This is an interview with Katelyn Parsons.
Hey, Katelyn. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Thank you so much for having me! I’m a Certified Intuitive Eating + Body Image Coach in San Diego, CA. I run my business online and get to support women all over the world who are ready to end binge eating and heal their relationship with food, so that they can feel more comfortable in their own skin.
I’m also the host of The Modern Girl Podcast, where I interview incredible women about their own body image stories.
And when I’m not running my bizz, you can find me on an adventure with my hubby- we love to travel and explore new things in our own backyard. I’m also a big fan of curling up with a good book on the couch or taking long walks and listening to podcasts.
When and how did you find your true calling?
Ooo love this questions and I’ll give you the “true” answer. When I first started out as a Health Coach, I had the best intentions (helping other women live healthy, balanced lives).
I’d battled bulimia on and off for about 15 years and wanted to turn my pain into purpose. But I was still very much struggling with a disordered relationship with food- secretly binging on “healthy” items (jars of peanut butter, protein bars, gigantic bags of dates…).
Most days I felt broken and like a total fraud. My binge eating had manifested in so many different ways throughout my life, I couldn’t imagine not eating until I was uncomfortably full.
I’d heard of Intuitive Eating through different podcasts and was always curious, but in the back of my mind I was thinking “this is crap- this literally goes against everything that I believe in and teach my clients…I know what happens when I give myself full permission to eat- I eat an entire jar of PB and then a sleeve of cookies and feel awful”.
Well fast-forward to about 2 years into my business. My clients were getting incredible results but hitting bumps after our work together- some of the changes that we were making together weren’t sustainable.
Combine this with my own imposter syndrome of health coaching + binging behind the scenes- I finally hit my breaking point and knew that something had to change.
I finally read the book Intuitive Eating and started seeing a therapist to get some support. Soon after, I enrolled in the Intuitive Eating Certification program where I was mentored by the creators themselves and really began to understand the nuances and depth involved in healing our relationship with food.
Simultaneously, I began integrating the Intuitive Eating principles with my clients and also continued to do additional training around body image + mental wellness.
And my journey is not over. Yes my binge eating is in the past (finally!!!!), but one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned in becoming an Intuitive Eater, is that there isn’t a finish line.
I’m in this body that’s constantly changing. I live in a world that’s continuously evolving. My relationship with myself is the most important one that I’ll ever be in.
Knowing that gives me permission to continue learning, growing and nurturing as needed and teaching my clients to do the same.
What were the first steps you took to start your own business?
Hmmm…well when I was first getting certified as a Holistic Health Coach back in the day, I took on a small handful of clients pro bono in exchange for testimonials. I wanted to build my confidence and make sure that I actually liked coaching before going all in.
I ended up loving it and learned so much through the experience of just getting started and working 1:1 with other women.
During that time, I started building a presence on Instagram- posting consistently and also put together a starter website on Squarespace.
What did you do before becoming a coach and how has it helped you get to where you are today?
So I actually got my start in the fashion industry- I worked on the Women’s Design team at the Urban Outfitters Headquarters after college.
It was a dream job (I actually remember being a teenager going to the store and saying to my mom “I want to work here one day”), but very high stress.
I was also struggling with my bulimia at the time, on top of depression + anxiety, so kind of the perfect storm for a breakdown…which I did. In a scarf closet. I told my boss right then and there (who was an angel), that I couldn’t do the job anymore.
I started looking into my next step and landed in a recruiting position for accounting & finance professionals. This was where I really learned how to start “building a business”.
I got my feet wet with marketing, relationship building, social media, and managing the ebbs and flows of success.
It’s so interesting to look back at both of those moments in my career- they absolutely tie into my business today…the creativity, the business building, marketing, working with other people etc.
Podcast Episode: 002: How to Start an Online Business (Tips for Bloggers, Coaches and Influencers)
How did you find your brand voice and share your message when you first started?
Honestly, I just used my authenticity. I created things that I liked- things that I believed in (even in the days of my disordered eating) and wrote my content just like I talk in real life.
I have a few people who I have in mind when I’m writing to/creating for as well, to help with speaking directly to my ideal client.
Who’s your ideal client and how do you find women like that?
Mmmmmm she’s amazing!!! She’s creative, ambitious and interested in personal development.
Most of my clients have worked with a coach or therapist before and many of them see a therapist regularly for general maintenance.
My ideal clients are the women who are at a place where they’re finally ready to go all in and heal their relationship with food, body image or both.
Many of them are recovering perfectionists, people pleasers and often “healthy eaters”, so are a bit reluctant to reach out and ask for help, because they’re usually the ones that people look to for advice on healthy living and figuring things out on their own.
A lot of them struggle on and off with binge eating. Across the board, they are women who are ready to go through the process of “unlearning” habits and beliefs around food + body, so that they can build a relationship with food that feels free and easy, instead of the obsession or food anxiety that they’re used to.
Many of my clients have followed my content or heard me speak before whether it’s a workshop or podcast and finally feel “heard”, just before they reach out.
There’s not a lot that I hear that I haven’t experienced myself, which I’m always honest about.
What are the best ways to become a certified coach these years?
I’m sure that this depends on the industry that you’re looking to coach in, but for myself I went through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition when I was just getting started.
A couple years after I went through my yoga teacher training (RYT 200) and deepened my understanding of the mind/body connection.
My Intuitive Eating certification was through the founders of IE- Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. And my Body Image training was with the incredible Marci Evans and Fiona Sutherland.
What do you love the most about coaching?
Being with my clients. I love watching their transformations, hearing their “ah-ha’s!”, celebrating breakthroughs and supporting their struggles.
I’m constantly learning from them and feel so incredibly grateful to have their trust in guiding them through their journey.
Read also: How Elley Became a 6-Figure Business Coach at 24
What do your clients usually struggle with the most?
Truthfully- the concept that there will be struggles.
Coming out of diet culture that has a very black and white/all or nothing/good and bad approach to food and learning how to truly listen to your body + rebuild trust takes time.
Without fail almost all of my clients have a few consecutive weeks at the very beginning of our coaching where everything is humming along- and then feel like they’re doing it all wrong when they hit their first bump.
Most of them have a very “growth oriented” mindset and understand that bumps are a part of the process, but it’s still uncomfortable especially in the beginning. Particularly around bad body image days.
How do you decide if a client is a good fit for you?
I always begin with a phone call to get to know the potential client. The work that I do is absolutely not for everyone and trust is a big part of the process.
Every time I hop on a consult with someone it’s to listen closely, determine if what they’re struggling with is something that I can support, if they’re ready to do the work and if we get along well.
If I know that we’re not a fit, I’m very clear about that and try to refer to a colleague whom they might be a better match with based on what they need support with, or a resource.
Bottom line: I’m straightforward on every call.
If I know I can help you and am fired up to work together I let you know that/always get the clients feedback. And if it’s not a fit, I always try to connect you with a person or resource before you leave the call.
How do you promote your website and services?
A few different ways- the places that I show up consistently are my Instagram, weekly newsletter and podcast.
I also love collaborating with other business and speaking to other communities whether it’s a workshop or interview.
How does the perfect business day look like for you?
Wake up and go to the bathroom, drink water and toss on my sneakers to take a walk with my pup Winnie.
Come home and do a little meditation, make breakfast and get ready for the day. Then hop into client sessions.
I’m big into creating a cozy work environment so I’ll often have French music playing and a candle lit.
I break up the day with content creation and love to wrap up early and take my book to the beach to read when possible.
What’s your advice for aspiring female coaches?
Just do it. And do it now. If you don’t try, you’ll never know.
Also, there’s enough to go around for everyone. I’m so over this mindset of “my industry is saturated!”.
Your clients want to work with you, because it’s YOU. Not the next girl. There’s something about you that they feel connected with and THAT is enough to run any business successfully.
What’s next for you and your business?
Lot’s of fun things with the podcast (incredible guests coming on!!!) and future collaborations. But truthfully, I’m enjoying just working 1:1 with my clients right now and continuing to listen, learn and show up for them even more powerfully though my own work.