I get a lot of questions from prospective 1:1 clients on what is a health coach. As health coaching is a newer and growing field, it’s valid question. Before I explain what a health coach is, I want to clarify I’m not just a health coach. I’m also a nutrition practitioner (graduating soon!).
There are many health coaching and nutrition programs available online now that are relatively easy and inexpensive. I graduated from a health coaching program last month. Compared to my nutrition practitioner program, the health coaching program was very basic. It covered basic nutrition and wellness fundamentals that anyone could easily grasp. My thoughts on the program was that it did a good job of educating you on setting up a business, but fell incredibly short of nutrition science.
Going into my health coaching program, I knew this would be the case. Knowing I wanted more in depth nutrition science and a board certification led me to the nutrition practitioner program. The program included human anatomy, physiology, counseling skills, biochemistry, nutrition through the lifecycle, vitamin and mineral supplements, herbal remedies, a research capstone and more.
So yes, I’m much more than a health coach. That said, I think it’s great so many people are becoming health coaches. There are a lot of people who need help. With everything going on with health care, the medical field is overwhelmed. The more people out there helping others, the better.
What Is A Health Coach?
A wellness expert who coaches clients to turn goals into actions and making behavior changes. Most people know what they need to do to get healthy, but they don’t know how to do it. They know making healthier food choices and exercising is the way to good health.
Eating more fruits and vegetables? Really? That’s healthy? Kidding aside, the problem eating better and exercising is too big for most people. They don’t know how to break it into small habits. A health coach helps them turn this goal into actionable steps.
A Health Coach Turns Goals Into Actions
Someone may want to eat better but may feel overwhelmed with meal prepping, planning meals, buying organic and preparing meals. A health coach creates a plan for them to begin building habits to reach their goal.
For example, my Dad has no clue how to make a meal. He can’t even fry an egg. He would live off McDonald’s and donuts if it weren’t for my mother. When I think of a client, I think of my Dad. I break down the steps as simple as possible. That way the other person doesn’t feel overwhelmed and give up which is generally the mistake most people make when trying to do it on their own.
A Health Coach Removes Perceived Barriers
A health coach also removes perceived barriers. For example, someone may want to eat better but may believe they can’t because they work long hours. This is a perceived barrier. There are millions of people who work long hours and still manage to workout and eat well. There’s nothing special about them except they don’t have these mind barriers. A health coach helps the other person find ways they can eat healthier while working long hours to overcome this mental barrier.
A Health Coach Meets A Client Where They’re At
Something that sets a health coach apart from diet programs and traditional medicine, is they meet the client where they’re at. This is what’s really unique about a health coach. It’s not a one size fits all.
Meaning they won’t take someone who’s eating fast food to eating kale. They will meet that person where they’re at and design steps that build healthier habits that they know the other person can do to start moving in the right direction. This creates momentum for the client. Once they see they do that first thing, they begin believing in themselves and do more.
A Health Coach Provides Accountability
Most people need extra motivation and accountability to build new healthy habits. When someone knows they’ll be held accountable, they’re more likely to do what they say they will do. A health coach provides positive reinforcement and feedback. This feedback loop helps the other person grow beyond their comfort zone.
A Health Coach Is A Friend
People who are overweight or struggling with a health goal, generally have an internal issue they’re wrestling with. A health coach make them realize their self worth. They’re a friend, an ally that the person can turn to and know they can depend on.
How Health Coaching Works
Health coaching can be done in person or virtually. Clients make an appointment on my calendar. Like a doctor, I have set office hours. If a client says they’re “busy” during my office hours, I remind them my schedule is no different than a doctors. You make time in your schedule to see your doctor and you do the same with a health coach.
I meet my 1:1 clients virtually via a telemedicine HIPPA complaint portal. As a note, several medical professionals are now using telemedicine portals like this. I suspect you’re going to see more of health care moving in this direction.
My clients check into the portal through a link I send them. When I see them in the waiting room, I video conference them in and we have our session. The sessions are 50 minutes long. We review goals, what’s going well, what they’re struggling with, make adjustments to action plans and address new issues.
I personally take patient (SOAP) notes using an online patient portal that my clients can access. This makes it easier to share information with the patient and with their doctor if needed. I’m not sure if other health coaches do this, but that’s what I do.
Why You Need A Health Coach
It too me 33 years of failing at dieting and losing weight before I lost 80 pounds. I often wonder how much sooner I would have lost weight if I would have had a health coach motivating and helping me build healthy habits. It took me 1/3 of my life to figure it out on my own.
Are you going to wait 1/3 of your life to figure it out on your own? That’s the decision you have to make. Is your health worth waiting for and what risk comes with that? If you’re overweight, then you’re at risk for diseases like diabetes and that’s going to cost you a lot more in the long run than a health coach. Watch the video to hear more about what I have to say on this!
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