In this interview, we delve into the world of holistic health and functional medicine with Rachel Hurmence, a dedicated health coach. Rachael’s approach to health and wellness encompasses a holistic perspective that extends beyond traditional healthcare. She emphasizes the importance of addressing root causes and adopting sustainable lifestyle changes, guided by functional medicine principles. Throughout the interview, Rachael sheds light on the misconceptions surrounding health coaching, the challenges individuals face in pursuing optimal health, and the transformative power of a holistic approach. Her personal journey and commitment to empowering others to make informed decisions about their well-being serve as the foundation for her work, offering valuable insights into the multifaceted world of holistic health and functional medicine.
[Q] Who do you primarily help, and how?
I primarily assist women, generally between their early 20s and late 60s, with a broad spectrum of health concerns. My specialization lies in working with women who have thyroid problems. Beyond that, I offer support to those facing gastrointestinal issues, autoimmune conditions, and hormone-related challenges. As a functional medicine and holistic health coach, I address a wide range of health issues.
[Q] What are the most common health challenges people seek your help with?
The most frequent issue I encounter is gastrointestinal (GI) problems, which can be quite challenging as they impact daily life and can’t be easily avoided. Digestive issues can cause a range of health problems. Addressing them effectively involves a gradual process of altering the gut microbiome, and this can take time. To tackle GI issues, I collaborate with various healthcare providers who order specific lab tests. One commonly used test is the stool test, although it may not be the most pleasant experience, it provides valuable insights. These tests allow us to gain a deep understanding of the underlying issues, as many GI problems present with similar symptoms. By conducting tests, we can pinpoint the exact problem and develop an effective treatment plan.
[Q] What is your overall approach to guiding clients toward better health?
I follow a functional medicine and holistic-based approach. Functional medicine is alternative healthcare focused on identifying the root causes of symptoms and diseases through lab testing. The holistic approach is reflected in the comprehensive treatment plan we create.
My approach doesn’t narrow down to just one aspect of health. I’m not a nutritionist or a dietitian, so I don’t exclusively focus on food, and I’m not a personal trainer, so I don’t dive deep into specific exercises or mobility. Instead, I take a broader view. We consider dietary choices, exercise, stress management, sleep patterns, and factors related to social and spiritual well-being. All of these elements play a role in our overall health, and rarely is it just one factor.
I work incrementally with individuals to make gradual adjustments to their diet and lifestyle, aiming to improve their overall health. Initially, a holistic approach might seem overwhelming because it involves making changes in multiple areas, such as incorporating exercise, modifying dietary habits, prioritizing sleep, and managing stress, all while maintaining a balanced mindset. However, we focus on sustainability and avoid fad or crash diets, as they typically don’t lead to long-term success.
[Q] How do you define holistic medicine and its role in your practice?
Holistic medicine, in my view, strikes a balance between two healthcare extremes. Western medicine is often quick to prescribe medications to address symptoms. On the other, there’s the holistic realm, which can lead to better overall health in the long run but may also be slower in resolving the immediate symptoms..
In my practice, I aim for a middle ground. I use evidence-based tools like lab testing, but I also incorporate natural approaches. My approach begins with a “Food First” perspective, emphasizing dietary changes. These changes can make significant improvements to how you feel early on, motivating further adjustments, which may include supplements, addressing sleep patterns, or managing stress levels. It’s about finding a balanced, effective path to better health.
[Q] What are the key benefits and outcomes clients typically experience through your guidance?
The most significant benefit my clients report is an overall enhancement in their quality of life. When health issues limit your ability to pursue your passions, care for yourself, and nurture relationships, it can be challenging. My ultimate goal is to help individuals create a sustainable lifestyle that enriches their lives, enabling them to pursue their goals and passions. Many of us desire more than just a daily routine; we want to travel, improve hobbies, or start businesses, but health challenges can hinder these aspirations.
Because I work with a diverse range of health concerns, the outcomes will vary among clients. Some focus on weight management or weight loss, which we can track. Others seek diabetes prevention, and we monitor markers like A1C and blood sugar levels for improvements. Certain clients grapple with stress management and coordination of health-related activities, so we work on those.
A common positive outcome among my clients is a shift in mindset. This encompasses their perspective on health and related activities, which can often be barriers to achieving optimal well-being. I emphasize balance and sustainability, avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach. It is my goal to work with each individual’s preferences and circumstances rather than impose rigid rules. The health and wellness field often prescribes rigid dos and don’ts, but I believe that true happiness lies in the flexible and enjoyable path to health and well-being that embraces individuality.
[Q] How do you ensure your clients stay committed to their long-term goals?
I primarily offer health coaching memberships with regular sessions, typically weekly or biweekly. This consistent interaction plays an important role in maintaining accountability, which is key to achieving long-term goals. Many of us have aspirations that remain unfulfilled because we lack the accountability and action plan needed to make progress.
In our sessions, we conduct check-ins to track progress, revisit previous discussions, and address any challenges clients may have encountered. What sets these one-on-one sessions apart is that they create a unique space for clients. Unlike typical interactions where instructions are given, our coaching relationship focuses on empowering clients to explore their own needs, values, and future visions. I help them create a plan that genuinely motivates them and aligns with their passions, rather than simply imposing some set of directives. It’s about fostering self-motivation and personal growth.
[Q] Are there any misconceptions about your role as a health coach?
Absolutely, there are some common misconceptions about what a health coach does. When people hear “health coach,” they often think of personal trainers, nutritionists, or meal plan providers. However, these assumptions are inaccurate because they don’t fully grasp the role of a coach. A health coach isn’t here to give you a strict plan and dictate what you must do. Instead, our role is to facilitate your learning and personal growth.
So, what exactly does a health coach do? It’s more aligned with what I mentioned earlier—we create a supportive space and assist you in developing your own plan. But we also provide education and insights. I share a wealth of knowledge with my clients, explaining the science behind cravings, the causes of sleep disturbances, and the potential benefits of various supplements. This educational component is crucial because, in my journey to become a health coach, I’ve invested time in extensive research and learning. By sharing this knowledge, I save my clients from the overwhelming task of sifting through conflicting information in the health and wellness sphere.
There’s also the aspect of accountability. While I collaborate with healthcare providers like nurse practitioners, my role differs significantly. As a health coach, I don’t prescribe medications or directly interpret lab results. Instead, I help clients access these services and guide them in understanding the information. Often, when you receive lab results from a doctor, they may tell you that you’re “fine,” even if you’re experiencing symptoms. With a health coach, we take those results and work on improvement. This is where functional medicine comes into play; it utilizes lab ranges based on optimal health, not just averages from a potentially less healthy population. My goal is to help clients achieve optimal ranges, ensuring they enjoy a symptom-free and optimized state of health. This way, they can live without constant health concerns or the fear of potential future issues, which can have a significant impact on one’s well-being.
[Q] What prevents more people from seeking the help you offer?
There are several barriers that can deter people from seeking the help I provide. First, there’s a societal perception that when you’re unwell, you should see a doctor, not a health coach. Similarly, when people don’t feel their best, they often don’t consider consulting a personal trainer. This perception can be an obstacle because people may not realize the value of having a health coach until they experience it.
Another significant barrier is finances. In the healthcare world, most people expect their health insurance to cover their healthcare needs. However, functional medicine, and the approach I pursue, commonly have limited or no insurance coverage. Consequently, clients typically have to pay out of pocket for their healthcare, which can be a significant deterrent.
While the lack of insurance coverage limits accessibility, there is a silver lining to this situation. Without the constraints imposed by insurance guidelines, our providers and I have greater flexibility in our approach. Insurance often dictates the care individuals receive, and if they fall within the normal ranges, they may not receive treatment or support. Moreover, insurance plans tend to cover medications but may not support more natural treatments like supplements. This absence of restrictions enables us to provide care tailored to our client’s specific needs, free from the constraints of insurance limitations.
[Q] What inspires your work as a health coach?
My own health journey is a significant source of inspiration for my work. I believe that every health coach has a unique story that led them to this field. In college, I never envisioned myself as a health coach; my academic path was in Psychology. However, during that time, I encountered my own health challenges, including hormone issues and gut problems, which were very new to me. Growing up, I hadn’t experienced major health concerns, although I wasn’t always extremely health-conscious either.
In college, these health issues prompted me to question what was happening. It just didn’t feel right. I eventually traced many of my health problems back to the use of birth control and the associated hormones. Birth control is a common method used by many women, so it was initially challenging for me to connect it to my health problems.
Once I made that connection, I took matters into my own hands to better understand my health because I found that doctors had limited answers for me. Medical advice often revolved around trying different forms of birth control, which didn’t address the root cause of my issues. This left me frustrated and questioning why these problems were occurring in the first place. I became disillusioned with the healthcare system and the medical advice I received.
This frustration and the realization that there was a lack of information and knowledge about these issues motivated me to take action. I felt a strong desire to share the knowledge I had gained through my research and personal experiences with other women. My goal was to ensure that others didn’t have to endure similar struggles without understanding the reasons behind their health challenges. Ultimately, my own health journey propelled me to become a health coach with a mission to empower others with knowledge and support them on their paths to improved health.
[Q] How can people find out more about you and take the next steps?
You can find me on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok under the handle RachelClaire.HHC. Additionally, you can visit my website, rachelclairehhc.com, for more details about me and the services I offer.
I always offer a free consultation, so if you’re interested in learning more about functional medicine, lab testing, or any health and wellness topics, I’m here to chat. During the consultation, we can discuss your specific needs and goals, helping us determine if this approach is the right fit for you. Whether it leads to working with me or not, I’m committed to providing guidance and information to help you make informed decisions about your health. If you have any questions or are unsure where to start, the consultation is the ideal first step.