Health Coach Week: My health coaching journey so far

Health Coach Week My Health Coaching Journey so far FINALSince it’s the first annual Health Coach Week it’s the perfect time to share my health coaching journey so far and why I’m studying nutrition and health coaching with The Institute for Integrative Nutrition©, the world’s largest nutrition school.

I’ve always had a keen interest in food and nutrition. I love cooking and experimenting with different ingredients, cuisines and techniques. I never had any sort of food allergy or health major health related issue so when I was first diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD) in 2005 it came as a shock.

Now, after dealing with a decade of AITD, initially and short-term with Graves’ (hyperthyroidism) and long-term, currently with Hashimoto’s (hypothyroidism), I’m working hard to put Hashimoto’s into remission.

Following the birth of my second child the endocrinologist informed me with Hashimoto’s I would need to stay on thyroid medication for the rest of my life. In fact, this particular specialist and all the others I’d seen in the last decade never had any advice for dealing with the root cause of AITD, only treating with medication.

I was determined to educate and heal myself and began researching online to see what I could find out. I discovered The Institute for Integrative Nutrition© in New York and instinctively knew that studying nutrition and health coaching was going to part of my personal and professional development future. I was already a qualified life coach and it seemed to be the perfect fit.

I continued to trawl the Internet for anything I could find on treating Hashimoto’s. There was so much conflicting information relating to the thyroid, however I couldn’t ignore one key piece of research which was the gluten thyroid connection.

The molecular structure of gliadin, the protein portion of gluten, closely resembles that of the thyroid gland. When gliadin breaches the protective barrier of the gut, and enters the bloodstream, the immune system tags it for destruction. These antibodies to gliadin also cause the body to attack thyroid tissue. This means if you have AITD and you eat foods containing gluten, your immune system will attack your thyroid. Even worse, the immune response to gluten can last up to 6 months each time you eat it. – Chris Kesser

In truth I was seeking a reliable, validated source of information. I found a few articles written by U.S. based Health Coach, Jill Grunewald from Healthful Elements who had successfully put her Hashimoto’s into remission through food and natural therapies. Even better, she was co-author of a Hashimoto’s cookbook in development!

After conducting thyroid lab tests in June last year, my results came in and the thyroid antibodies were way off the charts. My remission pathway immediately began with total removal of gluten from my diet.

Although I had begun removing gluten from my diet earlier in 2014 I knew I needed support with this major life change of total gluten removal so it made sense to start my health coaching journey both in an educational and practical sense. I signed up for a 3 month health coaching program with Healthful Elements and started a 12 month study program with The Institute for Integrative Nutrition© to become a certified health starsWithout a doubt, working with a health coach gave me the support I needed to begin my Hashimoto’s remission journey. After 3 months of 1:1 sessions via Skype, I had completed a Hashimoto’s elimination diet, yeast cleanse and experienced weight loss. I had plenty of useful resources to refer to. The brain fog lifted and for the first time in years I started to feel better.

Additionally the study I’m doing with The Institute for Integrative Nutrition© is truly aligned with my personal health journey and my professional coaching skill development. The program’s holistic approach teaches about ‘Primary Foods’ including relationships, career, physical activity and spirituality along with educational content about nutrition, food, different types of diets, coaching techniques and specific topics like dealing with the gut and digestion.

As an Ambassador for The Institute for Integrative Nutrition© it gives me joy to be able to share my health coaching journey. The global community I’m studying with are diverse and inspiring. I encourage any like-minded, health-conscious people reading this who want to know more to reach out and say hello. You can also check out a free sample class here.

Although work with my own health coach is done for now, I’m grateful for that coaching opportunity and I’ll continue on my pathway to put Hashimoto’s into remission. I’m more confident than ever before of succeeding. You can read what Jill had to say about working with me in her testimonial.

I’ll update this post with any major developments and look forward to sharing a few of my favourite recipes and health coaching resources and tips.

I’d love to hear from you so if you have any stories to share relating to your personal health journey please leave a comment.

Update: 22 January, 2015

It’s been more than 6 months since I removed gluten from my diet so I went back to my local GP to conduct a round of thyroid blood tests. Specifically I wanted to see whether my thyroid antibody numbers had reduced.

The doctor was reluctant to do the tests and was adamant that Hashimoto’s couldn’t be put into remission through dietary and lifestyle changes. Apparently Medicare doesn’t cover additional blood tests even if Hashimoto’s autoimmunity is present, so if your thyroid is within the normal range they consider you to be healthy. Oh, and the ranges they use are outdated too. Go figure…

I was confident there would be a reduction in the antibody numbers after all the hard work and changes I had implemented and sadly the numbers were still way off the charts. To be honest I was devastated to get these results. Something is still attacking my body and I feel powerless – for now at least.

At the end of March I am booked in to see a respected local Naturopath to get further testing for heavy metal toxicity and a blood test for food allergies. If you’ve never looked at the symptoms for heavy metal toxicity they are very similar to Hashimoto’s. Even though I did a Hashimoto’s food elimination diet, there is always a chance I missed a subtle reaction to a reintroduced food. The only way to tell for sure is with more tests.

Through this experience, it’s become clearer to me there is something terribly wrong with a healthcare system full of GPs that don’t seem to be aware or interested in getting down to the root cause of a problem and how to fix it, only to prescribe medication as a band-aid solution. This is a where health coaching is so vital. People need support with their health journey and real support not something I’ve had from a doctor in a very long time.

I’ll be back with an update in April. Thanks for reading and please do share your feedback and your own health journey if you are inspired to do so. I’d love to hear from you.

2 thoughts on “Health Coach Week: My health coaching journey so far

  1. Hi Janelle! Just popping by your site for the first time, I found you on Instagram. I’ve just enrolled in IIN in January and am living the program so far! So interesting to hear about your health journey. Wishing you all the best for April!

    1. Hi Katie, lovely to hear from you and thanks so much for your comment on my blog post. IIN is a wonderful program – what made you sign up? I’m loving it too and awesome student community. I hope you will share your health coaching journey too as you progress through the course. Good luck and look forward to keeping in touch, Janelle

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