What Can You Do With a Health Coaching Certification?

Photo by Pure Style Photography

Photo by Pure Style Photography

Do you have a passion for health and wellness? Find yourself consumed reading all of the latest research about a superfood or health hack? Are you thinking about bringing some of this into your professional life and wondering how to boost your credentials?

If so, read on.

I get a lot of questions about how I chose my nutrition program and integrated it into my business. I’m sharing my experience in hopes that it helps you on your own journey! If you want to discuss this potential program/path or ask questions about anything that I don’t cover here, feel free to reach out and we can set up a one-on-one conversation.  

I’ve shared a bit about my wellness story before, but in a nutshell, I went from not taking great care of myself to rabbit-hole-ing on any and all information I could find. I wanted to learn more about the theories and science behind all of the conflicting information out there and to understand how there seemed to be so many dissimilar paths towards healthier and happier ways of living. I knew, though, that I didn’t want an experience that only focused on the hard science -  so, right there I knew I wasn’t going to pursue Nutritionist or Registered Dietician studies.

Here are a few of the reasons I chose the Institute for Integrative Nutrition:

  • They cover over 100 different dietary theories in the curriculum, and some of the speakers are experts in the field including: Deepak Chopra, MD, leader in the field of mind-body medicine, Andrew Weil, director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, Dr. David Katz, MD, MPH, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, Dr. Walter Willett, MD, DrPH, chair of nutrition at Harvard University, Mark Hyman, MD, founder of The UltraWellness Center, Geneen Roth, bestselling author and expert on emotional eating, David Wolfe, raw food leader and nutrition expert, Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, professor at New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, and WAY more! You can get a taste of the syllabus here, or sample a class here.
  • More than just western medicine principles, they also go in depth about wellness beyond what’s on your plate. For example, they discuss the idea of primary foods vs secondary foods. Your primary foods are things like your career, relationships, spirituality, and other non-food forms of nourishment which can all impact your wellness greatly. For me, this was a huge piece of what attracted me to IIN because many people know what foods and lifestyle habits are good for them, yet they still fail to incorporate them or feel unwell. I wanted to learn more about this concept and this program has an immense focus on it.   
  • They provide a plethora of coaching resources. If you do want to work as a health coach, they give you countless guides and handouts to use with clients, 6-month coaching program forms and resources, outlines and ideas for wellness workshops, and more. They also have mandatory coaching calls before you graduate to make you practice some of the skills in advance, ask questions, and learn from others in the program too.
  • The format is flexible to fit into a busy life. I was working full-time, just launching Aspire with Aileen and doing coaching on the side, completing a 200-hour yoga teacher training… and had a new puppy :) While I don’t recommend having that much on your plate at the same time in general, let alone when doing a program like this, it worked. A new module is released each week, but you have a grace period to complete the work if your life is extra hectic that given week.
  • Though it’s mostly online, you still build a community. The IIN network is HUGE, for better or worse, and the name is incredibly well known in the health world. I assumed since it’s a global program that I wouldn’t make many connections in Boston, but I’ve met people both during my time in the program as well as afterwards who have become good friends, and/or collaborators for wellness workshops! Most of the coaches I looked up to, followed, and learned from studied at IIN as well, so I knew that was a good sign.

What can you do with this certification?

Before investing in a program like this, you’re likely curious about career opportunities and how people use this training… and if not, this question will likely arise during your studies!

Some people do this program solely for their own learning and development. If you’re just curious about these topics or want to improve your own wellness, simply soaking up the knowledge for your own sake is certainly one option.

Many people begin that way, and then become inspired to incorporate what they’ve learned into their professional lives too. Here are some of the many paths you can take:

Become an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach.

This is the most “traditional” path that’s discussed throughout the program and where much of the training incorporated throughout the modules focuses. Some notable full-time coaches include Robyn Youkilis, Andrea Beaman, and Maria Marlowe.

Be on the wellness committee (or create one!) at your current place of employment.

American businesses lose $300 billion annually to lowered productivity, absenteeism, health-care, and related costs stemming from stress. Stress is the root cause of the majority of chronic illness. Offering workshops and programs that address these health concerns and reduce stress benefits both the employer and employee, and this is becoming more of a common practice these days. You can influence decisions around wellness programming, or offer to run sessions yourself!   

Integrate this coaching into other areas of a business.

Many graduates combine health coaching with yoga, acupuncture, life coaching, (or career coaching like me!), business coaching, or other services instead of having it be the focus of all of their attention. You can find tons of examples (I'd say the majority!) of graduates doing this.

Create products.

You may already know this, but if not, you’ll soon learn that what we put on our bodies also has a big influence on our health. IIN Grad Adina Grigore created a super successful product line S.W. Basics.

Elizabeth Stein wrote “start a natural foods company” on her notebook while at IIN and now is Founder and CEO of Purely Elizabeth, which is the #1 selling granola in the natural food space. These are just two examples of how graduates used their education to create something innovative.

Create change.   

Some graduates go on to work to create change in our food systems. For example, Amy Kalafa created a movie and a movement to create healthy and sustainable food options in schools.

Do an advanced search on LinkedIn to see others!

There are so many potential paths, and what may sound appealing to you is dependent on your own values, interests, background/skills and more. I recommend doing an advanced search on LinkedIn to see what others have done and explore other ideas/people to speak with to inform your decision.

Additional paths/options:

What next?

I hope this post has given you some insight into what the Institute for Integrative Nutrition program entails, some of the related career options, and how to learn more before making a decision. In summary, I’d recommend reviewing the certification (perhaps looking at the curriculum), doing some self-reflection/exploration on what your goals are/what you’re hoping to get out of the program, and if everything sounds good, then sign up*!

If you do enroll and mention you were referred by me Aileen Axtmayer, I’m an Ambassador of the school so you’ll receive significant savings! Let me know when you’ve done so and I’ll gift you four free 30-minute coaching / mentorship calls to support you throughout the program and while you explore ways to integrate this into your career. These sessions can be used at any point in your program and up to 6 months post-graduation.

I’d be happy to be a sounding board for you and to point you to additional coaching resources to help you get wherever it is you’d like to go.

*If you do enroll and use my name, be sure to email me to get you set up with the free coaching!*

Additional Resources

In addition to what IIN provides, and my mentoring if you do enroll, there are many other resources available to support you both throughout and after completing the program. Two examples include:

  • Healthy Profit University: Michelle graduated from IIN and not only has a successful health coaching practice, but also a business coaching program to help other health coaches get their businesses off of the ground. I'd be happy to speak more about her program (I'm an affiliate) and you can see the syllabus through the link. I completed her program and found it incredibly helpful for everything from refining my target market to managing the nitty gritty technological components of setting up lists, programs, and offerings.  
  • Melissa Danielle has a podcast "Grow Yourself, Grow Your Health Coaching Business" which provides a lot of information to aspiring or current health coaches. We did an episode together about the business side of coaching, but we also got to speak again about why loving your work matters

Good luck with this exciting decision!

Gifts of Health and Happiness

Trying to decide what to buy for your friends and family? I compiled a list of items all oriented to help your loved ones live healthier and happier lives. This guide is intended for the holiday season, but you can use it any time of year when shopping for birthdays, client gifts, a housewarming, or other occasions, too! 

As always, I only recommend products and services that I’ve personally tried. So, if you have any questions or need clarification on anything, please feel free to ask. Happy Holidays and wishing everyone a wonderful year ahead.

boston career coach

Kitchen Gadgets + Healthy Swaps:

Many people know to avoid plastic water bottles (they ALL leech chemicals into your water), but they don’t feel like spending money to upgrade their own. Glass or stainless steel are both great options. For a commuter, I’d go with the steel as it’s lighter.

Two of my favorites: BKR Bottle (glass) and Steel Vacuum Insulated Bottle – keeps it hot for 12 hours or cold liquids cold for 24 hours.

A reusable bottle can save coffee and tea drinkers time and money as well. Kleen Kanteen comes in different sizes, colors, and lid styles.

Coffee is one of the most heavily pesticide sprayed crops, so if you’re looking to put together a gift bundle, add some organic coffee to the mix. I like to shop locally, and my favorite coffee shop in Boston is Polcari’s Coffee in the North End (their Organic Mexican blend is fantastic, and they do online orders too).

Opting for organic tea is beneficial as well. My favorite brand is Traditional Medicinals (try green tea with ginger). Whole Foods has a huge selection or if you’re local to Boston, Cambridge Naturals has a lot as well (along with gift boxes that are great ideas too!). For the Type A gift recipient, a tea organizer will be a big hit.

Or, buy some loose tea and get a French Press which can be used for either coffee or tea. Espro is pricier but is the BEST press I’ve found (no rogue coffee grinds in your cup because of the double filter), comes in a few sizes, and looks nice on your countertop.

Lastly, get an electric kettle to speed up the brewing process. It heats water in seconds and is our most frequently used kitchen appliance (we drink hot water with lemon each morning, and after big meals).

boston career coach


Maybe I’m just a health nerd, but I love a good cookbook! Having recipes in your hands vs. spending more time staring at screens (and then forgetting where the recipe is next time) makes cooking more relaxing. Some of my faves:

  • For the kitchen newbie: Minimalist Baker only has recipes that are either 30-minutes or less, use one bowl, or use less than 10 ingredients (sometimes all three!). They’re all plant-based and mostly gluten-free. Try the taquitos!
  • For the meat lover: NomNom Paleo has incredibly flavorful meals and a fun personality. Try the slow cooker chicken or cauliflower rice.    
  • For the vegan with some cooking skills: Oh She Glows has gorgeous photography and delicious meals, but some are more involved. Try the tomato soup!

Add an extra touch by including a cookbook holder so you don’t have to touch the pages with dirty hands – this is a game changer! They have some styles with a splashguard so if your person is extra messy I’d recommend one of those 😊

boston career coach

Additional Kitchen Staples:

For leftovers, help your loved ones avoid plastic again by upgrading them to glass Tupperware. We got this Pyrex set as a wedding gift and had to buy a second set because we loved them so much. For smaller leftovers (and a lighter option), these Stasher bags are fun, plastic free, and better for the environment.

Life is all about balance, so here’s something for the wine lovers! I wrote about what’s in your wine glass, and highly recommend gifting Dry Farm Wines for a bigger gift. You can get a bottle for a penny to start! Opting for organic or “paleo” wine decreases the headaches, hangovers, and interrupted sleep that can come with wines filled with additives. We’ve gotten deliveries of both red and white over the last 6+ months and have really enjoyed it.

Want to stock up on healthy pantry staples while giving back to those in need? A Thrive Market subscription is $59.95 and grants you access to products at 25-50% off retail prices (!!) and your first order has an additional discount. When you become a member, you’re also sponsoring a free membership for a low-income family. Win win.

boston career coach

Self-Care Supplies:

For the Mind:

Headspace is an amazing meditation app and offers everything from quick 2-minute sessions to thematic packs/sequences (such as stress, sleep, pregnancy, cancer, and more). It makes meditating accessible and approachable… and it’s like a gym membership for your mind. A subscription is a great way to give someone the gift of greater physical, mental, and emotional health.

For the Soul:

Encourage self-reflection and/or a gratitude practice through the gift of “The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes A Day” or grab another of the many journals out there. If he/she is thinking about changing jobs/careers, you can purchase my 20-Page Self-Assessment Guide to help them learn more about themselves and how their values, interests, personality, and skills align with career paths (on sale until 2018).

For the Body:

An example of using blocks in a stress-reducing pose. Want other stretching tips for the office and home? Grab my free guide here.

An example of using blocks in a stress-reducing pose. Want other stretching tips for the office and home? Grab my free guide here.

A simple yoga strap or yoga blocks are gifts that keep on giving. There’s a set with both on sale (as of this post) here, too. To note: pay attention to the strap length when purchasing for taller people. Choose between cork and foam for the blocks – I prefer cork since it’s more natural and then you have the option to do abs with them but both are excellent for overall use.

Did you know that beeswax candles purify the air? Upgrade from toxic candles to these beauties, or achieve a similar purifying effect through a Himalayan salt lamp. (I have two of these in our bedroom + one from Thrive Market in my office as they help protect you from EMF radiation).

boston career coach

Want to keep the clean home vibe going? Essential oils can be diffused to purify the air too. If your gift receiver already has an oils collection, you can purchase a diffuser (one can never have too many diffusers – I keep one in my bedroom, one in the living room, and one in the office… and am eying a car diffuser! #byeroadrage). The most effective one I have is this one from doTERRA (get 25% off retail price when ordering through me!).

Essential oils can also be used for countless other self-care purposes (including stress, sleep, energy). You can purchase a single oil or an entire kit, depending on how much you’re looking to gift. In addition to 25% off, as a bonus for ordering through me, I’m throwing in a free wild orange oil with any purchase before 2018 (email me with questions or to let me know you’ve ordered and I’ll mail you your freebie!).

If you’re feeling energetic, and you have oils yourself, you can DIY some gifts for cheap! I’ve made this body scrub and given it to friends before.

Or, buy some bath salts with essential oils already in them to keep it simple. My favorites are these Sleep Salts rose hips and eucalyptus soaks. Most people are magnesium deficient so this is a really multi-purpose gift!

Need to go bigger? Combine a bunch of these into a spa basket – a few essential oils, bath salts, bubbles, and candles!


A cooking class could be a fun way to both get to enjoy your gift! It’s been on my list for some time (hint hint, hubby) but I haven’t done any yet so I can’t share a specific recommendation.

A fitness class package or yoga classes can be another creative idea, especially if your person has been meaning to try somewhere or has run out of classes themselves. I can’t recommend Exhale Spa in Boston enough!

…Speaking of spa, most people I know wouldn’t complain about a spa gift certificate either. Buy yourself a treatment too and make it a shared activity.

boston career coach

Last but certainly not least, did you know that Aspire with Aileen gift certificates are available?

Give the gift of holistic career or health coaching to help your loved one achieve their personal and professional goals. You can throw in one of my (free) guides with it to get him/her started on the right track before we even meet. A 90-minute career coaching session (+ free 30-minute consultation) is only $95! Reach out to get yours today.

Happy Holidays! 


This page contains affiliate links. I may receive some small monetary compensation for some of the products or services here. I strictly only recommend/endorse products and services that I personally have experience with, believe in, and stand behind. Thank you for supporting my small business!

4 Essential Steps to Find Work You Love (+ exciting announcement!)

If you get my newsletter, this isn't new information for you (Want to hear news first and get access to freebies? The form is at the bottom of the page!). For the rest of the world, I have an exciting announcement. Last week, I ran a webinar "4 Essential Steps to Find Work You Love" and officially opened registration for something big! 

My Favorite Resume Loophole

Writing a resume can be challenging. My clients often come to me with these three common concerns:

  • Is it too long? If I delete something that’s less relevant to save space, will employers think there’s a gap?
  • I do have an employment gap. How do I make it less noticeable?
  • I’m changing roles/fields and something from years ago is now more relevant than my most recent work experience. How do I get that to stand out more?

There is, amazingly, ONE solution for all three of these. The answer, and my favorite resume loophole, is this...

4 Reasons You’re So Tired (and what to do about it)

Do you hit the snooze button four times before peeling yourself out of bed? Daydream about stealing a quick nap under the conference table during that afternoon meeting? Don’t feel like a real human until you’ve have a certain number of cups of coffee?

These trending images and messages of the sentiment “but first coffee” are cute, but they point to the bigger question at hand… why are we all so tired?!

Slow Down to Up Your Productivity

Do you ever notice that some of your clearest or most creative thinking happens in the moments you least expect it? Perhaps in the shower or right as you’re falling asleep?

In our society, we’re taught to “suck it up” or “power through” to get to these thoughts. If you’re stumped on a problem or have writer’s block, the common solution that’s encouraged is chugging coffee or chaining yourself to your desk until all hours of the night until something changes.

This is completely counterintuitive and science shows it’s actually the most inefficient way to achieve your objectives.

Flow + All About Aspire

I'm working on something REALLY exciting that I'm planning to launch this fall, and because of that I'll be doing a few blog posts per month instead of a weekly edition.

When I started to put pen to paper on this new idea for Aspire with Aileen, I found I was completely enthralled and in a total state of flow (and I'm not talking about a "yoga flow" in this case!).

If you've never heard of this concept, here are two great articles to get you up to speed.

What's In Your Wine Glass?

One of the assumptions I’ve noticed people have when I tell them I’m a health coach is that they assume I never drink. While my habits have certainly changed since my college days (phew!), I still enjoy the sound of the cork popping when opening a wine bottle and the after dinner lingering and conversation that ensues with friends and family.

Many of my clients have constant work events where wine is served, and they’d like to have a glass, but they’re not sure if “it’s okay” (we also talk about how to manage the multitude of not-so-nutritious food choices at those things!).

When it comes to “indulging,” for most things I’m an advocate of moderation, not restriction, as long as people are making their decision mindfully.

You Are What Your Skin Eats, Too

To be completely honest (as always), what I’m about to share is information I sometimes wish I’d never learned. It’d be much easier to trust that if something is sold that it’s been tested and proven to be safe.

I was shocked and disappointed when I found out that this isn’t the case. As I learned more, I’ve moved from disappointed to angry. I share this not to scare you or judge you if you use any of these products. I also don’t want to sound like the crazy crunchy girl in the corner, but I’m willing to risk that to raise awareness because of my mission: to help exhausted professionals restore their energy, feel like their best selves, and do what they love.

Around Negative People? 6 Strategies to Protect Your Energy

A reader recently asked me to write a post about dealing with negative people. If there are topics you’d like to see, you can always reach out and let me know! 

Regardless of the setting, whether it’s a colleague, friend, or family member, being around people who have a consistent negative disposition is a challenge. There are many types of negative people, and many ways they can behave that are challenging. Some common examples include: glass half empty mindset, passive aggressiveness, constant drama or gossiping, perpetual worrying, complaining, or guilt tripping… and there are plenty of other ways this can manifest.

Job Search Resilience

Other than balancing a job search with everything else going on in your life, one of the hardest parts of looking for a new position is keeping your spirits up throughout the duration of the often-tedious process.

Whether it’s deafening silence from employers or making it to the final round of interviews only to not be selected, the experience can certainly take a toll on your confidence.

Answering Negative Interview Questions

Interviewing can be stressful enough, let alone when a prospective employer asks you a question that brings up some negative emotions.

Common interview questions where this may happen include:

  • Why are you leaving your current position?
  • What did you like least about your most recent role/company?
  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a colleague/client/customer.
  • Tell me about a time when you failed.
  • What’s a weakness of yours?

Stress: Why it Matters and What to Do About It

I recently led a yoga workshop called "From Stressed to Savasana." When preparing the content for the post-yoga flow discussion, I took a step back to examine the importance of managing this common emotion. 

We all know that constantly feeling stressed doesn’t feel good. But other than not enjoying the way it feels, why is it so important to address?

Because the majority of disease is linked to stress. Over 80% of visits to doctors are stress related, yet only 3% of the time is stress management covered (source). 


We have a biological predisposition to think negatively- it's a protective device our ancestors used to avoid threats. This default mode of thinking doesn't serve us as well these days in either our personal or professional lives. It leads us to think poorly of ourselves, doubt our abilities, and expect the worst of others. This energy can be toxic to ourselves (both physical and mental health) and those around us.

The good news is research shows we can rewire ourselves to default to positive thoughts- we just have to train our brains.

5 Simple Healthy Travel Tips

It’s almost summer! This upcoming season brings a lot of change in routines and mindsets. We may notice a slower pace at work with colleagues taking vacation or may be traveling more ourselves.

Many of my clients, trying to commit to healthier habits, get stressed when it comes to travel time. One client does a lot of driving on a weekly basis for his role in recruiting, and other than being concerned about sitting so much, he worries about finding nutritious meals on the go.

Whether you’re traveling for work conferences or family vacations, here are some tips to keep those healthy habits at the forefront of your mind!