From: Howie Jacobson <>
Subject: Who wants to be a health coach?

Hey, Howie Jacobson here, from Plant Yourself. I'm emailing you on the off-chance that you're interested in becoming a health coach, or in adding coaching skills to your current lifestyle medicine practice.

Because the last Wellstart health coach training of 2021 is now open for enrollment. (It starts September 5!)

If you have no desire to grow your ability to help others change their diets and lifestyles in pursuit of better health and greater life satisfaction, my apologies for the interruption. To compensate you for your wasted time, here's a terrible joke that I made up: 

Did you hear about the new AI drones? They're flying off the shelves.

Now, if you're still reading, let's talk about the magic of health coaching, and then I'll share my thoughts on whether now (pandemic, lockdowns, worldwide upheaval) is a great or an awful time to become a health coach. 

The Magic of Health Coaching

Basically, when you're a health coach, you use words to change people's behaviors and outcomes. It's basically abra cadabra stuff, minus the top hat and sequins. 

I'm not talking about driving to your local Chick-fil-A with a megaphone and transforming everyone into ethical vegans. (If you know how to do that, then I'll take your course.)

Rather, I'm talking about working with people who already want a better outcome in their lives. More health. More happiness. Better control over their impulses. Mastery of their unhealthy urges. Dominance over the part of them that wants to binge.

And giving them the tools to develop new habits, and guiding them to practice using those tools until they become second nature. 

Who Can Benefit from Becoming a Health Coach?

I see three categories of student in the WellStart Coach Training Academy.

First, I work with lifestyle medicine professionals - doctors, nurses, dietitians, physical therapists, etc. - who need to get their patients on board as active participants in their own health journeys. If that's you, and you're constantly frustrated with low rates of adoption of dietary and other protocols, or struggle to deal with recidivism, or find yourself helpless as patients confess their ongoing failings and weaknesses to you instead of bragging about their progress, learning how to coach can transform your practice, and your patients' results. 

Second, there are health coaches looking to upgrade their skills, and want to participate in a coaching community devoted to plant-based eating. I've worked with many graduates of other programs who tell me that my training provides the practical skills that complement the theoretical knowledge they learned previously. And for those coaches who studied at schools that were nutrition-agnostic, promoting literally hundreds of crackpot nutritional theories as if they're all equally worthy of esteem, finding a plant-based health coaching program was just heavenly.

Third, I work with plant-based activists and teachers who want to become health coaches. They have a passion for wellness, for plant-based nutrition, and have discovered that simply telling and showing people how to eat right isn't enough. That doing kitchen makeovers and shopping demos doesn't expel your clients' demons that still clamor for bacon and Ben & Jerry's. This group has great passion, which turns out to be a double-edged sword. They're committed and caring, but their zeal can turn people off, and their belief that there's a right way for everyone can create mega-resistance in the people they're trying to change.

The next run of the WellStart Health Coaching Academy begins on September 5, 2021. For more information, and to set up an enrollment interview with me to assess if it's a good fit, visit

Is Now the Best or Worst Time to Become a Health Coach?

I've been engaged in a grand debate with myself about that question for a year and a half now. 

Let's start with the reasons that health coaching is a great career right now:

1. Coaching is compatible with social distancing.

I almost always coach via phone or video call, so it's a perfect modality for a world still dealing with a pandemic. (By contrast, massage therapists and beauticians are still struggling, and retail is a shit show.)

2. People need help with their health behaviors.

So many of us are confused, scared, and uncertain about our futures that we're seeing an epidemic of "self-soothing" behaviors that undermine health. In 2020 I heard lots of stories of the "Quarantine 15" - the extra weight folks were packing on as they cut back on physical activity and leaned on food for their momentary bursts of happiness. Throughout 2021, that number has been rising. Friends of mine have become virtually unrecognizable, they're put on so much weight. And the endless nature of the pandemic, and the "false hope" of the vaccination drive that fizzled against widespread hesitancy, poor rollout, inequality, and the insidious variants that are growing in transmissibility - well, our mental health is collectively going over a cliff, and our health behaviors are reflecting our precarious psychological states.

3. The stakes of chronic disease have never been higher - or more immediate.

With all the confusion and uncertainty around the coronavirus, one thing is abundantly clear from every study and analysis: people with chronic disease and unhealthy biomarkers are much more likely to experience severe cases of Covid-19, and are exponentially more likely to die from it than people with a clean bill of health. 

The high blood pressure and obesity and high blood sugar that ordinarily take decades to manifest disease, disability, and death now predispose people to all those things in a matter of days or weeks. The long-term threat has morphed into an immediate menace.

4. You may be looking for a new career anyway.

Many of us have had our career trajectories completely upended by the pandemic's effect on the economy. Some of us are out of work entirely. Some are now underemployed. And many of us still have jobs, but feel a new sense of urgency to be of service in a way that our current career doesn't allow.

Health coaching can supplement or replace income, and for those of us passionate about health and plant-based living, aligns with some of our deepest values. 

Now let's talk about why now is the absolute worst time to become a health coach.

1. People want comfort right now, not coaching.

It's weird - when the pandemic really rocked the Western world, I figured that people would be beating down my door for help reversing their chronic diseases. I soon noticed that people were so stressed out and upset and panicked, the last thing many of them wanted was a "self-improvement project."

When we're stressed out, it's much easier to self-medicate with junk food and Netflix than to embark on a journey of personal betterment. This may change as we get more used to the "new normal" (whenever it arrives, and whatever it looks like) and the risks of chronic health problems outweigh the inertia and denial, but right now the world is not crying out for health coaching.

2. People have less disposable income to spend on things like coaching.

Folks who might have been able to come up with a hundred (for a group program) to several hundred bucks a month (for 1-on-1 private coaching with an experienced, high-end coach) may need that money for mortgage, rent, food, and other necessities of life. Or if they still have disposable income, they may be more inclined to save it for whatever is coming. 

3. You may feel like a fraud these days.

If your life is off-balance and you're socially isolated, maybe you've dropped your own standards of healthy behavior and don't feel like you have the right to help others. 

While there's validity to the concept of being in integrity (do before you teach), please realize that screwing up from time to time doesn't make you ineligible to be a coach. What it makes you, is human. 

There's no shame in falling down from time to time. Lack of integrity is an issue only if you refuse to use the tools, techniques, and strategies of coaching on yourself. If you fall and pick yourself up every now and then, you're actually going to be a more, not less effective coach. Because you'll have an experiential base for true empathy, rather than the "superiority trap" that many coaches fall into.

And, as an added bonus, becoming a health coach can provide not just the tools, but the self-identity of a health person. Since I started helping others achieve their health goals, it's been much easier for me to say no to temptation. I just think, "what if my students and clients and readers and listeners could see me now?" Maybe it's not the ultimate in self-accountability, but it sure does help sometimes!

What do you think?

Are you hot to become a health coach right now, or it is the furthest thing from your mind?

Either answer makes perfect sense to me :)

If you are still interested, please consider joining the next WellStart Health coach training program, which begins at the end of this month. You can read about it and apply here:

If you've already taken the course and want to participate in this run as a refresher version, look for a separate email with a link to register directly.

If this will be your first time, our first step will be an enrollment interview of roughly 30 minutes to determine if the program is a good fit. To discourage tire kickers, there's a $23 fee to apply, which will either be applied to your balance if you decide to enroll, or refunded if either of us decides it's not a good fit.

Also, the entire program is fully guaranteed - if you're not thrilled with what you're learning, let me know any time during the 13 weeks of the intensive part of the course and I'll refund your entire tuition.

Any questions, simply reply to this email.


PS If you'd like to take a peak into the glamorous world of health coaching, check out my Health Coaches Podcast

PPS Bonus joke: Last night I had a dream that I weighed less than a thousandth of a gram. I was like, 0mg.