Home / Podcast / Building a Health Coaching Non-Profit, With Shawn Blymiller

Building a Health Coaching Non-Profit, With Shawn Blymiller

Functional Medicine Coaching Academy graduates are changing the world. Alum Shawn Blymiller is making a difference in the lives of families one coaching session at a time. This week, Dr. Sandi sits down with Shawn Blymiller of Pure Living and Pure Living Family to discuss his work in building a successful business and non-profit. He is helping kids and families with special needs thrive.

In 2018, Shawn’s son was diagnosed with Autism and PANDAS a year later. This started Shawn and his wife’s journey to discovering functional medicine, health coaching, and FMCA. Shawn saw firsthand how health coaching can improve the lives of families and children with special needs. However, he also knows that those families don’t always have the resources available to hire health coaches.

This inspired Shawn to create Pure Living and Pure Living Family, a non-profit built on a model inspired by Toms creator Blake Mycoskie, and raised $30,000 to help give families with special needs access to health coaching. Now, these families can start thriving.

Episode Highlights

  • Hear Shawn’s inspiring story of finding functional medicine and health coaching.
  • See the steps taken to create a health coaching-based non-profit.
  • Take a look at how Pure Living is helping coaches build client lists and work with corporations.
  • Learn how you can help families with special needs access health coaching.
health coaching non-profit

Meet the Guest

Shawn Blymiller

Pure Living & Pure Living Family Foundation


Shawn Blymiller created Pure Living Family to support the parents of special needs kids, but he quickly learned that these families don’t have extra money to spend on themselves because they are spending all of their extra cash on their special needs child. He felt that these families needed to have more resources and tools made available through public service, so he converted that business to a federally recognized 501-C-3 nonprofit.

After raising $30,000 in the first year, he created a business that would support the nonprofit long-term. Pure Living hires board-certified functional medicine coaches to serve the general public. The excellent Pure Living experienced coaches help people reach their peak potential and donate 10% of the proceeds to the nonprofit.

Special needs parents can apply for health and wellness grants with the Pure Living Family Foundation. The general public can overcome their chronic illnesses and become their best selves through working with our health coaches. We all rise together.

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Episode Transcript

Dr. Sandi: Welcome to “Health Coach Talk.” And today I have a special guest. His name is Shawn Blymiller. I knew Shawn when he was a student at the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy. In fact, we connected during the clubhouse heyday, and we led some rooms together.

And I was so inspired by him at that time, and I continue to be inspired. And that’s why I wanted him to come on the podcast and talk to you about his mission. He has a special mission, which is called Pure Living Family, and he’s going to talk about how he created a foundation. So, welcome, Shawn. He’s also going to tell us about how he is recruiting functional medicine certified health coaches to join him in his mission to help families. So, I’m so excited to talk to you. Welcome, Shawn.

Shawn: Well, thank you, Dr. Scheinbaum, so much. This is a pleasure and honor to speak with you. Functional Medicine Coaching Academy changed my life, and I can’t wait to, you know, share the message with as many people as far as wide as possible.

Dr. Sandi: Well, we are here to help you with that mission. Let’s begin by talking about what you were doing before you found the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy and trained as a health coach.

Shawn: Yeah, absolutely. So, my background is in sales and tech sales specifically. And my son was diagnosed with autism in 2018, and then a year later was diagnosed with PANDAS, which is basically encephalitis, inflammation of the brain. And we were desperate for answers. We went the conventional route trying to find answers for our little boy, and his name is Theo. And conventional medicine really failed us. They didn’t really give us many alternative healing modalities or methods. They basically just said plan on your son living with you forever. And he’s nonverbal and in diapers and he might never develop. And there was just absolutely no hope. And us, as parents, we didn’t accept that.

And so my wife was really the one that initially drove everything. She dove into the clinical research, dove into PubMed and Google Scholar along with other moms that had similar diagnoses. She connected with moms across the country and really across the globe, and they started just brainstorming, coming up with ideas of how to help these kids.

And that really led us down this new holistic, integrative medicine path. We found stem cells. We found fecal microbiota transplant. We found everything from ionic foot bath and so many different options. And this new world, this new reality opened up to us. And for a while, the first year was just her, and I’d come home and she would bombard with all the research. And to be frank, it was hard. It was difficult for me to understand a lot of it because a lot of the clinical research is in Latin and Greek, and you have to really pull out the source and understand what the language is really even stating.

After about a year of that, I finally decided it was time for me to jump into the research. I read “Spark,” which is a book of a boy that was diagnosed with autism and his mom dove into the research and started a school for kids on the spectrum and really learned how to teach them and how to interact with them. And it, kind of, opened me up. I finally told my wife I was open to some different ideas. The first initial thing she told me to do was, “Let’s change his diet.” And I thought she was crazy at first. I was like, “That’s not going to do anything. That sounds like hippie logic.” But within a week, we saw massive results, and I, kind of, sheepishly shrugged my shoulders and looked at my wife and said, “Okay, I guess we’re doing this.”

And then ultimately that led us down the path of functional medicine. We found a functional medicine practitioner out of Henderson, Nevada that really helped our boy immensely. And I dove into the research, and I had this guide, I guess, recommend the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy to me. And in a sense, it was very spiritual where I felt guided and it was the right path. And that was in 2020, which everyone knows 2020 was a crazy year for everyone, but I completed the functional medicine coaching certification in 2020.

And, you know, I reached a new peak of health that year where I implemented everything. As you go through the program, you learn a lot about functional medicine, you’re implementing it into your life, and I got in the best shape of my life in years and years. And I learned more about food and wellness. And so it lit me up and it helped my family immensely.

So, I knew that I wanted to help special needs families when I came out of that, and so I started a company called the Pure Living Family, which the goal was eventually to just serve those parents out there that are struggling. You’re under so much stress and these parents need all the assistance that they can possibly get.

But as I approached that, as I started to serve that community, so many of these parents are financially strained. They’re spending all their money and resources on their kids, and they don’t have a lot of money to spend on coaches or on wellness for themselves. And so I just had this idea that, you know, I needed to convert this to a nonprofit and make it a public service and then go out and find ways and means to pay for functional medicine coaching for these parents.

And so that’s what I did. I turned Pure LIving Family into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. We really got established last year 2023, and we raised $30,000 with the goal of spreading the message of functional medicine to special needs families across the globe, and we’re really excited for that mission.

Dr. Sandi: Wow. I am so moved, and I know our audience as well, listening to your story and how determined you are to help these families in need and what is possible. So, offering hope as opposed to that early prognosis, “There’s no hope,” and you didn’t accept that. So, can you describe where you are now in that journey? So, you started the foundation. What was next?

Shawn: Yeah, so after raising the $30,000, I’m really grateful for the donors that stepped forward and saw the vision. But as I dove into the research, nonprofits a lot of times, they get established, and a lot of times they fade because their donors might go away. They might not have a successful year in the stock market, so a lot of the donations start to fade.

And so I had this idea of like, “Look, I want to have a self-sustaining model.” And I read a book by Blake Mycoskie called “Start Something That Matters.” He’s the one that founded TOMS shoes. And in the book, it says, “Implement giving from the very beginning of your business.” And as I dove into that work, and I actually had the opportunity to meet him in Denver last year at a conference that I attended, which the stars aligned and the universe just brought us together, so I was able to snap a picture with him and just thanked him for the teachings he’s given me.

But as I read that book, I just felt like, “You know what? I need to find a way to create a successful, overflowing business that will feed the nonprofit long-term.” And as I did more and more research, the health and wellness space is growing so rapidly. Currently, it’s valued at $7.6 billion and only growing even more.

And so then one of my best friends, he’s my business partner now, he’s a physician. He’s a family practice trained physician. He’s actually going through the IFM modules as we speak currently. We’ve been speaking about this since my son was diagnosed with autism, and we got together, and he said, “You know what? Let’s start a business where we can hire wellness coaches and we help them get clients. We help them plug into existing clinics but then also help them to just get their names out there and get established and get them clients. And then 10% of those proceeds will go to the nonprofit.”

And that’s where we are currently. We have 15 coaches around the United States, and they are all very much passionate about this mission, this purpose that we have, and they want to be involved. And the more and more people we speak to, they want to be involved in its mission. And so we’re really excited to help as many people possible both to the general public and to special needs families.

Because, you know, a lot of times being a special needs father, so many people say, “How can I help?” And it’s hard to answer that question because my son’s… A lot of times I don’t really trust other people to care for him. It takes a lot of energy, but this is something that I totally believe people can benefit from both for themselves and for special needs families is, if you book with our coaches, you personally will gain because you’ll work with the coach, you’ll help reach your goals that you set for yourself by working with the coach, but part of the money that you are spending to work with us is going to this nonprofit where we’ll be giving health and wellness grants and running retreated and educational summits for these parents to help them really reach their peak potential and really refuel them.

Dr. Sandi: What a beautiful model. And it also ties in with the way to build a successful business, because when I talk to health coaches who are recent graduates and they often get overwhelmed with how to start a business and… Your story is one of just going ahead because you have a mission. And businesses where the founders are driven by a mission succeed as opposed to, “How can I make the most money for example?” People see through that.

But when it’s mission-driven and the model that you’ve described is definitely that — it starts with wanting to serve. It starts with that mission to help, to serve others, and the fact that you are donating some of the proceeds back to the foundation, that’s the TOMS model, and that’s why that was so successful. And it’s been replicated numerous times, and those leaders really stand out. So, kudos to you.

Shawn: Thank you very much.

Dr. Sandi: How do you tie in the corporate aspect?

Shawn: Yeah, this has been a fun project for us that we’ve been working on where I’ve personally gone in and I do about a 10-minute presentation on health and wellness. And we’ll start with everything back to positive psychology and Martin Seligman and what does wellness even mean, because language really gives us a visual, gives us a framework of reality. And so if we can change the conversation to “how do I be healthy” to “how can I thrive,” right? One of his favorite quotes that I love is people don’t want to just survive, they want to thrive. And so how do we get people thriving and really reaching their peak potential? And so that’s the start, that’s the framework where we introduce the positive psychology and wellness language.

But then we implement things like sound bath meditations where a lot of companies and corporations have what’s called employee appreciation programs where they’re trying to give back to their employees and make them feel important and valued. This is a perfect opportunity where you can pay us to come in for 30 minutes. The employees can step away from their working stations, and they can come learn about health and wellness, but then they can also do a sound bath meditation for 15 minutes and just lay there and be in this peaceful bliss to process everything that they’re doing within their life, whether that’s work stressors or home life. This last week, we did a HeartMath educational presentation along with a HeartMath meditation. This next week or this next month, we’ll be doing Qi Gong with a corporation.

So, we have a lot of coaches that are certified in personal training, in yoga. And so these are all services that we use in the corporate setting. And so our coaches have an opportunity to present to large groups of people but then that also gives the coaches an opportunity to show themselves, because one of the challenges… I’ve been in the therapy model for years. I went to therapy for years and years. One of my biggest challenges was finding the right fit, right, finding the right personality, that you vibe really well with them.

And that’s one of the things that I really strive for with Pure Living is we want a one-stop location where you go and find coaches, a list of coaches, and you look at their bios, and you look at their pictures, and you read their stories to really find the coach that best fits what you’re trying to accomplish. And as we get into the corporate centers and locations, they get an opportunity to understand your personality and see how you work and interact with others. And that gives them an opportunity to find their matches. And so I think the model is destined for so much success, and I think we can help so many people thrive.

Dr. Sandi: Absolutely, and it’s so needed because employees are hurting. The level of mental stress, anxiety, depression, it’s just off the charts. It’s growing. And employers don’t know what to do, and the traditional models have not worked. And we are faced with a drastic shortage of mental health professionals.

I was speaking with someone today who said, and she also works with families with young children and she said there’s a long waiting list. It’s often out of reach financially for many families. They don’t know where to turn. So, what can you share about any feedback from the corporations or from employees who have taken advantage of these coaching services?

Shawn: Yeah, as a salesman, I put my thinking brain on what are the executives wanting from their employees. They’re wanting more production. And a lot of times they’re putting more work on them, and demanding, and expecting, but then you look back in the unions, you look back in the early 1900s and a lot of times employers were demanding and demanding more and more. And people were even dying in factories because they were demanding so much.

And it was the people that actually demanded a better relationship with their employer, that created the eight-hour work week, that created the safety environments for them to be protected but still contribute to the bottom line. And the crazy thing is, as you start to do the meditations, as you do the mindfulness, you then go back to your desk after this 30-minute break and you’re more productive. You’re more present, you’re more aware, and you’re more capable to produce more.

So, it’s kind of, like, in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Dr. Stephen Covey, the seventh habit is Sharpen the Saw. And so many times in corporate settings, we’re just demand, demand more, more, more work, and they don’t provide enough tools to sharpen the saw. And mindfulness and music listening therapy is one thing that I do daily. We have a partnership with Advanced Brain Technologies and Vital Neuro that helps with neurofeedback types of treatments. And these are the types of things that we will be singing from the rooftops to help as many people as possible to help them produce more.

Dr. Sandi: I love that, and it’s so great to hear you say biofeedback neurofeedback. I did a controlled study in the early ’90s. That was when it was just coming into being and most people hadn’t heard of neurofeedback and it’s still not commonplace for people to know what it is. But at the time, we were working with kids with attention deficit issues, and so we did a controlled study of those kids who were pre and post. So, the kids who had the neural feedback versus those who just played games on the computer, challenging math games, for example, did so much better on tests of attention than before they had that intervention.

And it’s grown, and now it’s something you can do at home with an app because those days, we had a whole series of computers, and an office, and very, very involved where the parents had to take their kids to their clinics. But now it’s so easy to implement. And, yeah, that is a great way. Not only you can help people for greater focus, you can help people to achieve a quieter state so that they will then be more energized. Lots of applications.

And I just love, since I’ve met you, Shawn, how you are just always full of ideas, you know, how to go forward. You’re so inspiring. What do you see in the future for you, for Pure Living, for what you’ve started?

Shawn: I think my mission, my ultimate goal is… I think the ultimate answer for these kids is from their parents. As their parents get centered… I’m sorry. My wife and I have learned this through practice as we meditate, as we practice yoga, as we care for ourselves… And it almost seems like an oxymoron. As we care for ourselves, we’re better prepared to care for our son of special needs. And that’s the mission that I hope to spread far and wide for all the special needs parents out there, that many times they feel isolated. They feel alone. They feel like nobody understands them. And I’m here to tell them that we do. We’ve been there. It’s one of the most difficult times in my entire life.

And even when your own family doesn’t understand and they have no way of helping you, there’s people out there that go through similar experiences that are ready to help and serve you and be present there for you. And my goal is to be there for the nonprofit, and to serve special needs families for the rest of my life, and find all the tools that I possibly can. I speak out, I lobby for the best tools available in science right now. And that’s everything from neurofeedback to psychedelics. There’s so much excitement with that. And I just want to help in any shape, form I can for them.

But I think also Martin Seligman said a goal that he wants over 50 percent of the population thriving by the year 2051 and I want to be a part of that for both Pure Living Family and Pure Living. Our country, the United States in particular, is struggling in health, and we need more companies stepping forward, providing solutions, and not just complaining about it, not calling out where we’re falling short but creating new systems, and processes, and practices to help people reach their peak potential. And that’s my mission for the rest of my life.

Dr. Sandi: Wow, it’s so amazing, so inspiring, moving. And I know everybody listening will be moved, very deeply moved and want to join your mission. And what do you see as the future of health coaching?

Shawn: Yeah, I think this part is super exciting because, as everyone knows, there’s a practitioner shortage right now, both for psychotherapists, for therapists, for physicians. So, many people complain that they go into a physician and they spend 10, 15 minutes, and then a physician pushes the pharmaceutical at them, and then that’s it. That’s the care. And that’s not the right model.

And with coaching, a lot of times they’ll be extenders for physicians and providers. I personally work with a psychotherapist. Dr. Robert Glover is a world-renowned author. I work in his group in Integration Nation, helping men to fully integrate their whole lives. So, many men don’t deal with pain. They avoid it with addictions, with drugs, with alcohol, with pornography, with so many things. And I want to help those men to address those underlying conditions. And coaches help with those underlying conditions because coaches are specialists in behavior change and we help people change their behaviors long-term. And we’re an exhilerator for and an extender for psychotherapists, for family practice physicians. There’s so many applications of functional medicine or wellness coaches, and the future is just so bright in this space.

Dr. Sandi: Well, I couldn’t agree more. And, Shawn, I have admired you since I got to know you and you were a student. And you have grown your mission. You are determined. And I think that people will really…this will resonate with people who are listening. So, where can they find you?

Shawn: So, our two different websites is purelivingfamiliy.com. That is the nonprofit 501(c)(3). Feel free to go there. Check out the content that we’re creating. Our social media team will be releasing a lot more stories. It’s not just my story. Well, our board of directors are all special needs parents, and more of them will be sharing their story. And then our Pure Living is pure-living.co. And there you can go and learn of the 15 different coaches we have there, read their bios, and understand what sort of pain and challenges that they went through to learn which coach best matches what you’re trying to accomplish in your life. Some of our coaches have suffered from early signs of MS. Some of them have gone through huge weight loss challenges. Some of them have had all sorts of pain and challenges. And because they’ve gone through that path, they now have returned with the boon, the secret of how to overcome it, and they’re there to support you along the path.

Dr. Sandi: And so many people choose coaching because they have had a health crisis themselves or their loved one had a health crisis and now they want to serve and give back just as you did. Well, good luck on this mission, and I just was so inspired by speaking to you. So, we will stay in touch. I can’t wait to have you back for follow-up to see how far you’ve grown because this is something that will grow because it definitely serves a great need out there. So, thank you so much for being with us today.

Shawn: Thank you so much for having me, Dr. Scheinbaum. You are amazing, and you’re my inspiration.

Dr. Sandi: Aw, thank you.