Memories of a Recovery Health Coach


“I Alone Cannot Change The World, But I Can Cast A Stone Across The Waters To Create Many Ripples”- Mother Teresa


After the sudden death of my grandfather due to years of alcoholism, I decided to return to school for a second degree so that I could help people in recovery. I was young and idealistic. I wanted to change the world.

During the second semester while enrolled in a class called “The Psychology of Addictions”, I was asked to pick a topic I would be interested in. After looking at the choices and at the time being a yoga practicing, meditating, organic food eating, holistic hippie; I picked the topic of “Nutrition and Recovery”. My professor then suggested that I interview Dr. Joseph D. Beasley, M.D. as he was doing research in the field.

During my first interview with Dr. Beasley, I was in awe, here was this doctor, who had taught at Harvard, wrote several books on recovery, and was the director of an inpatient hospital addiction program but was taking the time to speak to me at his clinic for my school project. Dr. Beasley’s passion for nutrition and recovery was so contagious that by the time I left, I had decided that nutrition and recovery was the career for me but I didn’t know how to pull that off as a Certified Alcoholism Counselor. Little did I know how this one meeting would change my life forever.

Several weeks later, Dr. Beasley called to let me know that he heard about a field called “health coaching” and thought it would be what I was looking for. While the local colleges did not have a major in that subject yet, he offered to mentor me at his clinic while I completed my studies in addictions. The plan was then to transfer to a nearby school for a bachelor of science in Community Health and Human Services. While under Dr. Beasley’s guidance, I took the courses that would help me become a health coach and at the same time worked at his clinic as an intern. True to form, Dr. Beasley was at my graduation to cheer me on holding flowers and balloons.

The years I spent at Dr. Beasley’s clinic as a health coach were life changing and was never boring. Being a health coach means you are at times- a teacher, guide, motivator, and cheer leader for people who are trying to make positive but often very difficult changes in their lives. At our clinic we saw that when health coaching was added to a recovery treatment program, it lead to positive results in thousands of people who suffered from alcohol and/or substance abuse disorders, eating disorders, and addictions of all kinds.

Although the transition was sometimes difficult, everyone of these men and women found that once they had enjoyed the tremendous benefits and “natural high” of a good nutrition recovery program it was almost impossible to go back to their old eating habits. In the words of one client: “I had a Twinkie the other day, just for old’s time sake and couldn’t even finish the first bite. I can’t believe I ate that stuff. What was I thinking?”

In closing, I would like to say that I am still a yoga practicing, meditating, organic food eating, holistic hippie who is still idealistic. And while I may be twenty-five years older now, I still believe we can change the world one ripple at a time.

Health and Happiness,


Mary P. Cheney, CHC


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Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Blogger, Author, Speaker, Activist, Nana, Mom, Wife, Daughter & Foodie.

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