This is the question I get asked most often when I tell people that I quit my day job to become a health coach. The short answer is on my About Me page, for a longer explanation and a tasty snack recipe, keep reading.
I started college at the local community college just before my 39th birthday. That same year, the film Supersize Me was released. Every college instructor, or so it seemed, had to show that film. I watched it in six different classes over the next two years! Fun fact: I haven't eaten at McDonalds or similar fast food joint since 2006. My horror at the quality of the food I'd been consuming and given to my family turned into an on again/off again passion. My intention was to become a therapist but I toyed with nutrition as a minor until I learned that community colleges don't do minors. And believe me, going to school full time while working full time, volunteering, and still having teenagers at home didn't allow time for a second degree.
After earning my Master's in Counseling, my true passion began to show itself. I read and watched everything I could get my hands on regarding nutrition, especially in regards to how it affected mental health. The physical benefits to eating well and exercise are well documented, not necessarily so with the effect of food on the brain (until recently).
I learned during my counseling internship that I wanted to help people using food rather than pharmaceuticals. This would take some time as the learning curve was akin to hiking Mt. Rainier.
Enter teaching: I had been teaching a couple of Psychology classes as an adjunct instructor at Lower Columbia College and approached the Nutrition instructor about joining forces and teaching a 10-credit, integrative studies class combining the content from our classes. We called it Food for Thought/Nutritional Psychology. It was a hit, and that's when I realized that people want this information. We taught it a second time and the response was just as positive. I was hooked, I wanted to do this all the time, only adding a more personal level as well.
So, what is a health coach? It's bringing someone like me alongside you to help quiet the noise around dieting, weight loss, nutrition, fitness, ADHD, depression and other food related concerns. It's helping people understand what to eat, how to move, what lifestyle choices are good and which need to be reassessed. I earned my health coaching certification through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, left my day job and started my business. Crazy? Yes! Exciting? I think so.
As a counselor, I'm a professional listener. As a health coach, I can recommend lifestyle, exercise, attitude, and nutritional changes that can help. Dr. Sears calls this the L.E.A.N. approach. And it doesn't mean being relegated to carrot and celery sticks for the rest of your life. To prove it, here is a recipe that I created that does wonders when you just need a dark chocolate fix. While I wouldn't recommend eating the whole pan, one makes a nice between-meal snack to get you through to a lite, healthy dinner. It has whole grains, dark chocolate, peanut butter, coconut oil and (darn it) sugar. It's tasty and filling and will give you the energy (without the sugar crash) to power through whatever you have going.
Raw Dark Cocoa Bars
by Betty Hayes
This is a perfect treat to satisfy the dark chocolate craving and fill up on a little protein and fiber at the same time!
- 2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
- 1/4 cup Almonds
- 1/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa Powder, Special Dark
- 1/2 cup Brown Sugar, packed
- 1/3 cup Peanut Butter
- 1/2 cup Coconut Oil
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 2 tablespoons Water
Combine oats and almonds in a food processor, pulse until almonds are finely chopped. Add cocoa, brown sugar, peanut butter, coconut oil, salt, vanilla. Pulse to combine. Add water a little at a time while whirling until mixture comes together in a ball. Line a 9 x 6 inch (or similar) pan with parchment paper. Press dough into pan and refrigerate to harden (about 30 mins.). Remove using the edges of parchment to pick up the whole batch and slice into 15 bars.
Prep time: 5 mins
Refrigerate: 30 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Yield: 15 bars