Since I’ve become a full time health coach, I’ve gotten endless amounts of questions about what a health coach is and what a health coach actually does?!
Which makes sense, especially given the amount of health coaches out there (over 100,000 in the US alone) and the different specialties that health coaches can have (too many to list here).
The Google definition of health coaching is “the use of evidence-based skillful conversation, clinical interventions and strategies to actively and safely engage clients/patients in health behavior change. Health coaches are certified or credentialed to safely guide clients and patients who may have chronic conditions or those at moderate to high risk for chronic conditions.”
Okay, great, but what does all that actually mean?
Breaking it Down
Well, the main phrase I’m going to highlight here to get the idea across is the “health behavior change” part. The rest of that description of a health coach is important, but the thing that all health coaches have in common, no matter their specialty, is behavior change.
Ever been to the doctor and they’ve told you to lose weight or eat less salt?
Or what about the dentist and they told you to go from brushing and flossing once per day to two times per day?
And then after your visit, did you try to do what they said for a day? Two? Or even a week? (if you lasted a week, major kudos to you!)
That’s the kicker with health-related stuff – we usually know all the things we “should” be doing. And if we don’t know, a whole bunch of smart people can teach us all the things we should be doing.
Yet here we are, a nation of overweight and obese people (over 75% of Americans).
So how is it that we know all the “what’s” and are still in this predicament?
It’s the HOW!
When you get the recommendation to shed a few pounds by exercising more, eating more fruits and veggies, cutting out processed foods and limiting sugar… holy overwhelm!
That’s an entire life overhaul, to say the least. And if you’ve ever tried to shed some pounds going on a diet, you know the way we’ve traditionally viewed getting healthy isn’t sustainable.
It requires deprivation, going hungry, being uncomfortable, and in a nutshell, being kind of miserable.
Riddle me this… how is it that when we’re at our healthiest we’re supposed to feel great and energetic and vibrant, but the path we’ve been told to get there is full of self-induced torment?
For one, it shouldn’t be. So I’ll start there – healthy can (and should) be fun!
But the reason we’re a nation of unhealthy people is because we’ve been going about it the wrong way, the antiquated way.
We don’t change when we feel miserable! No, we change when we feel good and when it’s fun and it leaves us feeling accomplished.
The traditional way of behavior change has set us up to fail right out of the gate with massive expectations that only lead to discouragement.
That’s where health coaches come in though – using tried and true behavior change research to actually implement health related changes in ways that STICK.
For example, do you think you’re more likely to start an exercise program that entails going to the gym for one hour four times per week? Or would you bet on yourself to complete two 5minute circuits each week that you can do at your home in whatever clothes you find yourself in?
If you’re like most of us, I’m betting it’s the latter. (None of us learned to ride our bikes by signing up for the Tour de France!)
So a health coach’s role is to design your behavior change in a way that predisposes you to success, that’s effective change for YOUR lifestyle, and works toward the health goals you have for yourself.
And that’s also what makes it fun! Because when you feel that immediate success, it begins the rewiring of behavior patterns, it builds confidence that you CAN do it, and you begin accumulating momentum in your life toward that healthy outcome you’ve been striving for.
After reading this, if you’re thinking it might be time for you to look into hiring a health coach, look no further! I offer both a group health coaching program and 1:1 health coaching to fit whichever type of coaching you’re looking for.