I wanted to write this post to explain what exactly a health coach does. We all know we should be eating “healthy” and exercising “enough” but what does that actually mean? Here’s where the health coach comes in – a health coach is a supportive mentor that helps to guide you through these different questions and help you to answer these questions for yourself!
Since every human is so different, these answers are going to look vastly different for every person. This concept is called bio-individuality and creates SO MANY different options for diet and lifestyle for every unique person.
This is honestly the number one reason that many choose to work with a health coach. The accountability provided by the coach in the coach-client relationship is irreplaceable and makes a huge difference in success towards goals.
Accountability can be created a few different ways – by paying for services, having someone to check in on progress, having a group coaching situation where others are relying on you showing up or are counting on you.
I write a lot about personality tests and how they can help to impact or create habits. My favorite personality framework for creating positive and life changing habits are The Four Tendencies from Gretchen Rubin. This framework is brilliant in my mind and really helps me to help clients use their natural strengths to create healthier lives.
Gretchen lays out 4 different categories that people can fall into: Upholder, Obliger, Questioner and Rebel. Each of these categories explains how the individual responds to inner and outer expectations.
Courtesy of Gretchen Rubin, take her quiz here!
As you can see, it is helpful to know how respond in different scenarios and how having outer accountability is effective for both Obligers and Upholders. Thankfully, most of the population falls into the Obliger category.
For those in the Questioner and Rebel (me!) categories, the coach needs to work a bit harder to figure out what motivates these individuals and really help them to bring to the surface their inner reasons for wanting to become healthier.
I have so loved reading and researching Gretchen’s work and have seriously applied it to my health coaching clients with awesome results. I am truly convinced getting to know yourself helps you grow as a person!
Accountability is priceless when it comes to creating complainaxw with any given habit or action and it is one I don’t take lightly. I sincerely appreciate that my clients pay me for a service and I support them in whatever way I can to be successful!
#2 Individualized and Personalized Attention
Health coaches work either one-on-one with clients or in small group settings to deliver extremely individualized attention.
In my mind health coaches work to fill in the gaps and cracks that occur in the medical system. Ever feel like your doctor just isn’t quite listening to you? Or possibly implies that your symptoms must be “in your head?”
Who better to be the expert of your own body that YOU! You know your body best, what feels right and what feels wrong, so when something feels off it needs to be addressed. I believe that we all have to be our own best advocates in these scenarios and that means seeking out people who will listen to you!
As a health coach it isn’t my job to give you the answers – my job is to help guide you to the right answers for you! There is certainly no one-size fits all pathway to health and often times, progress isn’t linear.
A health coach helps clients to see their progress from an outsiders perspective. Reminding the client how far they have come since they started and giving suggestions as to where the next step of the journey could be. As a health coaching client, the choice is always up to the client, nobody will make you do anything you don’t want to do.
By providing individualized attention instead of a blanket-approach, health coaches are able to really connect with their clients and get down to the root cause of issues.
I am by no means saying to replace your doctor with a health coach, but rather consider a collaboration between the two! Especially if you have found a health coach that has had similar experiences as you or some of the same goals.
#3 Emotional Support / Soundboard
While health coaches are typically not trained exactly as therapists are, most are trained to offer incredible amounts of support. This support can come be for any number of issues – from emotional eating to work stress, relationship issues and much more!
While any serious issues (including but not limited to: depression, anxiety, abuse, trauma, eating disorders etc.) should be discussed with a qualified therapist or psychologist, health coaches can play a valuable role in a support system.
Sometimes, just having someone to talk to can be a source of comfort. One of the strongest markers of living to an old age is the relationships that we have and how connected we feel to others. Feeling overwhelmed with fitting health into your busy life? We’ve all been there! Talking with someone who has gone through a similar situation can be super helpful and instill confidence to overcome obstacles in the way of goals.
In addition, having a coach to bounce different ideas off of, can help you to narrow down or streamline health goals. Using a coach as a soundboard can help to vent different problems or issues that you feel on a daily basis. Sometimes all we really need is someone to talk to in order to feel some relief.
#4 Stress Management
This is one of the most important things that a health coach can offer! It is oftentimes hard to know how to deal with stress when we ourselves are deep inside our daily lives and stressors. It can be hard to get a birds eye view of our lives when we are so busy living it everyday!
Similar to how it can be so obvious and easy to see how others “could” fix their problems, outside guidance can prove very insightful. A health coach is typically trained to be able to provide action steps or techniques to reduce stress that are maybe less obvious to the individual involved.
Depending on the person and their specific needs, these techniques can range from meditation to journaling to having difficult conversations or partaking in some self-care.
Health coaches are versed in many different aspects of health – not just nutrition! In order to live a healthy life we must balance our mental state with the rest of our lives. If we neglect to reduce or reframe life stress, we cannot possibly be a truly healthy person.
#5 Body Image and Self-Confidence
This subject is near and dear to my heart. While not all health coaches are 100% comfortable or confident in this area, I feel that this subject deserves a ton of attention.
I work primarily with athletic women because that is an area I feel particularly passionate about. I specifically love to work with women who have either struggled with an eating disorder or who have body dysmorphia. I have personal experience in both of these areas and want to be able to help as many as possible though these issues.
I believe that increasing self-confidence can help facilitate the healing process. I work with women to show them that they can reach their goals and that they are so very worthy of love and attention.
Along the same lines, I work with clients to increase feelings of self-worth and dig deep to discover what issues are truly lying underneath. No band-aid approach happening here!
I have no qualms in saying I have a niche market. I believe that makes me a stronger coach and support system because I know exactly how it feels to be trapped in a negative or shame cycle. I have been there and I would like to help others experiencing the same thing get out of that place.
#6 Support for Specific Conditions
Health coaches do not treat or diagnose conditions like doctors do, but instead can offer personal experience on different and specific conditions.
In my mind, this is invaluable – to be able to talk with someone that has had the same experience that you have had! It can be therapeutic just to be able to connect with someone in this way and can be similar to having emotional support.
As stated in the above paragraph, working with athletic women is so fulfilling because we have a main connection point. It is easy to work with passionate individuals who also have an interest in becoming healthier.
As far as specific conditions go – I tend to gravitate towards women who under-eat and over-exercise as a form of control. Why? Because that is precisely what I used to EXCEL at. In a performance driven world (and sport like climbing) it is easy to feel like we have little control over our lives so we turn to the one thing we can “control” – our bodies.
This is an unfortunately common theme I see in the world of athletics today and a situation that sure could benefit from some support from a coach. You certainly don’t have to go through the healing process alone!
#7 Learn about Nutrition and Eating Healthfully
Though this might seem like the most obvious one, this is one of the biggest reasons that most people will hire a health coach. There is SO much information floating out there these day, especially on social media, that it can be hard to know who to trust, what to believe and decipher what healthy food actually looks like.
Health coaches are trained in various different diets and ways of eating. It is helpful to be knowledgeable of the pros and cons each diet or way of eating can have.
I also love to talk about trends and fad diets with my clients to help them understand if their is any validity in the claims and if it might be worth experimenting with. For instance, I think the Keto has gained some massive popularity in the last year and do think it has applications and can be seriously beneficial for some. I don’t love it for everyone though!
Talking through these things in an unbiased way can be very beneficial to the client.
#8 Learn to Cook, Grocery Shop or Meal Prep!
Health coaches have a variety of skills and chances are you can find one to work with that excels in what you want to learn!
I have had clients let me come to their house and do a “pantry raid” of all processed foods and we then go to the grocery store to buy replacements that are much more nutrient dense! This type of hands-on learning can be so helpful!
There are also plenty of coaches that have experience meal prepping and will either cook for you at your house or help you cook for yourself and your family!
It all depends what YOUR goals are as in individual. Finding a health coach that cares about you and aligns with your goals coach can seem daunting but I promise it will be 100% worth it if it leads you to better health!
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