People who are perhaps the best candidates to receive the benefits of working with a Health Coach might not even be aware of this type of professional service. Many of my clients who love the support and results that come from doing this kind of health-and-personal work did not know that there was such a person as a Health Coach prior to being referred to me.
If all of my clients always…
- ate what I suggested that they eat
- exercised at the frequency we discussed
- get eight hours of blissful restorative sleep per night
- never over-indulged in alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods
- masterfully rose above stress and created peace and harmony in their lives
- ate reasonable amounts of food without stressing their digestive systems or overfilling their stomachs…
Well, that would be an alternative universe!
In truth, most of them eventually get around to these simple and health-enhancing practices on a regular basis. And generally, when someone reaches out to a health coach, she needs some hand-holding to step over the barriers that seem to stand in the way of living consciously and lovingly in her body on a consistent basis.
If you go to a nutritionist or dietitian and follow their recommendations perfectly, you will probably get great results. Assuming that these practitioners are knowledgeable and competent, it’s as easy as following directions to achieve your goals. Sure, setbacks happen, but my point is that if you do what you are told, generally you will either lose the weight, improve your digestion, unload toxins, overcome allergies, or whatever it is that led you to get help in the first place. But what if you may not be able to just follow directions? What if, for example, you struggle with cravings, emotional eating, mindless snacking, and difficulty with portion control? If this is the case, just having a food plan, although helpful, may not do the trick.
Some people need help learning how to eat as much as they need help learning what to eat.
A Health Coach provides a different and complimentary service. Think of a Health Coach as being within a niche among wellness practices. Let me explain how, when, where, and why a Health Coach’s role is invaluable for someone looking to “up” his health game. And what is different about a Health Coach compared with those other more traditional and perhaps more familiar professions, such as dietitians and nutritionists.
HOW: A Health Coach is someone who is very interested in all of the aspects of your life that both support you achieving your wellness goals, as well as those that stand in the way. When I discuss with my client exactly how she navigates through a family holiday weekend where customarily everyone over-indulges in food, alcohol, and stressed-out behavior, this support is an example of how a Health Coach helps. Often it is not enough to tell someone in this situation what to eat and what not to eat. It is just as important for a Health Coach and the client to discuss strategies that include and are not limited to what the client puts on her plate. (An example of such a strategy is to sip refreshing bubbly water with lemon to offset overly indulging in alcohol. Another one is to go for a walk and get outside to relax in order to dial back the urges to eat too much food.)
WHEN: People often seek out the care of a Health Coach when they are frustrated, confused, and overwhelmed. They do this as they realize that the field of nutrition and alternatives to traditional medicine are controversial, and often conflicting. As one of my clients told me, “Something has to give, and I don’t even know what it is.” If you feel that you need help to overcome some challenging health issues, and you know that you need to take more responsibility for your body becoming well, finding a competent Health Coach can make a world of difference. It makes sense to work with a Health Coach when you must get yourself to higher ground, and you can’t do it alone. (An example is when one client called and told me that he tried, but realized that he needs help staying on a weight loss track long enough to achieve and maintain his goals.)
WHERE: Health Coaches work independently as well as within practices alongside other wellness providers. For example, I am part of The Vitality Center in San Mateo, CA. We provide a variety of wellness-based services. You can also find Health Coaches by looking at schools where they graduate. For instance, The Institute for Integrative Nutrition promotes their graduates. Of course the Internet is full of recommendations. Keep in mind that many practitioners, like myself, do not have a solely local practice. Through video conferencing, you can connect with a competent professional outside of your geographical area.
WHY: This goes back to my original point. I’ll use another illustration to address this one. One of my clients is very knowledgeable about nutrition. One of the first things he told me when we originally spoke is that he knows a lot, and has read a lot of books, but his practices are sorely lacking. This hits the nail on the head! Your reliable good health will never come as a result of what you know. It will, however, be a result of what you practice on a consistent basis. If you want to be told what to eat and get a diet or food plan, it may make sense to work with a dietitian or nutritionist. This is true especially if you are ready to comply with what you are told to do. For others, having a partner on this journey makes all the difference in the world. Ask yourself if you want to be told what to do. Or alternatively, if you resonate with having a partner who will work with you to determine the best practices to ensure the greatest long-term outcome, consider working with a Health Coach. And if tough love could help you over the hurdles, Health Coaching could be for you.
I’d like to end with one more amazing story. One of my absolute favorite clients is a very smart woman who helped me understand how the scene at her family’s holiday gatherings is like a minefield. Lots of food, alcohol, and stress behavior, like I mentioned above in the HOW section.
I am borrowing from the work of Mario Martinez, whose book Bodymind Code opened my eyes to a variety of layers of family cultures and beliefs that impact our physical and mental health. With this insight, I was fortunate to be able to show my client how her family might resist her attempts to take better care of her body because it is against the family’s – the tribe’s, as Dr. Martinez calls it – code of behavior. In other words, when her family pushes back or criticizes or makes fun of her (all of which they have done in the past) my client learned to see this for what it is. Fortified with the knowledge of how to step away from her tribe’s perilous rules, she was able to step into the guidance of her own playbook by taking full responsibility for her health.
This is Health Coaching. This is why I love what I do. Now you know.
If you resonate with this message, please accept my offer to receive a complimentary Discovery Session with me.
What do you have to lose except the cravings, the unwanted weight, and the stress and frustration around food and nutrition?