• Mireille Wagner

Excellent health, thriving business: Mireille's journey as a functional medicine coach

I am very thrilled to present you "Co-create LAB", a series of guest blog posts on my website where talented entrepreneurs from Switzerland and beyond will share their expertise with us on LinkedIn, personal branding, health & prevention, career change, web design, digital marketing, creative writing, and, of course, community-building.

For this post, I am inviting you to meet, Mireille Wagner, Functional Medicine Health Coach.

I had the chance to have a chat with Mireille about her professional background, work, life choices, health, and more.

I have joined Mireille in her 7 Day Clean Eating Challenge to eliminate food that creates inflammation and I was so impressed by her kindness and willingness to support us throughout the program. It was back in January 2021, but I am still tapping into the knowledge I got and the good habits I started to form.

One of the highlights is the morning or afternoon smoothy that has become a must for me.

Not a day passes without this delicious and healthy drink: 1 cup of almond milk or water, 1 banana, 1 cup of blueberries with a pinch of kindness, and self-love.

Can you share with us a few words about your journey, your career change decision, and what led you to embrace functional medicine coaching?

Thanks, Monica! You know, I didn’t always eat the way I do now. I never made the connection between my symptoms and the food I eat. Most of my relatives on my mom’s side of the family suffer from skin issues and asthma, but they are not in the right space to change or even hear the message that food can have such a dramatic impact on their symptoms. People need a WHY to change. For me, it was the death of a friend who was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. I couldn’t understand for one, how something that serious could not have been picked up sooner, and while I was trying to help her, I searched really hard for evidence about what was the right diet for people with such a diagnosis. Unfortunately, at that time, I didn’t find the information I was looking for. Changing careers was then more of a crossroads event. Do I go down a road that I know and understand, or do I take a leap into the unknown? It’s been a fascinating journey and I’m so grateful I did it, because not only have I learned so much, but I am helping to change lives while doing so.

Mireille, you are so active on different social media platforms.

Recently, I discovered you on Instagram, where you raise awareness about the importance of clean eating and healthy habits. Which are the most frequent questions people ask about health? What would you like to be asked and we never ask?

Each person’s needs are different, so people are generally asking different questions, but essentially the answers boil down to 3 very basic concepts: maximizing what is good for your body, minimizing what is not, and prioritizing everything in your environment that is supportive of your wellbeing. Sounds extremely basic in principle, but it’s the implementation and sometimes a bit of a lack of knowledge as to all the components of that model. That’s where the coaching and the education come in.

One of my early jobs as a student was selling financial education via telecanvassing, which still ranks up there as one of my worst undertakings as nobody gets rejected as much as a tele-canvasser does! One of the lessons that stuck with me though, I took from part of our sales script. We were encouraged to ask the question: “who has more interest in your financial wealth – you or your financial advisor?” Of course, this question always drives home the importance that nobody is more invested and interested in your wealth (or health or relationship, etc) more than you, YOURSELF, and by acknowledging that, we should take action accordingly, to at least learn and understand how something works before giving it off to someone else. As in the case of our health, of course, we should not be giving it off to someone else to manage, but this is exactly what the current system does. We have been giving the power to doctors to make us feel better, tell us what pill to take, when in fact the power really is in our own hands.

What is your biggest satisfaction as a health coach? What inspires you to wake up in the morning and continue helping others?

It is the greatest gift to be able to wake up in the morning excited about how what I do might help someone. Even if I’m not the one that makes them take direct action, but maybe they hear something from me that sets off a chain reaction of thoughts that may eventually lead to change down the line.

What advice would you like to give to someone who wants to change her/his food habits, but doesn’t know where to start and feels lost in the ocean of so many resources and information?

There really is a LOT of information out there and lots of people peddling their wares and the latest or best program to get you XYZ result. It is very tempting to sign up for everything, I know – because I do it too.

This is a journey and not a destination and one may need many guides along the way – some will help more than others, but you usually learn something from each person.

Doing things alone is generally slower and less motivating, so I always find resources where you become part of a community are much more helpful. Find people who are achieving what you want to achieve is always a good start and pick a coach that resonates with you.

I do video interviews with lots of my colleagues for just this reason.

We all have different stories that will resonate with someone else.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to start their own business as a health coach?

There are some great health coaching providers out there and some offer business-building support, but most new health coaches end up really struggling to get clients straight out of school. Most of the time this is because of our imposter syndrome.

When you realize that you have a journey that others can learn from, it becomes much easier to get over that feeling of not knowing enough.

As business owners, we have to handle so many things at the same time, we lead and execute and it’s an ongoing journey of learning, failing forward, and keep going. How do you manage work and personal life? What’s your secret?

Hahaha! I wish I had a secret. I battle the work/life balance as much as all the passionate workers out there. For me there is a blur between work and fun – I find my work so fun and interesting that I could get lost in there all day. I am learning to pay people to do the tasks that I don’t enjoy as much, but I am still striving to really leave work thoughts behind at the end of the day.

A question I have always wanted to ask, but I didn’t dare to ask it until now:

Why junk food is so cheap?

Crops that have been genetically modified can be harvested earlier, suffer fewer pests and cost much less to produce than crops that are allowed to grow naturally. The whole food chain becomes cheaper – so the cow that is fed GMO food gets fatter quicker than the cow raised on the pastures and can be slaughtered quicker, shortening the entire time (& costs) to table. Of course “junk food” these days is also very far from food – much of what we get in a bag does not in any shape or form resemble the “food” it was derived from! That also surprises me about the vegan movement – why would anyone eat “vegan chicken”? But that’s a whole different discussion on its own!

What’s your favorite social media platform and why?

I don’t have a favorite social media platform. My favorite would be one I am most likely to use myself – so, in honesty, I get the most value out of Pinterest, even though I don’t feature anything myself on Pinterest.

Can you share with us a quote that has empowered you to move forward?

Progress, not perfection. I have to keep reminding myself (and my clients) that moving forward can look really messy! 😊

We recently participated together in a Storytelling for Impact workshop organized by Fructify Network. I think you are managing your business with authenticity, respect, and empathy. How can we integrate storytelling in our business and bring our authentic selves to work without sounding too pretentious or aggressive?

When we learn to let go of trying to be someone we’re not, things become easier. I think there are so many health coaches out there who feel like they might get judged for not being the picture of health.

Most of us got into this business not because we were good at being healthy, but because we pretty much did things wrong for so long and have been learning and are still learning as we go along!

Thank you so much for making time for my "Co-Create Lab" Series. Are you working on a new project or workshop? I would love to hear more about your next adventures.

Yes! Leveling up from my 30-Day Reboot Program, which is all about helping our bodies to naturally let go of toxins by eliminating inflammatory foods, incorporating much more fruit and veg in our day, and learning some detox rituals, I have been doing a beta program for people wanting to work on their gut health. It is a level up, as the foundation really is in changing one’s diet which we cover in the 30-Day Reboot, but there are many people who suffer from autoimmune issues who have done extensive elimination diet programs and still haven’t found many resolutions – that is what the Great Gut Glorious Gut Program aims to do – take these people deeper into finding more clues to their health puzzle.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to share my knowledge. It has been great connecting with you!

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