Have you ever committed to eating better, getting more exercise, or more sleep—only to fall off the wagon a week or two later? I’m betting that 99% of you answered “yes” to that question. Why? Because behavior change is hard. And knowing is not the same as doing.
Most of us know what we should do to achieve our health goals. We know we need to sleep for 8 hours, drink more water, we shouldn’t eat the whole bag of potato chips and we should really exercise more. The difficulty is actually doing it!
According to the Institute of Intergrative Nutrition, “A Health Coach is a supportive mentor and wellness authority who works with clients to help them feel their best through food and lifestyle changes. Instead of prescribing one diet or way of exercising, a Health Coach customizes individualised wellness programs to meet their clients’ needs.”
BUT BEWARE…before I launch into the main point of this blog; what a health coach does and how I can help you, just know, anyone can call themselves a ‘Health Coach’. This is unfortunate for those of us who have gone through programs to become certified and it’s a bit scary for those who are looking for a real Health Coach. Certified Health Coaches go through a legitimate program where they’re taught coaching strategies, behaviour psychology, nutrition and lifestyle content and techniques and tools to guide you on your journey to true wellness.
Health and lifestyle coaching is all about bridging the gap between where you are, and where you’d like to be in your wellness journey. A health coach is here to educate and support you to make informed decisions so you can be empowered to take control of your own health and wellness. As a health coach, I won’t tell you what to eat or what to do, but by working together to identify unhealthy/unhelpful behaviours, you’ll be educated on why these are limiting your health, and we partner together to come up with better choices, strategies and goals.
But back to the subject of this blog post; WHY do you need a health coach? Maybe your doctor has suggested a particular diet or lifestyle change, surely that’s enough? Doctors today are trained to treat disease, to provide guidance when we have a pathological state and to prescribe medications to help. I work with doctors in a hospital environment and have the utmost respect for my colleagues, however, they do not receive a great deal of nutrition training (think approx 20 hours in 7 years!) and so unless they’ve done extra study, they are not likely to be authorities on building customised diet and lifestyle programmes to bring real change. Your General Practitioner certainly doesn’t have the time in a 15-minute consultation (even if they would like to) to actually counsel you in this area, and tackle the deeper issues of behaviour change.
A well-trained health coach helps you to discover your own motivation and strategy for change, develop your own plan and goals, and stick to those commitments. A health coach can help you achieve your goals by helping to identify areas of change most important to YOU, working with you to define a vision statement, assisting in developing achievable goals, developing a plan of action together, empowering you to take responsibility for your own health and supporting you in your goals, be it weight loss, sleep, energy, stress management or improving diet.
Health coaching allows time in your busy schedule to acknowledge the issues you’d like to change and helps you to create workable changes that will last a lifetime.
So what does the research show about the benefits of Health Coaches? Over 1,100 clinical trials and meta-studies for Health Coaching conclude that behavior change and results occur reliably when there is a helping relationship (coaching) that; addresses an individual’s health and fitness goals, is collaborative and motivating, and encourages active learning. Evidence from the majority of the research is that Health Coaching leads to improved outcomes (compared to non-coaching) in the following areas; increased weight loss, better nutrition and diet, increased strength and fitness, increased motivation, lifestyle habits, self-image, health knowledge, self-care, management of chronic conditions and decreased health-care costs.
So what are you waiting for??
I don’t ever TELL you what to do, but I will work closely with you to guide you towards awareness of what will work for you as an individual. I will collaborate with you to guide you to your most vibrant self. I will partner with you to identify physical barriers and obstacles, as well as psychological patterns of thinking that may be keeping you trapped in a life less extraordinary. I will provide you with tools to achieve your own personal definition of success. I will provide insightful feedback and gently pose questions and challenge beliefs that may not be serving you. I will be your cheerleader, but also your accountability partner, to assist you in putting together a plan to empower you in making maintainable positive lifestyle changes.
Lets do this!