I am part of the May 2011 Health Coach Training class at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, meaning my graduation from the year-long program is coming up at the end of April.
I thought I’d take the time to reflect on how my education and involvement with the school has changed me in the past year, as both benefit to others considering the program and as a way to think through it myself.
It took me a couple of months before I decided I wanted to enroll at IIN. In the Fall of 2010 I began looking into nutrition certifications. Some looked too “small”, but I also didn’t want to go back to school to become an R.D. Integrative Nutrition seemed to fit perfectly in the middle: it took one year, I could complete it while working full time, it taught me nearly every single dietary theory, and the cost was reasonable.
I did tons of research, found answers to questions about it’s legitimacy, and spoke to plenty of current and graduated students to make sure it was right for me. I battled with my “not quite holistic” parents for a bit, but it was my decision (and my bank account) and finally I got the answer I was looking for from my father: “More education is never a bad thing”.
I didn’t get super involved right away. I was busy with work, and I also wasn’t doing this in order to make a career out of it. I simply enjoyed listening to the modules and learning something new each week. I did, however, follow my class’ active Facebook page and occasionally commented. My classmates were so wonderful about supporting each other with life issues, posting questions about our lectures, and sharing interesting recipes.
Then, over the summer, I got an email from IIN asking me to give a testimonial at the Fall INNto Action Conference in New York City. What? Me? I guess they found my blog, read my story, and thought it provided and interesting perspective. I hadn’t planned on going to go to the conference, but this changed my mind. And boy am I glad.
That conference was huge for my IIN experience. It made me feel much more connected to the program, even more interested in nutrition, and much more excited about the incredible potential that comes along with being a part of IIN. I met people doing unique and awesome things to help others, listened to some of our teachers LIVE, shared my own story in front of 4,000 people, and received endless encouragement to continue down my own path.
Throughout the fall I continued to listen to my lectures and participate a bit more on the Facebook page, but a stressful career transition took my concentration away from school. Again when the IIN Nutrition Mega Conference in Long Beach came up, I didn’t think I was going to pay to fly out there. Then I got the email asking me to Live Blog the conference and found myself registering.
These bi-yearly conferences are JUST what I need to reignite my passion and remind myself why I enrolled in IIN in the first place. The Mega Conference was even better than the one in NYC, I think. Maybe it was because I felt like I “knew” more of my classmates, or maybe because I got to sit up close and pay better attention, but the enthusiasm was contagious. The speakers were engaging and enlightening. On top of that I stayed with my friend Jen who inspired to go for my dreams and I came home with a list of books to read and ideas for my business.
And now here I am, 2 modules away from graduation, endlessly grateful that I was somehow led to IIN and had the courage to enroll. I still don’t feel like I COMPLETELY fit in since I’m not making health coaching a full time career right now, but every single person I’ve talked to has only encouraged me to do what’s best for ME. I am reaching out to my new Dallas community so I can be more involved in the health and holistic scene, I’m reading books on spirituality and creating my own happiness, and no matter what form it takes I have confidence that I will find a way to use my IIN education to help others.
I would have never had that confidence without IIN, without my classmates, without the conferences.
I would have never made so many connections, I would have never learned so much about my body and my mind, and I would have never been introduced to such incredible people in this industry.
I’d always heard that IIN would change my life, but I wouldn’t realize it until afterward. I’m still not quite finished so maybe I don’t know yet, but I do know that I am a more ambitious and passionate than I was when I started. And I suspect that those two things may lead to some MAJOR life changes down the road.
Disclaimer: I was asked to write a post on my experience with IIN, but all thoughts and words are my own.
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