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Health Coach Spotlight: Katie Bunch

Our Health Coach spotlight this month features Katie Bunch from Portland, ME. Katie has a Master’s Degree in Public Health and will be completing her personal training certificate this year. As one of Omada’s most tenured coaches, she’s helped thousands of participants to date and continues to inspire participants to live free of chronic disease each and every day.

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What appealed to you the most about being a health coach?

I’ve always been interested in health and wellness. Six years ago, I went through my own health journey, so I love being able to share that with participants. It naturally builds trust and empathy. I also like that coaching looks at the whole picture. We’re not counting calories here. We’re taking into consideration each individual’s needs and challenges, including sleep and stress, and offering sustainable steps that an individual can take to improve his or her health.

Our participants have no idea how inspiring they are. I’ve seen people do incredible things - and I’m not just talking about the people who lose 100 lbs or go from couch potato to ultra runner. I recently had a participant who spent all 16 weeks going up and down in weight, but evolved so much in her mindset, her confidence, and the way she viewed herself and her self worth. She was an entirely different person by the 16th week. Seeing someone experience that, and having the opportunity to be a part of their journey, is by far my favorite part of coaching.

Who is your most memorable participant?

This isn’t meant to contradict what I just said, but I’ve had participants who have gone from struggling to get off the couch to becoming long-distance trail runners! One participant joined a running team and started pacing people in marathons. She achieved her weight goal and then some. Needless to say, she was a major source of motivation and support for other participants for many years. She’s awesome.

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What region-specific advice do you give the people you coach?

There’s no bad weather, only bad gear. There are so many ways to stay active here when the weather is nice. Running, trail running, and hiking are probably some of the most popular. Really anything outdoors, though. In winter, weather can cause a big challenge for people when it comes to staying active. When participants experience this, I encourage them to broaden their view on what physical activity looks like. It doesn’t always have to mean going for a walk or run outside - in fact, you don’t even need to muster up the energy or motivation to leave your house at all for a workout. An at-home workout, or even just putting some extra energy into house chores can get you moving and get your heart rate up without needing to brave the weather. And when you’re done, you can relax under your UV lamp!

What three things motivate you to stay active?

  1. Setting fitness goals and achieving them. Right now I’m working on mastering a yoga headstand. 
  2. My dogs. They provide the best guilt trips ever. 
  3. Whatever fitness tracker I’m using at the moment. Right now I’m into the Apple Watch, and love completing those circles!

How do you make Omada a personal experience for participants?

I definitely think I play the role of “cheerleader” with my participants. I want everyone to understand that as long as they want to, they can. I also want them to know that I’m a real person, and I’m not just sitting up on some pedestal munching on raw spinach, telling them how to eat. I want them to feel like they can relate to me while also knowing that they can trust me to give them sound advice and encouragement. So, I practice what I preach, and that includes being honest with my participants about not aiming for perfection in my own life.

What do you see people struggle with the most when trying to keep weight off?

When it comes to maintenance, I think the most destructive behavior is an all-or-nothing mindset. If a participant tells me they’ve completely given up a food group, or that they need help with an upcoming situation because they “can’t” eat anything there, it’s a red flag for me that they’re practicing eating habits that are too strict to maintain long-term. It’s tough, because these people are often seeing a lot of weight loss upfront as a result of being so rigid with their choices, and while that may work in the short term, it’s not always a sustainable approach. I think my participants sometimes think I’m just a robot that churns out phrases like “Progress, not perfection” and “Balance, not deprivation,” but I truly believe in them!

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“I love these because they’re easy to make, use no added sweeteners, and it satisfies my chocolate craving.”

Ingredients
Makes 4

  • 2 bananas - not overripe
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 popsicle sticks or wooden skewers
  • Toppings of choice - I like unsweetened coconut and chopped almonds

Directions

  1. Cut your bananas in half so that you have 4 pieces of banana, each about 2-3 inches long. Stick them on the popsicle stick or skewer lengthwise, and then place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and put in the freezer for at least 15 minutes
  2. While the bananas harden in the freezer, mix together the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and melted coconut oil, and then prepare your toppings by placing them each on a flat plate.
  3. Once the bananas are hardened, spoon the chocolate over the bananas to completely cover them, and then immediately roll them around in the toppings. Do this quickly! The chocolate mixture will harden fast on the frozen bananas, so you have to move fast for the toppings to stick.
  4. Once you have your bananas covered in chocolate and topped, place them back on the parchment paper in the freezer to store until ready to eat.