Kathy Whelan

Posted on June 03, 2017

When I first became interested in health coaching, I figured I was in a good position to help others. I exercised, ate well, and kept up with my medical appointments. Things were looking pretty good for me in my mid-sixties: I didn’t take any prescription meds and no joints needed replacing. Other people’s health worried me more than my own. The plan as I saw it: I would be the coach and others would be my clients.

A few surprises came my way the first day of my training at Duke Integrative Medicine. I realized I would not only coach but also be coached. And not on a fictional scenario but on an authentic health issue of my own. It did make sense to work on a real health problem, but what would that be? What needed fixing?

Soon I learned I was defining my “health” far too narrowly. Integrative medicine takes a very broad view of health and well-being. Rest, mindfulness, spirituality, personal and professional development, relationships and communication - these were areas to which I’d paid little attention. But they all affect our health in a very real way. I had to admit I had plenty of health issues to tackle.

I coached and was coached. Through the open-ended questions of my classmate-coaches, I developed a vision of my future health and explored the personal values connected with it. I began making discoveries I might never have made on my own: better sleep could benefit multiple areas of my health, relaxation and mindfulness techniques would serve me well, my work was not as fulfilling as I wanted it to be. I was struck by the value of small, personal, experimental steps and the ways of taking something positive from failure as well as from success. The integrative health coaching process, I learned, is suitable for just about anyone. It inspired me even more to start my own business helping people with all kinds of health problems.

But how to begin, I wondered. A friend who founded a very successful leadership coaching business had a lot of good ideas. She suggested coaching and referred me to someone I have been with ever since, Doe Kittay of Leap Coaching Group.

In our coaching relationship, Doe asks me the same kind of open-ended questions I encountered during my Duke program, and once again I am experiencing the power of working with a coach. The loneliness of beginning a business without a business partner, the discomfort of selling myself in a new way, my tendency to overlook my personal strengths, and my need to quiet the negative voices in my head – with her help, I have dealt with these issues and more. Knowing that professional development is a dimension of my health and well-being, I need to be sure my business is enhancing my health rather than stealing it from me. The challenges that seemed like steep mountains now seem, thanks to my coach, like rolling hills. And now, most days at least, I enjoy the climb.

I have several other coaches in my life as well. My fellow health coaches and I work together on our own issues as we practice our coaching. With these like-minded, like-hearted people, I’ve not only honed my coaching skills but also continued to improve my health.

As I think of my ideal health these days - not in the narrow sense in which I used to think of it, but in a fuller and more personally meaningful way - I now see it as a work in progress, which I expect it will always be. But I know I’m closer to ideal health now than ever before thanks to the power of coaching.

Let's Begin

To make your vision of ideal health your reality.
I am based in Boston, serving everywhere.

Register for a complimentary 20 minute consultation.