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June 10, 2024

E29 | How working with a Health Coach can help you navigate the day-to-day challenges of living with a chronic illness

Do you know what the number one obstacle that prevents people with chronic conditions from getting better, even after trying various treatments and medications, is?

Many people face persistent challenges and unrelenting symptoms despite their best efforts and numerous approaches to managing their chronic conditions.

This frustration often stems from a lack of the right support and guidance to help navigate the complexities of chronic illness. That's where a Functional Medicine health coach comes in, providing the expertise and tailored support needed to make lasting changes.


  • Why a lack of support is the top barrier to improving chronic health conditions.
  • How a Functional Medicine health coach can break down your health goals into manageable steps.
  • The importance of personalized nutrition and holistic lifestyle changes in achieving sustainable health.
  • The critical role of accountability and continuous guidance in long-term health improvements.
  • Real-life examples of transformative health changes through the support of a health coach.

When you finish listening, I'd love to hear your biggest takeaway! Take a screenshot while you listen and tag me on Instagram @aninditarungta.


Episodes Mentioned:

Book Recommendation: I wish I knew by Donna Ashworth

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@aninditarungta | nourish heal connect | Embrace Your Healing Journey

Your body knows how to heal, are you ready to support it?


Do you know what is the number one obstacle that prevents people with chronic conditions from getting better in spite of trying various treatments, medications?

In today's episode, I covered this and much more as I share how working with the health coach can help you navigate the day to day challenges of dealing with any kind of chronic condition. That's all coming up next right here on Embrace Your Healing Journey. Welcome to Embrace Your Healing Journey, a podcast for women with autoimmune and other chronic conditions to help them navigate the illness without fear of isolation and uncertainty and find relief from their symptoms. Your body is your guide and ally in healing. If you're ready to embrace this journey with compassion and awareness, then the show is for you. Tune in weekly as I, a Functional medicine certified health coach, deliver tips and insights that demystify the healing process, guiding you towards the relief you deserve so that you can feel healthy and happy once more.

In each episode, I share with you a poem, stories, quotes that help you to draw strength from and stay motivated on your healing journey. These are books and resources that have helped me in some way or the other. I am a voracious reader. If you've been listening to my episodes, you will probably realize that. And for today, I want to share a poem by one of my favorite poets. She's a modern day Instagram poet, Donna Ashworth, who's come up with some beautiful books that I often buy and give gifts to my family, my clients, and my friends. And today, the poem that I want to share with you is called The Only Change You Need from the book I wish I knew.

She says,

Your body has been changing since the day you were born, and it will continue to change until the day you die.

 Fighting the change is a lifelong battle which will bring you much misery and sorrow. If you can accept your body early in this journey of life, you will see it thrive. You will automatically look after it and you will save yourself a world of pain, metaphorically and literally.
You are not a fashion trend or a mannequin.
You are a human being made up of flesh, bones and heart. And you're pretty awesome just the way you are.

Don’t change the way you look sweet one, change the way you see.
It's the only adjustment you will ever need.

I love this simple reminder of a humanity, of being comfortable with the changes that our body is constantly going through, of the fact that often we need to change the way that we look at things. Which is basically caused by changing your perspective about things rather than trying to change things that you really cannot change because you don't have any control over it. So the only thing that you have control over is your own perception, your own thoughts, and what you choose to focus on. So if you are not able to come to terms with, uh, you know, the challenges that we are going on in our lives, a lot of times things are pretty much out of control. Then our struggles and pain actually increase. Our pain and suffering actually increases a lot more. If we are not able to actually accept that those things are beyond our control.

But what is what can help us is to change the way that we look at things. R So it's a matter of changing the way we look at things. And this is even more important when you're dealing with any chronic condition, because your symptoms may keep on changing continuously. You may be taking medication, medications, but you still may not see a lot of respite. Your symptoms may keep on varying, maybe even from day to day or even hour to hour. You may be dealing with constant flare ups, and I remember that this was the kind of scenario that our family used to go through all those years ago when we were dealing with our daughter's severe eczema. And this was after she was actually put on a strong immune suppressing medications, and even then, her symptoms were not much in control. Like we would barely manage on a day to day basis. And I remember those nights that used to be so awful because she used to have this terrible itching that used to go on, and no amount of antihistamine could help that. And she was so young, but she couldn't really sleep through the night. So one of us, my husband or I, used to sort of sleep with her, and he used to have to go to work. I was a stay at home mom at that time, so I was the one who was typically, uh, you know, used to lie down with her at night and, uh, just try and rub her back and make sure to make, you know, as she was as comfortable as it was possible.
We had tried many different things by then. We had tried wet traps. We had tried all kinds of moisturizers, you name it, we had tried it. And even then, you know, uh, we were not able to bring her itching completely under control. It was much later when we actually, when I came across functional medicine. And I talk a bit about that today, and when I started working with a practitioner and we actually dealt with what was really going on, that finally her eczema, her itching, everything seemed, everything finally went up. But it was an extremely challenging and exhausting time for us for many years.

So maybe you are experiencing a wide range of symptoms that vary widely and are equally challenging. So you may be facing persistent fatigue that goes hand in hand with autoimmune conditions. So even your daily tasks can feel overwhelming. And you might be dealing with chronic pain. And that can manifest in joints, in muscles or as frequent headaches. Right. There's so many ways that these symptoms manifest themselves. And even digestive issues such as bloating, constipation or IBS may be a daily struggle. Brain fog is also extremely common. Stress, anxiety of living with these kind of conditions, you know, they often aggravate the physical symptoms It's a cycle that is often very hard to break. And, you know, my heart goes out to you or any other person who was, you know, dealing with all of this. This is typically what happens, what my clients are dealing with when they come and start working with me.

What I want you to remember is that your experience is unique, so it's really important that you receive personalized strategies to manage these symptoms more effectively because the real problem causing your symptoms in the context of chronic illnesses often lie in underlying systemic imbalances within your body. So that's what you will need to uncover. And unlike conventional medicine that approaches mostly on treating individual symptoms, functional medicine seeks to understand and address these root causes. And I've spoken about functional medicine and what it is in an earlier episode where we deal with, uh, find out and address the root causes, and I will share the episode link in the show notes below. So some of the things that conventional medicine, do does, but is ineffective is because of chronic inflammation and because inflammation can be a significant underlying factor. So that is what actually leads to joint pain, muscle pain, brain fog, etc.. And this can stem from from diet, lifestyle, environmental factors. You know, that's what makes it so hard, you know, makes it so hard to figure out where it's coming from.

And the other problem that can be is nutritional deficiencies. When you are, you know, that is in poor shape. your body actually starts lacking the essential nutrients and that can itself lead to fatigue, weakened immune function, and mental health issues. This is extremely common. And, uh, deficiencies in vitamin B12, D3, B6, they can profoundly impact your energy levels. And this is by far one of the, you know, most common reasons why most autoimmune, um, those who have autoimmune conditions actually tend to suffer from this chronic fatigue syndrome. Uh, then an imbalance in your gut microbe can cause digestive symptoms. You have bloating, indigestion, constipation, cramping, IBS like symptoms. So all of it is actually interconnected. Uh, hormonal imbalances. So issue with thyroid imbalance. Again, extremely common adrenal uh issues imbalances in reproductive hormones. These all are underlying factors that are, you know, typically at play here. And then last but not the least, toxin exposure, accumulation of environmental toxins can actually burden your body and increase what is called your toxic load.

 So this is a again which is becoming more and more rampant today. So persistent fatigue, headaches, skin issues like eczema. This was also one of the contributors to my daughter's health issues. Uh, and uh, in my daughter's case, her severe eczema, dry skin, sleepless nights, they were all symptoms of underlying imbalances, right? They were not the problem. So if you try and actually address these problems, you will not probably go far. What you will need to do is figure out a way to find out what is going on underneath all these issues and then, uh, you know, address. Also, in my daughter's case, it was not about managing her skin condition. We needed to address her dietary triggers, reduce inflammation, and then then finally work on immune, uh, function.

And it was later when I, as I mentioned, that it was later when I actually found functional medicine, you know, then I was able to get the steps to address her gut health. And her gut health actually was the key to getting her eczema under control. So I worked with a functional medicine practitioner who helped me implement all these strategies, and it was tremendously useful.  This is exactly what I needed. But I still took two years, which is pretty, uh, you know, a long time when you're dealing with all of this on a day to day basis. And this is one key aspect that was still missing from the kind of support that I, uh, you know, that I received and that is that is someone who could help me and guide me on a day to day basis to, you know, to tell me exactly how to make all these changes. Because as, as I'm talking about this, it's about dietary changes, lifestyle changes, even mindset changes. So, you know, I really felt that I it would have really helped me lessen my struggles, lessen the time that I took if I had someone to guide me at that time. So because I needed to address all of this, the chronic stress of living with a chronic condition, the sleepless nights, the moisturization of at least five times a day, reducing toxins in the environment.

Grappling all of this on a day to day basis was exhausting. This was two years after I started, uh, implementing functional medicine, uh, you know, practices and following functional medicine principles in our household. But it is all this started even before, during my research. So, you know, over 3 to 5 years of this would have actually really had to have someone to, you know, help me because many people living with chronic conditions have already tried a variety of approaches, but often with limited success. And these are some of the things that you may have tried to conventional medications. You might have relied on conventional medications that treat symptoms but don't address the underlying causes. This is number one, uh, you know, common, uh, way that people try and help themselves.

 So taking painkillers for chronic pain, but finding that the pain comes back once the medication wears off. And the reason for that is because you've not really addressed why. What is creating what is causing inflammation then even standard diet plans right? Following generic diet plans that are not, uh, tailored to your specific needs. In fact, one of my clients who's worked with me. Well, in the past had actually tried a paleo diet because she read about that this diet would help her, and she tried it for more than six months, but she didn't see much improvement. And secondly, she lost a lot of weight, which she couldn't afford to lose.

So you need to understand what is going to work for your body's unique requirements, then even supplementation. While supplements are extremely useful and taking the right kind of supplements, the right quality and the right dosage can help you to see improvements in, you know, and faster and just help things out with your managing your symptoms better. Using over-the-counter supplements without professional guidance can actually, uh, you know, be counterproductive because taking the right dosage, taking the right form, all of these things you will need to know about. So, for example, when it comes to magnesium, there's so many different forms of magnesium. So magnesium three unit is extremely beneficial for any kind of neurological symptoms. Uh, then on the other hand, magnesium citrate is the one that we recommend for those with constipation as it helps to move the stool along. And for many other things we use the form of magnesium glycine it so and and then we avoid magnesium oxalate. You know, these are not very good forms of magnesium. So dependent on knowing all these different forms. And there are so many other things that you need to be aware of is important. Then even isolated lifestyle changes. So trying exercising or to reduce stress without, you know, trying all different kind of lifestyle changes may or may not really work for you.

So you need to implement all of this together. And even short term therapies like an occasional visit to the physical therapist or, uh, you know, might temporary mindfulness practice may not give you the results that you want. So when, um, again, coming back to our example, when, uh, my daughter was struggling with severe eczema, we had tried numerous topical creams and steroids, and they all provided short term relief, but they did not really prevent flare up. They did not prevent her from feeling itchy, especially at night. Uh, and, you know, they just about managed to keep her skin Okay. But even then, in spite of all these medications, she used to constantly be itchy and especially at night. It used to be a huge problem. So the real breakthrough came only after we adopted a functional medicine approach, where we found and address the root causes of her symptoms, which is usually stems from the gut in 80% of chronic conditions.

And it's, you know, it seemed for a long time that we were stuck in a dark tunnel with no, you know, end in sight with no light at the end of it. But it was so sheer determination, persistence and a lot of effort over and, you know, over a number of years that finally we, uh, we started seeing the results. Right. But it would have really shortened that timeframe. It would have really hurt us had we, uh, got the support of someone like a health coach. So this level of comprehensive care and guidance is what you might be missing if past attempts haven't fully resolved your symptoms. So here is what you need to do. The number one obstacle that I mentioned that people face when trying to make changes and achieve their best health is not willpower, resources, or preparation. It is a lack of support. So everyone wants to of course get healthy and make better choices and get better. But they need someone who's been trained to hold them accountable and provide the right kind of support. You know, because a lot of these changes are in terms of habits, right? We need to incorporate create new and healthy habits. But changing long term habits is can be immensely challenging. So this is where a health coach can provide you with the social support that you need, and guide you in making better choices and changing your habits. So behavioral change forms a big part of our training program. And you know, like as a health coach, we are trained in breaking down health and wellness goals into small, actionable tasks. So that helps you to actually achieve your health goals. Uh, you know, it makes it much more doable. And we do something called the Smart goal, and maybe I'll talk about it in a future episode. So we are trained in human behavior, motivation and health, and we partner with our clients. That's the most important thing.

So I tell my clients that I am your partner, I am your accountability buddy, I am your cheerleader, but I am not going to be doing the work for you. You are. You will be doing the work while I'll be supporting you in the best way possible. So I use tools. As a health coach. I use tools like positive psychology, motivational interviewing, character strengths. There's so many different tools that are available to us to help our clients achieve transformative results. So I call it transformative healing because this kind of approach, it actually contributes to intrinsic motivation, motivation that comes from within. So nobody needs to drive you or chase you or be after you to, you know, ask you to make changes Or make changes in your behavior. You feel motivated to do that from within.

So, for example, one of my clients was initially quite hesitant to give up foods like gluten and dairy because she knew that it would probably help her. She had read about it. But through our partnership, through the encouragement that I provided, she began seeing dietary changes as nourishment rather than deprivation. So, you know, if you remember the poem that I mentioned at the beginning of this, um, episode, it is about changing the way you see. So when she was able to change the way she saw those changes. She realized that it was not so much deprivation as it was about doing the right thing for her body, supporting her body, nourishing her body right. And as her perspective shifted diet, making dietary changes and thence getting results became that much easier.

So working with the Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach can also help you, you know, um, develop a personalized nutrition plan. It has to be personalized. That's the key here because you can go on different diets, but they may not be really suitable for your requirements. So holistic lifestyle changes like mindset, gratitude, sleep hygiene, eating hygiene, toxin reduction these all form a part of the toolkit that you're provided. And of course, the one of the most important things that you get when you work with the health coach is the continuous guidance and support, along with the accountability. You know, what happens is that when you have the accountability if you see if you notice, uh, people who train for marathons, especially the full marathon, the uneven, the half marathon for that, uh, for that matter, they tend to train in groups. Uh, the reason is that the group keeps them accountable, right? So they may not feel like going for running one day or going for a practice run, but they know that, you know, that group, uh, is waiting for that person For them. So then they are more likely than not to actually keep going.

 So the same thing, if you have a health coach, you are motivated to stay on track, right. And they also help you to overcome challenges. They will be setbacks. They will be challenges. That is a part of life. But your health coach is your personal cheerleader and will help you to keep going even when things become really tough. So in my case, this is something that I lacked. And I realized later that would have helped me immensely. And that is when, um, you know, I got the opportunity to become a health coach myself.

Way back in 2016, I decided to grab it, and I became India's first functional medicine health coach because I knew so many others would probably be in a similar boat way. I had been so all those years ago and I could. I knew that I now had the personal experience and the professional skills and the knowledge to provide the kind of support that I did not have at that time. So now I do the same for my clients, and I offer a comprehensive care, holistic approach, and an empathetic support to my clients to help achieve their, um, their goals. And I because I believe that everyone I can experience, they experience what I call transformative healing.

It's not just about getting better. It's also about transforming yourself from the inside out so that you can sustain that, uh, you know, your wellness goals. You can sustain that level of health that you've created. So this is the these are the four steps that I follow in my coaching program. The TRANSFORMATIVE HEALING  process,

number one is cultivating self-compassion, body awareness, and re empowerment. So this lays the groundwork.

Number two is learning how to decode symptoms and biofeedback so that you can uncover the root causes and the, you know, prioritize the imbalances that you need to focus on.

Number three, it's, you know, it's to co-create custom protocols that address different levels of your health. So physically, you know, at the root cause level. So which is your food, lifestyle, mindset and environment.

And number four, you stay tuned in as healing starts occurring because your body wisdom, your body is basically guiding the way, and it's revealing the next layers that you need to address. It's an ongoing process that doesn't stop here. So it's about regaining control of what is within your control, which is your own response, your own, uh, you know, choices, your habits. These are all within your control. And it's also about reestablishing trust in your body's profound wisdom to help you along the way. So this is the approach that I believe is transformative. And because it healing unfolds from within you, not from outside you.

You're not only or solely dependent on test results, expert guidance, or even me for that matter, because you are being guided by your own body. And all of this is actually possible with the right guidance, accountability and support. And this is a this is what will allow you to successfully manage and overcome chronic health issues, which actually goes beyond temporary fixes. Many people actually end up getting a temporary fix. But this line that within six months, within one year after they stop working and a health coach is the one who provides the expertise and personalized support that you need to navigate your healing journey. And this is where a functional medicine certified health coach is, will help you to do just that.

A Functional Medicine Health Coach is trained in the principles of functional medicine, and they and they're able to help you understand the intricate connections between your lifestyle, your diet, environment, and overall health. Every aspect of your life has to be covered. That's what is sustainable health. And this is crucial because real transformation comes from sustainable lifestyle changes. You need to understand what your body needs from you, and that can keep changing. And this is where a health coach can be, uh, quite valuable. So breaking down, you know, huge health goals into small, manageable steps is the key here. So you take these baby steps day in and day out. And this is what I do with my clients. We pick up 1 or 2 key areas. I mean of course we continue to work on the overall strategy, but there are 1 or 2 key areas that my client particularly wants to focus on. And we, uh, you know, breaking down into small, small goals. We call them Smart goals. And we take these tiny steps every single day, without this kind of support. I mean, this is the kind of guidance and support that my clients get, or in anybody who's working with the health coach.

Because without this kind of support, it's easy to fall back into your old habits and see little to no improvement. So a year down the line, six months down the line, once you have stopped working with the practitioner, you might actually just go back to your old habits. So it's about it's the ability to offer a tailored, actionable guidance and consistent encouragement, which is often the missing piece in many, many health journeys because your health deserves more than a cookie cutter approach. We cannot, uh, you know, have the same approach to three people even with the same diagnosis. So even if somebody came to me with eczema and three of them had eczema, the the approach would still have to be different. So somebody maybe I would have to deal a bit more in terms of mindset. Developing a more of a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. One of the things that we do. The second person, it may be more on the toxin elimination part of it. The third person may be more on the dietary triggers part of it. So it has to be still personalized in a functional medicine.

A  Health coach can help you to do just that. So it's, you know, you when you work with the functional medicine health coach, you invest in a comprehensive and empathetic approach to your health. And that's what empowers you to actually live your best life. So if you have any further questions or want to learn more about functional medicine health coaching, you can connect with me on Instagram at @aninditarungta.

Thank you so much for joining me today for this episode of Embrace Your Healing Journey. If you love this episode, do take a minute to write a five star review. It would help me to keep bringing more such content to you. And if you would like to get a clear roadmap for your healing journey and find lasting relief from your symptoms and know what your next steps should be, then you can sign up for a free 45 minutes discovery call with me.

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Grab one of those spots on my calendar. In the next episode, I will talk about a very interesting but often overlooked topic healing through Self-love and guide for women with Chronic conditions. Don't miss it! Your body knows how to heal. Are you ready to support it?