We wouldn’t blame you if you had no idea what a health coach is! Most of us would go to see a medical doctor or a specialist if we had a health problem, but now more and more people are turning to health coaches for help!
If you think you need one on one attention then a health coach can help. A coach can help you reach your health goals whether they are to lose weight, change your diet, de-stress or to boost your energy.
Medical doctors don’t always have the time to dedicate to your personal needs so going with a health coach could improve your health.
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the largest nutrition school in the US, 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 behaviour adjustments.” Basically, health coaches are highly educated guides in the fields of nutrition, wellness, bio-individuality and mentoring.
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Where’s There’s A Need There’s A Supply
Many health coaches were propelled to become health coaches after personal experience with a gap in the healthcare system.
Many people realised that they could help others through personal attention, giving nutritional and lifestyle advice that could bring dramatic changes to people’s health.
Some coaches have already worked as medical doctors or specialists and so naturally feel that they can help people as health coaches. The difference being though, that through health coaching they often feel that they can actually help people by dedicating more time to each client.
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What Exactly Do Health Coaches Do?
In a nutshell, coaches support clients to achieve their health goals (as varied as they may be), through lifestyle and behaviour modifications.
Health coaches are there to listen to you and address your issues. They are trained professionals who mentor, inspire, guide and motivate clients to make positive health choices. It’s personalised healthcare at its finest.
The reality is that most people know what they need to do to be healthy, but they just don’t do it. You know that eating fries and chocolate is not healthy, it’s not rocket science. But there’s a lot of factors that go into why you still eat these things, and health coaches have the time to delve into that whereas medical doctors don’t.
The importance of health coaches is so great that many traditional doctor’s offices are now adding health coaches to their staff to fill the gap that traditional medicine leaves. Health and wellness coaches are popping up in doctor’s offices, spas, gyms and private practices all over. They often offer services and fill gaps that doctors, nutritionists and dieticians don’t have the time or resources to fill.
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Key To A Brighter Health Future
As more and more medical doctors and traditional healthcare professionals embrace health coaching and proactive wellness, there is hope that we will start seeing fewer incidences of preventable, lifestyle-related diseases.
By partnering a back-to-basics approach of nourishing food, exercise and other positive living habits, with advancements in medicine, and medical devices that can help alleviate symptoms, there is a possibility that we see a reverse in the trend of increasing diabetes and other diseases like heart disease and autoimmune diseases.
Whether your goal is to lose weight, increase energy or just get healthy, health coaches take the time to listen to your concerns, help you discover where and why you are struggling, and help you navigate the world of contradictory nutritional advice to figure out exactly what works for your body.
Everyone is unique and different. That’s why no one diet works for everyone, or only works for a small amount of time. Health coaches don’t promote one specific type of diet, or one specific way of eating. They help you experiment with finding what will work for you specifically, and how to change up your diet and lifestyle as you continue to grow and make strides forward.
Limits of a Health Coach
It’s also important to know what a health coach is not. A health coach is not a doctor. Health coaches can’t diagnose conditions, prescribe medications or recommend lower or higher doses of your current medications.
Many health coaches are certified personal trainers but many aren't. It’s important to know what certifications yours holds if they are recommending specific exercises for you. A health coach is also not a drill sergeant. They do not scream orders at you nor do they berate you for not meeting a goal in a certain amount of time. They are not there to tell you what to do, they understand that life gets in the way sometimes and they will work with you to achieve your goals.
Principles of Coaching
At the centre of it all is the idea that the clients are given the power to help themselves. Coaches will guide to an answer rather than giving their opinions or passing judgement. There are some basic principles that all coaches should follow:
- Subjectivity: we all have different perspectives, none which are 'right' or 'wrong', but some perspectives can be restrictive and can stop a person becoming who they want to be.
- Empowerment: it is within everyone's capability to adjust their own perspective. With the tools that you learn through life coaching, anyone can learn to open their mind to achieve their goals.
- Guidance: there is a difference between an instructor and a guide. An instructor shows a person exactly what to do, whereas a guide provides the tools and support a person needs to do something for themselves. A life coach is a guide, not an instructor; they will not tell you what to do.
Who Could Benefit From a Health Coach?
There are many reasons you might need help from a health coach. For instance, you might consider looking for one if you:
- Need some guidance on moving forward in your career
- Want to learn how to take advantage of your own strengths and talents
- Don't know what to do about a major life decision, such as a move or promotion
- Don't have an acceptable work-life balance
- Have a lot of stress
- Aren't as healthy as you'd like to be
Whatever your problem a coach could help. Especially if you feel like you don’t get enough attention from a medical doctor then getting a health coach could be the best option.
What Should You Look For in a Health Coach?
Because you would spend a lot of one-on-one time with your coach, not to mention trusting them with your goals, make sure the two of you are a good match. You should be comfortable sharing your life goals with them. And you should feel strongly that they will be able to help you achieve that goal.
Life Coaching is currently an unregulated profession in the UK meaning pretty much anyone can call themselves a health coach.
Having said this, qualifications and memberships don’t mean much if you don't get on with your life coach. Rapport is one of the most important factors of life coaching. If you don’t feel comfortable with your coach, it is unlikely you’ll gain much from the session.
Before you sign on for any coaching sessions, interview a few potential life or wellness coaches. Ask how they usually work with clients. Ask for references so you can get a sense of their personality and style and whether they fit with yours.
A coach is also different from a psychotherapist, who is a mental health care professional with training in medicine, psychology, nursing, or social work. If you think that depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems may be getting in the way of realising your goals, then you may want to talk with a licensed mental health professional before you hire a coach.
Health coaches are at the forefront of today’s health revolution. At a time when one in five people will die of lifestyle-related disease, as well as when diabetes and obesity are at an all-time high, health coaches provide the nutritional and lifestyle guidance society desperately needs to find its way back to health.
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