ACE Health Coach Certification

This summer I earned my health coach certification through American Council on Exercise (ACE) as part of an independent study for school. You might remember that I’m also certified as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and Jazzercise instructor. I’m excited to have another certification to add to my toolbox and resume.

I thought I’d do a brief recap of the certification and my experience with it. Health coaching is something I’d love to offer, so please let me know if you’d be interested or have any advice on getting starting!


What is a health coach?

According to the ACE website, a health coach “move[s] people to adopt healthy, long-term, sustainable behaviors that can change the course of their lives” by ” facilitat[ing]  healthy lifestyle changes for individuals and groups through physical-activity guidance, nutritional education and behavior-change coaching.” –Source

Essentially a health coach can help you set achievable fitness and nutrition goals, create a plan for you to reach those goals, and keep you motivated and accountable while helping you overcome challenges.

Why did I choose to be certified through ACE?

Because I did this certification as independent study credits towards my master’s degree, I worked with a faculty advisor. My advisor does health coaching and ACE was the certification she recommended for me. She actually holds a different certification (for the life of me, I can’t remember what; I’ll edit if it comes back to me) but it costs upwards of $1000-not something this grad student can afford. If you search for health coach certifications, several results will come up but ACE is one of the only ones that is NCAA-accredited. It’s important to note that the ACE Health Coach certification is only open to those who already have some kind of health, nutrition, and/or fitness background.

How much does the certification cost?

It depends if you choose the standard or premium package. The premium package includes a separate study guide, practice tests, and an online study program. You can compare the study programs here. Those who already have an ACE certification (like me) get a discount. If you don’t already have a certification through ACE but are interested in the health coach certification, I’d suggest following their Facebook page because it seems like there’s always sales.

I chose the premium package mainly because the study guide and practice tests were huge helps to me when I was completing my group fitness certification and I knew they’d be helpful for this certification as well. If you can afford it, I’d highly recommend spending a little more for the extra study materials.

Any study tips?


The best advice I can give is just dive in and take advantage of the study materials that you have. I read a chapter, completed the review in the companion study guide open-book style, and then tested myself on the end-of-chapter quiz. Once I reached the end of the book, I skimmed/reviewed the chapters and took the first practice test. Then I repeated the process. One tip: if you use the companion study guide, do the quizzes on a separate piece of paper so you can take them multiple times.

What is the time commitment?

I believe you have six months from date of purchase to schedule your exam. I completed this as an independent study for school during the summer semester, so I started in June and took my exam at the end of July. At the time, I was also taking another 3-credit graduate course and nannying; studying for and completing the course in that time felt very manageable and not overwhelming. I should point out, however, that the certification covers nutrition, fitness assessments, and behavior change theories, all of which I’ve studied before. It may take you more or less time to feel comfortable with the material depending on your background.

What is the exam like?

Do the practice tests! The practice tests give you a good idea of what the exam is like, although the actual exam is more difficult. If you’re confident with the practice tests and quizzes in the study guide, you’ll probably do fine on the actual exam.

What are my overall thoughts on the certification?

There are a lot of great things with this certification. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on the different change theories and motivational interviewing. The fitness and nutrition overviews are very informative and helpful for being knowledgable while working with clients without going outside of scope of practice.

There are also a few things I didn’t like. One, there’s no in-person component. As part of my independent study, I was able to ask my advisor questions and role-play practice sessions with her; I felt like I got so much out of this and would like to see it incorporated into the certification process. I also really didn’t like all the time dedicated to fitness assessments and putting together workout programs. I felt that is more under the domain of a personal trainer and not a health coach. I don’t want to run personal training sessions with health coach clients, unless I’ve also been hired as their personal trainer.

Overall, I’m very pleased I completed the ACE Health Coach certification and would recommend it to anyone looking to add another certification and learn more about how to best help clients. I’m hoping to put this certification to good use and am looking forward to helping others live a healthier lifestyle!



Hi all! A quick post today to fill you in on a couple things

First, Benji had his tests and surgery on Friday. His blood work and x-rays came back negative, meaning the cancer hadn’t spread (thank goodness!), and the vet is confident he removed the entire mass. We got to bring him home Friday afternoon and apart from a really nasty-looking incision, he’s doing well.

Second, we’re going to the hospital to be induced today! After another tense and frustrating doctor’s appointment that ended at the hospital, I left against medical advice but agreed to be scheduled for induction today. I can’t say I’m happy about the situation but I will be very glad to not have another appointment at this clinic. Anyway, we get to meet our baby boy soon!

With that, I’m not sure when I’ll be back on here. I have a non-baby post that I meant to write earlier but just finally got around to it scheduled for later this week; otherwise, it might be a while. I’ll try to check it at some point though with pictures 🙂

Weekly Randomness

Hi all! Thank you for the kind words and messages after Tuesday’s post 💕

I meant to write this post for Wednesday but that obviously didn’t happen, so I’m checking in with you today. Let’s jump in and talk about this week.

  • At my last appointment, the doctor advised me to take it easy for these last couple weeks of pregnancy and the last Jazzercise class I went to didn’t feel entirely comfortable (lots of pressure down low), so I think I’m calling it for now. 154 classes for the year-not too shabby! I’m hoping to be back in January but until then I’m looking forward to lots of walks with Bailey and the baby.


  • Lately I feel like I’ve just shared negative and sad posts, one after another, on here. But I try to keep this blog as real and honest as possible and sometimes that’s life, right? We had the dogs at the vet earlier this week for annual exams and shots. It turns out a bump I noticed on Benji a few months ago is cancerous. Tomorrow he’s going to have some more tests done to see if it’s spread (fingers crossed that it hasn’t) and then surgery to have the tumor removed. Prayers are much appreciated, especially as this timing is not ideal with the baby due so soon.
  • All I have left for the semester are 5 assignments and most of them shouldn’t be difficult to finish soon. One class is completely done and all I have to do for one other is record a presentation. I keep putting that one off, as my camera aversion is still going strong. Ironically the project that’s going to take me the longest is writing a blog post for my tech-based health promotion class.


  • Did anyone else see a bunch of articles like this leading up to Halloween about how much exercise it takes to burn off candy? Let me go on a quick, little rant because I HATE articles like this. It’s fine to encourage people to eat candy mindfully and remind them that eating an entire bag of Reese’s pumpkins isn’t the healthiest choice (um, guilty) but thinking that you have to “burn off” or “earn” your treats can lead to an awful relationship with food and exercise. Exercise is not a punishment and it shouldn’t be done in reaction to food choices. Eating candy doesn’t make you a bad person and you don’t have to make up for it. Enjoy your workouts, enjoy your occasional treats, and live your life in balance and moderation without guilt. And yes, I ate this candy after taking the picture.


  • Speaking of food, have you ever eaten a date before? I’ll be perfectly honest, aside from Larabars, I never had before last week. Ever since reading this study on dates and labor (yay for evidence-based information and a randomized control trial!), I’ve been trying to eat some every day. They’re pretty tasty with peanut butter or as a Larabara with peanut butter and a chocolate Kiss for dessert.
  •  I treated myself to a 90-minute prenatal massage yesterday and it was amazing. I signed up for a membership at MassageEnvy during the spring when I was super stressed with school and it’s been fantastic to get a massage every month of pregnancy.

That’s all I have for right now. I’m planning to be back tomorrow with a recap of my 37th week of pregnancy but it will probably be a little later than usual; we have a doctor’s appointment in the morning and I want to be able to give you the latest. Take care!

Questions of the Day

What’s something happening in your week?

Has anyone had experience with an older dog and surgery? Benji’s eleven and the vet says he’ll be fine but it makes me nervous.

Remembering Our Loss

A year ago Ryan and I went in for our first ultrasound. We were so excited to see the baby we’d fallen in love with for the past 10 weeks. Our world was turned upside-down that day and we left with our hearts shattered.

If you’ve never experienced that kind of loss, there’s no way to describe it to make you understand. And if you’ve never been pregnant after a miscarriage, there’s no way to explain the confusing, mess of emotions you feel celebrating a new pregnancy while still grieving your loss. Sometimes I think that this baby now is the same baby; he just needed to come a little later. Other times, I like to believe that I think that because it’s too painful and confusing otherwise.

That’s all I have to say today. Like I said, there are really no words for it. I just didn’t want to let the day pass unmarked.


(Almost) Ready for Baby & a Nursery Tour

Happy Monday friends! I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend!

I’m officially in my 37th week and the baby could be here any day. Ryan and I spent the weekend reminding each other that this could be the last weekend with just the two of us.

Dare I say it? I think we’re about ready for the baby. At least physically we’re prepared with all his stuff. Mentally I still haven’t wrapped my head around the fact that there’s actually going to be a baby here. We pretty much just need to install his car seat and we’re ready to go. And I suppose I should actually finish my school assignments like I swore I would last week…

This weekend we toured the hospital we’re delivering at now; seeing the rooms and learning their procedures helped my peace of mind. We have an appointment on Tuesday with the doctor we saw at the hospital last week and I’m hoping he’ll give us a better idea on if/when we should expect to be induced.

I thought I’d take today to show off the nursery to you all! Really, though, I’ll be showing you the baby’s stuff all over the house because this kid seriously has more stuff than I do. Ready for picture overload?

The Nursery

Crib he won’t actually sleep in for awhile, which is why it’s full of stuff
Jammies & jackets

And because one room can’t contain all his stuff, here’s a quick look at the rest of the house.

The Bathroom

His little bathtub will go in here too.

Master Bedroom

We still need to position the Pack & Play to fit so we can hook the attachment on for diapers and wipes. It’s going to be a tight fit though so we’re waiting until I don’t have a 9-months pregnant belly. His swaddle blankets, carrier, and all my nursing stuff are tucked in my nightstand.

Living Room

He doesn’t have too much stuff in the living room yet, just a glider and this basket. I’ll keep a boppy pillow out here and his Rock and Play will probably alternate between the living room and the office.

Another basket with burp clothes & blankets

He also has a shelf in the kitchen for bottles, teethers, and the breast pump and once we get his stroller set up, it will probably live in the entry way.

So there you have it. The house is full of baby stuff; now we’re just waiting for baby!

Week 36: A Scary Appointment

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on here but we recently discovered some problems with our insurance. Long story short, the clinic we were going to and the hospital we were planning to deliver at are considered out-of-network on our plan and to avoid a huge hospital bill, we had to change providers.

I’m telling you this because changing clinics during the last month of pregnancy is really stressful. The doctors don’t know you or your situation. This is especially bad for someone like me with a blood pressure situation.

My first appointment with this new clinic last week went well; my blood pressure was pretty high at the first reading, which I was expecting, but after spending some time talking to the NP and listening to the baby’s heartbeat, the second reading was normal. Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say the appointment yesterday did not go smoothly. It was a frustrating situation, I felt stressed and not listened to, and my blood pressure skyrocketed in response.

They sent me to the hospital for further testing. I cried at this point because I was terrified I was too worked up for my blood pressure to come down and that they were going to force me to deliver the baby early, even though I knew the high readings were a reaction to the situation.

At the hospital, I was hooked up to a fetal monitor to measure the baby’s heartbeat, a monitor to measure my heartbeat, and a blood pressure cuff that automatically took readings every half hour or so. I stayed hooked up to the heart rate monitors for about an hour, the blood pressure cuff for around two hours, and had my blood drawn for labs.

I actually enjoyed the fetal monitor, where I got to watch and hear baby boy’s heartbeat for an hour. It ranged from 130-150 and the nurse said he was doing great. It was fun to feel him move and watch his heart rate (and sometimes after a big movement, mine too) go up at the same time. Once we could even hear him move through the monitor.

My blood pressures ranged from 135/75 to 120/63 and my labs came back normal; there was just one test that was little high but it’s been high before and not by a concerning amount. Finally we were able to leave, about four hours after the start of our original appointment. Thank goodness, too, because I was starving by that point.

So everything is fine. Trying to look at the positives of the situation, we met a doctor at the hospital who’s going to follow up with us at the clinic next week, so at least we’ll have some consistency and someone who knows my background now. Our experience at the hospital itself was good so that’s promising for when it’s time to have the baby.

However, I can’t help but feel frustrated at the whole situation that I felt was unnecessary. Of course I’ll do anything for the health and safety of the baby, which is why we went to the hospital, but if anything, it probably did more harm than good by causing me more stress. But the important thing is that both the baby and I are fine and, like Ryan pointed out, we should only have a few more appointments at this clinic.

Postpartum Fitness Plans

I feel like I need to begin this post with a couple of disclaimers.

  1. I know that postpartum recovery can be difficult and that I really have no idea what to expect. I’m planning to take the time I need, listen to my doctor, and listen to my body. My top priority of course will be my baby boy and we’ll see what ends up being realistic.
  2. There’s a big push right now to decrease the emphasis on postpartum fitness and “getting your body back”. While I do agree with this and think there shouldn’t be any pressure on new mothers, especially from outside sources, I also know that given my family history and my predisposition to weight gain, it is something that’s important to me. For me, it’s about health, not physical appearance. And besides, I miss my workouts.
  3. Yes, this is what I’ve been thinking about this week instead of finishing my assignments for school like I said I would.

Anyway, here’s what I’m looking forward to when I’m cleared for exercise next year:

FullSizeRender 2Jazzercise: I can’t wait to be back on stage teaching! I’m hoping that since I’ve taken class throughout my pregnancy the transition back will be easier. I’m also looking forward to doing the 35 Day Challenge again (30 classes in 35 days-I completed it both last year and this year).

IMG_4757Weight lifting: You might remember earlier this year, I was excited to start taking my favorite weights class again after the 35 Day Challenge but was advised against it when I found out I was pregnant. Then when my blood pressure was high, one of the doctors told me to stop lifting weights entirely. I didn’t completely listen and continued to do the strength portion of Jazzercise but with much lighter weights than normal. I’m looking forward to upping my weights again, taking Group Power at least a few times a month, and hopefully teaching Strength45 again (it depends on if there’s a class available for me to teach).

race_1755_photo_36576822 Running: Running and I have a love/hate relationship but I’m excited to do races again. Training for a half marathon won’t be feasible with a baby and school but I think 10ks will be a good distance for me. I’ve already found some stroller-friendly options in the summer and my dad mentioned running the BolderBoulder in May (Like how I publicly committed you, Dad? 😉 My 2016 BolderBoulder recap is here). I’ve read that returning to running after pregnancy can be difficult so I’m planning to give myself plenty of time on this one.

If I can figure out a way to get some yoga in too, that’d be great but I know I’ll have to wait and see how things work out. I’m hoping I’ll be able to make it to group fitness classes (Jazzercise and Group Power) for the majority of my workouts because that’s my favorite way to workout but am open to at-home workouts too if that’s what I need to do. Whatever happens, I’ll be sure to let you know; it will be nice to have some workouts to post about again-you know, in between all the baby pictures that are coming!

Any tips on returning to exercise postpartum? Or on postpartum recovery in general? 



Jazzercise Baby Shower

Hi guys! I’m making a final push this week to finish all my schoolwork for the semester before the baby comes but wanted to pop in quickly and share some pictures with you from this weekend.

On Saturday I had my second baby shower, this one thrown by the instructor team at Jazzercise. It was open-house style and everyone, instructors and customers, was invited. I’d say there ended up being around 30 people there.

It was book-themed and the decorations were adorable!

Those are book pages with hearts cut out and little books hanging from the ceiling-so cute!


We had one game: Guess the Baby Instructor. Apparently it was pretty challenging, except for my picture! What do you think? Would you have guessed me?


Dimples and chubby cheeks-still a fitting description 😉

We also did diaper messages and I’m hoping these will make the 3am diaper changes a little more fun.

Finally we did presents. Opening presents in front of 30 people was a lot of attention for me but luckily the other instructors made it pretty painless. Erin (who also made all the book decorations) handed me presents, threw trash away, and organized the open gifts so it moved quickly while Courtnee grabbed a mic to announce who a gift was from and what it was. She also went around the room and asked people for advice on raising a boy, which I loved hearing. I also ended up with a little helper, one of the other instructor’s daughter, who showed off all the presents for me and made me laugh by loudly announcing to everyone that “you can’t have too many diapers”.

The presents were overwhelming! This little boy is already so spoiled and his nursery is so full (if you brought a present, know that I’m working on thank you notes now). And this diaper cake is so great, I don’t want to take it apart-thank you Sara!

It was a wonderful afternoon and my heart is full knowing that I’m a part of such a great community. A big thank you to the instructors for putting this together and to everyone who helped celebrate my baby boy!

Jazzercise Pregnancy Challenge: Complete!

It seems like a long time ago that I set my goal of completing 100 Jazzercise classes while pregnant, which worked out to also be my 150th class for the year.

On Tuesday, I met my goal!


The instructor brought me flowers and balloons to celebrate, which was so sweet! I also earned my Fit Club shirt but my center is out of my size right now (I’m getting the smaller size so I can wear it after the baby is here) so I’ll be getting that later.

So what now? I’m planning to continue to go to class for as long as I can. For the most part, I feel better when I’m active and moving. I’m hoping I can Jazzercise until the baby makes his appearance and am crossing my fingers for a quick postpartum recovery. I can’t wait to be back on stage teaching!

And just for fun…

A picture from my 50th class, about 4 days before I found out I was pregnant, and a picture from class #149 on Sunday-check out that belly grow!

Bump Update: Weeks 30-35

Wow, have I really not done a pregnancy update since Week 29? That’s crazy-once I hit 30 weeks, it started to seem much more real; something about that 3 in front!



Size: Because of my high blood pressure, we had ultrasounds at 30 weeks and 34 weeks to make sure the baby is growing okay (high blood pressure can restrict nutrients to the placenta and interfere with growth). Well, he’s definitely doing okay growing-at 30 weeks, he measured 3 pounds, 5 ounces and at 34 weeks, he measured 5 pounds, 2 ounces. He’s a big little guy!

Feeling: I’m in a bit of disbelief that my due date is one month from today and he’ll probably be here sooner than that. People keep telling me that pregnancy has to make you miserable or else you wouldn’t want it to end; I don’t think I’ve hit that point yet. I’ve definitely had days that have been more uncomfortable (when he’s sitting low, Jazzercise and even just walking don’t feel very good) but for the most part, I’m still feeling pretty good. Insomnia comes and goes; some nights I sleep great, others I wake up for 2 hours in the middle of the night. I’m not loving my new stretch marks or the fact that I basically have no cute clothes or jackets that fit but that’s about it. And I know it’s all totally worth it.

Movement: He doesn’t really have room to kick anymore but I feel him a lot pushing on the sides of my stomach. Sometimes he drags something that I know must be a foot but I haven’t been able to make out an outline yet; I’m hoping I will. The poor little guy gets hiccups a lot but my doctor reassured me that’s a good sign. It’s easy to see my whole stomach move and I love just watching. I’m going to miss this once he’s born.

Preparedness: Can you ever really be ready for a newborn? We have most of his stuff set up and ready to go with just a few loose ends (we still need crib sheets and to install his carseat, that kind of thing). We have plans made for the dogs while I’m in the hospital, we’re taking care of some insurance issues, and I’m almost done with all my assignments for the semester. But, no, I still don’t feel ready; pretty sure I won’t ever feel totally ready.

Looking forward to: My baby shower at Jazzercise is this weekend and should be a lot of fun.

I think that’s about it. Anything else you want to know? The way I’ve been blogging lately (you know, like not at all), there’s a good chance this might be my last pregnancy update!