Carving a Wellness Path
Susana Crispin on becoming a health and wellness coach
All the changes to life’s daily routine in recent months have been a challenge, to say the least. While some may take those changes in stride and adapt easily to an ever-changing model, many need some guidance about how to best handle added stress, pressure, and uncertainty.
SUSANA CRISPIN knows, all too well, about how sudden news or changes can affect people, so she founded My Way Wellness to help.
“A few years back, I received the news that my HgA1c level was basically at the pre-diabetes stage,” Crispin says. “For some people, that may not mean much, but I come from a family riddled with Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and I thought I was too young to have this. When I asked what I should do so I didn’t develop full-blown diabetes, the nurse plainly said, ‘just lay off the carbs.’ Then, there were no other recommendations for monitoring by my physician or follow-ups scheduled.”
“I had to take matters into my own hands. I did some research on prediabetes, read about four different books on behavior change and building healthy habits, joined a group class, and set myself on the path to reverse this condition,” she adds.
In addition to her own health news, her father passed away from cancer and she started seeing a gap between patient and clinician relationships that she felt she could do something about.
“If only there could be someone to bridge that gap, who could give some guidance, support, accountability, frequent follow-ups, and empower patients to find their own motivation to make the necessary changes,” Crispin says. “Lo and behold, I found an article about health and wellness coaching on the Mayo Clinic website. That is how I got started thinking about transitioning from a life coach to a health coach and starting my own business in this very new field.”
Crispin did some additional post-baccalaureate training at the Mayo Clinic Wellness Coach Training program and received her certification a year later.
Susana wanted her services to be attainable for everyone. The gap widens in underserved communities, and many health coaches are expensive.
“I thought about those who need this the most and how there are clear health disparities within our minority communities,” Crispin says. “That’s when I decided to make it official and open My Way Wellness and offer services that would be affordable to those who are underserved.”
One way of cutting costs herself and her clients was to not have a traditional brick-and-mortar office that people would have to visit in person. Crispin went digital before the COVID-19 era, offering sessions via video conference and telephone.
“It has worked for me and my clients ever since. This method also opened up the doors to have clients across the country and even some internationally,” she says. “When my clients are on vacation and facing a challenge, they have me essentially in their pocket and can send me a message and receive a response in real-time.”
To better understand what services a health and wellness coach offers, it is important to know exactly what a health and wellness coach is.
“Health and wellness coaches are professionals who help individuals make behavioral changes to achieve wellness or health-related goals,” says Crispin. “Those goals are generated by the individual or, sometimes, their physician. We help our clients create an ultimate vision of themselves based on what is meaningful and important to them as individuals. Then we help them break down that vision into short term goals, which in turn are broken down further into actionable steps that they can take on a weekly basis to get there.”
One of the biggest hurdles for most is admitting help is needed, this is where health coaches come in, she says.
“Health coaches offer a safe space with no judgment where they partner with their clients to create a plan that can align well with their particular circumstances and lifestyle,” Crispin says. “Another important aspect of health and wellness coaching is that we help our clients put systems in place for when things get difficult or face challenges.”
What makes coaching s effective, Crispin says, is that it helps individuals plan for when things don’t go according to plan, they help find ways to build healthy habits that will be sustainable over the long-term.
“Coaches also use a holistic approach to wellness,” she says. “That is why we help individuals build habits that have to do with eating healthy, having more physical activity, managing stress, increasing mindfulness, improving sleep, cultivating healthy relationships/social connection, and avoiding harmful substances.”
This year Crispin will be converting some of the in-person group coaching programs to virtual ones including “Diabetes Undone” and “The Full Plate Diet” programs. She also works with small businesses that want to give individual coaching or group coaching programs to their employees as a benefit.
To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to michaelclinephoto.com.
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