This whole Bert Betterman thing has been great for me…and hopefully at least semi-okay for readers too. It’s been good fun, good learning, and an opportunity for self-expression that’s really helped me remember who I am and develop the future of me along the way. Lately, though, I’ve discovered how much projects like this can be amplified working with someone else that has a similar love for such endeavors.
Co-creation has taken this thing to a whole new level for me. To be sure, I will still write many standard projects on cool topics myself, but I’m really into the teamwork lately, so we’re going to keep that rolling. And I can’t think of a better way to do just that than to share with you the following collaboration with Kim Garin.
Kim has a veritable laundry list of degrees, certifications, and qualifications, but they are hardly the most interesting and inspiring aspects of her being. She’s a doctor of lots of stuff, teacher of lots of stuff, and certified in most stuff. Also – this is my assertion only – after reading her website, livewellshineon.com, I’ve decided she basically reinvented the concept of the “About Me” page. You can check it out yourself for the formal list of things that I rattled off as “stuff.” But to really get a feel for who she is, you have to meet her…or, second best, read an interview with her. You can at least accomplish the latter, right now, if you so choose to keep scrolling. I’m biased, but I hope you choose.
Please enjoy – and be inspired – by Kim’s virtual presence. If you’re so moved, also leave a comment or a question at the end.
Thanks so much for taking some time to talk to the Betterman readers, Kim! I trust that I’m finding you on a good day?
Oh it’s truly my pleasure, Brett, thank you for having me! I am as thrilled as I am honored to have the opportunity to connect with you and your virtual posse. And indeed, today is a great day, and even if I was in a space of not perceiving it as so at this moment, I trust that a shift is only ever a thought away!
So you’re a health coach, yes? Can you explain what that’s all about and what value a health coach adds to the world?
Yes, I’m a certified health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. My take on the general objectives of health coaching would be to educate and encourage clients to take a more proactive role in self health management. The benefits that come from partnering with a health coach really are multi-dimensional however, in brief, I’d have to say that the presence they bring to the wellness journey is like having a constant ally and a resourceful comrade right there by your side.
You also had a rather “challenging” personal road to where you are now, if I can use that term? What’s your story that brings you to this moment in time?
Challenge is a wonderful word to use Brett. It’s only when we can take that kind of stance on the hardships of life, finding the blessings in them instead of seeing them as a threat, that we overcome them. Challenge is a good thing when we allow it to be!
Ah, so what’s my story…I always have to smile when I’m asked about that as it’s become apparent to me that no matter how hard I try I can never quite distill down exactly what has brought me to this moment adequately. What has become increasingly apparent to me is that if you asked me this same question in a few weeks or a couple months from now, the answer may be wildly different. This thing we call life truly is an ongoing evolution.
That being said, to put my own wild ride into a proverbial nutshell, so to speak, I’d sum it up by saying it has been, and continues to be, a practice of learning to surrender and trust in the wisdom behind the unfolding of my life. Diagnosed with MS at the age of 28, within two years of countless tests, medication failures and progressing disability, I found myself watching the life I knew slip through my fingers. I knew I had to do something. With the advantage of hindsight, this entire journey of mine has been all about retraining myself to listen not only to the messages that I receive from the outer world but, most importantly, to those of my inner knowing – aka the real me, that unbiased guru that lies inside.
You know, I can truly appreciate that comment about it being difficult to completely narrow down how a person winds up in any sort of state of being, some version of “sick” in this example. Humans naturally like to use labels, like diseases and diagnoses, because they can help us feel that we’ve understood and wrapped our head around something, but life and health isn’t always so simple. It’s almost like asking someone “How do you feel today?” We usually just reply “good” as a matter of routine, but the real answer could be pages long.
So spot on, Brett. And from there, in our desire to catalog and identify everything, especially when it comes to physical pathologies, we unwittingly assimilate it into who we believe ourselves to be. The danger of taking on any label – whether it be a diagnosis, personality trait or the like – is that as we continue to perceive it as part of our current reality, it becomes more and more difficult to separate ourselves from being defined by it…that’s a very common way we lose touch with our true identify.
Speaking of identity, you used to be a pharmacist too, correct?
Indeed! And although I still am, from a licensure standpoint, I frequently refer to myself as a “recovering pharmacist.” From time to time, there’s still some deconditioning that needs to be done! From my earliest memories, I was drawn to anything that involved science and the workings of the natural world. I always knew that what I truly wanted to do was to help people feel better. I was laser focused on finding ways to uplift others to the inspired place of living life at their highest potential – not necessarily measured on the level of external achievement level but in the amount of joy and peace they experience.
As I got older and my academic aptitude lent support to that knowing, I began leaning into the medical side of the healing sciences and came to rest on pharmacy (because the time investment that came with being a doctor was not a trade I was willing to make). From my level of perception at the time, if I could be an easily accessible and knowledgeable member of a patient’s healthcare team, I felt that I could make a positive impact.
The further I got into the six-year PharmD program, the more transparent the lesson it was there to teach me became. What I was offering the world as a pharmacist was merely a bandaid for the real issues at play. No matter how caring and supportive I was in the various roles I took on under the umbrella of dispensing medicine, very few people were ever interested in anything more than what they perceived to be a quick fix. At that point, I already knew beyond a doubt, that what every one of us was looking for could never be found at the bottom of a pill bottle. That decade of feeling trapped in a career that I saw as a practice in futility, turned out to be one of the most vital steps of the path for me.
Constant exposure to the flawed premise that the remedy to all that ails us must lie outside of ourselves, compounded by the repeated self-barraging that ensued anytime I felt as if I had failed to alleviate the suffering of another human being, was a major catalyzing factor of my own dis-ease. When the age old adage physician heal thyself became my reality, I began to look at what it mean to “be well” differently.
You also received a formal education/certification for your health coaching career, yes? Can you tell us about that process and the institution you chose to make that happen?
Sure thing! Like I mentioned previously, the institution I chose to pursue my health coaching certification with was the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. IIN is the world’s largest nutrition school which was founded around 25 years ago by a brilliant man by the name of Joshua Rosenthal. I happened across the website in a rather synchronic manner and the values the program entails – like the idea of being a source of positive change, do what you love and love what you do, set an example of self-development and growth, live each day with the freedom to choose what’s right for you, embrace learning new ways to do things while simplifying everything – is what immediately spoke to me.
As I was initially only intending to enroll in an effort to heal myself, the self-paced online format and expansive curriculum – with education on over 100 dietary theories, training in recognizing, identifying and addressing all the other factors (beyond food) that lead to health, and a focus on assisting others in tapping into their own knowing through the use of intuitive coaching – it just seemed too promising of a resource to pass up. Little did I know what the Universe had in the works!
Little do any of us know; I’m surprised by the universe daily! So what experience did you gain from IIN that made you more effective in your career today?
The gift of that experience at that point in my journey has provided exponential benefits that I’m still coming to an awareness of. At first, it was easy to see that the knowledge base and training in coaching techniques would strengthen my skill at being of support to those I serve. However, quite unexpectedly, the self-awareness and guidance it provided in harnessing my own intuition connected me with a higher level of knowing when it came to the bigger picture of my life. If it wasn’t for my training at IIN and the array of coaching clients I’ve been blessed to partner with since then, I’m not sure I would have been able to sense the ongoing steps to the soul work that I’m here to do.
The health coach career path, at least in mainstream society, is a bit new and relatively undiscovered, is that fair? Where do you see this field going in the future?
I totally agree. Actively at work but still below the radar in many cases, health coaching is definitely right there on the leading edge of where I believe our perception of health care needs to shift if we are to see positive results in global wellness.
As a whole, we’ve been approaching our health in little more than a reactionary fashion – we tend to wait until something happens and then we look for something or somebody who can “fix” us. I’ve been sensing an undercurrent developing even on the proactive side of the system though. What is becoming undeniably obvious is that without the proper motivation (which can only come from within the individual), sustainable change is extremely difficult to achieve and almost impossible to maintain. The more practitioners from all walks (whether allopathic or holistic) begin to realize that what they offer – in the form of advice and support in an office visit from time to time – is rarely enough to encourage every patient to make prominent shifts in their lives, the more the role of the health coach will be an important partnership to ensure greater success.
Speaking from what I sense beginning to emerge in this field of practice, when a health coach is employed as part of a wellness team, they act as the liaison. As I’ve come to know it, a health coach is the essential bridge between the advice and guidance received from individual providers and the functional application of that feedback into a sustainable lifestyle. Fostering empowerment is really what the role of a health coach comes down to.
The unfortunate thing is that, as with any buzz word I suppose, the term “health coach” is potentially at risk of becoming marred as it’s being leveraged as a strategy for marketing. I can’t even count the number of “health coaches” I’ve networked with who I realized, after a conversation over a cup of coffee, are attempting to sell me on the latest and greatest supplement they’re promoting. That form of prolific deception is quickly establishing itself as a threat to the perceived integrity of the work we do as IIN grads. Even as the school is leading the way in remedying this on a global scale, currently, without any kind of professional oversight in place, anyone can operate under that title regardless of their training or capacity. I believe the general public could only benefit from having a heads up on that.
I think that’s something almost every profession has to look out for and protect against. For the most part, people don’t like to be sold to or feel like they’re part of a bait-and-switch scenario. They sort of go “Ohhhhhh, THAT’s why they wanted to talk to me, to sell me something else I don’t need!” and their trust and attention are suddenly lost.
Exactly…and when we’re trapped in that “fix me” mindset, we’re liable to be any easy target, setting ourselves up for being pulled in a million directions and being easily convinced to buy into things that truly may not be in our best interest.
How is a health coach different from a doctor, physical therapist, trainer, or any other resource out there? What value can a health coach add that other folks don’t?
Well, we all know that information overload is crazy prevalent these days. As if the fact that we can googlize virtually everything we could possibly want to know in a second on our phones isn’t daunting enough, trying to keep in the know of all the advances in the realm of health and wellness? Now that is an impossible task. Living in that kind of environment is what inevitably leads most of us into a state of analysis paralysis. With such an incomprehensible field of options lying before us, instead of taking a step in the direction we want to go, all too often we stay right where we are. The very people who are armed with the admirable intention to heal and serve are, perhaps unwittingly, causing collateral damage as this epidemic of being afraid to make the wrong move continues to grow.
By permitting ourselves to be intimidated by the perception that we can never know enough, we tend to seek external validation that the choices we make are “right” thereby putting ourselves at the mercy of the ever-changing tide of public opinion. That’s the cycle that is on repeat in many people’s lives. Partnering with a health coach is one way to find calm amongst the chaos. If we can learn how to sort through the waterfall of knowledge out there to discover what’s relevant right now to us, we will be more equipped to effectively implement what we’ve learned. By integrating what we’ve learned into action we gain understanding and, in the realm of health and wellness, that translates into experiencing the results we’re seeking.
In addition to the role of a liaison on an individual’s health care team, a health coach quickly becomes a consistent ally. Having an empathic companion who can offer the attentive ear and personal connection most providers don’t have the ability or desire to provide, can be a priceless asset when we face the inevitable challenges of life.
Extremely well said, Kim. I couldn’t agree more, and I recognized a lot of themes from my own life in there as well!
Heck yes, when you get it, you’ve got it! We’re all in this together, whether we realize it or not!
The name of your business is called Live Well SHINE ON. How did you come up with the name?
Wow, what a great question. I’m not sure I’ve ever given much thought to the process that led to the title of my practice. Truth be told, I actually founded the concept of this business in the early stages of my own healing. All I knew for sure at that time was that the more I took a step toward living a healthier life – even if it was a small one at times – the more it amplified my confidence that what I was doing was what was right for me.
I assume that the “SHINE ON” part of Live Well SHINE ON is more than just a catchy phrase, probably also a suggestive metaphor?
To me, shine isn’t just a word, it’s a way of being. I’m sure most of your readers can relate to encountering someone who has something special going on, an air about them that’s kind of hard to define. As much as that “thing” isn’t easy to put into words or even identify, all we know after we encounter someone like that is that we’d love to have some more of what they’ve got for ourselves.
What we’re tapping into when we experience that in another is actually our own desire to be more fully alive. The only way we can truly achieve that is by aligning with ourselves – with that alignment being representative of the realization that who we are on the outside reflects who we really are on the inside.
In my experience, the more we allow that light, the real us – what I call our shine – to flow out into the world around us, the more peace, harmony, healing and sense of wellbeing we experience. This is actually the topic for a book that’s currently in the works…more to come on that in the near future!
If a person contacted you as a prospective client, what could they expect with their first interaction and throughout the process of working together with you to live well?
The integrative approach I use, which rests on the truth that it is always about more than food, recognizes that our relationships, career, spirituality and alignment with our Self is just as important as nutrition and exercise to the experience of health and wholeness.
As my coaching clientele evolve, so do I. My intention is to provide the amazing beings I work with a safe space to cultivate their ability to tap into their own inner guidance in a way that enables them to not only experience self-love but exercise it in all aspects of their lives by the decisions that they make. From that place, choosing what nourishes us starts to come naturally without the same kind of force or hard work we’re used to.
A first meeting typically involves a casual conversation that helps me get a sense of what a prospective client is looking for. From there, if the idea of a partnership feels like a good fit for us both, we construct a custom program based on meeting them where they’re at currently and establishing a trajectory to where it is they desire themselves to be in six months’ time. The program usually operates on the foundation of 60 minute sessions twice a month with unlimited email access in between.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from one of your clients that you took and used either with yourself or other clients?
Oh, just one thing? Man, that’s a tough one. I guess the lesson that bubbles up for me most in client interactions that is also an ongoing theme in my life as well, would have to be the concept of owning your journey. There seems to be a relationship between becoming a victim to the circumstances of our lives and being willing to give your power away. By really accepting yourselves, growing to appreciate the scars as well as all the pretty stuff, we take responsibility for our story. Not in the sense that we allow it to define us but rather we invite it to inspire us to new heights. That’s something I’m not sure any of us will ever gain true mastery over because geesh…as long as there’s a heart beating in our chests, the beautiful challenges of life will be there to help us to grow a little bit more.
You also teach meditation, is that right?
Yep, I do. I’ve been twice certified as a Masters of Wisdom and Meditation teacher under the mentorship of davidji. Although my teaching modalities are currently somewhat informal in nature, meditation is what I’ve found to be the missing link to cultivating the inner peace that is so necessary in sustaining wellness and journeying into permanent healing. I hope to do more within this realm of my practice when the steps to do so light up for me.
I happen to believe that cultivating our awareness – and meditation is a great way to do just that – is the closest thing to a silver bullet for improving our lives, sort of the rising tide that floats all boats concept. How important is our mind or our mental state in living a good life and improving and/or maintaining strong health?
Oh my goodness, yes, I echo that 100%. For me it was the necessary piece that would shine a light on everything else, and even now it remains the fulcrum on which my understanding of wellbeing rests every single day. There’s no way I could be going on three years without any kind of pharmaceutical intervention if I didn’t have my practice. Meditation is my medication.
It really is a strange thing, being human that is. As we progress in life, we are apt to over-identify with our minds, often eventually coming to believe that who we are can be defined by the beliefs we hold about ourselves and what others believe us to be. Whether it has something to do with the way we’re wired or if our cultural conditioning is to blame, there really is no use pointing fingers because it seems to be an inescapable rite of passage that we all must take. Perhaps it could even be seen as the most basic plight of humanity, metaphysically speaking –where in some cases, we spend the entirety of our adulthood unlearning the misconceptions we’ve bought into over a lifetime in order to reconnect to the truth we knew in our youth. As convoluted as that may seem, I’m apt to believe that, by design, there is a circular nature to everything in life. Yet even when we believe ourselves to be back exactly where we started, we can never be. We cannot remain unchanged by the awareness we’ve gained along the way.
A vast majority of the suffering we experience can be attributed to the activity of our minds. The mental projection, the thoughts we think, do indeed create reality as we perceive it to be. It’s said that it is the quality of our thoughts that determines the condition of our lives. I, for one, certainly believe that perception is everything.
When we’re being barraged with 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day, taming what is frequently referred to as our “monkey mind” can definitely feel like an impossible feat. So many of the self-help approaches out there right now focus on controlling and eliminating what is undesirable from our lives. All I can say is that has never worked for me and is often the origin of a lot of self-judgement for many of the individuals I’ve worked with closely.
The thing I love most about meditation is that the scientifically-validated benefits, as well as the subjective contributions it provides, are not obtained by an act of force. Contrary to popular belief, meditation isn’t a practice aimed at stopping thought, the power it possess resides in the passive slowing of detrimental mental processes.
Who we really are and what we’re truly looking for can’t be found within the pages of the latest bestseller or by latching on to the next self-improvement craze. The answers we’re seeking lie in the gap in between our thoughts. The only place we will ever find ourselves is in the space in between the things that make up this physical experience. That’s where I’ve found the magic to be anyway! The best part about the whole thing is that there is no wrong way to meditate, all you have to do is show up for it and let it do its thing!
Meditation is your medication; that’s quite profound! Other than meditation, what do you enjoy doing in your “free time” that enriches your life and fills up your tank?
I’ve contoured my life around the notion that I am my business and therefore my primary business is to take care of me. The further I leaned into my own authenticity, the more I was called to embrace living creatively – hence the necessity of wearing my evolution on my sleeve! Change is the only constant for all of us and professionally speaking, it’s very much what I thrive on. I find joy in knowing that there are no ordinary moments, and from that place I make sure to capture some of that in my every day routine. If it’s creative in nature and allows for the free flow of individual, expression, I’m all about it! Writing, painting, drawing, jewelry-making and virtual design is how I spend any inspired free time.
As nature is, by far, the most potent (and least expensive) form of therapy in my opinion, I make it a priority to commune with the natural world in some way or another every single day as part of my self-care routine. That habit is also what keeps the fire of my passion for photography stoked – right now I’m a total sunset addict, there’s nothing quite like the magic that dusk brings. I also read a ton and love spending some quality downtime with my husband and our two bulldog fur babes, Gus and Bitty, any time I can.
Based on our discussions prior to this interview, I know that both of us would firmly place ourselves on the introvert side of the spectrum. How do you do the work you do given your personality type, and how do you use that to your advantage?
Funny you should mention that! I’ve recently been educating myself about the degree of choice we have when it comes to our tendency toward extroversion. The more I’ve stepped into knowing who I am and acknowledging what I want out of this life – the more I see an outgoing aspect of myself emerging. Maybe that correlates to the unleashing of my inner “ambivert,” I don’t know! Certainly, by no means would I classify myself an extrovert by any definition of the word but I am very curious if this spectrum shift is something you yourself, Brett, may be able to relate to on your quest to live in alignment with the work that’s calling you!
While the introvert in me thrives big time on flying solo, there is so much value in the energy I receive from meaningful engagement with others. That need itself ebbs and flows and, to be perfectly honest, I require a fluctuating degree of both to remain inspired as well as feel grounded. The advantages of harnessing this nuance in personality have become quite apparent to me, however I’d be lying if I said that I’ve mastered an understanding of how to strike a perpetual balance (if there is such a thing!) at this point.
Doing this kind of work, at the highest level, requires a great degree of self-awareness, a contemplative mindset, a strong knack for empathy and a well-honed relationship with one’s intuitive capacity. Those traits tend to go hand-in-hand with the introvert in me but don’t always lend themselves useful to co-existing in harmony with the outside world in a tangible way. What I’ve begun to witness unfolding for me is an enhanced capacity for social flexibility, adaptability and less reservation when it comes being outgoing in certain situations. Even in light of that, I still very much crave solitude on a daily basis and find it difficult to engage in conversations unless it is, at the least, somewhat thought-provoking – small talk is most definitely not my cup of tea!
So, I guess if I were to provide my two cents in regard to successfully pulling off this kind of work as an introvert – with some semblance of grace and ease – what I would say is you’ve got to pay attention. By taking note of what (and who) energizes me and by developing my ability to identify the things that drain me, I’ve become better at understanding what I need in order to ensure that I will bring my best version to whatever it is I decide do. If something isn’t a “hell yes” than it’s a no for me.
That comes with a price tag that isn’t always easy to pay as turning down something is not in alignment with what I want to create in my life and being mindful of who I surround myself with isn’t always the most comfortable thing to do. By exercising my awareness that I’m capable of both ways to a degree, I’m better able to look at a situation and see what will be the most effective and rewarding thing to do.
As I’ve toggled between that squirming sensation which occurs when I allow my world to get too small for too long and over-extending myself in some outer endeavor, I’ve begun to see this gauge of personality as a choice that we have more control over than I’d previously believed. And anytime this begins feeling like a selfish thing to do, remind yourself that we teach by our example. That’s a powerful motivator for me. Knowing that my clients and colleagues will benefit just by observing me as I stand up for what I believe and set healthy boundaries…that’s the icing on the cake, baby!
You make some great points there. While, yes, my default point on the spectrum is definitely on the introvert side, I still ebb and flow and require some balance around that point. There’s also no way I could sit inside my house by myself for days on end without connecting with other people. I look at is as a resource allocation issue in that I may have less social energy than others, so I have to be more selective in terms of where I spend it, not too dissimilar from your “hell yes” or “hell no” system!
Another part of being an introvert is typically a nervous system that’s prone to being more easily overwhelmed by environmental stimulus, and that can lead to stress and anxiety, which could undermine our goals of living a full and healthy life. How have you learned to manage stress in a busy world?
If this resonates with any of you, I can’t encourage establishing a daily meditation practice enough. Although I can’t foresee how it will unfold for you specifically, the one thing I can guarantee is that by showing up for yourself in this way on a consistent basis, you will receive the benefit of enhanced clarity and life will become easier.
What’s the most important thing you want a reader to take away from this interview?
Knowledge is power, wisdom is strength and learning is courage. Without putting the raw material contained within the information we receive into practice, we will fail at turning the experiences of our life into understandings. In taking that route, we would be missing the entire point of life. The path is always under your feet. You’re exactly where you need to be. Don’t be afraid of change when your awareness illuminates a better way. Wearing the truth of your evolution on your sleeve is what will inspire others and buoy your ability to trust the process in moments of doubt. Your example is what teaches and your ripple reaches farther than you could ever conceive. Life loves you, so why not give yourself permission to love your life and live it well? And lastly, SHINE ON!!
Well said! Thank you so much for taking your time to share with us here; it’s been a true pleasure indeed! Should anyone reading this want to contact you, whether to inquire about a possible coaching partnership or anything else, what are the best resources they can use to find you, learn about you, and/or get ahold of you?
Oh my goodness, of course! I’d love to be of support to any of your readers in any way I can be! I welcome you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or I’d encourage you to visit me at www.livewellshineon.com where you can find links to my blog, Facebook and Instagram accounts so we can connect with each other more frequently. Thank you Brett for this incredible opportunity to dive deep with you and virtually with all of the amazing blog-reading souls we’ve connected to! Namaste everybody!