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, Natasha Funderburk, an AFPA Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, writer, and owner of Harper & Sky.How did your interest and passion for this field begin?
My education and career history have always been in healthcare. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and a Master’s in Healthcare Administration and have worked in the field for over ten years. I have seen and worked in almost every field imaginable when it comes to healthcare, but one common interest or passion of mine has always been in health promotion and holistic wellness.
I think that stems from my personal history. Growing up, I always had a very unhealthy relationship with food. I was always very self-conscious and never happy with the way I looked. Throughout high school, I would cycle through periods of binge eating and then periods of deprivation, which led to even unhealthier behaviors and a worse body image.
When I was about 19, I suffered a trauma that sent me into a pretty dark space, and my relationship with food and alcohol worsened. I ended up gaining a lot of weight and just felt physically terrible. I remember I would get winded walking to and from my college classes and especially when climbing the stairs. I knew I had to make a change, but I just didn’t know how.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I started taking the baby steps I needed to not only pull myself out of my depression but to make the lifestyle changes that I so desperately needed. I began to walk every day to the gym at my apartment complex, work out for just a few minutes in the beginning, and then walk back. I did this every day until I was able to work out for longer periods of time. I also started experimenting more with cooking healthier recipes, until I was able to find a groove and foods that I loved. Over a period of time, I lost about 70-75 pounds, but I gained so much self-love and a desire to take care of myself, which has turned into a desire to show other people that they are worth so much more than we sometimes believe.
What made you particularly interested in the Nutrition & Wellness certification?
Because I always felt that food was such a trigger for me, I wanted to learn more about nutrition and why it’s so important to fuel our bodies with different types of food. I also work as a freelance writer and blogger, and I’m always sharing healthy tips and recipes with my readers. I knew that earning a certification would help give me that extra background I wanted coupled with my personal history and triumph that I could share with my readers. This was what interested me in earning a certification in Nutrition & Wellness from AFPA.
Why did you choose AFPA as your certifying organization?
I spent a lot of time researching different certifying organizations, and I kept coming back to AFPA for a number of reasons. I loved the different options they provided for certification as well as the credentialing behind the program and the fact that I could complete the entire certification at my own pace. For the last few years, I have worked independently as a freelance writer and a holistic health and mommy blogger, which means my schedule is all over the place. Being able to study during my free time and know that each week for me may be different was so helpful in finding a program that completely worked with my crazy schedule.
What was your favorite part about the program? Why?
My favorite part about the program was just how easy it all was to adapt to my schedule, not to mention that my advisor was so friendly and helpful and so quick to respond when I had questions. I really felt like I was joining a community of like-minded colleagues when I chose AFPA, and it just felt like the perfect decision.
How did receiving your certification change your career?
I currently work as a freelance writer and blogger. Obtaining my certification in Nutrition & Wellness gave me that extra credential along with my RN to show my readers and clients that I am fully committed to living and teaching about healthier lifestyles. Some of the clients that I write for are health and wellness professionals, so having this extra knowledge and background has been so beneficial for me, as well as with sharing my recipes and my own writing and experience/tips with my readers on my blog.
The biggest thing for me that means the most is when I post about my experience and my past struggles with eating/food or my weight and I get messages back from people telling me how it touched their hearts—that is why I do what I do. I think sometimes it’s so easy to see these people who appear to be so fit and healthy and think that it’s easy for them but so difficult to accomplish ourselves. I want people to know that I’ve been there. I have felt what it’s like to not know where to begin and to feel so helpless in making that first step. But I did it, and I know without a doubt that if I can do it, anyone can do it. That is the message I hope to be able to spread.
How has your experience been with the AFPA customer service team and education advisors?
My experience has been great. Every time I had a question during my certification, my advisor was always so responsive and helpful.
How did this certification program impact your overall life?
This program gave me the knowledge base, tools, and confidence to keep pursuing my goal of helping others live a healthier, happier life.
A typical day now consists of me working out, meal prepping (of course!), and working on different projects for my clients as well as my blog that showcase how to live healthier, happier lifestyles.
Do you have any advice for other people considering making the leap into a health, fitness or nutrition career?
I would absolutely recommend AFPA to anyone looking for a certification in the health and wellness field. My biggest piece of advice is to just do it. I toyed with the idea for about four years before finally taking the leap and going for it, and I’m so happy that I did!