Tell us a little about yourself
I’m a dual citizen of the United States and New Zealand. I’ve been in New Zealand for 10 years now which is pretty significant. My husband is a dual citizen and he spent a lot of time here growing up. We always knew that we would spend part of our married life in New Zealand. We have one child, Atticus, who is going to be 10 soon and a cat named Lilith who came with us from the U.S. and will be 15 this year.
Significant to my life as well as my family, work, and personal wellness is how grounding I find nature, movement, and food. I was in my late twenties when I lost my sister to suicide and shortly after, both parents to cancer, so I’ve dealt with a good bit of loss in my life. There have been other times in my life where there were so many things that were out of my control and I consistently found myself grounding to nature, movement and food...a hike, a roll on the ground, or making something yummy to eat.
How did you discover and get into wellness coaching? Why did you choose it?
At university I actually thought I was going to be a maths teacher and I was two classes away from completing my degree before deciding it was not what I wanted to do at all! It just didn’t feel right. A few consistent happy things throughout university though were dancing and fitness so I ended up changing my major to Lifestyle Management and minor to Modern Dance. Lifestyle Management was a mix of health promotion, nutrition, and exercise physiology. It was satisfying because it was all related to the body mixed with a tiny bit of math.
I then started out as an intern for the university’s employee wellness program. It involved employees coming for an annual wellness assessment. This involved collecting objective data such as blood pressure, cholesterol, body composition, etc. I was quite good at sitting down with an employee post assessment and going over the results in a way that was non-threatening and combined the objective data with a subjective, collaborative conversation in a way that gave them a sense of ownership. I think that experience made me realise I was interested in and had a gift for helping someone meet themselves where they are and find the right path for them.
The intuitive eating stuff was born from a frustration around the way I was trying to help people, which was grounded in science but not actually very helpful. It wasn’t getting to the core of the issues people were having with food which involved their eating behaviours, relationship with food, and relationship with their body. I did a bit of research and found the intuitive eating method, attended training and started to incorporate and teach intuitive eating at the university and it was well received.
I have also worked as a personal trainer and Pilates instructor both in the U.S. and New Zealand. In NZ I have worked with postnatal clients, taught Pilates for Xtend Barre Wellington, and taught movement workshops at O2 Exercise. I have recently completed a fresh personal training certification and am now an ACE Certified Personal Trainer. So drawing from all of my experiences I combine my passion for wellness with my skills as a Personal Trainer, Life Coach, Pilates Instructor, and Intuitive Eating Coach in my Wellness Coaching.
I am not even really sure if I chose wellness coaching or if it chose me. It just naturally evolved from a combination of my attention and intention over the years...all my gifts, skills, interests, and experiences coming together to make me a viable skilled helper for anyone wanting to improve their health.
What is your most memorable coaching experience?
Currently, on Friday’s I have a really great long-time friend who has evolved into a regular virtual client. She loves having me hold space for her and having someone she trusts with a standing appointment every week. It's been so satisfying because with the rapport we have there is so much freedom with how our discussions evolve, anywhere from relationships, to professional development, to her own movement practice, or what’s on her menu for the week. Our time meanders through her life path and I am there to support without trying to control. It's an hour a week where she can talk about what is most relevant within her wellness journey on that given day and we work together to gently bring her back to what grounds her and her core values when life has created distraction otherwise.
I also have a young client who is dealing with some real challenges in life which serves as a reminder to me how powerful it can be just to be with someone. I think sometimes we feel we have to fix things and control them and throw a thousand systems and processes and tools at them when sometimes it is just about being the backdrop so that someone can even hear their own internal voice long enough to calm down.
Really I feel like all my coaching experiences have been memorable, whether it was working with my mom during her breast cancer journey, a quirky bar owner who changed his perspective about stretching, a lawyer who was so excited to do a Pilates roll-up for the first time, a mature woman who was so happy to have somewhere to go during her day where she felt cared for, a postnatal client who felt her lower abdominals engage for the first time in months, a post-weight loss surgery client who had a transformative moment when he realized the surgery did not fix the void in his life he had been filling with food, and a young woman who was so excited about taking initiative to plan and prepare her own lunches for the work week she couldn’t wait to show me her new lunch bag. Every one of these clients has made me smile or cry.
Why do you think people do or don’t choose wellness coaching?
I think someone probably doesn't choose it because their personal well-being is not a priority at this point in their life for whatever reason. Essentially, they are not in the actionable or even contemplative stage of change. Additionally, they may not choose it because they do not know what it is or perceive it to be authoritative rather than collaborative. Also they could already be self-directed with their wellness and simply do not feel they need a coach.
I think someone would choose it if they had a sense of what it could be, perhaps if they had worked with a personal trainer or wellness coach in the past. They may also choose wellness coaching because they have identified they want to improve their health but are overwhelmed or not sure where to start. Someone could also choose coaching because they want to go deeper on their wellness journey and simply enjoy the collaborative process and the support of a professional.
I believe more people would choose wellness coaching if they knew how helpful it could be. For example, say someone went to their doctor and is told their blood sugar is too high. The client is left with objective information and likely a bit of fear or overwhelm without a good way to decompress the information. A healthy coaching process provides support and the environment to strategize with the purpose of taking action to induce change. It then provides a place for reflection, making adjustments, and repeating. It’s a grounding place to return to and reorganize your thoughts, feelings, and ideas so you can keep momentum going related to your health and well-being.
In addition, helpful coaching can help diffuse panic, making it less likely for someone to go into black and white thinking where they either shut down or overreact. For example, a conversation would go something like this, “Okay, we have this objective data. Firstly, how do you feel about it? What are your core values in relation to this? Do you feel it’s an accurate representation of the big picture or just a snapshot? What would you like to do about it? What do you perceive the barriers to be? What part of it do you need help with?” The client is then able to be responsive rather than reactive about next steps.
I believe wellness happens in shades of grey, and working with a wellness coach is a good way to diffuse this all or nothing, black and white thinking, which pops up a lot in life. The area of wellbeing is no different because it deals with habits, emotions, self-talk, etc. It’s easy to create an adversarial relationship with things where you have standards that are all or nothing. It’s not realistic, it's not life, it’s not honouring those ebbs and flows in your own energy and all that.
Being shown empathy, kindness and honesty when trying to do something new or make a change is also what makes coaching helpful. For example, I remember sometimes someone would come to me still smoking. I would just straight up ask them “Is this something you are interested in changing right now?” Because if the answer is no then that needs to be honoured.” I started to notice that sometimes even just having someone ask them from a non-confrontational angle was enough to plant the seed for them to start contemplating change. Being honest and kind and asking “Do you have any interest in changing this or is it not your focus, because I’m sure we can find a place you are interested in starting that’s genuine to you right now?” is a much more respectful and collaborative way to start a conversation because ultimately everyone is responsible for their own well-being.
We are so happy to have Jill as part of our team of practitioners and know you will enjoy her friendly and approachable nature. If you would like to improve your health and experience a session with Jill, she offers free, 45-minute taster sessions and is here at the centre on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 AM - 1 PM. You may book online at healwithjill.com/bookings Below are what some of her clients have to say about working with her and an image linking to her free ebook GROW Simple Wellness.
“Jill is an incredible professional who has helped me with my wellness-related goals. She listens to my needs and concerns, then guides my thinking to accomplish my goals. She is so good at bringing the focus back to my core values. I deeply appreciate her common-sense approach to wellness.”
--Louise, Masters of Teacher Education Director
"I have known Jill as both a colleague and consumer for several years. When I first met Jill I was impressed with her kindness and willingness to listen. She holds a wealth of information related to physical, mental and emotional health that is well thought out and readily incorporated into providing non-judgmental guidance. She is both analytical and personable, with a sense of humor that she utilizes well. Personally, she has made a major difference in how I view my physical health, my body, eating and exercise. I am much healthier, fit, confident and self-accepting as a result of her interventions."
--Larry, Clinical Psychologist
“Jill has such an intelligent and empathetic approach to her coaching. She is always flexible and intuitive, tailoring every session for a very personal experience. I am constantly telling friends and family what a difference her coaching has made for me.”
--C Kerr, Mum
Rhys is a recent addition to the Ngaio Natural Health Centre. He is doing amazing work with Zero Balancing, which is a holistic form of bodywork, aiming to align the mind, body and spirit. As it is a bit unknown at the centre we thought it would be a great idea to have a ‘case study’ of a Zero Balancing with our very own Rhys as the patient. Learn all about how Zero Balancing impacted Rhys’ life and how it might help you too.
I guess you could say I had two physical problems that I knew about plus an astonishing issue that I was unaware of until I had Zero Balancing.
The first was arthritis in both feet that prevented me from walking long distances. Hydrocortisone injections into the navicular-cuneiform joint would help for a few weeks, then the problem would return.
The other was a knee injury acquired when working with large cattle one day. It was my own fault really. I was straddled across the top of the cattle race trying to put an ID tag in the ear of one of the cows. She moved forward unexpectedly, pinning both ankles to the side of the race with her hip bones. Then she shifted again flicking one ankle out while the other remained pinned as I fell backwards almost 2m into the race behind the cow. This ripped my knee ligaments on the trapped leg quite severely. I was able to get up on my one good foot and hop out before she walked backward, or I might have fared much worse.
The diagnosis was completely torn medial collateral ligament and half torn anterior cruciate ligament. I underwent conventional medical treatment and rehab. But I was not able to put much pressure on it or lift anything heavy, let alone walk any distance. Unfortunately, this ended my Paramedic dream.
It was over a year later before I tried Zero Balancing. I had zero expectations for my knee or feet but I was interested to try it to see what it was. My sister was raving about it and was training in it herself. She obtained significant relief with a pelvic complaint after repeated falls from horses.
"Zero Balancing does not guarantee results for specific issues, though in my experience it improves the great majority. What it does do is provide a holistic energy-based bodywork therapy that releases tension out of bones primarily, but also organs and soft tissue as needed."
Zero Balancing is non-diagnostic. A comprehensive injury and medical history is taken, and there are a few contra-indications – one of which is we do not deal with acute trauma. We leave that to conventional medical treatments. However, due to the safety of the therapy, there are few chronic conditions that can’t be attempted. In my case, my problems were over a year old.
Zero Balancing does not guarantee results for specific issues, though in my experience it improves the great majority. What it does do is provide a holistic energy-based bodywork therapy that releases tension out of bones primarily, but also organs and soft tissue as needed. There is a core protocol of stretches and acupressure that is repeated each time for every client, then tailored to need. Zero Balancing’s goal is overall wellness of the human being first and foremost. Specific improvements then often follow, sometimes in area’s we don’t expect. Zero Balancing offers the body invitations to change, but the client’s body is in charge and takes out of the therapy what it needs to heal.
I sometimes give clients exercises that I think may improve mobility, or suggest a general program of exercise, but usually the sequence of sessions 1-2 weeks apart, then going to monthly, is all that is required to bring a person back into balance.
"I felt mentally grounded and centred in myself. Now, I wasn’t aware that I wasn’t those things, until I had the experience of being brought back into balance and realised just how far out of whack I had been, without even knowing it."
My own results were extra-ordinary after just one session. Even though the practitioner told me to rest up, I did the opposite. I felt so wonderfully well, I walked for several kilometres that evening. It felt like my feet were floating on air rather than the usual stabbing sharp pain I’d usually experience high up in my arches. Weirdly, that pain has never returned.
My knee has gradually improved with treatment, has good strength and stability. I’m able to swim, cycle and walk easily, I love heading into the bush when I can. I’m thrilled with what I can do.
The astonishing aspect of that first treatment that I was not expecting, though, was how I felt like my old 20 year-old self again, the next day. It felt like a magic trick. How could such a gentle therapy that feels like hardly anything is happening, have such a profound effect? I felt mentally grounded and centred in myself. Now, I wasn’t aware that I wasn’t those things, until I had the experience of being brought back into balance and realised just how far out of whack I had been, without even knowing it. And THAT is what got me hooked on the therapy as something that I had to learn and bring to others. It’s amazing to feel that way, and my clients tell me time after time, how extraordinary it feels. (Even if they can’t describe how it works either!)
That is life-changing and enabling. It opens up possibilities for people to take on new directions for themselves, a new way to be in their body – to manage their stress, anxiety and physical issues - and to spend their days in peace, enjoyment and self-actualisation. How rewarding is that?!
As I’ve got to know the therapy more and its potential, I’ve been able to move my own life more and more to a place of peace and awareness. Which is huge, everything really. Zero Balancing enabled that for me.
My own recent addition to the therapy is to offer clients that want it, advice to bring present moment awareness into their daily lives. Zero Balancing gives them that experience while they are on the table, anyway. Why not be centred all the time? It’s a powerful way to live!
2019 has been a busy and exciting year. Much of it has brought the culmination of a significant amount of work and growth, both professionally and personally. It has seen the completion of many courses that bring together all my passions and special areas of interest in osteopathy i.e. paediatrics, biodynamics, cranial osteopathy and teaching.
When I began work at the Ngaio Natural Health Centre seven years ago (how time flies!) the aim with my UK experience, was to continue and strengthen the ethos (begun by osteopaths Liz johns and Jane Burns) in providing a strong family orientated practice, particularly in the areas of interest mentioned above.
I’m looking forward to 2020 which is equally shaping up to be a fantastic year, though I hope a little quieter, we will see...
Wishing everyone love and a very peaceful and happy Christmas,
Completion of the ARA Institute of Canterbury course - Infant, Child + Adolescent Health in Osteopathy.
When you see an osteopath you are seeing a regulated primary healthcare professional. Some of us already specialise and have qualifications in paediatrics, but this course (spread over two years) is aimed at raising the benchmark for paediatric osteopathy across the whole profession. Importantly, it will guarantee minimum standards in safety and practice as a basic pre-requisite for anyone seeking osteopathic care for their child. It very much deepens the awareness of current child related NZ health issues. Some osteopaths may not wish to pursue further specialisation in paediatrics, but this certification will give them the necessary skills to recognise when and whom to refer if something is outside of their scope. NZ will be the first country to have this recognised in their Osteopathic Standards (‘capabilities’) for practice. Well done us!
Completion of Phase 9 of a Biodynamic View of Osteopathy
I am very proud to announce I have completed Phase 9 of a Biodynamic View of Osteopathy. To be listed as a ‘Biodynamically trained’ an osteopath has to have completed Phase courses 1-8. This ‘odyssey’ is a deep interest and passion and represents well over a decade of work and study with thousands of hours of deliberate practise and reflection. Arriving at this point we do not think of having ‘completed’ anything, rather it is just another step along the most wonderful life-changing path of personal development and continued learning.
Completion of Treatment of Children with a Biodynamic view of Osteopathy
Also, to further my learning in Paediatrics, in March this year I also completed Phase 3 of a three year program on the Treatment of Children with a Biodynamic view of Osteopathy. This really is a specialty area that adds to my paediatric knowledge and skills. It deepens, guides and and shapes my private practice and group work in the charity clinic (more below).
.....Biodynamics, what is it?
In response to many questions here is a very brief note on Biodynamics and it’s rich osteopathic history. (Please look out for a new year post explained and referenced in much more detail).
Biodynamics has a direct lineage that can be traced to osteopathy's founder, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. Through Dr.Still and his many wonderful teachings osteopaths are charged with ‘finding the health’ in the patient, as he says ‘..anyone can find disease...”. This has become an important and living concept for us. His student William Garner Sutherland pioneered the development of cranial osteopathy and the discovery of ‘primary respiration’. The work of Dr.Sutherland and his exceptional students deeply inspired (and through their mentorship) present day American osteopath Dr. James Jealous DO. It is Dr. Jealous who chose the name Biodynamics as a new curriculum in osteopathy after he recognised that embryologists and the work of Dr. Sutherland had much in common. Biodynamics is a fascinating field that has continued to evolve in osteopathy. To those who show an interest Dr. Jealous and the remarkable international faculty continue to teach post-graduate osteopaths i.e. who have first completed full osteopathic study and training. The importance of this can’t be understated because it requires a high degree of clinical skill and understanding developed over many years in practice.
The Sutherland Cranial Teaching Foundation of Australia & New Zealand sctfanz.org.au
I am thrilled to announce that this year I have been invited and welcomed on to the faculty of the Sutherland Cranial Teaching Foundation of Australia and New Zealand. Another deep interest and passion, it is an honour and a privilege to continue the work and pass on the teachings of osteopath Dr. William Garner Sutherland to successive generations. He has joined the international team on three courses so far, in Auckland and Melbourne.
The Osteopathic Children’s Foundation OCF
This is pretty special. I am a proud trustee and part of a small team of passionate individuals who wanted to set up a clinic to treat children who would not normally have access to osteopathy. We don’t want affordability and/or serious health issues to be be barriers to access. We are very excited because the clinic celebrated it’s first birthday in October this year. It has been a fantastic year and a huge success that has exceeded all our expectations. We feel very supported.
From 20-30 osteopaths come together and donate and devote their time one Saturday per month in Hamilton, NZ. Osteopathic Children’s clinics are special places where treatment is based around the family unit and where we treat in an open-plan space with lots of tables, and toys! Bringing the community together is a very important part of what we do. At each clinic we are blessed with the presence of our Kaumātua who leads us in a Karakia before and after our sessions. We are developing strong links with local services, including the children’s hospice, and we are very fortunate to have already been joined by paediatricians, other health professionals and many overseas visitors. I will definitely write about this some more....
For now, if you would like any more details please follow the link above.