HOW I BECAME A CERTIFIED HOLISTIC HEALTH AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE PRACTITIONER
I started this blog in 2015. I've shared a lot of my story on this platform and many others. Yet I still receive many requests to share more about specific aspects of my lifestyle and career. How I make an income for myself, how I started my at-home business working as a holistic health coach, where I studied alternative medicine and how I became a drugless practitioner take up a bulk portion of those requests.
So here we go.. I'm a bit of a story teller. Bare with me or scroll down to the bottom for details on how you can earn your own certification.
MY COLLEGE EDUCATION
If you've been following my journey (or reading my blog since 2015,) you may know that I moved to Hawai'i at 19 on a solo journey to attend college at University of Hawai'i. Being entirely truthful and transparent, I had very little desire to attend college. Technically, when I moved to Hawai'i, I was a college transfer student. I had graduated high school 6 months early on Long Island, New York in 2012 and flew to the Seychelles Islands (a string of 115+ islands 1,000 miles off the coast of Madagascar) with Global Visions International for a marine conservation and coral preservation study abroad trip for 5 months. While I was on the islands, I essentially had to choose a college I wanted to attend in the fall and e-mail my mother my decision from a very grubby internet cafe. I had applied to an insane amount of colleges in Florida (maybe 12 or 13? I couldn't be bothered to be too picky) where I imagined I would be able to spend my weekends in the Florida Keys scuba diving and snorkeling with my very cute, very exotic cuban boyfriend (who of-course didn't exist, yet.) I heard back from the schools that had accepted me and made my decision to attend Florida International University for Marine Biology come the fall semester. My mother sent in a final acceptance letter on my behalf and I continued my blissed out days under the African sun falling in love with ocean conservation and the warm Seychellois waters.
When it was time to pack my dive gear and moldy damp clothes into my rucksack and leave the Seychelles, I brainstormed every possible solution to my very serious problem - I could not leave this place. I didn't want to go anywhere else. Not home to NY and not to Miami, Florida to attend college either. I was very content with my dark chocolate tanned skin and 100+ logged scuba dives under my belt. College already appeared to be a inconvenience to the flexibility and solace that was my current life situation.
Unfortunately, as most 18 year old girls with a whopping $16.50 remaining dollars in their saving's accounts do, I flew back home to live with my parents for a few months and enjoy the luxury of rent free living (ahh the jubilance.) I worked all summer teaching over-priced swim lessons to over-priced families in New York and then flew south to attend my first semester of college in the fall. If I attempt to reflect on my first semester of college in Miami, it sort've feels like I browned out for solid 4 months or so - which is a very good possibility considering the amount of partying I was participating in. I woke up tired, went to class, went to the library, sat on the computer, used all of my food card dollars on coffee and boba tea, went to spin class and then went home to binge watch some new series on Netflix or go out to some campus party/downtown club. It was a 360 rotation from my enriching life just 4 months ago. I rarely spent time at the beach, didn't dive for weeks on end and had trouble staying authentic to myself and my passions in such a conformed environment.
DROPPING OUT OF COLLEGE PART 1
By the time winter break finally arrived, I knew I wasn't going to last. I flew home for the holidays and packed as much of my belongings into my suitcase as possible. A "pre-move out" if you will. I sat both of my parents down at our living room table for breakfast one morning (my parents have been divorced and living apart since I was 4 years old, so this required significant effort) and explained to them that college in Miami was no longer serving me or my needs. It didn't go over easy, to say the least. By the end of our conversation my tears (there were many) and heartfelt justification of why I wanted to leave college worked its magic. Fortunately. My parents were going to support me leaving Miami, as long as I found a new college to attend by the upcoming fall. Wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, but felt good enough for me at the time.
So I celebrated New Years in New York and then flew back to Miami by myself to "get in and get out." I hauled a** in that dorm room. Let me tell you. I was in Miami for a total of 48 hours. I packed up every last belonging, de-pinned all 100 posters off my dorm room walls, dropped out of my college courses from the computer and said goodbye to the few friends who happened to be on campus that day. I flew back home to New York immediately and starting working full time while I researched other, (better) college locations. I met up with my high school guidance counselor (many mahalos to Mrs. Ritz who is an absolute gem) and asked her if anyone from my high school had attended college in Hawaii? She told me yes, two surfer boys in the grades above me had moved to Hawai'i in the recent years - Yup. That was good enough information for me.
I sat my parents down again, explained that I was going to apply to college at University of Hawai'i and held my breath as I awaited their response. They were (un-shockingly) not so ecstatic of the idea. Hawaii is too far they said, "you've never even been before," "we won't be able to afford to fly you back home for holidays," etc. etc. Eventually they warmed up to the idea after I explained to them how whole-heartedly excited I was to study with their marine biology department and showed them my acceptance letter. Soon enough, I was packing my bags yet again and buying a one way flight to O'ahu. I started at UH as a part-time student, while working as a nanny full-time with the intention of applying to become a Hawai'i state resident by the end of the year. I had to earn a certain amount of money on the books, show proof of long term employment and proof of residency before being granted official residency which would allow me to enroll as an "in-state student" at the university. Gaining residency over the course of a year slowed the whole "get as many college credits done as possible" process down a lot , but Hawai'i is in no rush at any time, and neither was I.
DROPPING OUT OF COLLEGE PART 2
I loved my first few years living in Hawai'i. It is ... fragile to speak about in-depth online. Mainly out of my appreciation and respect for the locals and Native Hawaiians who have had so much taken away from them and seen so much devastation of their lands and oceans over the last 50 years. And also because, I am not a Hawaiian and never will be. The islands are seeing tremendous increases in population, tourism and pollution each year, and me promoting my free-spirited move to the islands on such a popular platform doesn't help anyone - and most certainly doesn't help the well-being of the islands, as I've been told time and time again over harsh email and DM messages.
Once I enrolled full time at UH the college grind started to take its toll on me yet again. I was studying biology, struggling to stay afloat of the school work and uninspired by so much of the curriculum that was being taught to me. I had always been an out of the classroom, hands on learner, and the only thing I was getting my hands on at UH was out-dated, second-hand text books. Although biology and marine conservation were monumental passions of mine, I was beginning to fall in love with nutrition and dietary health on the side - diving into plant based veganism and gobbling up all of the nutrition/ self health books I could get my hands on. Hawaii supported my healing tremendously.
I swapped my major to Food Science and Human Nutrition and was... disappointed yet again. Plain and simple, the information I was being taught was out-dated and incorrect. I literally remember a professor who had her PhD in nutritional science give a two day lecture on why "milk consumption promotes healthy bone growth and cell renewal due to it's high levels of calcium and phosphorus." I think I laughed aloud in the classroom and stood up in my seat to take a generous gulp of my morning green smoothie before stomping out the front door of the lecture hall. I couldnt believe I was taking out student loans for this. Can you say "government funded brainwashing" please?
As the college semesters went on, so did my desire to branch out and experience something different. I was fully consumed by the world of health and wellness by this point. Watching hours of YouTube Videos online each week, listening to audiobooks on plant based health and detoxification, and experimenting with new super foods and raw vegan recipes in my kitchen. I started @SaltSandandSmoothies Instagram account and was running multiple free "21 Day Vegan Challenge" groups on facebook to inspire my friends and family back home to be more considerate of the foods they were welcoming into their bodies. I also spoke with my best friend, as well as my favorite holistic healer/ naturopathic doctor in New York and was referred by both of them to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, an online school based out of NYC. According to them, Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) would support a much more intense and in-depth learning experience for my love of all things healthy and whole.
STUDYING AT THE INSTITUTE FOR INTEGRATIVE NUTRITION
So that was it then. I was going to find a way to make this happen. I did my research on IIN and discovered it was (and still is) the largest nutrition school in the world. Through its online learning platform, Integrative Nutrition has provided a global learning experience for over 100,000 students in over 150 countries worldwide. I signed up for a payment plan and enrolled as soon as I possibly could.
I was still a full time student at UH when I began my schooling with IIN. I would *patiently* sit through lectures and classes on campus at UH and then rush home as soon as possible to sit down and enjoy IIN classes and work on my coursework and modules online. College was quickly beginning to feel like that one job you had that you really didn't like, but you were hesitant to quit because you were like "well I already work here." It was convenient to stay in the flow of classes and campus requirements, but it wasn't comfortable or fulfilling.
At IIN, I felt that the curriculum was fresh, wide spread and unbiased. Their online school provided so much information on foods/health regimes/lifestyles from around the globe. I learned so much about so many world-wide dietary theories and beliefs. A majority of their curriculum is based on primary and secondary foods. Which is probably something you have not heard of before... Let me elaborate further.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY FOODS
(I stole this excerpt from the IIN website. Thought it was quite dope.)
At Integrative Nutrition, we have a philosophy about food—it’s that everything we consider as a source of nutrition is really just a secondary source of nourishment. The foods you eat are secondary to all the other things that feed you—your relationships, career, spirituality, and exercise routine. Those are the things we call primary foods. All that we consider today as nutrition is really just a secondary source of energy.
Think back to a time when you were passionately in love. Everything was exciting. Colors were vibrant. Intimacy was magical. Your lover’s touch and feelings of exhilaration sustained you. You were floating on air, gazing into each other’s eyes. You forgot about food and were high on life. Remember when, as a child, you were playing outside, having fun? Suddenly, your mother announced dinner was ready, but you were not hungry at all. The passion of play took all of your attention. Sometimes we are fed not by food but by the energy in our lives.
These moments and feelings demonstrate that everything is food. We take in thousands of experiences in life that can fulfill us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We hunger for play, touch, romance, intimacy, love, achievement, success, art, music, self-expression, leadership, excitement, adventure and spirituality. All of these elements are essential forms of nourishment. The extent to which we are able to incorporate them determines how enjoyable and worthwhile our lives feel.
I love that.
During my year long schooling at IIN I able to connect with class mates from around the world and work with multiple health professionals both on the phone and over the web. Although I was enrolled at IIN while attending college, I (somehow) made it work wonderfully. It was effortless, because I was excited. The coursework was flexible and easy to handle for a hyper-motivated Capricorn like myself. It also worked really well with my constantly changing schedule. Living in Hawai'i and creating a "set schedule" is borderline impossible. Your day changes with the tropical weather, ocean tides and winter swell. I loved that I could enjoy IIN early in the morning before a hike with friends or late at night after finishing a college assignment. The schooling was modern and adaptable. IIN's curriculum is constantly being updated and advised so new information is being added to modules each month. Once I graduated from IIN, I began coaching immediately (only two clients at first.)
Soon after, I made the very difficult and very emotional decision to slowly transition away from the University of Hawaii. I finished my first semester as a junior and dis-enrolled from university. It is a sensitive subject for me to share, because I truly loved my time spent at UH and cannot imagine what my life would be like if I had not attended the college. This was most certainly not a decision that I rushed into or felt 100% sure of at any point or time. My parents had worked overtime and on the weekends their entire lives to ensure that we had every opportunity for learning and education that we could have ever asked for. All they ever wanted was to see their three daughters be healthy, happy and college graduates. My mother was the first and only of her five siblings to attend college and my dad has spent hundreds of hours sharing countless stories from his college career/studying abroad and the profound impact it had on his career as an artist and architect. My two older sisters had both graduated college. I was the only member of my immediate family who did not.
I knew that there was nothing more I wanted than to leave college and pursue a career in plant based nutrition full-time. I couldn't help but think my decision would disappoint those I loved the most. I spent a lot of time sharing these vulnerabilities and apprehensions with my older sisters - who were nothing but supportive throughout my entire college journey from Miami to Hawai'i. I also began mediating quite regularly at this time (after learning about the multitude of benefits from IIN.) I took time each evening to simply sit and be with the idea of leaving university once and for all. I tried not to weight the pros and cons so much as I did focus on visualizing how I would feel without the regulations and requirements of a college schedule in my life. I made the decision to drop out, finished my semester with a smile - grateful for the fact that I was even able to attend college in the first place - and quietly slipped off campus when summer vacation began, ready to set foot on my journey. Ready to share vibrant health and abundant living through holistic health and a plant based lifestyle.
HOW I STARTED MY BUSINESS AS A HOLISTIC HEALTH COACH
Not only did IIN teach me all about holistic healing and alternative medicine, it also taught me how to create this business for myself. IIN heavily emphasized that 100% of graduates are prepared and equipped to immediately begin work as a holistic health coach (if they choose to do so!) upon completion. Actually, IIN allows you to begin basic coaching early if you choose - once reaching the 6 month completion mark of their curriculum. The business trainings and coaching modules were exceptionally helpful. For someone like me who knew so little about where to begin health coaching and how to work towards self employment I felt they provided everything I needed to know and more to begin my business from the ground up. IIN included free business cards as well as a free website where I created my own domain and begin to advertise my work to clients around the world.
After I finished my certification with IIN I was able to begin to generate an income for myself by working with private clients. At 19 years old. Which was stellar. Four years later, and I'm still doing it. Just on a much larger scale now. I offer online, skype, e-mail and in-person consultations. I carry out 6 month - 1 year long programs with numerous clients from all over the world and am constantly welcoming new clients into my realm of private coaching. Social media (Instagram, Facebook and my website) as well as personal marketing (sharing what I do for a living when people ask me) has allowed me to connect with men, women, families and teenagers from all corners of the globe. I am constantly sharing business cards or inviting friends/family/strangers to check out my blog and website. Creating this website has been an incredible outlet for me to promote my schooling and qualifications as a health coach.
Four years since graduation and the only word I have to best explain my experience at IIN is gratitude. Integrative Nutrition has allowed me to create a beautiful, enriched, unique and fulfilling life for myself. Every single morning when I wake up, I am excited to get to work. The school made me feel confident and comfortable knowing that I would be ready to take on clients coming from different backgrounds, health histories and lifestyles. It also instilled other significant values within me - spiritually, emotionally and mentally that supported me as I branded myself online and attracted an audience of over 150,000 souls from around the world.
Each day I am thankful for the decision I made. Enrolling at IIN and leaving college at Univ. of Hawaii were monumental life moments for me. I'll never forget them in this lifetime.
What I didn't realize just four years ago is that the universe is constantly working to benefit you and your higher self, always.
Every intuition, gut feeling or impulse you may feel, every day-dream, desire, vision - honor it, acknowledge it and take time to reflect on it. Will it benefit both your immediate and lasting happiness? Your life's purpose? Your love? Your desires?
Chances are, it most likely will.
HOW TO RECIEVE DISCOUNTED TUITION AT IIN
Since graduating IIN and creating my online blog/brand I have received an outpour of questions and inquiries about the school and the enrollment process. The rad news? I became an enrollment ambassador for the school and am able to help answer questions as well as offer an exclusive discount to students who use with my name "Amelia Whelan" at both registration and enrollment. (The discount fluctuates quite frequently, so I won't share a set dollar point here, but it is a pretty penny saved on tuition believe you me. Always a few hundred dollars, at-least.)