Michelle is a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Practitioner and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach who works with individuals and companies to help them understand their health and happiness goals, including eating a healthy diet, weight loss, reducing stress, increasing exercise, better quality of sleep, improved relationships and more. Over the years she has helped many individuals put in place the habits to achieve and sustain them through 1-2-1 health coaching sessions, group meet-ups, workshops and company health & well-being programmes. Thrive Global talks to Michelle about her work, her personal journey to a healthier life, and what motivated her to get started.
Michelle, can you tell us a bit about your background in order to
My name is Michelle Flynn and I am a Certified Health Coach and CBT Practitioner, but more importantly, I am a 45-year-old woman who can finally say that I am no longer constantly sick, exhausted and constantly battling with my weight.
When did you realise that coaching is your passion?
I was born in North London in 1975 and, apart from a few years living in Bristol for University, have lived here all my life. After graduating, my career started in IT recruitment. I worked hard with passion, I exercised and socialised, and worked some more to build my business and be a success. I met Matt in 2007, fell in love and we married in 2014. It was an amazing day and I felt like I had everything I ever dreamed of – but 3 months after our wedding I woke up with chest pains and collapsed with what I thought was a heart attack. Following endless tests, it was discovered that I had a cyst on my heart. Although I believed that I would still be able to lead a perfectly normal, healthy life, I found this wasn’t the case. The time following my initial diagnosis saw me bouncing from illness to illness. I caught every bug going and, even though I ate well and exercised daily, I gained all the weight I had lost for my wedding – and more. I couldn’t understand what was going on. Time went by, I almost got used to being sick and tired but then suddenly there I was, out cold and having collapsed on the bathroom floor one day, with Matt realising that “in sickness and in health” really did mean just that. That rock bottom moment made me realise I simply HAD to take time out of my career and busy schedule to find out what was wrong and to try and get my health back.
I started working with a Health Coach and she gave me my “light bulb moment”. I was working so hard building my career and helping others with their personal and work challenges, I had forgotten to take care of myself. I committed the time and energy to looking after myself with the number one focus being on reducing stress, as this was what was ultimately making me ill and preventing me from losing weight. Since then, I have not been sick, am now 2.5 stone lighter, have significantly increased energy levels and am probably healthier than I have ever been. I was so inspired by everything I learned on my journey that I decided to train as a Health Coach. Now, I support others to transform their lifestyles so they can lead healthy, happy lives – with the added benefit of losing weight if they want to.
What is your unique approach to working with individuals and companies?
The most important thing for me is that my clients feel they have a safe, non-judgemental space to talk. Then we work through a system I have created to understand how they feel today, where the imbalance is in their lives and how we can take them forward to the person they want to be (physically, emotionally, specifically and practically).
Within your corporate wellness coaching, what type of companies are
you currently working with?
The majority of my clients are recruitment or technology businesses as I have been working with them for the last 20+ years so really understand the pressures that the teams feel on a day to day basis, but ultimately I work with any company that wants to support the health and wellbeing of their team.
As a professional expert, how do you think coaching has changed
after the pandemic?
It has become even more important now that people look after their wellbeing, not only to ensure they have a strong immune system to either avoid getting the virus or to be able to fight if they do get it, but also the mental resilience we all need at this time.
Based on your experience as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach,
can you please share some tips about nutrition?
For me when it comes to nutrition it is about ignoring all the fads and marketing that we are faced with every day and about bringing it back to basics. I believe that it’s about eating “real” food, whole single-ingredient food. We need to reduce the amount of highly processed foods that we eat and introduce more fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and legumes. I work with my clients to increase the variety in their diets to 30 different whole plant based foods a week to ensure they are getting all the nutrients their bodies need.
You offer retreats at the amazing Finchcocks Oast House, can you
please share some details?
We hosted our 1st retreat in February 2020. We brought together 14 people for a weekend of discovery. The aim of the weekend was to give them time to focus on themselves without the busyness of everyday lives. We went for long walks, practiced yoga, did breathwork, cooked plant based food together and most importantly we talked. Friendships were formed, businesses started and everyone left feeling relaxed and empowered to make positive change in their lives. Sadly our 2nd retreat has had to be postponed due to Covid so we are excited to host that in 2021.
Why do you think coaching within mental health and wellbeing is
Our lives are all busy with so many different pressures that it is so important that we take time to just stop and think. We rarely do this so working with a coach gives people that time to talk about how they feel with someone who will listen without making any judgement, then work with people to understand what practical life changes they can make and finally to hold them accountable to making lasting change.
Can you please share a success story that stands out in your mind?
I started working with one client who felt low in most aspects of life when we met. Through my coaching programme we made dramatic improvements in so many areas including diet, a regular exercise regime, a new level of energy and, most important, a rekindled marriage.
How can our readers contact you and follow on social media?
Finally, can you please share your motto and your favourite quote?
My favourite motto is – Mindset is just the story you tell yourself, and my favourite quote is: “Do or do not, there is no try” Yoda