I am very excited to announce that I received my Fitness Nutrition Specialist certification from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) last week. As a result, I’m now qualified to offer nutrition coaching to my clients and speak as an expert in general nutrition on my blog. So, what’s in it for you?
The great thing about the exercise industry boom over the last few decades is it has made exercise available to everyone with a seemingly limitless menu of options. This is known as the fitness industry even though, at best, most professionals in it have been able to address only two out of the three components of fitness with their clients.
Separate from that, there’s a diet industry which is accessible to the average American but, often, has a precarious connection to true fitness and health. This industry, largely, has very little oversight, no universal training standards and no certification process. Many popular diets are touted by non-professionals, like celebrities, who nonetheless have enormous influence over a population focused on dieting to achieve a certain body shape.
There are dietary professionals that include registered dieticians (RDs) and licensed nutritionists. However, they’re a part of the medical industry and patients often need a referral from their doctors to see one of these professionals. RDs and nutritionists assist those with health conditions that require a specialized diet such as those with diabetes, Celiac Disease, heart disease, food allergies and those in nursing homes. They’re a vital part of our health industry, but they’re neither accessible to nor appropriate for the average, apparently healthy individual who needs help establishing a balanced diet for the purposes of overall health and fitness.
In short, there has been a glaring gap in the fitness industry with an absence of qualified individuals to assist those seeking general health through diet along with exercise and proper sleep habits. Organizations, such as ACE, who have been training and certifying group exercise instructors and personal trainers for decades, have recognized this gap and have worked with medical and nutrition professionals to develop a training program for their fitness professionals so that they can add nutrition coaching to their services.
What I Can’t Do
- Prescribe a Specific Diet: I can guide people on the types of foods they should eat, how much they should eat and how to make sound decisions about food choices. But, I can’t prescribe a daily menu or advocate for a specific diet plan. However, giving individuals the parameters of a healthy diet and the knowledge to assess their options intelligently while allowing them to choose what to eat within those parameters, provides her with ownership of her choices and the ability to choose according to her preferences. This translates to a greater likelihood she’ll be able to adopt these dietary habits for a lifetime.
- Diagnose a Dietary Problem or Eating Disorder: Eating disorders and diseases that may be affected by diet are medical issues. These are best diagnosed by a medical doctor and treated with the assistance of an RD or licensed nutritionist.
- Prescribe Supplements: In fact, no one outside the medical profession should prescribe supplements. Supplements, regardless of what they state in their marketing, are not regulated. This means there’s a lot we don’t know about what’s actually in them, what their side effects may be, what types of health risks they may have or how they may interact with prescription medications.
What I Can Do
- Explain Recommended Dietary Guidelines: The government releases recommended dietary guidelines for apparently healthy individuals on a regular basis. These guidelines are developed by health and nutrition professionals based on the latest scientific studies. I can simplify these guidelines for my clients and readers so they can make sound food and portion choices in their daily diets. This knowledge also gives me the ability to assess the health of a mainstream diet based on how closely it follows the recommendations.
- Teach Individuals How to Read Nutrition Labels: I can teach individuals to assess the nutritional value of foods by reading the nutrition labels and ingredient lists on packaged foods. Knowing how to read food labels and what to look for is essential to making healthy food choices.
- Sort Nutrition Fact from Fiction in the Media: I’m trained to understand the difference between peer reviewed, published scientific studies and studies that are sponsored by individuals or organizations that have an interest in study results. I know the difference between the implications of clinical studies verses epidemiological studies. I can help people avoid knee-jerk reactions and confusion due to sensational nutrition headlines and contradictory statements in the media.
- Practical Advice: I have the expertise to develop strategies for healthy grocery shopping, eating out, recipes and cooking and communicate these to individual clients as well as through my blog.
So, you can expect to see more blog posts pertaining to healthy eating right along with my exercise-centric posts. I’m so happy to finally be able to offer a complete blueprint to fitness to you.
~ Michelle L Collins, ACE certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach