My journey as a health and life coach with Institute for Integrative Nutrition

I’m getting a lot of questions about my choices for choosing IIN over any other health and nutrition coaching programs so I figured I’d give some insights on my choices.

My Career Journey…

So to give you a little background history we’ve gotta go back a decade. My first career out of school was a hairstylist and an educator for haircare brands like Rusk, Goldwell, and Kerastase. That was a 10 year career for me that started because of my strong passion for helping people find their personal style. This interest in hair all started in high school when I met my hairstylist and long time friend Dara Ung. She gave me my first “expensive” haircut and I remember walking out of her salon feeling as if I owned the world. I connected so much of my self confidence and self expression with how I felt and I knew how important this was for others to feel the same. In high school, I used to color friend’s hair in my mom’s kitchen and shortly after high school I decided that helping others feel beautiful through their self expression in their hair was my calling. 10 years into my career as a stylist I felt like I had done all I wanted to accomplish and the opportunity to take a Director role at the start up VSCO came along. After months of thinking about the opportunity I jumped and decided to challenge myself with something new to learn and grow.

After 5 years at VSCO and getting laid off it was time for something new. When I started my fitness journey I was amazed at what having the right mindset to pursue your goals and dreams were. I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that the two hardest things in adult life to get a balanced control on are finances and fitness. If you’re one of those who’s got the formulation to all this then maybe we can talk, but for me the two largest challenges in my adult life have always been finance and fitness. Both take a lot of discipline and dedication and a lot of energy. Sometimes adding another “thing” on top of all the other “things” in our busy adult life is a challenge in itself. And if you think about the things we learn about how to be an adult incorporating health and fitness is not one of them. 

How fitness impacted the rest of my life…

Fitness was never a part of my life growing up outside of PE. Like most women, I would go to the gym for an aesthetic "need" such as a vacation, to shed the baby weight, or to fit in a wedding dress. These were goals that never really made life long impacts for me and I would easily and quickly go back to the life I was living before that. 3 years ago when my fitness journey started was when I realized the positive impacts that having a healthy relationship with nutrition and exercise were for me I knew I needed to share that to those around me, which is where my #gofitjo hashtag began (pre blog). I started to learn more and more about myself through fitness and for the past 18 months I was contemplating on whether or not I wanted to pursue a career in the health and fitness industry. After my experience in body building competitions and learning how to manipulate macronutrients and exercise in order to reach fitness goals I got turned onto the science of sports nutrition. Coupled with my 5 years of managing teams at VSCO, I knew I had a love for coaching and developing people. Don’t get me wrong,I love blogging and social media, but I also knew that it was only a place to inspire those to live healthier and was just a sliver to the what I could offer to those around me. 

Why I chose IIN…

I did a ton of research before joining IIN on the different types of nutrition schools and what they offer. I looked into Health Coach Institute, ACE, NASM and Well Coaches. I knew that I wanted to become a very well knowledgeable health coach. There are plenty programs that you can take that don't take as long as IIN. Some are weekend long courses while others are 4 weeks long. Personally, I love having as much knowledge and experience I can get in order to have the conversations I need with my future clients to understand their current philosophies on life and health and to help coach them through their next steps. After a year and a half of career ambivalence and research, Institute of Integrative Nutrition kept showing up in my life. I started to see others who went through the program and started to ask their experience in it. Then one day at my local Whole Foods I ran into some old friends and told them about my recent lay off at VSCO (literally a handful of days before) and how I’ve decided to finally take the plunge and sign up for school at IIN, a woman who overheard me mentioned how she was half way through. After my friends left, her and I started to talk about her experience and that night I decided to sign up. 

In my last few months at VSCO I said to myself, when I turned 35 (in 2 more years), I want to become a health & life coach focused on nutrition. After my own experience with my healthy life style, I knew the value of nutrition and how it really was a basis to fuel your everyday life including your career. My beliefs about health has always been around how one can define the health of each relationship in their life: marriage/love, parenthood, career, nutrition, and exercise. In order to vibrate at your highest frequency all of these areas need to have some sort of energetic alignment. Institute for Integrative Nutrition really values and teaches this holistic way of approaching health and nutrition which is the main reason I was turned on by the approach of the program. Fitness to me was never about the perfect body, it was about getting your life together and overcoming insecurities which is a seed I want to plant in each of my client’s hearts and minds.

What I’m currently learning at IIN…

Because of current “free time” I decided to enroll myself in the accelerated course that’s 7 months long rather than the regular course that’s 12 months long. The entire course is online so I can study at the convenient of my own pace and time. Every week a module gets released for the standard course, two modules for the accelerated course. You can download your modules on your iPad, iPhone, or whatever mobile device and study from anywhere. Some days I'm listening to modules while on BART on the way up to SF or in the car just to retain more information.  I’m currently on module 9 out of the 40. There are discussion assignments to each module and along side all the different nutrition philosophies you learn there are foundational skills on business development along with  coaching circles to fully equip you on your journey as a health coach. So far it's been incredible. I’m learning so much and because I’m such a nerd and meticulous about my approach with school, I’m trying to fully immerse myself and focus on all the modules week by week. There’s a lot of information to learn and it’s really fascinating to not only learn how you can help others, but to learn more about yourself and what nutrition really means for you. IIN talks about 4 primary foods: relationships, spirituality, career, and physical activity. These 4 areas, on top of nutrition were my top focuses bettering myself and my life. This alignment of views made my choice for Institute of Integrative Nutrition an easy one.

If you're interested in learning more or to chat one on one on this, I'd love to get on a Google Hangout/Facebook Live/etc. when I have a group of at least 5 people so that we can all connect and ask as many questions as you like with me. If that's something that interests you, sign up here or fill out the form below. 

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Other resources:

I hope this post was useful for those of you who were wondering why I chose IIN over all the other options. If you want more information here are 3 helpful resources:

FYI: This week in the life of Jo

This week I've taken a really large step back from Instagram mostly due to a really busy work schedule. I'm heading out to Kauai in a couple of weeks and of course like any normal hard working adult work just seems to pile up leading up to the vaca. On top of all that the vacation-itis hit, it's like senioritis but vacations. You know it's that feeling you get when you're staring at a blank page just waiting for something to happen, but nothing does because you're mind is already in paradise sipping on a fresh coconut and basking in the sun. Yup that's my current state.


Although my IG has slowed down this week for writing has been crazy busy and super exciting. I've written several guest posts on other blogs that I'd love to share with you. 

Each month I contribute to Lucy Activewear's blog called Let's Go. It's an incredible collection mixed in with brand stories from Lucy and written pieces from other bloggers and fitness professionals. I've been blessed enough to have this opportunity with them for over a year now and it's been a fun and exciting one. I was asked to do a piece on staying motivated while traveling which was perfect timing for my trip to Hawaii. To see a full body workout that you can do anywhere in the world and a few of my travel health hacks, head on over to Lucy Let's Go.

Second, is a guest post on The Millennial Miss. I'd like to believe I'm a mentor, not always a good one, but a mentor and one of the things I truly enjoy is seeing some of my gems passed down the future female leaders of world. I met Chelsea, a little over a year ago at a blogger's summit called Create Cultivate. You know that feeling when you meet someone and you just gravitate to because they are a ball of sunshine and genuine laughter, that's Chelsea. When she asked me to write for her blog I jumped in a heart beat. Topics began to swirl in and out of my head and then I remember what was the biggest thing that haunted me in my 20s, feeling empty even when I had it all. 

From the outside looking in, I had it all set: a husband, a family, and a career that I was passionate about. But deep inside I still felt like I was missing something, I remember blogging about it in the first blog I ever started.  

To read more head over to my guest post on The Millennial Miss. 

Third, is a 3 part workout series I did for MOUS Products which also includes a little interview on me. I love doing interviews as much as I possibly can. It's a really great opportunity for me to sit and think on my answers and what matters most to me. It's so easy for us to get caught up in the hustle and to forget to reflect on the journey. Interviews have been such a great way for me to do that. 

Linked below are all of the entire workout series. Each of these workouts I do once a week in the gym. It helps to keep the body a fat burning machine. 

Last but not least is a feature on the Belo-Forte Journal. If you've never checked out the workout gear from Belo-Forte run to their site now. They have incredibly sexy pieces that are both hot to wear and functional. My favorite are these laser cut capris that I recently posted on Instagram and in a blog post. Belo-Forte asked me what success means to me...head to their blog to read the answer


I know I say this all the time, but seriously from the bottom of my heart thank you so so so much for being there for me through out my journey. It's been an incredible one and my success in life is partially due to all the love I have from my readers.