Name: Valerie Green.
Job Title: Integrative Nutrition Health and Wellness Coach.
Salary Bracket: Always room for improvement.
Education Background: IIN (Institute of Integrative Nutrition) Diploma in Health and Wellness Coaching. Diploma in Business Management and Spanish from Loughborough University, UK.
Secondary School in Dubai and Midleton College, Co Cork.
Hobbies: I have embraced the amazing benefits of yoga and Pilates, and have always enjoyed going to the gym. I used to be a runner and took part in the Dubai Marathon. Split tendons in my ankle have put an end to that!
I love to travel and have been lucky to have lived in and visited many places. Now my two children are at university I have more time for reading. It could be a thriller, an autobiography or educational book such as Gut Diversity. It’s often varied, a bit like my taste in music.
Describe your job in five words: Results- driven, rewarding, challenging, insightful, satisfying.
Describe yourself in five words: Passionate, focused, fun, positive, organised (some may say borderline OCD).
Personality needed for this kind of work: You need to be a good listener and be able to create an ambience for safe, confidential rapport with your client. Empathetic and supportive, able to inspire and motivate too. Some clients need hand-holding and some a gentle push towards reaching their goals. I can be soft but I can also be kick ass, depending on the client.
How long are you doing this job? I fell into this line of work following two life-changing events. My father died from a heart attack and had been suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. Only four months later my husband suffered a life-changing stroke in 2016. He had a very stressful job and both lived busy, work-focused lives.
How did you get this job? Having previously worked as an estate agent and in finance on the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange in London, this job came about whilst I was looking to educate myself on nutrition and wellness in order to help my husband with his stroke recovery. He was in hospital for months and had to learn to walk and talk. He still has speech difficulties and one side of his body is weakened so I have a new role as his carer.
I also needed to manage my anxiety and take care of my children’s emotional wellbeing. They were in their final years of schooling with exams looming. My wake-up call happened when I suffered my first panic attack on a long haul flight. I honestly thought I was dying. The call went out for a doctor on board.
The realisation hit me that if something happened to me my family could fall apart. Self-care had to become a priority. As women, and more men these days, we are guilty of trying to juggle home life, careers, and family, at the expense of our own health.
A girlfriend told me about the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and I loved the course syllabus and the concept of coaching. You are not only educated on dietary theories, but also all aspects of wellness (spirituality, education, finance, relationships, career) and bio-individuality. What works for one person may not work for another and what worked for you once may not work for you now. I devoured the information on stress management and mental wellbeing and forced myself into the kitchen, learning to cook wholesome meals. I used to hate cooking and my family swears I could burn a salad. I am still a work in progress in that department but am finally finding pleasure in providing simple nutritious meals.
Once friends started seeing the positive changes I was making, word spread and I was asked for advice and help in order for them to reach their personal goals, so what started as a personal quest grew organically into a business.
I view my job as more of a passion than work. Seeing the positive changes clients make in reaching their goals with renewed energy, better focus and less stress is what lights me up. I feel my mission is to help people avoid burn out and the horrific health implications it can bring. Your Health is your Wealth and you are your most important capital.
Do you need particular qualifications or experience? You most certainly need a coaching qualification, as a particular type of skill set is required. Of course, you can always draw on ‘the school of life’ for experience, however coaching is a professional relationship, based on facilitating the client to gain clarity on achieving their goals through accountability and action with clear boundaries.
We all have the answers inside us but need a little help getting there.
Describe a day at work: Home is my work place. I like to wake early and once I’ve fed my animals I quickly check emails and like to get my daily exercise in. It may be a 45-minute gym class, pilates class or yoga session at home using an App from my phone. I follow it up with a meditation and then breakfast.
The remainder of the day entails social media posting, blog posting, working on my newsletter and client coaching calls and follow up emails. My husband sleeps a lot so I tend to do my running around in the mornings and work around his schedule in the afternoons. An afternoon dog walk and a night-time ritual help keep me balanced.
How many hours do you work a week? As I am self-employed it can vary depending on my clients’ schedules and working around my husband. I work mostly virtually, coaching 1:1 over 12 weeks. It takes time to make those changes and form new habits.
Is your job stressful? My role as a Health Coach and as a carer can certainly be challenging. We all have stress in our lives and a little stress is good for us. It’s when we are running at constant high levels of stress with sleep deprivation, and always feeling unwell that burn-out occurs. As women we have made substantial strides in the workplace, however our stress levels have increased and those of us in stressful jobs have an almost 40% increased risk of heart disease and a 60% greater risk of diabetes. Taking time out for self-care is non-negotiable if we want to remain creative and productive, and most importantly, happy and healthy. I manage my stress levels with morning and night-time routines and getting outside, appreciating nature. Showing gratitude and smiling. I am far from ‘hippy dippy’ but trust me; some of this stuff is really effective!
Do you work with others or on your own? I work mostly on my own but couldn’t do it without being part of a large, supportive online network of female entrepreneurs and health coaches. I have collaborated with fellow coaches and been invited on podcasts.
Collaboration is key to growth and continuous learning. I am also a member of the UK Health Coach Association.
When do you plan to retire or give up working? Not while there is still passion burning inside of me! I am on a mission.
Best bits? Seeing clients’ personal growth levels improve.
The flexibility of being able to work virtually and from home is a huge advantage. I can work around clients’ schedules, as often coaching calls happen outside their nine to five workplace, or in different time zones.
Worst bits? Sometimes you have to take two steps back to take one step forward and that can be frustrating.
Advice to those who want your job: As with any job, if it feels like work and not your passion, or doesn’t excite you, then don’t do it. Do your research, speak to others already in the role and get the appropriate qualifications. Work as an entrepreneur can be lonely with super-long hours and the buck stops with you! Weigh up the risks versus the rewards and your personality suitability for the job.