During the last 25 years, we’ve certified over 110,000 professionals. To celebrate our 25th year in business, we’re selecting 25 grads to showcase this year. Meet our next featured grad, Lauren Rasky, an AFPA Certified Holistic Health Coach, who's built a successful side business helping clients transition to plant-based diets.
How did you originally become interested in health and wellness?
While I was in college, I was having a lot of health problems and experiencing some anxiety and depression. I found that exercise was a great way to improve my health and mood. I started by becoming certified in fitness, and I really loved it. I even became a master trainer, where I was training other instructors, and it is still something I really love to do.
Through helping people and trying to help myself on my own health journey, I began to realize that fitness was just a small piece of the puzzle. I was having my own weight loss and health struggles, and the people I was working with were having those issues as well. We were exercising and were fit, but I found that nutrition was a really big piece that was missing. I was having a lot of health problems and was facing having surgery, so I decided to take a deep dive into nutrition to see if I could help heal myself or just feel better and avoid surgery altogether.
The more I learned about nutrition, the more my own lifestyle changed and the more I was able to help my clients in a different way and really get different results that weren't just weight loss but clients improving their mood and improving their skin, improving their cholesterol and their overall quality of life.
Why did you choose the AFPA Holistic Health Coach certification?
I had done different nutrition certifications before, but I felt like they were really cookie cutter and that they were teaching things about calories-in versus calories-out and weight loss and sports nutrition. I wanted to learn how to eat to feel well. At the time, I didn't realize I was actually wanting to learn more about holistic health and how to heal with food. So, not just focusing on what you're putting in your body or how often you're exercising but your mental health, your environment, and your lifestyle. Those things were helpful to me in making the changes that I made, and I want to help other people with that.
That's actually what brought me to AFPA. I was researching different health certifications, and I came across their Holistic Health Coach certification online. I looked at the curriculum and realized that they were teaching all of those things that I wanted to learn, that I wasn't learning elsewhere.
I really wanted to learn more about how food can help you heal and really just feel your best. I felt like I really got that from my Holistic Nutritionist certification, and that's why I wanted to take it a step further and later added the Holistic Health Coach certification. I wanted to learn a little bit more about how to coach people and do more individualized things.
Why did you choose to get certified with AFPA?
With both of my certifications, I really like that I've been able to do them on my own time and on my own schedule. But, I actually chose to go with AFPA after looking at the curriculum and realizing that they taught a lot of the things that I wanted to learn that I couldn't find in a typical nutrition certification; how to heal your body with food, all the different types of diets out there, how to evaluate them, and more of a holistic approach to wellness. I also liked that they were accredited by the Boards for Naturopathy and Drugless Practitioners. That was really important to me and different from a lot of the other certifications that I found out there.
What was the certification process like?
The certification process for my holistic nutrition course was, I have to admit, a little overwhelming. At first, I realized there was so much I didn't know and a lot of information, but I really liked that I could do it at my own time and at my own pace. One of my favorite parts was the video learning. You get a lot of eBooks or textbooks, but you get a bunch of videos to watch as well. I felt like they were just really interesting information that you don't hear elsewhere about how different types of food can benefit you in different ways and help with different types of diseases.
What surprised you the most about the certification?
I was actually surprised to find that the holistic nutrition course taught so much about plant-based diets. I went into it pretty skeptical because I had followed a lot of different diets and diet trends in the past. The more I learned, the more shocked I was, and the more excited I was to change up my diet and figure out why I was having such problems, like with my stomach or my skin, headaches, etc. It really helped me. That surprised me about it, but it was kind of a cool realization to make. I was really surprised to find that plant-based eating was the answer to a lot of problems that people were having. I also liked that the videos and the information had studies to back the information up. It actually showed you the research as it was teaching you these things.
What is your career now?
I do a lot of group coaching online part time because I also work full time and am a new mom. I have set myself up so that I can work with clients online in the evenings after my baby goes to sleep. I also want to add a little bit more of individualized coaching as well. I created a program that I help people with online, called Plant-Based and Practical, that helps people to transition to a more plant-based lifestyle and diet.
How has getting certified changed your health and wellness career?
Prior to receiving my nutrition certification, I was focused solely on fitness. I was teaching a lot of different group fitness classes, kind of burning myself out, to be honest. I'm a master trainer as well, so I was teaching instructors how to teach fitness classes at the same time. I really didn't know a whole lot about nutrition at that point. Now, nutrition is a huge focus for what I do, for my lifestyle, my business and how I help the people that I work with. Now I actually teach fitness classes for fun, and I focus on nutrition for the majority of what I do with my clients. I have my online program, and then I check in with clients online and do a lot of group coaching that way, which has been really beneficial for me. Before, I would take two hours to go teach a class in the evenings and really not make a whole lot of money doing it. Now, I can do this on my own time, and I don't have to leave my house.
My certifications have also allowed me to create another stream of income and pursue something that I'm really passionate about without infringing on my schedule. I work full time doing marketing for a personal development company, and this is really a passion of mine that kind of started on the side and happens in the evenings. Getting a certification gave me the confidence that I needed to pursue this side business.
I feel like I wouldn't have been able to create the program I put together to help people with their nutrition and transition to a plant-based diet without having learned all of the things I learned in my certification. I used what I learned in my Holistic Nutrition certification really to create my business. I didn't have a background in nutrition before or a way to really help people online. What I learned in the course is what I now help people with. I took that information, and I created videos to be able to help people learn a different way of cooking, and teach them how to grocery shop, and put that all in a little online course that I use with my clients.
I also feel like my Holistic Nutrition certification not only gave me the confidence I needed to be able to pursue different things and pursue this passion of mine, but also it brought a lot of new opportunities to me. I'm asked to do workshops and cooking demonstrations and online webinars, and I really enjoy doing that.
My mission with all of this is to really grow my business to the point that my passion is what I do and helping people is what I do all the time. I want to do more group coaching; I want to do more individualized coaching and really just grow those two aspects of my business. In the next few years, I see my business kind of growing on the side while I'm still working but eventually shifting that to be what I do all the time. My main focus is on helping people with nutrition and just overall wellness.
What was your experience like with AFPA?
I've had a really great experience working with AFPA and their team. I just really liked that they don't treat you like a number; you have an actual email address and an actual person to reach out to if you need help. They really worked with me too and all of the life changes that I was having. I actually had to extend my certification process for my first certification with holistic nutrition, to give me just a little bit more time to complete it, and they really worked with me and helped me to get through it.
What advice do you have for anyone who may be considering getting certified?
If I had any advice for you, it would be that there's never a perfect time to start. I did my certifications while I was getting married, moving, and having a baby. Just start trying to figure out which certification you want to do, which organization you want to go with, really do your research, take the time to look at the curriculum and what they're teaching, and make sure it's what you want to learn and that it matches the values that you have.
I know it can be scary, starting something new. I know I felt that way too, but AFPA really met all of those needs for me and gave me the confidence I needed to move forward with my passion.
If you had to sum up your certification experience in one word, what would it be?
If I could sum up my experience with AFPA in one word, it would be enlightening. I think I went into it thinking I knew a lot, and then the more I learned, I realized I had a lot to learn. Everything was just kind of a breath of fresh air. This whole approach to wellness was a breath of fresh air for me. Coming from just a fitness background, I just feel like everything I learned really opened my eyes up to a whole new lifestyle. It really did change all aspects of my life. It changed my own nutrition, what I ate, how I cooked for my family, how I help my family members, how I help the people that I work with, and what I do. I've never felt better since I've made a lot of the changes that I learned in my certification. Overall, I just had a great experience. I've learned a lot. I've changed a lot of things that I do as a result, and I'm just really excited to continue using what I've learned to help more people.