Health and transformation coach Alison Canavan lives everyday in reverence.
By Laurel Sanchez, Photos by Dylan Townsend
Alison Canavan, named one of the top eight transformation coaches in the United States, has seemed to cram a lifetime of knowledge and experience into her career as a coach. But her journey into wellness and coaching started when she was living in New York as one of Ireland’s first supermodels.
“It was kind of a progressive journey,” Canavan recalls. “I started meditating in my late teens. There was something about meditation that, even though I found it challenging and difficult, it felt like home. Throughout my time in New York, I went through many years of living a double life. I was partying really hard, traveling around the world and then going on these weekend retreats where I was silent in rooms meditating for hours on end.
“I thought that going on retreats would fix me and help me live a more sustainable life, but it doesn’t work out that way,” Canavan confesses. “My interest in connecting the dots with health and well-being came from observing the relationship that girls, in particular, had to themselves and their bodies in the modeling industry. It was very rare that I came across a girl who was super happy and super healthy and really confident in her skin. I get that. Every day when you wake up and you’re doing castings, people are looking at just your size and measuring you, so it’s difficult not to operate from that space. I started studying nutrition toward the end of my career because the relationship I had with food, and most girls’ relationship with food, was not good.”
While the modeling industry spurred her interest in nutrition, it wasn’t until she returned home to Ireland at 32 years old to have her son that she kick-started her journey into well-being. She suffered from severe postpartum depression; however, her doctors had only one solution. “When I went to the doctor, they were like, ‘Oh, here’s more medication,’” Canavan recalls. “At this point, it wasn’t about me; it was about my son. I remember turning around to the doctor and saying, ‘I’m breastfeeding. Is this medication going to affect my child?’” Her doctor replied, “Go Google them, and the one that you feel is less harmful, I will prescribe.” “This is the answer I’ve gotten for decades, but there’s got to be another way. So I started to research. Gratitude was probably my biggest savior.”
She began working with a woman who ran a postnatal depression clinic in Ireland and encouraged Canavan to start writing a gratitude list every morning. “Being a new mom, being super vulnerable and not feeling good enough, it’s like the magnifying glass came out and all the insecurities I felt throughout my life suddenly became huge,” she recalls. “One of the things I was always told I was good at is that I was amazing with kids, and here I am struggling with my baby. It wasn’t until I started speaking about it that I got thousands of emails from women who were all like, ‘Thank you so much for talking about this. I feel the same way.’”
The support she felt from these women inspired her to write every morning. “Things like ‘I’m so happy I had a shower’; ‘I’m so happy and grateful I took the baby for a walk.’ It was the little, tiny things,” Canavan says. “My son [is]12 in September, and every day for 12 years, I have kept gratitude. It is the most important part of starting my day. That was one of my biggest catalysts for truly transforming my energy and how I see the world.”
While Canavan progressed in her personal development work, she also trained as a master neuro-linguistic programming practitioner and a health coach. “I teach people the art and science of transformation; I teach people the power lies within them. Each and every one of us has the power to create a life we love being in. Think of it like this: Most people design a life that they have to go on vacation for a year to escape from. Why not design a life you love being in?
“We’re creating our life moment by moment, choice by choice,” Canavan continues. “To me, that’s super liberating. Forget about the past—your next choice matters. You can change everything with one decision. Everything.”
Over the last decade of her career, Canavan has been compiling this knowledge of gratitude to fit into a single five-minute journal. “I am a great believer in small, consistent changes transforming your life,” she says. “It’s not about doing something for two hours on a Saturday. It’s how you’re showing up every day. My intention is always to help my clients include things in the day that are going to have the maximum benefit. I’m creating a different state of being to move into an energy of gratitude because then that’s the energy we put out. Win the morning, win the day. Let things go. Have a reflective practice in the evening, because we have to help ourselves come home to ourselves. We’re not learning anything. We’re remembering who we are on this journey.”