We recently had the opportunity to speak with Shaista Dharamsi-Bhimji, a current ACE Certified Health Coach who provides health and wellness coaching at her day job and within her private practice. Dharamsi shares how she learned about ACE and how she incorporates ACE education and principles to support her clients live healthier, more active lives.
ACE: What is your experience with ACE?
Shaista Dharamsi (SDB): I first heard about ACE through my previous employer and colleagues. They saw the passion I had for health and wellness and believed that I would find tremendous benefits in joining the ACE community. I did my research on several certification programs in the U.S. and found ACE to be most aligned with my vision for health and fitness. My current employer recognized that my health coach certification would be an asset to the company and to the mission of the company at large. I have been a certified health coach for almost two years now and could not be happier about this decision!
ACE: How do you use your certification today?
SDB: I use my ACE certification and education in more ways than I could have imagined. In addition to supporting my day job, I have a growing following on social media where I educate others on health and wellness and how to make small changes every day. I have taken advantage of the ongoing educational courses offered by ACE and studied areas of prenatal training, forming healthy habits and ways to create a fitness plan. The ACE courses have helped me expand my knowledge as a Health Coach and truly benefited all my clients. Today, I coach about 100-200 individuals monthly in a large organization that offers health and wellness coaching to several companies, and I love every moment of it!
ACE: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your clients?
SDB: One of the biggest struggles with my clients during the COVID-19 pandemic is getting back into a healthy routine. Everyone had been used to their pre-COVID-19 schedule, where they had allocated time for work, rest, and exercise. However, with the pandemic, it has been extremely difficult to establish a healthy work-life balance. Based on my experience as a Health Coach and using the tools given to me by ACE, I focus on creating small and manageable habits that help them lead a healthier lifestyle. By working on one specific habit or routine that they want to re-establish, I help provide my clients with the encouragement that they do, in fact, have control over how they lead their life, and they can make small changes in their routine without impacting their work schedule or pandemic lifestyle.
For example, one client realized that due to the pandemic, they were no longer in the habit of walking to the water fountain and drinking more water in the day. Together, we brainstormed possible opportunities to create the environment that they wanted that would help them address a goal of drinking more water and incorporating movement throughout the day. Focusing on behavior change, forming healthy habits, and creating a routine with movement as a main focus has been key for clients adjusting to their new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ACE: Do you have any client success stories you’d like to share?
SDB: I have had a great deal of success with using habit formation as a tool to encourage a healthier lifestyle. I previously worked with an individual who had an extremely hectic schedule at work (e.g., up to 12-hour shifts), so allocating 30 minutes of exercise at a fixed time was not feasible for them. We worked on focusing on simple, 10-minute workout or movement activities she could do throughout the day. For instance, every morning, they would get up to brush their teeth and simultaneously do some calf raises. They did this so frequently, their children soon joined in with them! This motivated my client to keep going by adding squats after they washed their face, and additional exercise with other everyday activities. By the end of it, my client was able to lose more than 20lbs and felt more in control of their life! The power of small habits is a huge, and this is a prime example of it!
ACE: What are you looking forward to in the future?
SDB: During this pandemic, many have recognized that leading a healthier lifestyle must include a focus on movement, nutrition, and well-being – it is all interconnected. In addition, new technology adaptations during COVID-19 have increased the capacity to teach and train people, regardless of location. Given these two shifts, I would love to continue teaching others about how to lead a healthier lifestyle through small changes, virtually and in-person when possible.
I am a strong advocate for getting people moving through behavior change. I passionately believe, everyone has the desire to move more and be more active, however it’s through the power of behavior change that will encourage people to form these habits. One of the most important tools that ACE has taught me is that in order to encourage this type of change, the most effective way is through building a strong rapport with the client. When the client feels safe and heard, they are more likely to adhere to the program. Regardless of culture, age or race prioritizing nutrition and exercise through behavior change and meeting the client at their level is crucial to creating a program that fits for them. At the end of the day, I strongly believe the goal is to help every community lead a healthy lifestyle that they have control over and work for them.