Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Value of Coaching

You may ask, “I’ve read so much about why becoming vegan or vegetarian is great for your health, animals, the environment and your wallet…but how do you do it? Where do you start?” 
I get this question daily. You would think that in a world with so much information on the Internet and Amazon, it would be super easy. When I almost died of a colon blockage in 33 years ago, I ran to the health food store and read all 5 books on fiber. That’s all there was at the time.   

The problem now is there is almost too much information. What I hear from clients is that information overload almost paralyzes them. People say they are reading so much they don’t know where to start because of divisions within “the vegan camp.” Oil or no oil is one controversy that sometimes turns people off from even starting. I heard a speaker recently dis the doctor/speaker right before her saying that his position in favor of consuming added oils was wrong. “He’s just a little doctor, and I follow a much bigger doctor and he’s right.” I thought, “Wow, if I were sitting in the audience considering how to go vegetarian or vegan, how would I know what direction to turn. I would be confused.”
You can certainly immerse yourself in the many great vegan books out there. Or you can attend “immersion” weekends that exist throughout the year to jumpstart your journey. Attending a VegFest will give you a literal taste of the veg lifestyle with yummy foods and more information.
But if you are looking at taking baby steps, working with a vegan lifestyle coach can be helpful too. The advantage of hiring someone is that hopefully, the coach can help identify your goals and get you there easily and quickly.
One of the nicest evaluations I ever got when I was a cooking instructor for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s The Cancer Project was, “It would take me a lifetime to know what she knows.” When you hire a lifestyle coach, it is to tap into that storage house of knowledge. Hopefully, the coach has made enough mistakes so you won’t make the same ones. A coach should be able to guide you in a way that fast tracks and helps you avoid common pitfalls.
What to look for? How can you tell if a coach is right for you? It is important to look at background, experience, education and certifications.
I mention my 6 years of teaching PCRM’s cooking classes because of all the things I’ve done, it was the best training and a huge learning experience for my students and me. Instructors went to a weekend training, but most of them were drawn to the program like I was…we had been informally teaching others for decades. Of all the certifications and training I have, nothing trained me better for vegan lifestyle coaching than prepping and cooking two classes a day, sometimes 5 days a week, for 60 people.
My biggest success was Corkie Carlson, who lost 120 pounds in 8 weeks, never counting a calorie. She had multiple myeloma, one of the more fatal forms of bone cancer. 8 years later, I still hear from her how well she is doing and is still “a raving vegan.” The local newspaper was so impressed with her before and after pictures, they did a story.
One thing we were taught in our training…to never say or imply that we were dieticians or registered dieticians, if we were not. We could use the phrase “vegan lifestyle coach.” There are some dynamic and educated registered dieticians who are vegan and instruct clients how to eat a healthful vegan diet. But they are few and far between.
One of the reasons I obtained my personal trainer and running coaching certifications was to allow me in that capacity, to at least ask clients to submit a food diary. I am always amazed when I talk to a client for the first time, she’ll say, “Oh I eat healthy.” Then when she gives me the 3-day food diary with a laugh, she reconsiders, “OK, well maybe I don’t eat so healthfully.” Remaining accountable, realistic and honest with yourself is one thing a coach can help you do.
Don’t be afraid to ask your coach what certifications, training and even athletic accomplishments he/she has. Why is that important? Because it shows more than just book knowledge, your coach has walked the talk over a lifetime. It shows a level of commitment that can help you achieve your goals. Maybe your goal is to simply walk in a 5K race knowing that in the weeks before, you got enough protein and energy to address critics who might have said, “You can’t do that.” Or maybe you just want to eat a vegan diet simply to know you are helping a few animals avoid slaughter.
It’s also important to know the difference between “certified” and “getting a certificate.” Certification includes an experience and education component and requires passing an exam. It allows a practitioner to put letters after his or her name (AFAA, RRCA). In addition, certification requires recertification, which ensures that practitioners stay current in their field through continuing education. A certificate program typically indicates attendance or completion of a course or series of courses with a specific focus.
Often coaches will offer a free half-hour session just to see if it’s a good fit. During that session, you can ask how the coach will help you identify and achieve your goals. Coaching so often, is about listening. You can tell in that session, how well the coach hears what you want to achieve and the probabilities of that happening. 
Read more about Koach Ellen at

10 100 calorie foods!

1.       Baked Potato (1 small (1-3/4” to 2-1/2” diameter) = 100 calories)

2.      Low-Fat Cheddar Cheese (2 (1-ounce) cubes = 100 calories)
3.      Dried Figs (5 = 100 calories)

4.      Pistachios (22= 100 calories)

5.      Brussels Sprouts (12 raw = 100 calories)

6.      Shrimp (Steamed or Boiled) 13 large = 100 calories

7.      Dry Roasted Cashew Halves (15 pieces = 100 calories)

8.      Celery (16 Ribs = 100 calories)

9.      Pretzels (21 Unsalted Minis = 100 calories)

10.  Baby Carrots (28 = 100 calories)