My Journey to Becoming a Health Coach
By Michelle Sala, Certified Integrative Health Coach
A lot of people wonder why I would quit a 20+-year career, a good paying job in college publishing, to start my own business as an integrative health coach. It really was a slow journey that began when I was in my middle 30s. I started to experience terrible acid reflux which was brought on by stress. It started as a lump in my throat and I constantly had gas and bloating issues. I really didn’t understand what was going on and I basically ignored it for years. The symptoms would come and go.
Then in my early 40s my symptoms returned with a vengeance and I decided to go see a doctor about it. I did not have any of the typical physical indications of someone with acid reflux. I was of normal weight, fit and could ride my bike a couple of hundred miles a week. The doctor prescribed Nexium to try for 4 weeks and sent me on my way. Nexium did nothing to alleviate my symptoms and this doctor recommended I go to a gastroenterologist. The GI doc prescribed Protonix and told me to return in 4 weeks. The only dietary recommendations that I can remember he gave me was to avoid the usual suspects – spicy foods, chocolate, alcohol. Well, guess what? The Protonix didn’t do anything either so he told me to take it twice a day! This dose took the edge off my discomfort but by no means made me feel better.
After another 4 weeks, the doctor ordered a barium x-ray that determined that I have a sliding hiatal hernia. What doctors don’t tell you (and may not even understand) is that the hiatal hernia is usually caused by other factors such as injury and prolonged pressure on the esophageal sphincter (the sphincter at the base of the esophagus that is supposed to prevent the contents of your stomach from backing up into your esophagus). This stomach pressure can be caused by too much belly fat, overeating, candida overgrowth, ulcers, and other factors.
Okay, so now I know I have a hiatal hernia but I don’t know why. How long am I supposed to take these PPIs (proton pump inhibitors like Nexium, Prevacid, and Protonix)? All I knew is that I didn’t want to take these for the rest of my life. They weren’t really helping anyway! With the help of my chiropractor, I made some dietary changes, started taking herbal supplements to help my digestion and weaned myself off the PPIs. You can’t just go off them cold turkey.
So, I felt pretty good for a while but the acid reflux would always come back in times of stress. I also had some other health complaints that people my age would ‘fix’ with a prescription for this and a prescription for that. Why are so many people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s (forget about beyond that) on so many prescriptions already? I spent many years going to dermatologists for this or that skin condition but did one of them every suggest any dietary changes? Guess what? My skin issues are connected to my digestive issues!
I finally was fed-up with dealing with doctors who take the typical western medicine approach of here is a prescription for that symptom. I had doctors for years tell me to go on a statin drug, which I never did. I’ve had dermatologists tell me I could take an antibiotic forever if I wanted to keep my skin clear. They don’t care that you constantly get yeast infections or UTIs – that’s not their body part to worry about. Guess what? All those years of antibiotics (and also Accutane) screwed up my gut and caused the hiatal hernia!
When I started to research natural solutions for my personal medical complaints, I found out that the body has the ability to heal itself if you give it the right food, water, supplements, air, and emotional support. I wanted to share what I was learning about how to heal our bodies with others. I know so many people that go from doctor to doctor with no real solutions. I also know so many people that have accepted the status quo of their particular condition and I know in my heart that they could feel so much better and reduce their meds if they just adopted for some simple healthy living strategies. And this is what I want to share with people.
There is a place for western medicine, like when you severe a limb. I can’t help you with that. But, we are missing out on the non-harmful benefits of various alternative healers like naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, herbalists, health coaches and more.
So, you don’t just put a shingle out in front of your door and tell that world that’s what you now are – an integrative health coach! I spent a year training to be a health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the world’s largest online nutrition school. I also took human anatomy at the local community college to better understand the structures of the human body. I read a lot on various health issues and different perspectives. I do not subscribe to one perfect diet plan. I believe in bio-individuality and what may be fantastic for one person, may be poison to another.
These are the reasons I became a health coach: To help frustrated people resolve their health problems naturally; To help people reduce their prescription meds by learning about what foods they may be intolerant to; To help people who have never been able to maintain weight loss to finally maintain it; To help people reduce joint pain naturally; To share what I’ve learned about resolving my own health struggles.
I hope you will consider me as health coach to help you navigate the confusing world of medical information that is out there. I can help you better work with your doctor to manage your chronic conditions. I will also recommend alternative healers and integrative doctors that can help you beyond what I can provide.
I consider my areas of specialty to be digestive issues and helping middle-aged women lose weight and maintain weight loss.
If you suffer from an auto-immune disease like type-2 diabetes, lupus, Crohn’s disease, or rheumatoid arthritis, you may be doing yourself a disservice by only working with your doctor. If your doctor has never suggested lifestyle or dietary changes and is only prescribing meds, you are not experiencing the kind of relief or remission that is possible for you.
It doesn’t matter where you live for me to help you. I serve many of my clients by phone or Zoom. Please contact me today for a free 50-minute consultation. I look forward to helping you achieve optimal health!
Integrative Health Coach