I Have Decided To Allow My (ACE) Health Coach Certificate to Expire. Here is Why.

I Have Decided To Allow My (ACE) Health Coaching Certificate to Expire. Here is Why.

Recently I received an email informing me that it’s time to renew my ACE (AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EXERCISE) health coach certification. It’s been two years since I passed their exam and became a certified health coach. If I had decided to pursue this renewal, it would have required some continued education classes, but I’ve decided to let the cert expire and move in another direction. Declining this checkpoint does not require me to notify anyone or to check any box. The decision was made amongst me, myself, and I, and now I’m sharing with you why.

I’ve been on a personal health journey forever. Haven’t we all? We all live in our bodies and navigate life in our vessels, right? My journey has looked like navigating and getting curious about visits to the doctor or to any “professional” who offers “health services,” getting experimental with diet, movement, sleep, mental and spiritual health, all while taking diligent notes, all in pursuit to live in a way that helps me feel my best. Much of what I see and experience in health, as information delivered through many health professionals and educational programs, doesn’t help me feel my best. How about you?

That’s life, though. Not everything is for everyone. 

What I have discovered through listening to loads of information on health while also embodying a lifestyle that has proven to support my mind, body, and soul is that there are so many ways to overcomplicate and over-intellectualize health. This over-complication can make it seem as though anyone without a formal health education or years of studying under their belt with the academic language to name every part of the body and logical reason for doing anything couldn’t possibly understand the intricacies of their body and what is required in their life to feel strong, healthy, connected, and alive.

But don’t we all know what it is we need? Don’t we all have the capability of discovering what feels good and right for us and what doesn’t? Can’t we reflect on our daily choices and notice how they play out in our bodies, minds, and lives?

YES! But some of the world tries to convince you that you couldn’t possibly understand what your body needs to be and feel healthy. Some of the world attempts to convince you that you couldn’t know how to heal from dis-ease. Many attempt to convince you that unless you have the language, certs, and years of classroom education through accredited programs, or even the hours of reading different studies then you don’t understand your body, mind, soul, and health.

In my experience with ACE, the lessons further disconnected me from my health with every step I took that was more aligned with their rigid beliefs around diet, exercise, healing, and accessing health practitioners (further outsourcing the work of living, connecting to one’s body, and being alive). 

Yes, I could renew the certification. Yes, I could play the game, take the classes, and tick a box to maintain a certificate. Sure, I don’t have to agree with everything I learn. But why would I risk filling my head with information that clogs my mind and will require unlearning anyway? Why play a game that disconnects me from myself so I can tell the world I played the game? 

If all the world is a stage, do I want to dress the part of someone who checks a box to associate with an education that pushes limitations, and disconnection? Or do I want to play the role of the person who knows? A person who knows what it takes to feel healthy, whole, and aware of my body and how I arrived there? Because I am the person who knows, and she is expansive, so why pretend to be anything else?

In the years before receiving my certificate, I explored my body, mind, soul, symptoms, and mobility. Of course, I continue to do so. I’ve done so through day-to-day life, through hard days, and good days. I’ve felt up, down, sick as a dog, fast, slow, tired, energized, strong, everything under the rainbow of feelings. This exploration led me to learn what is needed for me to feel healthy, whole, and alive. If I were to put the crucial elements of my health into a list form,to serve as reminders, it would look like the following:

  1. Follow my heart, my dreams, my belly.
  2. Get intimate with and know myself. Ask me what I want and need, and then offer that to myself in movement, food, relationships, energy, time, Monday-Sunday, morning, noon, and night.
  3. Observe nature and notice how I am nature and how nature is me. We are the same and flow similarly. Learn from rivers, trees, clouds, plants, fruits, veggies, wild animals, and humans. Do this again and again and again. 
  4. Move and make movement a lifestyle. Move in every way that my body wants and needs, which includes rolling around on the floor, balancing on curbs, climbing rocks, using monkey bars, and testing my strength and speed every day in some way. Play with my body as I would as a child. 
  5. Get to know my intuition, listen to it, and let it guide me.
  6. Learn and understand that the body heals. It’s always healing; the world tries to insist there are limitations to its ability to heal, but I will not subscribe to this. My body heals in the most profound ways, more than modern medicine can even admit. 
  7. My health is my life, and my life is my health. My health isn’t just my food and exercise but how I live all day and night.
  8. My life and lifestyle are medicine; they don’t need to look like anyone else’s. And they probably won’t. I don’t need to check boxes, be rigid, or listen to anyone outside myself.
  9. Regularly ask myself how I feel and listen to the answer. (Learn to) Be honest. This practice is an art form and a necessity.

I am not here to bash ACE, but I didn’t see these lessons in the textbook. I saw rigid rules that make even eating too complicated, all while omitting a deep connection to nature, intuition, lifestyle, all life choices, dreams, feelings, and the body’s ability to heal.

Where is the guidance on feelings and the deep reverberations of emotions? Where’s the oomph? Where is the taking your time to notice yourself and the world? Where is the deep self-trust?

In many “intelligent” or academic conversations, It’s too common to overlook or dismiss a person’s feelings. Even in a doctor’s office, I’ve witnessed emotions or physical responses to life labeled as weak evidence. 

But the body feels. That’s what it does. You eat, move, talk, hear and your body feels. You move through the world, and you feel, and that is data for you. Your body is a guide. Observing and noting these observations, watching patterns emerge, and learning from them are how one gathers wisdom. There is wisdom everywhere that can guide us. But I didn’t see any of this captured in ACE’s program.

I initially decided to pursue this certificate because I had spent years figuring out how to feel my healthiest, and I managed to do so and wanted to support others in doing so too. I found an accredited certification because I believed it could help me to be a better coach, while helping me to learn more language around these subjects.

 But as I studied their guidance to health, with every nutritional value of fruits and vegetables, how much time to move every day of the week and in what ways, and what professional to seek with each type of ailment, while supporting pharma more than I am comfortable with, I lost myself. I applied ACE’s health language and knowledge to my body, which is full of wisdom and experiences (and God). In the process, I forgot my inner wisdom and handed the “knowing” over to the accredited. And in the process, my body felt distant. I lost some of my flow, curiosity, wonder, and connection.

Over time, I realized I allowed this education to sway me from what my body knew to be true. 

After this realization, I slowly started to unlearn the language, rules, and lessons from ACE, and return home to my wise self, full of feelings and sensations. Return home to myself with the wisdom I gathered along the way, that can’t always fit into words but can always be felt, without a doubt.

This journey might be a lifelong practice of returning home to self again and again. For this reason, my experience of having temporarily swayed from my healthiest self doesn’t feel like a loss at all. It feels like a blessing because I am closer to myself and more connected to my health than ever. But what it took to return here, was unlearning the voice of the accredited and tapping into the raw knowing of my experiences and the evidence gathered by my body, mind, and soul.

And for these reasons, I won’t be playing the game, checking the boxes to meet certification needs. I will be moving with the flow of me, tapping into my strength, getting off my booty and moving my body, eating up life and thoroughly chewing it, digesting it, and absorbing all of it (outside this cert.) I will do my best to lead by example and share wisdom along the way.

However, you don’t need to hear this from me because you already know.  

*Nothing here is medical advice. You’re in charge of your health. 

When do you feel your healthiest?

Dear Readers,

I am now accepting donations for Blue Like Water. If you can and would like to donate in the name of art, writing, and more posts like this one, you can donate through PayPal or Venmo, both of which are linked below. I receive all donations with gratitude. No amount is too small. Thank you for being here, for reading, and for your support. Cheers!-Allison

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