What is a Health Coach!?

My name is Orielan, and I am a Health Coach. Phew! That is hard to admit sometimes because I’m not what people think of when they hear that title. I am not super fit. I am not skinny. I am not vegetarian, or even gluten-free.

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What I AM is a real woman, living a real life, with real challenges. I am in my 40s. I have two school-aged children, a husband, many pets, and a part-time job with some responsibility. My kids have special challenges, my husband travels often for work, and we are not rich. So, basically, I’m like a lot of you out there, working hard and doing my best, day by day.

Let me tell you where I’m coming from…

I have always been interested in wellness and fitness. My upbringing regarding nutrition was a little more health conscious than average. My mother learned all she could about “health food” and vitamins, and made me aware of the link between lifestyle and disease at an early age. However, my mother had a lot of trouble with emotional eating, and regularly brought home boxes of sugary treats that we would devour in one sitting. Like many women in the 80s, she drank diet soda freely and loved the new trend of convenience (processed) foods. At the same time, my father and stepmother were invested heavily in their careers and became used to convenient food and a generous amount of wine and spirits.  From this, I got mixed messages growing up about how to fuel my body.

Still, as a young woman, I was fit and energetic and effortlessly thin. When I studied health coaching at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition I thought “I’ve totally got this!” I didn’t realize how effortless my good health and fit body were until I had my second child, my thyroid went haywire, and my mom got cancer. Those events rocked my world and tested my coping skills, which primarily consisted of keeping busy and eating emotionally satisfying foods. So I gained weight. I got frustrated. I felt defeated and hopeless. The challenges kept coming (kid’s food allergies and special needs, my mom’s death) and I slipped further down the hole of depression and poor health. I kept telling myself I knew what to do to “fix” myself and that I was just waiting for the right time to do something about it.

Well, the right time came and went, then came and went again, and again. It turned out that wasn’t really what I was waiting for. It wasn’t until I figured out what I really wanted the rest of my life to feel like that I started making better choices. I had to give up the ego-driven desire to look like I did at age 25 or to look like Jennifer Aniston in a skin-tight dress on the red carpet. I had to figure out my Why, my reason for changing.

It turns out that what I really, really want is to feel vibrant and alive and in love with life for the rest of my days. I want to have adventures and show my children what is important to me in the world. I want to have enough energy to accomplish the goals I have set for myself. I want to feel confident. I want to lose the distractions that an unhealthy body creates, and be fully ME and fully present with the people I love.


Isn’t that Real Beauty?

It is to me.


So now, having shed this layer of false ideals, it’s strangely easier to make healthy choices. I am able to easily apply what I know about food and lifestyle choices to allow my body to heal. I can even see a day when it may be effortless again. I feel good, I have more confidence, and I am excited about what comes next.

And so I am sharing what I have learned with you. I hope you will use this knowledge to lose the distractions of unhealthy choices and find your Why – the place from which your Real Beauty shines brightest.


In love and light.

Dani McDonaldComment