Whether she’s breaking down the complexities of data from continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), or offering tips on how to find time for exercise in a busy schedule, One Drop health coach, Lindsay Vettleson, RD, CDCES, dedicates her time to helping people—and that’s what she finds most rewarding about her job.
But, according to Vettleson, the truth is that she initially became interested in wellness “for all the wrong reasons.”
How did your wellness journey begin?
In my senior year of high school, I developed an eating disorder. Being a “type A” student with so many responsibilities to balance and people to please, I began to look at food as one detail in my life that I could control. In my case, it really had nothing to do with nutrition. Rather, “trying to be perfect” at everything from school and sports to band and student council left me searching for something simple that I could completely control to a T. It was obviously very detrimental to my health, and it led to extreme body image issues that I still struggle with today.
What drives you as a health coach?
I feel driven to do more than just educate people about nutrition; I want to empower others to feel confident and motivated to make healthy choices. To help me reach that goal, I studied dietetics in college and became a registered dietitian. A couple years later, I incorporated my love of fitness into my work by becoming a certified personal trainer. I’ve always been a giver. I know this is what I needed to do, and here I am.
How did you start working with people who have chronic conditions?
After several years of working in nutrition and personal training, I moved away from my home of North Dakota to take a job as a registered dietitian at a small hospital in Kansas where I discovered my passion for diabetes care. The hospital offered a three-day, hands-on course to teach health professionals how to use their skills to help people with diabetes manage their condition. While I admit that I never thought I’d find myself in the world of diabetes management, I immediately fell in love with the work. It was so rewarding for me as I made an impact on those people during those three days.
How has your own health journey helped you as a health coach?
For many folks with diabetes, perfectionism is a constant struggle—one that I know all too well from my experience with disordered eating. While I zeroed in on food as a means of control, people with diabetes often feel pressured to hyper-focus on “fixing” everything from their weight and blood sugar to their blood pressure and cholesterol levels (and their eating habits). In fact, it’s estimated that people with diabetes make, on average, about 300 health-related decisions alone every single day along with the hundreds of other non-diabetes-related decisions that go into a typical person’s day-to-day. That’s exhausting! Considering everything a person with diabetes probably has on their mind at any given moment, they don’t need a physician, certified diabetes care and education specialist, or nurse belittling them about why their blood sugar isn’t in range, or why they aren’t exercising enough, or making the right food choices.
How would you summarize your coaching philosophy?
We have to realize that this chronic condition is not all about perfectionism. It's about balance, and not letting diabetes completely take over your life. How can we live with this condition and manage it, without letting it drive us batty and mad?
What role does empathy play in your coaching?
These days, as a certified diabetes care and education specialist and health coach at One Drop, one of the most important skills I’ve learned is empathy. Over the years of working with people who have diabetes, I’ve really learned to be non-judgmental. Having a chronic condition is a lot of work, and I don’t even know about the journey someone’s been on before I’ve met them, which has probably been really hard, too.
What are some of the focus areas in One Drop’s diabetes program?
As credentialed health coaches, we focus on providing advice, care, and support for people looking to improve management of their chronic condition and their health overall. For example, some participants are seeking better clinical outcomes, such as improving their A1C and/or lowering their blood pressure levels. Others are seeking more lifestyle changes, such as wanting to eat better and finding an exercise plan that works for them. We focus on helping people achieve either or both of these goals.
What feedback have you received from members?
Members very much enjoy having the ability to direct message with us. Managing a chronic condition can be a challenge—whether it’s understanding a blood sugar reading or simply staying positive on the path to better health. Being able to connect back and forth provides an opportunity for us to develop a relationship with our members and help them manage and improve their health in between doctor’s visits.
Members have also shared positive experiences about the app, which allows them to log and store data like blood sugar readings and access educational resources on attaining better health.
What motivates people to stay in a diabetes management program?
Motivation of course varies by the person, but I’ve noticed one factor that is shared across all members: the goal of wanting to reach better health. We as coaches can help them achieve this goal by providing clarity on, for example, what a certain reading means, the progress they’ve made since their last check-in, and further steps they can take to improve where they currently are with their health.
What would you say to an employer who is thinking about offering One Drop to their team?
From an employer perspective, one great thing about the program is you have targets that can be measured for success. For example, there’s an ability to see the improvements someone is making with each blood pressure reading. But the care we provide is more than just saying because your blood sugar is better, your life is better. We work to help people who are living with a chronic condition feel better in daily life, which can go a long way in how someone performs in their career.
Start the journey to better health in your workplace.