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Kindergarten Teacher from West Hartford Inspired to Become Health Coach

Caitlin Lannon. Courtesy photo

Caitlin Lannon struggled with her own health issues and didn’t just want to take medication, and after becoming her own health advocate is inspired to help others.

By Ted Glanzer

After spending six years in the classroom teaching young children to read and write and say please and thank you, West Hartford resident Caitlin Lannon is instructing adults how to lead healthier lifestyles.

Lannon, a certified elementary teacher who spent the last two years as a kindergarten teacher in Farmington, is also a holistic health coach looking to expand her client base. Her journey began several years ago when Lannon struggled with her own health issues.

“I saw doctor after doctor, and was told, ‘Here is a pill that will mask your symptoms.’ I wasn’t comfortable with that,” Lannon said in a telephone interview. “The pills came with a long list of side effects and did not get to the root cause of the problem. I said there has to be more to this.”

So Lannon, a self-described “type-A” personality, became her own health advocate, researching and finding alternative means to heal herself.

“It led me down this path of alternative medicine and holistic health,” she said. “A lot of it centered around diet and lifestyle. Since I can remember, I’ve been a workaholic and stressed. I was leading a certain lifestyle and I was eating healthy, but I didn’t know certain things I was putting in my body were exacerbating my physical symptoms. It led me to make small changes as I went along that led to monumental health changes for me.

“Once you go through something like that, your eyes are opened to people with similar struggles. You’re empowered because there are options out there. You don’t have to settle.”

She started gently evangelizing what she learned with her family and friends.

“I enjoyed doing it and, in small, simple conversations, having a positive impact on someone else,” she said. “I decided to maybe make it a full-time thing.”

Lannon attended the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York and became a holistic health coach. So far she is working on building her client base, most of whom hail from the Farmington Valley and West Hartford.

The issues her clients deal with can be from the more serious – such as those who want to lose weight through a healthy diet – to those who are, in Lannon’s words, “super fit” but who have a chronic health issue, to those who want to change a part of their lifestyle.

“The beautiful thing about health coaching is it’s completely individualized,” she said. “There is no one correct theory or diet. It’s honing in on the individual or their needs. What does your body need and what does your body demand of you, and how dow we properly meet your health goals? Do you crave or enjoy junk food? Let’s unpack that and be in tune with your body and your needs. Why is that your food of choice? It may be physical need, like you need an energy boost, or it can be more of an emotional thing. Or is it purely convenience?”

Lannon and the client look at the issues together to figure out how to meet the client’s goals. Lannon is careful to avoid the word “mindfulness” because of its ubiquity and buzziness. So she uses the word “intentionality,” which for her means digging into the “why” people do what they do and make little changes that form action, that become habit, that become lifestyle, she said.

Making those small changes can be empowering, Lannon said.

People interested in Lannon’s program can first arrange for a 45-minute health consultation, and fill out a form asking typical dietary and lifestyle information.

Then the client and Lannon go over the information together, highlighting areas of interest, such as health concerns, medical concerns, diet, and lifestyle choices.

Based on that information, Lannon determines if she can help that person. If the client is a fit, then goals are discussed and the next steps are whether to commit to a full 6-month program. Clients meet with Lannon twice a month for 50 minutes.

“We talk about everything,” she said. “As a health coach, I create a customized plan for every client, what their health and life goals are.”

Often the goals change over the course of time.

“With clients I’ve had, a lot gets unfolded along the way; it transforms into something else,” she said. “The whole 6-month program is exploratory and fluid. There is a structure and a plan, and have to be flexible.”

With that said, Lannon said she’s not a doctor, nor is she “a savior.”

“I am a coach. I encourage. Sometimes people need a swift kick in the butt, but it’s a coaching relationship,” she said. “You get out of it what you put into it. I’m the source of knowledge and I have the resources to support you along the way. But you’ve got to do the work.”

For more information on Caitlin Lannon and her life coaching, visit www.caitlinlannon.com.

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