You may have heard or seen the term ‘health coach’ in nutritional circles, online material, magazine articles and on TV. But like any introduction of a new term, some more in-depth explanation might be necessary to understand the intricacies of the role.
One could, for instance, be forgiven to associate a health coach with a personal trainer. Although both have your best interest at heart, the approach of a health coach is wildly different from that of your traditional personal trainer. Hiring a health coach refers to a new way of looking at caring for your own or your entire family’s health.
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition defines a health coach as “a wellness authority and supportive mentor who motivates individuals to cultivate positive health choices. Health coaches educate and support clients to achieve their health goals through lifestyle and behavior adjustments.” In other words, health coaches are highly educated guides in the fields of nutrition, wellness, bio-individuality and mentoring. They often offer services and fill gaps that doctors, nutritionists and dietitians do not have the time or resources to fill.
Many doctors are starting to partner with health coaches for their patients who are obese, diabetic or need to change their behaviors in order to improve their health and keep lifestyle-related illnesses at bay.
How does a Health coach operate?
A health coach spends time to help their client figure out what their personal health and wellness issues are, how these issues affect their general wellbeing and help develop strategies to overcome them. Whether the client wants to manage weight, reduce stress, sleep better or lower the risk of chronic lifestyle induces illnesses such as (pre)diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Most people have a reasonably good sense of what they should be doing to improve their health and prevent disease. Building healthy habits and putting beneficial routines into your daily life is the real challenge. The specifics of the exercise programs, the conflicting recommendations, the large number of studies and reports that may or may not withstand the test of scientific scrutiny and the competing (and often contradicting) information on diets are confusing. A wealth of available information can lead to indecisiveness and consequently inaction. Enter the health coach.
A health coach supports clients by focusing on the health indicators that are relevant for that unique individual. They can provide step-by-step tools to create lasting change for their health and well-being. By focusing on systems rather than goals, long-term achievements become manageable and less of a burden. In cases where the client already knows where they want to go but have trouble following through on lifestyle changes, a health coach serves as a sparring partner and provides an accountability factor to take them through the changes they need to make.
Since every person and therefore every body is unique, a health coach does not promote one specific type of diet, or one specific way of eating. They will assist you in finding what will work for you specifically without pushing their own personal agenda.
Do you need a health coach?
Do you have a financial advisor of some sort? Do you seek professional assistance when buying real estate? Do you have a pension plan? If your answer is yes to any of the questions above, you may also want to invest in a your long-term health. Why have a plan for your long-term wealth and not take care of your health to enjoy it when you get there? Unless you take responsibility for your own health and nutrition, chances are you will benefit from consulting with the expert in the field. A health coach will listen to you and guide you in making choices in, types of exercise, food and nutrition, well being and behaviors that will improve your health in the present and (more importantly) in the long term.
Here are the top 10 reasons you need a health coach now:
1. Chances are you did not follow through with your New Year’s Resolution to lose weight or get healthy: Consistency – discipline - motivation
80% of people who make New Year’s Resolutions break them. When you break your resolution, do not wait for January 1st of the next year to follow through on what you need to do for your health. Make a resolution every day when you wake up to improve your health. A health coach will show you how to make small changes that will build up to a lifetime of good health.
2. You do not understand why you have gained the weight: Identify the limiting factors
You are not eating any differently but you have picked up a few extra pounds over the years. You know you need to make dietary changes but do not know where to start. A health coach will help you identify the easiest changes to make today that will make the biggest impact on your health.
3. You have cravings that you do not know how to handle and you end up eating: Emotion management
You figure that you do not have any control over your cravings so you just give in, every time, year after year. A health coach will help you identify the cause of the cravings and enable you to beat your cravings.
4. The people around you are overweight or unhealthy: Self-control
If your family and friends look like they are at an unhealthy weight or do not feel healthy, their habits and attitudes might be rubbing off on you. A health coach can help you decipher the truth about what is healthy and what is not, and remain aware of the nutritional changes you need to make.
5. You want to lose weight fast, so you are considering which diet to try: Health Safety
Strict diets usually do not work. There is no shortcut to lasting change. If you go down the path of a quick fix method, you severely restrict with calories and nutrients. After you lose the weight, the diet ends and you will be back at your normal weight within no-time and usually add a few pounds. A health coach will teach you how to make healthy decisions one meal at a time!
6. You do not carve out enough time for yourself: Time management
There are only so many hours in a day and you simply do not have any time to devote to yourself for pampering, exercise, or cooking. This is typically true for young mothers. A health coach will help empower you to take care of yourself so that you can adequately take care of your loved one(s).
7. You are stressed out with family and work responsibilities: Stress Management
If you suffer from stress or anxiety, a health coach will teach you about the relationship between stress and chronic disease, how to reset your priorities, and how to get your stress under control.
8. Your family needs to eat better but you are not sure how to accomplish that with what you know or the time you have: Healthy lifestyle habit implementation
There are so many cookbooks, diet books, commercials, restaurants, and products labeled “healthy” on the market but buying that one extra thing will not improve your diet or your family’s diet. You need to implement more fundamental change to see results. A health coach can help you sort through this information and put it to use.
9. You are confused about whether meat, protein, carbs, dairy, produce, or GMO foods are healthy: Healthy lifestyle knowledge
Every existing diet conflicts with every other diet. How can you tell what is healthy for you? A health coach will help you determine what foods are healthy for you and what will work for you in your unique circumstance.
10. Nothing has worked before so you continue to gain weight or have chronic health issues: Behavior change
You have tried it all and chances are that you have given up because nothing you have tried before worked. If you gained weight, or if you are suffering from chronic lifestyle induced health issues related to high blood sugar, high cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation or arthritis you may be able to improve your health quickly through exercise, food and nutrition. A health coach can help you wade through the mountains of nutrition research to figure out what works for you and your health.
Health coaches at Healthstax works one-on-one or in small groups of individuals who want to manage weight, increase energy and get healthy in the most efficient ways. You can schedule a complimentary consultation session to discuss your objectives, struggles and plan of action. Our online coaching program is also available to benefit from all our services from the comfort of your home via Skype or FaceTime.
Contact Jennilea, Suzanne or Erik to promote your health and have you feel great about yourself and the future. Healthstax helps you to optimize yourself!
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