For the past six years I have worked as a college tennis coach at both the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. For a long time it was a dream job. I was active and motivated and I got paid to do what I loved every day. Being involved in athletics, I have always been attuned to health and nutrition and how they could influence performance, but it was not until three years ago that I started to learn more about the food industry and how it is affecting the health of our nation as a whole. The more I learned, the more appalled I was at the way things are and the consequences of our collective actions.
Our nation’s health as a whole is in need of a major change. We spend more money on health care than any other country in the world but we are walking around with more heart disease, diabetes, and cancer every day. It is easy to turn a blind eye to the problem and make excuses for yourself and for everyone else. But instead of letting that happen, I became inspired. My nights looking up tennis players and rankings turned into nights researching food, nutrition, and policy. Over time I grew more passionate about nutrition than tennis, and after careful consideration I decided to leave my job and enroll at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I am studying to become a certified health coach.
This was a scary decision for me since I am supporting myself and living in New York City. However, I have faith that passion and hard work can make a dream a reality. In some ways, the two jobs are not that different. Coaching of any kind involves motivating, educating, and inspiring people to make change. As a health coach I will advise clients on how to integrate healthy choices into their lives by educating and supporting them through a program tailored to their specific needs. Those who need to lose weight will, while those who do not will find a renewed sense of energy, clearer skin, better sleep, better digestion, and fewer sick days.
While everyone’s dietary needs are different, here are a few tips that benefit everyone.
#1. Drink more water to crowd out other sugary beverages
#2. Eat more green vegetables like kale, collards, and spinach.
#3. Reduce processed and packaged foods – start cooking!
#4. Limit sugar and sugar substitutes
#5. Reduce meat and dairy consumption and spend that extra money to buy organic and local.
My own diet is by no means perfect, but when I started to make these changes I saw a noticeable positive shift in my skin, health and energy. I promise that if you gradually try some of these suggestions you will truly feel better and be inspired by your own success.
My decision to devote my professional life to helping others get healthy has made me healthier and happier. I have a renewed sense of passion and excitement for life and I feel a true sense of joy when I tell friends and strangers alike about what I am doing. The support and encouragement I receive every day has been all the motivation I need to fully commit to this new stage in my career and new chapter in my life.