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General, Interviews

Irene Ross Interview

Irene Ross

1. Can you please tell me about yourself? What led you to become a wellness coach? How long have you been open and working in your field?

Well, this is something that actually evolved over two decades. Let me explain: I actually started my career as a journalist; while still in college, I was a reporter for a daily newspaper. Then, I came to New York City and was a magazine editor. A few years later I evolved into public relations and worked on both the client and agency side. Since 1991, I was always the office “go to”person for any wellness, fitness and nutrition advice. I even got two fitness certifications in 1991; one certification was from a 2-year college program, comprehensive everything from anatomy to physiology and, of course, nutrition.

I learned about my school, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (www.integrativenutrition.com) and received a world-class education—studying over 100 dietary theories, life-style management techniques and cutting edge coaching methods. My instructors were the very best in the field: Deepak Chopra, MD; Dr. David Katz; Dr. Mark Hyman; Geneen Roth and a lot of others—including, of course, Joshua Rosenthal, who founded the school. That was in 2009—I’ve been practicing ever since.

2. What is it exactly that your company does?

The short answer is this: I help people alter unhealthy habits so they can balance their lives. But the long answer is that everyone has different goals and challenges, so I need to tailor each program to each person. For instance, some might want to increase their energy, sleep better, lose or maintain weight, reduce stress, balance their professional and personal lives, etc.

3. What makes your service different and really stand out?

First, the very fact that I spent so many years in the business world myself gives me a unique viewpoint of that world, and how it affects wellness. In fact, I have a personal experience on the home page of my website (www.eating4achieving.com)–I was in real estate at the time and I had a very early, very busy day. I ran out of the house with no breakfast, and within a short time I became very hungry and very, very thirsty. I went from a meeting on one side of town and needed to take a bus to my next listing on the other side of town. I thought I’d have a moment to eat something—but I was also working with a very nervous buyer so my cell phone went off continually on the bus—so I never had time to eat, became very tired and fuzzy-minded and barely got through the rest of the day.

Another thing that sets me apart is that I’ll truly go above and beyond—I take the success of my clients personally; as one client posted on my Linked In page—“it was evident even as early as our first session.” I had one client who was interested in healthy cooking; every time I visited a greenmarket (which, for me, is pretty often), I’d pick up recipes to mail him.

Another client was a husband and wife team; however, there was a challenge that continually dogged the wife. I indicated that I wanted to have a private session, just with her (and at no extra charge) so I could really drill deep. I discovered she was doing something consistently that was adding to the problem—later that week I received an e-mail from her that she could finally get past that challenge and felt great. I’ll tell you—that e-mail had me smiling for days!!

Another client stopped me on the street, glowing, telling me that everything “seemed to instantly changed” once we uncovered her problem. Again, smiles for days!

4. How can your service create positive change for business clients and their employees?

What every one needs to know is that wellness affects BOTH employee AND employer. It taps the bottom-line; insurance costs go up, there can be excessive absenteeism and productivity is low. Employees often have a difficult time balancing their work life with their family life and other responsibilities. They now often have financial worries—and that can keep them out of the office or preoccupied.

Here’s an interesting stat: Earlier this year, the Organizational Expertise Panel of the Society for Human Resource Management conducted national surveys with managers. They found that employees spend, on average, 20 hours per month handling financial problems that often take them out of the office. That equals about 30 percent of a 40 hour workweek!

5. Why did you agree to partner with Loszach Report?

Quite simply, the Loszach Report seems aligned with the way I conduct my business—it’s very thorough, with the diagnostics, evaluation and analysis. And I like the fact that they stay with the client every step of the way—it’s how I work.

6. What advice would you give to HR people that manage wellness programs?

I’d advise HR Managers and Directors to conduct due diligence even before approaching their bosses. Conduct (anonymous) surveys to see what problems are affecting employees the most. Then look at the patterns: What percentage is overweight? How many are in the “sandwich generation? How many smoke and have other unhealthy habits?

Then draw some parallels into how it affects the bottom-line of the employer. Look at the insurance—some offer incentives to those who have wellness programs.

Find out what employees feel they need the most: perhaps conduct a focus class.

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