During the last 26 years, we’ve certified over 119,000 health, nutrition, and fitness professionals. Each month, we recognize one of our distinguished graduates who use what they have learned to inspire others and make a difference.
Meet our graduate for the month of June, Courtney Rife, an AFPA certified holistic nutritionist.
How did you originally become interested in health and wellness?
I have a passion for living a holistic life. I’ve personally experienced pain every day for well over a year, after being injured at work while protecting a student from being attacked, and felt depleted of energy. When I started eating different foods, including more fruits and vegetables, less processed foods, and sugar, I experienced so much improvement. Eliminating certain foods from my diet, such as wheat, gluten, and dairy, played a substantial role in my healing and recovery process. After learning how to fall in love with healthy whole foods and experiencing great benefits (recovery from pain and inflammation), I wanted to share this experience with children, family, friends, and just anyone wanting to know how to live a healthy life, so I worked to earn my certification as a holistic nutritionist. I also decided to adopt a 90 percent, 10 percent whole food, plant-based lifestyle!
Which certification did you choose? Why did you choose AFPA?
I went through AFPA’s Holistic Nutrition program. I chose AFPA because of their mission to provide holistic nutritional education to individuals. AFPA provides tools and resources to make learning challenging, fun, and interesting. Communicating with AFPA was easy from the beginning to the end!
What was your career like prior to getting certified?
Prior to being certified, I was cooking and sharing meals and advice for free. People would ask me about prices, but I never had answers. Teaching fourth graders ELA and social studies and seeing the impact of sharing juices and healthy snack options encouraged me to want to motivate children and their families. I went on to cook healthy meals for a private family!
What is your career like now?
Now, I have emails to respond to with completed surveys that will lead to meal planning for clients. I’ve gained a sense of direction and organization for what was once just good ideas and recipes. I even have a website that I learned about creating through AFPA Fitness. I feel confident in my knowledge of individualized solutions for the leading chronic diseases in the United States, including pain, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. I can even give realistic solutions for depression and anxiety. My certification even allows me to provide solutions for my own family and what we often think of as unavoidable family inherited diseases.
What are your favorite parts of your career?
My favorite part of my career is that I can do exactly what I LOVE! I reaped great benefits from adopting a plant-based, whole food diet. There was a time when I couldn’t work out, but I found that adopting certain lifestyle changes to my diet allowed me to conquer so many things that benefited my entire well-being! I went from not being able to make it through an entire dance class to hiking a mountain in Greece! When people see me, they would never think I was ever incapable of doing the things I now am able to achieve. Being relatable and encouraging allows me to motivate others when they think they are incapable of walking or eating healthy. I can tell them I haven’t always eaten this way or been in this condition, BUT that victory and wellness are absolutely attainable. I LOVE facilitating and giving tools that encourage an individual’s environment in a way that breeds holistic well-being!
How has becoming AFPA certified impacted your life?
All I can say is exercise is my friend again! I find so many ways to enjoy good food that is nutritious and never have to feel bad about eating! This certification has allowed me to understand that there are so many diseases that we have more of a choice in developing. We get to be in the driver’s seat in so many ways when it comes to our health. It’s helped me to explore the business end of the ideas I had. I have a system! I have a website! I am now a professional with a great knowledge base from this program and not just someone who is experimenting with basic ideas! I also love the perspective I’ve gained from the program. Sometimes when you have a concept, it is easy to think everyone else should do it exactly the way you do. This program taught me how to meet people where they are and how to work with clients on those levels in a way that is beneficial. This facilitated growth instead of causing defensiveness or even complacency. This lifestyle is a journey, and now I can help myself, clients, and my family stay on a healthy journey. My family wants to hire me instead of just asking for menus or my thoughts. My family wants to hire me!
Do you have any client success stories you would like to share?
One of my friends asked to be a client. One of the things the program taught me is that you can’t overwhelm people with too many goals at one time, especially when it comes to changing habits. We focused on increasing water intake from 1–2 glasses of water a day to 8 over a period of time. Initially, my friend didn’t realize the connection between her lack of hydration and other consistent problems she’d been having. Over time, she started increasing her water intake. She noticed that she felt better when she was drinking water. If she had a day where she didn’t drink enough water, the signals in her body that were now awake again after having been ignored for so long were now working properly and telling her, “I WANT WATER!” She would adhere to it because increasing water allowed her to be more in tune with her body and when she needed water. She told me she would get a headache when she didn’t drink water. Body awareness is a great success for anyone and understanding the connections between diet, lifestyle, and health is rewarding for the long-term. Equipping my clients and family with awareness and understanding are the first steps to facilitating and helping them maintain new lifestyle choices.
What advice do you have for others thinking about getting certified?
This program is so worth it! When I started the program, I envisioned myself completing it in two months while working lol! That did not happen, but it’s more than okay. The curriculum is so rich in great information that, if this is your passion, you will find yourself wanting to soak in the material a little differently than skimming a magazine or even reading a novel. As a result, you may find that it will take a little more time to digest the material. Remember, you are learning in order to provide tools and resources for not only yourself but for others, so there is no need to rush. There will always be people who need the knowledge and motivation you will be providing to them, so don’t feel like you have to rush. The people who have been following my meals on Facebook five years ago are the same people who now, because I’m certified and have gained organization and direction from this program, want to be my clients! I’ve even had people who I never knew followed my meals become vocal about the meals I’ve shared and their interest in eating more healthy meals. One big difference for me is that now I have a price point and materials to organize my business and facilitate their holistic nutrition journey. Watch the videos as the research is amazing. Having the research gives you a tool when it comes to nutritional counseling, as people hate to feel judged. We don’t want to do that to our clients, so the research provides a language in which we can communicate fact-based evidence instead of loose judgments! Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself. This program is literally made for YOU! You will definitely not only see that you are made for this but that you have everything it takes to be successful inside of you upon completion.
To connect with Courtney, visit her website at crifesholisticnutrition.com.