Pulling Back the Curtain on Wellness Coaching – What It’s Really Like to Be a Health & Wellness Coach
Brad: Welcome to the Catalyst Health and wellness coaching podcast. My name’s Brad Cooper. I’ll be your host today. If you’ve tuned into our previous episode, you know the goal of this entire podcast is to give you tools, tips, insights, and resources to basically become a better, more effective health and wellness coach. Our first podcast kicked off the concept of the three, make that four C’s of coaching. For a quick review here those are competence, credibility, clientele, and then we added calling in our last few. Prior to this one, we dove into these in a lot more detail. If you missed them, a couple of you may want to go back to catch up. We did interview two coaches who are part of the NBHWC or the International Consortium for Health and Wellness coaching committee to help design questions for the national board exam and all the details around that exam, what’s involved, why they pursued it, those types of things.
And then in our most recent episode, we had an applied research section where we went through two peer reviewed journal Articles on research that is incredibly applicable to you as a coach and helping you get down that path and not fall prey to the different fads that oftentimes prevail in wellness. I think the great things about podcasts is we can go deeper. You’re not limited to 120 characters. Like in twitter, you’re not limited to a headline or you know, a quick word or two here and there. You can really dive in. And today I’m pretty excited. This is a great example of that. We’ve, got two very experienced professional health and wellness coaches joining us and they’re going to help us pull back the curtain on what’s it really like to be a health and wellness coach. Why did they choose this path? And I bet they’re going to have some tips.
For those of you who either thinking about coaching and you’re kinda on that fence and you’re wondering, you know what is it really like? Or for those of you who are currently coaching but you just want to make it better, you just want to optimize it a little bit more. With that, let me introduce our two folks and then we’ll dive into the interviews. First person to Cindy Dagg. Cindy Dagg is a nationally board certified health and wellness coach. She was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, graduated from the University of Kansas and then spent the last 25 years in Colorado. She’s fueled with passion, energy, and curiosity in the health and wellness field, and when you get to know her, you’re going to hear that in this interview. She’s been professionally coaching with Us Corporate Wellness for over eight years. She also serves as a mentor coach for future health and wellness coaches, and she said she just loves that piece of it.
It’s not just with her clients. She’s also getting to help develop future leaders in our industry of wellness coaching. She believes in connecting with her clients and meeting them where they are in their lives, and boy, that great comment is truly where the magic starts. She makes it her focus to understand our client’s motivation, desires, and challenges to most effectively support our clients and make achievable goals and lasting lifestyle change on a personal level. When she’s not working as a wellness coach, she’s pretty much still acting like a coach. You can find her skiing, mountain biking, cycling, camping, hiking, and spending time with her husband of 30 years and her two college age kids. So that is Cindy Dagg. Our second person that’s here with us today is our coach Jamie Cook. Jamie, I guess today’s Chicago Day. Jamie was also born and raised in the Chicago area and she said she loves the big city.
She’s been living in Colorado for many years and she loves the blue sky and outdoor adventure. So you can see she’s got that nice balance between the two. She graduated from Valparaiso University and was a division one competitive swimmer, which tells you a lot about her right there. She’s been a registered nurse for 23 years and has been professionally coaching with Us Corporate Wellness since 2014 and was among the first group of people to pass the national board certification for health and wellness coaches. She’s a mentor, coach and instructor for the Catalyst Coaching Institute and in her description, she said she loves that one on one connection using positivity and humor. Developing (and I love this word), developing trustful rapport so clients can have a comfortable space to become uncomfortable and stretch towards something. Let me just say that again because that’s pretty cool. Developing trustful rapport so clients have a comfortable space to become uncomfortable and stretch towards something on a personal level. She’s been married 20 plus years, has three daughters, including identical twins and she also spends her non coaching life living out wellness as a runner, skier, paddle boarder, reading, sewing, hanging out, and laughing with her family and friends on the deck in the evening. She’s trying to embrace yoga, meditation, and meal prepping, but she says that is still a rough work in progress. Thank you for joining us today. Super excited. I hope you are too. We’re going to get into what it is really like to be a professional health and wellness coach.
We are here with Jamie and Cindy. The main goal today is to really figure out or communicate with the audience why wellness coaching? What is it about wellness coaching that drew you initially? Why do you keep doing it? What are the things that you enjoy about it? Those kinds of things. So let’s kick it off with that first initial question. Why did you decide to pursue a career as a health and wellness coach?
Jamie: Multilayered reasons. I personally was an athlete really my entire life and what I’m personally interested in is exercise, nutrition, sleeping, stress management, pursuing hobbies, that type of thing really fills my bucket. And if I could take that and turn that into a career opportunity, well, I mean how much better can things get? Then also being a nurse, I really saw the flip side of health and wellness and the impact that a lack of reaching your potential and health and wellness, can have on you. And I love talking to people which is my favorite part of being a nurse as well. It’s that one on one connection with my patients. And so that, to me, combining all those things with that one on one connection makes wellness coaching the ideal spot for me.
Brad: Wow. Fantastic. So that was Jamie. I didn’t tell you who was talking first there, but Cindy, anything to add to that from your perspective?
Cindy: Yeah. So my pursuit of health and wellness coaching was a little bit different, and it wasn’t really the conventional way. I enjoyed, you know, being active and being the encouragement in people’s lives. And so I had two friends that actually said to me, Cindy, you need to be a coach. And I thought, huh, I don’t even know what a health and wellness coach is, but it seems kind of cool. They explained it to me and I went through the CCI (Catalyst Coaching Institute) training and I fell in love with it. I said, oh my gosh, I have found my calling. Wow I’m so happy. So I wanted more and more. I wanted to do my job more and more, I wanted more information and then I went through the master of coaching and I was like, oh my gosh, this, I need more, I need more and more.
And then I became a mentor coach and I thought, oh my gosh, I can help people become a better coach and that was great, and I’m still doing that, so I love that. And then studied and passed the national board exam. So with that, I got more information and I basically love talking on the phone also. I’m really good at that. I’ve done that my whole life and I just loved seeing people make a better life for themselves. I love watching them change and thrive in their own life. So that’s really why I pursued it.
Brad: Wow. See, there’s no energy with these two. By the way, Cindy mentioned the the national board exam, and I think I mentioned that about Jamie as well in the intro. If you did have questions about that, go back a couple of episodes. We have two coaches that spent some time sharing all the details about how to go through that. The website for that national board exam is NBHWC.org. So let’s about the pre wellness coaching. What were you doing before you became a health and wellness coach? Jamie?
Cindy: Well, career wise, I’ve been a nurse since 1995 and I’m still also continuing to work as a nurse. I worked in areas of critical care and different areas of surgery and so that’s what I was doing career wise. I think personally I’ve always been a wellness coach for the people in my own life before I was properly trained and a busy mom. That’s what I was doing. Free Wellness coaching and still doing fantastic.
Brad: Cindy, how about you?
Cindy: My life after graduation from college, I went and worked for AT&T wireless and I was in a desk job, but I found time to kind of be active throughout the day when these two kids came along. I was fortunate enough to stay at home with my kids and so I worked in their schools and then I was just constantly encouraging kids to be their best self out on the playground. I was teaching yoga out on the playground because kids these days are super stressed and if I can teach them something that they can take with them for the rest of their life, it’s a good thing. So that’s what I did. And then you know, baseball coach for my son, soccer coach for my daughter, so I was constantly active and then it all happened eight years ago when I decided I’m going to be a coach.
Brad: Very cool. All right, so now we’re going to get into your favorite types of clients. Now, for those of you listening, a lot of you, if you’re not currently in the health and wellness coaching field, you may think of wellness coaching as being all food and fitness oriented. These two will tell you that ain’t the case folks, but I just want to get a sense from them of what are some of their favorite types. We’re going to get into some case studies later so these won’t be specific people, but just in terms of of types of clients and why you like working with those types. Jamie?
Jamie: My favorite type of client is someone who doesn’t yet have that spark of I can do it. I can try this. I can stretch myself. You know that spark isn’t there yet because they have not met the right person to have the right conversation to help draw that out because I do think that that spark is somewhere in everybody and that everyone can do it. Whatever it is and that’s what are some amazing things about these conversations is that it is totally different across the board. It could be, you know, one extreme. Someone who wants to do an ultra marathon and to the other extreme, someone who wants to focus on doing nothing and that is the spark that hasn’t yet come out. So I think that it’s really unique to the coaching relationship and that’s definitely my favorite type of client because that’s not something that has been drawn out of them in other venues and avenues in their life.
Brad: Love it. Love it. Okay. And Cindy, what do you think?
Cindy: I went a little bit more specific. I think mine are smokers and people that are obese because with smokers there’s gonna be a real change and it’s going to be significant in their life. They’ll see it immediately. The stages of change really come into play here. So with them it’s very methodical and you know you’re not going to coach someone on quitting when they’re not even ready to quit. So you talk about all these things about what’s making them smoke and what’s all this and so you’re building that trust, you’re building that rapport with them and then with the obesity part I think the relationship is super important. Well, I think it’s important with everybody, but I think when it comes to someone that’s obese, there’s a lot going on. There’s the self confidence, there’s the struggle with depression, there’s struggle with stress and there are so many avenues that you can actually go down and really make a change.
And once they see that change happen, it’s changing their whole life with just one simple step. I love giving both these types of people hope that they can make this change and encouragement to make the change. And uh, just really walking along with them on their journey. I’m always excited to hear the excitement in their voice. They go, oh my gosh, I was so waiting for that phone call because I’m able to tell you how this was and what I did. Now I did it and it’s so fun to hear that call. They love it and I love it.
Jamie: I see Cindy regularly and the way that your face lights up when you talk about your smokers, like the affection that you have for them. I can only imagine how that translates on their end because quitting smoking can be one of the biggest challenges that somebody takes on and same thing with obesity and that’s why it’s such a great match for wellness coaching because smoking and obesity are such negative areas that people have to deal with. Being on the receiving end with their doctor, relationship with their family, relationship with significant others, you know, those are tough areas. And to have a wellness coach who provides support, nonjudgmental accountability, I could definitely see why those two are your favorites for sure.
Brad: Great addition. So we’re going to flip the coin here. We’re going to run over to Cindy on this next question first. Now we’re getting personal, but I want to know how has being a wellness coach, health and wellness coach positively influenced your life, your family’s life?
Cindy: Well, good question. I thought I was a fairly healthy person all through my life. I thought I was fairly healthy. I’m pretty active. I’ve done some triathlons. I’m a mountain biker. I’m a cycler, I ski, I hike, I like everything outdoors and I thought, you know, hey, I eat rather well. Well come to find out through all of my research and reading and training and everything, I need to be a little bit healthier. So going through all this has really kind of catapulted me into being the strongest person I think I, I’ve ever been. I’m, how old am I? I’m 54 now and I’ve never been stronger and I’m eating healthier than I’ve ever eaten in my life. And I always bring up the fact that you never really know how bad you felt until you start feeling really good in with my clients too because they think, you know, I’m pretty healthy and I can relate to that. Yeah. We all feel like we’re pretty healthy. But when we really started making those little changes, you know, stopping soda or something, getting a little bit more active, you really see a difference going through all of this that I’ve gone through in the past eight years. Just reading that knowledge and everything has really helped me as a person and my family actually gets to benefit from it. Also, it’s worked out really well for my whole family.
Brad: It’s interesting you talk about not realizing that you’re not on the right track until you look back in the last podcast. Those of you who tuned into that when we talked about a sleep study and one of the research outcomes was that people realize when they haven’t slept well after a day or two, but if they continue not to sleep well, they don’t notice any additional change and that’s kind of what you’re saying is in any area of our lives, we noticed an immediate drop off if we’re not eating as well. We’re not exercising as much, but then after we kind of get net routine positive or negative, we don’t notice it as much and then you start to make those positive changes and great things happen. So good stuff. Jamie, how about you?
Jamie: I really feel that being a health and wellness coach has increased my empathy and the way that I communicate with people. A lot of that came from the training and education that I got at the Catalyst Coaching Institute to really learn a different way of communicating with people, which as my job as a nurse has totally changed my nurse patient interaction for the better and I really feel that the coaching style can spill over into so many different areas, but just more empathy, more awareness on the importance of healthy lifestyle factors and also that just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth it and some of the most enjoyable things. Some of the best contributions in life that you see once you’re on the other side of it come from hardware and I really feel that I’ve noticed that type of philosophy. My husband made changes in his lifestyle and then also with our kids as they are now becoming teenagers and that can be such a tricky time and stage of life. Just seeing some behaviors that they’re exhibiting and some things that they’re saying where really our whole home life has an emphasis on big picture wellness and different dimensions of wellness and how it’s important to pay attention to those different areas to really feel that, you know, like the bumper sticker says life is good.
Brad: Very nice. Very nice. Are you getting all this? This is good stuff. Good stuff. Didn’t know what I was getting into when I invited these two for the interview. So you both took the national exam. You’re both board certified. You’re both among the first group that went through it, so there was a little bit of a risk there. You don’t need to get into the NBHWC specifically because Sabrina really took a deep dive on that a couple of episodes back, but just about the profession as a whole. What are your thoughts about the health and wellness profession and where it’s heading and those types of things?
Cindy: So I think that, you know, you said it’s a risk. I didn’t think of it as a risk. I thought of it as more education. For me. It’s more learning for me, so as far as where I think the profession is going, I think more and more companies are going to be looking for ways to lower their costs of insurance and this is a great way to do this because they’re going to be looking to see that their employees are actually taking an active step in their health and wellness and lowering their absenteeism and making sure that they’re happy and healthy. So that’s where a coach comes in and helps them along that journey. So I really think that companies are going to be looking for coaches in specifically board certified so they know that they’re getting some quality coaching. So that’s the way I think that the profession is going to be headed. Jamie, any things to add?
Jamie: So I agree with Cindy that, you know, cost of insurance, those types of things really can grow the profession because there’ll be a lot more opportunities. But I feel having the board certification is key to really the whole future direction of wellness coaching becoming more widespread and more mainstream because it makes skepticals believe it’s a legitimate thing. There’s licensure with acupuncture and chiropractic medicine and psychology and those types of things where as wellness coaching didn’t really have any particular direction necessarily and now I feel like it’s a very viable option. They’re held to this standard. They have a particular education in this area. This is really a tool that we can use for the better and if insurance companies get on board then there could be some type of reimbursement. The way that you can get some reimbursement if you go to physical therapy or if you go to speech therapy or if you see a psychologist that if it can get into that avenue, then it could really expand and grow and be a viable option for corporations and for individuals.
Jamie: But personally, where I want to see it go is the yoga on the playground that you were teaching those kids because for the long term, that’s where the change is going to come and so if it starts in these other avenues, which you know, financially it may need to that way in order for the profession to take off and the opportunities to take off and really kind of saturate our society. Then hopefully the trickle down is yoga on the playground and let’s start those things then.
Brad: Fantastic. Fantastic. One more question then. We’ll just have kind of a wrap up question. Any additional thoughts you want to share with the audience? Keep it anonymous here, but a client story that just stuck with you as being memorable or personally meaningful? Cindy, anything that comes to mind?
Cindy: So I have one that’s recent. This was the one that I can really remember that happened just a few weeks ago. We’re actually now on our third call, he was thinking, you know, I think I want to lose weight. I mean, all my doctors told me I need to do this and he’s kind of just thinking about it and he wasn’t totally convinced that this was going to be his route and through our little coaching dance that we had we kinda got to the bottom of things. And then he said, wait, now how did you do that? And I said, do what? And he goes, I just talked myself into losing weight and making a plan on how to do it. Wait a minute now. And I said, oh, it’s the magic of coaching. That’s what it is. So it’s just that dance that we had and he just has done great. Our second call, he had lost weight, he was feeling great. He was doing what he wanted to do. And so I’m waiting. The story will still continue because we’ll have our next call probably next month.
Brad: So the story will be continued. Jamie, how about you?
Jamie: So one client relationship that really has stood out to me is not a new one like yours, but one that has been a few years now and just seeing the growth, like I mentioned at the beginning, I love, you know, pulling that spark out of someone. So this client, in our first meeting, was adamant that we were going to talk about exercise for weight loss because she has always failed at it for years and years and years. And so she just wanted an exercise plan and so through our conversation, you know, and broadening that conversation out, you know, she brought up that her work life balance was out of balance. Her stress level was high, her sleep quality and hours were poor. Her nutrition was not where she wanted it to be. So really we kind of put a little pin in the exercise weight loss and talked about some of these other things.
Jamie: And you know, through our conversations she addressed those things first because those seem to really be the obstacles that were preventing her from exercising and losing weight. And so over time she developed some specific, work life balance, which then allowed her some more family time, so her family relationship got better, she really prioritized sleep and so her sleep hours and quality got better, so she felt like she had more energy during the day. She made some nutrition habits and because of all of those other things then she was fitting in enjoyable exercise in her life and ended up losing weight as a byproduct of that. But there was a crooked path for how we ended up where she originally wanted to be. It was just really amazing to see that growth across the board.
Brad: What a great story. You probably see it more often than not, they come in with a preconceived notion, but then you end up in a completely different place that then helps them in the original area of interest. Alright. So kind of a wrap up question or pair of questions is you’ve got two different folks generally in the audience. One is the, I think this could be an interesting career path. They’re not doing it now. What advice would you have for that person? And then the followup to that is we also have a lot of folks that are currently coaching and they’ve just lost the passion. They have lost the energy. There’s just something missing. What advice would you have for that person? So we’ll start off with Jamie and you can hit either one or both. However you’d like, Jamie?
Jamie: I’ll start with the person who’s thinking of going into coaching. I would do it. Whether you’re a on the paper kind of person or just a thought process. Think about what are your personal strengths. What are things that people have told you that you’re good at? Do you have a friend that says, oh, I love going to lunch with you because we always have the greatest conversations? Or do you have coworkers that say the day’s better when you’re here because you’re organized and you always have a plan and you helped me stay on track, you know? Do you have some personal qualities that you think would be great for coaching that would also then be fulfilling to you? Because if you’re looking at, you know, a career path I’m all about do what you love, and so if some of the aspects that are great qualities in a coach are some things that are about you anyway, then you’ll probably be a great coach or if you see a way that you can positively make a change on other people, you know, some people really feel that it’s important in life to provide a service or do something to better society or you know, almost like a, you know, gifts of service or charitable acts.
Jamie: Well, what a great way to have coaching be that way that you put yourself out in society. So that’s that person. The other person who’s currently working as a coach, you know, listen to what Cindy said about how she wants to learn more. I want to learn more. And every time that Cindy learned something more, she gets more energized. She gets more engaged, which then I’m sure her clients respond to that. And when you have clients that want to talk to you, when you have clients that are meeting their goals or clients who aren’t meeting their goals but still want to talk to you so they could brainstorm with you, that can be so fulfilling in your career and not feeling stagnant or beat down. And so for that person I would say read, listen to podcasts, talk to other coaches, take some types of classes.
Brad: Just continuing to learn more because I think it’s just gonna grow the energy and revitalize how you feel about coaching. Need to give each of these to their own podcasts. Good stuff. Cindy, anything you want to add to that?
Cindy: Yeah, so I would start with the person that is already in coaching. I would say look back to what drew you to coaching in the first place because when you look back and you go, why did I love it before? And what made me so passionate about it before? So if you’re kind of getting burnt out on it, you know, take a break, look back, figure out that love and then move forward. And then for the people that are thinking I have no idea what coaching is, that was kind my path. I had no idea and I just started to read and take classes and go through webinars and just learning more and more about it.
And if you have just like what Jamie said, if you have that quality about you, if you have that, you know, personality of encouragement, of happiness, of organization, compassion and the love of talk is always a good thing. Then health and wellness coaching is your path.
Jamie: And even if you’re not super chatty as cindy and I both apparently are, I still think that coaching could be a great path because of that one on one relationship. And so if you’re feeling like, oh, I have to be this, you know, extrovert, who has all of these, you know, hilarious things to say and promote that is one quality of a great coach. But then another quality of a great coach could be someone who’s more of a quiet listener. That compassion that Cindy mentioned, the empathy and really great at creating a trustworthy space. And so lots of different personalities can make a great wellness coach.
Brad: Thanks for clarifying that. I was just thinking as Cindy was talking, well I’m an introvert and our director of learning is an introvert, so we need to replace the people at the top of this thing. But anyway, you two. Thank you so much. That was fantastic. Fantastic. We’re going to get this out there and I think we’re getting a lot of feedback and probably some follow up questions. So thank you so much and great job.
So how was that for a podcast full of insights and motivation, energy, encouragement. Jamie and Cindy. Wow. Great job. That’s a wrap on another episode of the Catalyst Health and Wellness Coaching podcast. If you enjoyed it, please subscribe and we’d certainly appreciate it if you don’t mind spreading the word as well. We’re here anytime. Email us at [email protected]. And then we’ve got quite a few resources at that same website, CatalystCoachingInstitute.com, including follow up to some of the things they talked about. In the meantime, let’s keep pursuing better than yesterday and let’s help others do the same. I’ll look forward to chatting with you on the next episode of the Catalyst Health and wellness coaching.