experience. Each program will have its unique requirements. Don’t be shy; find out what it takes to get certified. Ask for the information you need to make the best decision for you.
- How much does it cost to become a certified health coach?
This depends. There are costs to get your certification. If you want to have a specialty, there could be additional tuition costs. But there could be additional costs depending on if you are going to take board exams. Plus, there are costs to manage and run your own business.
- What can you do with a health coach certificate?
You can have your own coaching business. You could be a speaker or writer. Side note, if you want to get a job at a hospital or wellness center, you may want to look up their requirements. Some companies prefer registered dietician or nursing degrees. Get clear on your goal, so you know what you need to do to make things happen.
- How long does it take to become a health coach?
Most programs are anywhere from 6-12 months in length. But it’s really up to you. Because many programs are self-paced, you can take longer if need be. When you narrow down your schools, definitely ask this question upfront. That way, there are no surprises.