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Leading The Midlife Health & Wellness Renaissance – Exclusive Interview With Michele DeJesus

Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC is a board-certified & Mayo Clinic-certified Health Coach and an ACE-certified Personal Trainer with a PhD. in Holistic Nutrition. She is the CEO of a 26-year coaching business, successfully guiding adults in transforming their health, fitness and weight loss. Michele has been featured in the IDEA Health & Fitness online magazine as well as numerous television appearances speaking about fitness, weight loss and health. She is the host of the Facebook group, MIDLIFE CONFIDENCE: Women Conquering Weight Loss and the creator of an online 12-week weight loss intensive for midlife women. Her mission is to support midlife women in creating their own health & wellness Renaissance.

Image photo of Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC

Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC, Health Coach/Weight Loss Specialist

Introduce yourself! Please tell us about you and your life, so we can get to know you better.

I’m a board-certified & Mayo Clinic certified Health Coach and ACE-certified Personal Trainer with a PhD in Holistic Nutrition. But I’ve reinvented myself several times; I’m a former ballerina, movement therapist, singer and artist as well. I’m a wife with two sons, 20 & 16, 2 dogs, 1 cat and 1 giant goldfish. We live in Kentucky, USA where there’s plenty of outdoor opportunities to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes, hiking. I’ve hiked throughout the US as well as Australia and Nepal. And, I still sing for a classic rock band and I’m the youngest member!

What inspired you to start your 26-year coaching business in health, fitness, and weight loss, and how has your journey evolved over the years?

I wanted to be a ballerina. At age 12 I was told I had to lose weight. That started a lifelong dieting disorder for me. At 21, when I accepted I wouldn’t be a premier ballerina, I went back to school and earned a MA in Movement Therapy from UCLA. I provided therapy for adults diagnosed with Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Clinical Depression. A few years later, I moved to a small town and was unable to find work as a movement therapist. So I worked at the YMCA and started teaching dance aerobics. Members asked me to train them. Becoming a personal trainer was a temporary solution until I found a position as a Movement Therapist. I never went back to therapy. Eventually, I went on to earn a PhD in Holistic Nutrition. Becoming a board certified Health Coach truly rounded out my education and experience. All of this really allows me to coach my clients in all facets of their health, weight management and well-being. And now, after 2020, I’m online reaching out to midlife women, like myself, who experience a myriad of issues and challenges during this midlife transition.

As a board-certified Health Coach, ACE-certified Personal Trainer, and holder of a PhD in Holistic Nutrition, what unique insights and approaches do you bring to your coaching practice?

It’s really the triad, isn’t it. I have the skills of a movement therapist and coach to focus on physical, emotional and environmental factors that affect their health and wellness journey; the fitness background of a trainer to guide a woman on best practices for her health, fitness and weight management; and the knowledge of holistic nutrition to help my client decide on the choices that will elevate and improve her health and vitality. To be clear, I’m so humbled and excited when a woman wants to walk this path. It’s different but it offers a type of freedom; freedom from dieting, perfectionism, and frankly, social expectations. I think this path is absolutely transformative if she chooses to follow it.

You've been featured in IDEA Health & Fitness magazine and have made numerous television appearances. Could you share some key insights or experiences from these moments and how they have shaped your career?

First, my clients are the inspiration. The IDEA feature was about working with a woman in her 60’s until her 80’s with Multiple Sclerosis. Understanding that no matter your age and diagnosis, you can exercise and take steps to be healthy is an invaluable lesson. The response was great; it advanced the conversation around the need for the fitness industry to broaden its scope to include individuals who are older and those with physical limitations.

The TV appearances were about making fitness, nutrition and health doable. I had to simplify the science, offer a few bullet points and then encourage the viewers to take next steps. Today, my entire program focuses on the concept of simplifying weight loss, health management and life transitions so that my clients reach their goals.

Could you tell us more about your Facebook group, "MIDLIFE CONFIDENCE: Women Conquering Weight Loss," and the kind of support and discussions it provides for its members?

The back story is that when I turned 50, 51 I started to do research for this age. I was astounded by how little there was, the focus was on Crisis & Menopause and even then, very little help was there. I decided to embrace a different paradigm. I wanted a Renaissance. I wanted to breeze through Menopause and champion this time of life for myself. And I know, other women want this as well. So I created this Facebook group. Women join because they want to lose weight. Some have been dieting for years and they’re tired of dieting. They’re looking for a different approach which is exactly what I offer. Inside the group, I write about straightforward, practical lifestyle choices & evidence-based science about weight loss and health. I also discuss topics such as Positive Mindset, Emotional Intelligence, Menopause and behavior modification techniques to start their weight loss journey. The women make comments, ask questions, discuss their struggles and celebrate their ‘wins’ in the group.

You mentioned your mission is to support midlife women in creating their health and wellness Renaissance. How do you define a "health and wellness Renaissance," and what steps do you encourage women to take to achieve it?

Great question. Renaissance is a French word meaning ‘rebirth’ and I choose to include ‘rediscovery’ and ‘revival.’ So I’m really suggesting this can be a moment when a woman not only takes the time to figure out Menopause and weight loss. It’s also an opportunity to return to parts of herself that she may have put aside to raise a family, excel at a career, or take care of loved ones. Here’s what I’ve experienced. When a woman takes control of her lifestyle and transforms her health or weight or both, she starts to feel a sense of control. She starts to think outside the box of possibilities for herself. What else can she do? I encourage journaling, vision boards, honest conversations and radical self-responsibility as she processes and acts upon these new thoughts and feelings. So, I don’t define the ‘health and wellness Renaissance.’ Each woman defines it for herself. Each ‘rebirth’ will be unique, her own. And it’s inspiring to watch.

Your online 12-week weight loss intensive for midlife women sounds interesting. What can participants expect from this program, and what sets it apart from other weight loss programs?

The program is a combination of short tutorials, a workbook, online support and live group coaching. Each week, the participants review the most current, scientifically backed information about a particular aspect of weight loss and health. Then they decide what new action they’ll take and experiment with. That’s what is truly unique about this program. Instead of being bombarded with a lot of do’s and don’ts, we shift 1 or 2 things about their lifestyle at a time. Furthermore, the participants get to choose what they’ll shift instead of being told what to do. By the end of the program, they’ve created their own unique lifestyle plan. They’re coached the whole way through so it’s very high-touch and the participants are completely supported through the highs and lows of reinventing their lifestyles.

If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be and why?

That's a challenging question. There is so much information out there and after 26 years in the industry, I experience people as being confused. And so they’re paralyzed. They don’t know what’s true or fiction, what will work and what won’t. While the latest scientific research regarding optimal health, weight loss and aging is wonderful and exciting, we need to figure out how to make it possible for everyone to take advantage of that information and make it doabIe, simple. Look, we’re the heaviest and unhealthiest we’ve ever been despite everything we know. I understand there are many reasons why that is but I also think we could simplify the process and help more people take proactive steps towards their health and wellness, build upon their successes and develop self-agency over their lives.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for more info!



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