A Look Into My Career as a Holistic Health Coach


This month marks  one year since I decided to leave the comforts of a "normal" career path and pursue self-employment, so I figured the timing was right to talk a little bit more about what I do, why I do it and what my plans are for the future.

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher. My grandparents built me a school house in their backyard complete with desks, chalkboards, and plenty of school supplies so that I could boss my siblings and cousins around all day long because I was so passionate about it! Then, when my dad got sick with ulcerative colitis (you can read more about that here), my family started to shift towards a very health-focused lifestyle and my interest and passion for wellness began. Witnessing how alternative practitioners were able to heal my dad of severe heavy metal toxicity and illness through changing his diet rather than proceeding with a somewhat inevitable life-alterating operation was a pivotal moment in my own life, though I don't think I could see it so clearly then.

When I was looking into what colleges I wanted to apply to, I knew that I really wanted to pursue and learn more about health and wellness, but that I didn't want to go to medical school, so my options were quite limited. After searching high and low, I found Vanderbilt University's program in Medicine, Health, & Society and immediately decided that I would do everything in my power to get in. Luckily, I applied Early Decision, found out I was accepted way before I even had the chance to apply to the other schools on my list, and that was that! The program itself is interdisciplinary and focuses on a mixture of psychology, sociology, the history of medicine, and food politics, so I really got everything I was looking for at the time and genuinely loved my major. I also minored in Elementary Education (still holding on the idea of being a teacher!) and had the idea that I would pursue health education or policy -- I really wanted to and am still passionate about shifting culture towards more food education and changing school food programs.

I turned down a couple of job offers out of school and instead decided to follow my passions and take the first 6 months post-graduation to get my 200-Hour Yoga Certification and also the enroll at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, an online health coaching program I had my eyes on for years but never had the time to pursue on top of college coursework. Halfway through my health coach training program, I moved from San Diego to DC to be closer to my then-boyfriend, now-husband, and started working full-time in management for Corepower Yoga, where I still teach and practice! I worked my way up the ladder really quickly and, because I was way too busy for my own good, I let my health coaching aspirations fall by the wayside.

Fast forward to 4 years and a couple of major signs from the universe later, I finally got the point where I realized I needed to take the leap and stop talking about my dream of working for myself and just go for it. I can say, without a doubt, that this past year has been the most gratifying year of my very short-lived adult life so far. I took the leap away from a steady paycheck and instead put all of my energy into hosting wellness-focused events and taking on health coaching clients while also continuing to teach yoga on the side. What I've realized through both one-on-one health coaching and hosting wellness events has been that I've been able to combine my two passions -- wellness and teaching -- into one career that is perfect for me!

Health Coaching isn't a normal career path at all and I am usually met with blank stares or a lot of questions when people ask me what I do, so here is some hopefully helpful information about what I do, who I work with, etc.

What Is A Holistic Health Coach?
A health coach is a supportive mentor and wellness authority who works with clients to help them feel their best through food and lifestyle changes. Instead of prescribing one diet or way of exercising, health coaches tailor individualized wellness programs to meet their clients needs.  via

What Makes A Health Coach Unique? 
relationships, exercise, career, and spirituality are just as important to your health as the food you eat. Health Coaches understand this and take a holistic approach to supporting the whole person.

Who is your typical client?
Most of my clients are millenial women who, like most of us, are having a hard time finding balance in their lives. I also work with moms, men and couples, and what I've learned along the way is that there is no "one size fits all" when it comes to the desire to lead a healthier, happier life.

What health challenges do you work with?
The most common ailments I help to treat and resolve are digestive disorders, acne, stress, autoimmune symptoms, and cognitive disfunction such as brain fog. Most of the time my clients are dealing with a combination of two or three ailments at once.

Do you prescribe a certain diet or exercise?
No! I have so many people ask me "Okay, since you're a health coach, what should I eat and what should I avoid?" Just because I eat a certain way or like to exercise a certain way doesn't mean that I believe everyone should do that, too. I believe in and teach the concept of bio-individuality -- that there is no one right diet that works for everyone all of the time. Each person has a unique set of nutritional needs and, through my coaching protocol, I work to help my clients explore the best options for them based on personal tastes and inclinations, their intuitive needs, and lifestyle requirements.

How Long Do You Work with Clients For?
My number 1 priority when taking on a new client is to ensure that they don't have to work with me forever! In fact, my longest program is 6 months long, but most clients typically sign on my one or three month program, so it is a relatively short period of time. I spend a lot of time ensuring that they are learning how to change their habits for good over time so that they can continue making progress and maintaining healthy living after we are done working together.

Some of the topics I cover in my coaching program include: 
how to read labels
grocery shopping 101
meal planning
healthy relationships
stress management + sleep quality
morning + evening routines
decluttering the home + kitchen
healthy travel habits
digestion + gut health

Some of the results my clients have experienced through health coaching:
weight loss
improved digestive function
decreased levels of stress
improved relationships with peers, friends, and family
improved cognitive function
clearer sense of self
more freedom around food choices

I wholeheartedly believe that our relationship with food impacts every other aspect of our lives, whether we can see it clearly or not. It is my mission to guide my clients towards a happier, healthier life through exploration and education, and it is truly the most gratifying work I've ever done.

So, what's next?

Well, first things first, 2018 will be the year of even more health coaching and even more educational events and workshops than this year and I am so excited for that to be my primary focus. Because I plan on hitting the ground running in the start of the new year, I've decided to take the months of November and December completely off of health coaching (I'll be taking new clients for January) to focus on getting some continuing education.

I've been looking into going back to school for a while now, and while I think I'll eventually pursue a Masters or Medical degree of some sort, I know that I'm not quite there yet, so I decided to enroll in mindbodygreen's Advanced Functional Nutrition Program! The class started last week and so far I am really enjoying the content. The world of nutrition and holistic health is changing so rapidly from year to year and sometimes it feels impossible to keep up with all of the research coming out. This will be a fun way for me to not only refresh my own knowledge base but also to expand some of my offerings for future clients to come.

I hope this was helpful! Of course, please don't hesitate to reach out if you are curious about working with me in 2018, have workshop requests or topics, or are curious to learn more about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition! You can shoot me an email or reach out on Instagram.

Katie Marshall4 Comments