Convos with a Coach: Kathryn Matthews, Functional Health Coach

by | Convos with a Coach

Convos with a Coach is an interview mini-series where I, Taysia Peterson, sit down over a cozy beverage and ask coaches of all modalities how they got started in business, what decisions led to their success, and why they set upon this journey in the first place. If you’re interested in a written interview, apply here!

Today I am excited to introduce past client, friend, and beautiful soul, Kathryn Matthews!

T: So, Kathryn – tell me about your business. What is it called and when did you launch?

K: My business is Kathryn Matthews | The Nourished Epicurean. I officially launched on February 15th of 2015.

T: What kind of coach are you? Who do you help?

K: I’m a Functional Health Coach. I help clients achieve their wellness goals — no matter what their current health challenge — through food choices, lifestyle habits, and mindset.

In addition to providing education and general guidance for healthy living practices, I also specialize in digestive health, hormone balance, and food sensitivities. I am also a Behavioral Coach trained in CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approaches. I have worked with many clients suffering from anxiety and/or depression. The goal of CBT coaching is to help individuals learn how to identify—and change distorted thinking patterns that can lead to unproductive, unhealthy, or self-sabotaging behaviors.

The idea behind a CBT approach is that, while you cannot control factors outside of yourself (e.g., the weather; traffic; a toxic personality; how someone reacts in a specific situation / environment; or how someone behaves towards you), you do have control over how you choose to think about or interpret a situation, which influences the choices you make and actions you take.

T: It’s so powerful when you take ownership of your reactions and stop trying to control others’ reactions. What would you say sets you apart from other health coaches?

K: I focus on understanding what keeps a client feeling ‘stuck’ and unable to move forward when it comes to their health or their life. In my practice, I have found that unresolved trauma is often an underlying theme. This is an area that I typically explore in-depth.

Allowing clients to share their story in a safe space — without judgment — is the first step in releasing that trauma from their bodies and often an important part of their healing journey.

T: That safe space sounds amazing. Trauma and the shame it carries along with it are such a huge part of the healing journey. How did you get started in business?

K: I got my first two clients by happenstance. One was a neighbor, a graduate school student who wanted my help shifting to healthier food choices and lifestyle habits. The other was a woman, who I overheard telling her friends at a health food store that she wanted to detox and was looking for a good detox tea. I felt like I could help her… so I introduced myself and we ended up working together!

I was also interested in getting into corporate wellness. In a Facebook group, I connected with a like-minded health coach who introduced me to two health coaches, who were already working with health fair companies. The two coaches recruited me as a regular vendor at company health fairs. Attending corporate health fairs — as a vendor — enabled me to directly promote my health coaching services in several ways.

  1. Employees who attended these health fairs were potential prospects for my services, and I had an opportunity to explain in-person the services I offered. They had a chance to discuss their specific health concerns and schedule a consultation (at a discounted fee) if they were interested.
  2. Corporate health fairs were a great way to grow my email list because employees often signed up for my free e-newsletter.
  3. I had an opportunity to connect with HR to discuss their corporate wellness needs and how I might be able to help.
  4. And four, personal and professional referrals have also been invaluable. Former clients have referred new clients to me. And one of my clients experienced such a dramatic improvement in her overall health after working with me that she referred my services to a physiotherapist who was looking to work with a functional health coach specializing in digestive health, and that physiotherapist referred many clients to me.

T: Wow. So at the end of the day, human-to-human personal connections were monumental in starting your business. What were you doing before launching your own business?

K: Well, after receiving my certification as a health coach in 2013, I still had one foot solidly in my previous career as a freelance health and lifestyles writer as I tried to “find my way” as a health coach.

Over time, however, I realized that I would have to commit 100% of time, focus and energy to growing — and maintaining — my practice.

T: Were there any decisions you made or lessons learned that led to your success?

K: My biggest lesson in growing my health coaching practice has been learning that what you want — whether personally or professionally — requires that you step outside your comfort zone. And, I had to step out of my comfort zone — a lot!

As an introvert, there were many things that, initially, felt very uncomfortable for me:

being a vendor at corporate health fairs; talking to strangers about my coaching services without feeling “salesy”; public speaking (something about which I always felt anxious, but this was necessary to overcome if I wanted to pursue corporate wellness opportunities); my relationship with money: this included feeling comfortable charging what my time and expertise were worth; attending networking functions; and, navigating technology, from using an email marketing service and creating a sales page, to finding a website designer with whom I felt comfortable redesigning my website (much gratitude and thanks to Taysia!), to establishing a presence on social media.

T: Oh my gosh, yes. So many “hats” to wear when you turn your passion into a business.

K: A few other lessons I learned were: 1 – growing your business means that you will continually invest time, money and energy into your business, whether it’s learning a new modality (for example, reiki, yoga or acupuncture) that you want to incorporate into your practice or new technology, marketing, or hiring.

And 2 – not everything in which you invest your time or energy will be right for you. And this is OK. Consider it a learning opportunity and move on.

What other coaches, wellprenuers or entrepreneurs tout as “the solution” may not be a good fit for you.

For example, I was invited to join a business networking group that is highly regarded and by which many people have sworn great success. But, in terms of style and structure, I did not feel it was a good fit for me. I’ve been asked to join various multi-level marketing companies for specific nutritional products or supplements. With one exception (and I left in 2019), I have declined because an MLM did not feel right—for me—even if the person recruiting me shared amazing success stories.

Bottom line: listen to your intuition, your gut instinct — and heed it. Be open to trying new approaches and/or strategies to grow your practice. Ultimately, however, that all-knowing inner voice will help you discern what most aligns with who you are and the goals of your coaching practice.

T: Beautiful words of wisdom, Kathryn! Trusting your gut in business can be so hard if you get stuck comparing yourself to others or feel overwhelmed by the thousands of ‘gurus’ out there.

If you could define your ‘why’, what would it be? What keeps you going day to day?

K: My ‘why’ is the result of having personally experienced how empowering — and transformative — it can be when you are proactive about your health and well-being. I have experienced this firsthand.

By shifting from convenience-based to mindful, health-supporting food choices and lifestyle habits, you can dramatically improve the quality of your life physically emotionally and psychologically.

From cradle to grave, we have been programmed to outsource our health and our bodies to a conventional medical system.

We assume that doctors know our bodies better than we do. We tolerate being gaslighted by medical “experts” when we express concern about symptoms and/or when something does not feel right (”it’s all in your head” or “that’s ‘normal’ as you age”, etc.), and we obediently take medications we are prescribed — without questioning their efficacy or side effects.

Before I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I had been experiencing a constellation of worrisome symptoms for over 5 years: hair loss, stubborn weight gain, brain fog, extreme fatigue, cold sensitivity, anxiety, constipation, mood swings, and low immunity.

In my quest for answers as to why I was experiencing these symptoms, I would be told: “It’s stress. Come back in 6 months, and we’ll see where you are.”

Or

“We can put you on an antidepressant, birth control pill or fill-in-the-blank medication.”

At the time, my PCP even said: “Kathryn, you’re a woman. Women are always tired (or depressed)!”

T: * GASP * Wow.

K: When I found myself suffering from severe adrenal exhaustion, where even a 5-minute phone conversation left me perspiring, trembling and utterly depleted, I finally took charge of my health.

First, I found an integrative doctor (through a holistic health-minded online community) who, after extensive testing, finally provided a diagnosis — Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and severe adrenal exhaustion — that had eluded all of the conventional doctors I had consulted over five years.

I actively participated in my own recovery by making anti-inflammatory food and lifestyle choices; working on my own limiting beliefs around health; allowing myself to rest; exploring relaxation and meditation; and, learning everything I could (through books, videos and podcasts) about how to heal Hashimoto’s and adrenal exhaustion naturally.

My recovery took about 10 months, but the experience was both illuminating and empowering.

This is my ‘why’… I want to help people understand how powerful they can be in manifesting optimal health… naturally.

T: What is one thing you love about the wellness community?

K: What I love about the natural wellness community is that it offers a diversity of mind-body solutions for any health condition.

For example, if you suffer from chronic pain, you could make anti-inflammatory food choices and engage in healthy lifestyle habits.

Other complementary antidotes or approaches might include acupuncture; essential oils; supplements that help reduce inflammation; detoxification strategies and/or somatic therapy.

And, unlike the conventional medical system, where cutting edge research takes 17 years, on average, to trickle down and enter a medical practice (for example, think how long it’s taken for conventional MDs to recognize that Vitamin D plays a critical role in our immunity and overall health; studies have been out highlighting the benefits of Vitamin D since the early 2000s), the natural wellness community is constantly evolving its strategies and solutions, integrating the latest research and newest treatment protocols.

T: Wow, thank you so much for the amazing conversation today Kathryn. I loved getting to chat with you about what you do and learning about your unique perspective and story.

You can find Kathryn Matthews online at her website www.thenourishedepicurean.com, her Instagram @kathrynmatthews_functionalhc, her Holistic Health Link profile, and her Lab Work page!

 

If you’re interested in a written interview on our Convos with a Coach series, apply here!

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