Amita Patel is the Owner and Founder of AlignedHolistics.com, a coaching service company founded in January of 2013 that empowers individuals to create a life they love from a place of self-love vs. self-discipline. As a coach, writer, and wellness expert, Amita works with individuals to break through their barriers and embrace lifestyle change from the inside-out. Her unique approach combines nutrition, physical activity, relationships, career, and personal philosophy. Amita has been featured on CBS, NBC, and the Huffington Post. She received her Master’s Degree from New York University and her Health Coach Certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
Sarah Browne: What sparked and enabled your venture into becoming a holistic consultant? What was the crisis that caused you to realize you needed to make not just a change but a difference?
Amita Patel: I struggled with depression since I was 14, taking anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, ADD medication, and sleep aids…you name it, I took it. My condition continued to worsen. Beyond the constant adjustments of pills and playing the side-effects-balancing game, this strategy confirmed the belief that true happiness was an external thing I had to get. I felt flawed, broken, and alone. Years, drinks, and many relationships later, I was ready to give up. But a small and frustrated voice inside me said, There has to be a better way. But what way could that be? I had already tried everything!
Unfortunately, a small, irritating voice is pretty easy to ignore. I needed a rock-bottom moment for that tiny voice to turn into a full-on scream. For me, that happened on December 31, 2010. I was raped. In my apartment. By someone I knew. The side-effect of my new medication virtually paralyzed my muscles during sleep. I couldn’t fight him off. I just woke up repeatedly and witnessed it. That was the moment when my dislike for medication turned into disdain.
That little voice came back and hit me over the head. I knew I had a choice: I could either allow him to ruin the rest of my life or I could take some responsibility and make a change. I began boxing. It felt good to hit something. Exercise opened the door to other much-needed changes in my life. Changes that, had they been suggested before, I would have greeted with an overly-dramatic eye roll.
I had never believed in holistic anything. I always thought it was a bunch of granola-eating hippies who thought they could fix everything with herbal tea. Nevertheless, I had tried everything else. What did I have to lose? A Pilates instructor had introduced me to a health coach the year before and I finally made the decision to call her.
I soon learned that my health and happiness were MY responsibility; it wasn’t for a person, a pill, or a thing to fix. I wasn’t broken. It was the most empowering moment of my life. Within two weeks, my life drastically changed. As I look back, hiring a coach, eating veggies, and meditating didn’t fix me. They did something much better: they allowed me to see that I was never broken at all.
I was working as a nonprofit fundraiser at healthcare and human rights organizations at the time. While it tapped into my desire to help others, I knew I had to serve on a deeper level. I soon became a certified coach and began working on my 2nd Master’s Degree at NYU.
SB: How did you find the support and strength you needed for this transition?
AP: I was lucky enough to find a coach. But more than that, I had to believe change was possible. I began to spend more time with people who believed in me and less with those who didn’t. As you can imagine, my social circle changed considerably. But I knew it was the key to my happiness, living for me instead of for others.
SB: How does your business work?
AP: I work with individuals one-on-one in a completely customized program that helps them to bust through their roadblocks and achieve their potential. Whereas many therapists focus on the past, my coaching methodology focuses on getting clients to where they want to be. It’s easy to ruminate on the “why,” but it doesn’t change what happened. As much as the past shapes the present and future, we address it, but I like to help clients get to where they want to be. I am committed to teaching them skills they can use the rest of their life. Happiness isn’t just about poor coping mechanisms and pills, it’s about practical tools that can be added into our daily lives. Ultimately, if I’m doing my job well, I should put myself out of business.
SB: How do context and life woes fit into your ideas of healing through holistic living?
AP: I don’t believe in pathologizing people. I come from a more biopsychosocial and strengths-based perspective. That is, I don’t look at what’s wrong with a client. I look at what’s getting in the way. Some of that is one’s narrative, some is environment, and some is simply choice. Holistic living is unique in that it looks at each of the 5 Pillars (Nutrition, Physical Activity, Relationships, Career, Personal Philosophy) of one’s life and how we can align them to a greater degree to get clients to their happiest and healthiest selves. It’s more about self-love rather than self-discipline.
SB: What areas of life do you most consult on? What are common struggles or misconceptions that people have in life which hold them back most?
AP: Most of my clients come to me with one or more of the following:
- a) Life transition “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.”
- b) Developing emotional resilience “How do I find happiness?”
- c) Relationship Issues “I’m not happy, but I don’t want to leave.”
The most common misconception is that the individual’s narrative is based on fear rather than abundance. Whether it’s fear of being alone, being unlovable, not being good enough or some combination of all of them, that mentality drives their narrative and what they believe they can achieve. A large part of shifting that perception comes from one’s self-care, which is a common thread with clients, no matter what their goals are.
SB: How do you break through?
AP: One of the gifts of making every mistake is that I’ve been in my client’s shoes. I may be an expert, but I’m also a human. Being able to empathize is my greatest strength.
SB: Tell us what a day in your shoes feels like.
AP: It’s pretty incredible. I spend my day working with clients whom I love. They energize me. I work with clients from all over the world via skype so my day affords me large chunks of time to work on my own self-care, writing, and hobbies.
SB: How has serving others helped you find strength for your own goals? How have you found mentors?
AP: I can’t express enough gratitude for my mentors. Reaching out to others in the field was scary at first, but when we’re all united in our desire to serve, we pay our knowledge forward. Nobody would be where they are without help, and it’s our responsibility to ask for it and give it. Serving others inspires me to be my best self. It gives me the strength to honor my own voice. I often ask myself, “what would I tell a client to do in this situation?” It gives me perspective. I wish my clients knew how much they help me!
SB: Where do you see yourself in five years? What are your goals for your business?
AP: In 5 years I see myself doing exactly what I’m doing. Scale and location will change, and hopefully my book will be complete! I hope to add other practitioners and train them in my methodology. I will be a clinical therapist by then and thus able to take on a wider population and serve on a deeper level.
SB: Where can we find out more?