Dietetic Career Spotlight on Karen B. Austin, RDN, Certified Health Coach
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on JUNE 1, 2018
Meet Karen B. Austin, RDN, Certified Health Coach, who has combined her love of hiking and fitness with nutrition. Karen shows us how one can think outside of the regular “job” box and develop a career path that is innovative, rewarding, and fun. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
When I was little girl, I wanted to be a teacher. As I entered high school, I wanted to work in the forest as a ranger, but I also wanted to help people. At the time I didn’t see how I could do both, so I focused on helping people choose more nutritious foods to improve their health. I love how my life has come full circle…as I was hiking in the redwoods a couple of years ago, I had an epiphany that now was the perfect time to combine my passion for nutrition coaching, teaching and hiking to create my business.
Your Job Title?
Owner, Entrepreneur, Trail guide, Health Coach
Company you are with now?
The name of my company is HealthStarts2Day, which explains a bit about who I am. Today is the day to start the journey toward better health and it begins one bite or one step at a time. It often takes a partner, in this case a health coach or trail guide, to take that first step toward improving health and achieving that first milestone.
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
My work day has many different components to it. I may be on the phone fielding a request for a hike in northern California. I will contact the party directly to customize their excursion including asking questions to gauge the participant’s fitness level. I may also be coaching a new or current client toward the health goals he/she wants to achieve. Of course, I am always looking to become a better coach so I am working toward my Behavior Change Specialization with the American Council on Exercise.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
I had worked in the clinical setting for a number of years. Though the work was vital, I felt ineffective in educating patients, who already had numerous chronic diseases. My heart was to work toward prevention, meet clients prior to the hospital and guide and empower them in their health and fitness goals. HealthStarts2Day was born through the encouragement from my mentors and a passion to equip my clients and to celebrate their victories!
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I believe I have a natural affinity toward teaching and encouraging others to make the health changes they seek. I took numerous counseling classes in college that I have used in my coaching. Computer skills and social media are ongoing skills to be honed.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Take a close look at what you enjoy most about the nutrition field, examine your skills, fill in the “gaps” so you are ready to begin YOUR journey. Do what you love and it will overflow into all you do. Your patients, clients and those you work with will be forever changed.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what
would it be?
Watching a client achieve the health goals he has set for himself and hearing the client verbalize that these goals are now his new lifestyle, brings me rewards galore. To summit a climb with my clients where a panorama vista awaits is just priceless!