What is health coaching anyways?



One of the biggest questions I get asked after I tell people that I am a health coach is “WHAT IS THAT”? Well there is no straightforward answer because there are many ‘hats’ that come with this position. My goal at the end of this is to make it clear what health coaching is all about and what goes on behind the scenes in my world.


Do I need a health coach?


Are you wanting to basically feel better than you are right now? Maybe you are wanting to bring back the ‘good times’ where you did not have pain or low energy or even think about health at all? Perhaps you are wanting to lose weight, gain weight, build muscle, tone your body, or simply live happier and healthier?


All of these answers all have one thing in common: getting up and doing them.


That process isn’t always as simple as it sounds. Life gets in the way more often than not and our own wants might actually get pushed to the back seat. It is estimated that close to 70 percent of people who set out goals, fail to achieve them in the first year. Many people have heard about New Year’s resolutions right? Those fail even more at 73 percent of the time, due to having too many tasks or just not committed enough. This is not some groundbreaking discovery that was just found out in recent years, but there really is something in us humans that make this statistic scratch our heads.


When we first embark on setting a goal we have different stages of motivation and even get support from people around us. In brief, we either lose that support quickly or change our motivations to something else and lose that drive that made us set that goal in the first place. Life does have it’s way of interrupting these things, but that is not an excuse to keep using when New Year’s comes around.


Goals are important to us all and we want to achieve them sooner than later. Being accountable, having support and consistently checking-in are a few of the main focuses a health coach can provide to get you back on the saddle and closer than ever to your goals.


1. SUPPORT


First, support can be argued to be the most valuable asset to completing goals aside from actually doing them. Have you ever set out to do something and have nobody there to tell you exactly how to manage that? Well, I don’t have to ask you how that turned out. For the majority, support is needed especially with goals that we know we can achieve for a while, but sustainably does not work. A 2008 Canadian study explains that support from others (such as health coaches) play a significant role in goal pursuits, when specifically talking about feelings of self choice. An article out of the University of Chicago analyzed how social support systems advance behaviors, environment improvements and overall increased health status. By having that help (like a side-kick), they can assist on any issues that arise. When you set out a goal, and looking at the end result, there is a huge time gap for problems to come up, but with that support by your side, there is a higher chance for you to complete any goals. From this we can be more aware of the necessary role this has on goal achievement.


2. MOTIVATION


Motivation can look like getting us out of bed in the morning to walking in the gym doors or perhaps doing something you have been neglecting, but still do it anyways. In any shape you design your motivation it has a combination of two different types: internal and external. Internal can mean wanting to make a change because you yourself believe it will help. Then external is understood as motivation outside of ourselves such as doing it for others or a reward of some type. Either way this could be a mixture of both, but on occasion humans have a tendency of losing our focus and forgetting our motivation which gave us that spark in the beginning of our journey.


A coach is the bridge that connects you consistently with that motivation and sometimes adjusts it to what motivation can work best in the present moment. What drives you in the beginning of a goal might not always keep you motivated throughout, thus a slight adjustment to the motivation is needed. In a 2011 study that looked at goal setting motivation in times when goals are most challenging, to get the best feedback from the ones who kept focused to finish. The results concluded that these goals were affected by moderators (or coaches) that assisted especially with self-efficacy.


Motivation is extremely important when trying to change habits, but if we are alone, the chances of that happening are low. Insert support and those changes rise dramatically. Coaches can be the pillars of completing your goals.


For more information on goal setting maintenance.


3. CONSISTENCY


Lastly, consistency is one of the best reasons coaches are such a valuable asset. Whenever we seek out a long term task when we have not tried before we are often tested by our old habits. Let’s say we are trying to eat better in general. Week one and two are easy to manage, but what about eating well around month two or three? There has to be a few cheat meals here and there, maybe a weekend vacation, social environment snacking, debatable restaurant orders, or even scrapping the whole ‘eating better’ change all together. Consistency is hard for us humans. Period.


Health coaches make it their job to provide that accountability week after week in order to follow up with their clients. More often than not coaches check-in more than once a week to do what? Check the consistency of their goals.


A Canadian research article from 2015 sought out to look at how health coaches were able to establish accountability and consistency in their clients. The subjects were all at risk of being pre-diabetic and were paired up with coaches to support them during a six month program. They were also given options to many communications throughout this time including email, phone calls, face-to-face meetings as well as biweekly mandatory meetings (for extra consistency). The results were more significant than believed. The patients highlighted their “increased awareness” through education on causes of diabetes and opened their eyes to how their behaviors affected their health. Their accountability was then built by the frequent meetings they would hold where the patients found that “being monitored motivated them and increased their personal accountability.


The last part that was also surprising was the increased awareness the patients received during this six month program. This did not alway happen during their mandatory meetings, but whenever the client had a few minutes to spare to talk with the coach during the week. The flexibility of that ‘side-kick’ patient could request advice on many other issues including stress management, pain, diet, exercise and much more.


SUMMARY


Health Coaches are here to help in more ways than you can think


When people have problems they often see a doctor (which is an awesome first step) where they can get counseled on their status, but often get told to check back in with them in anywhere between one to six months. Realistically this cannot be the best solution to any real problem.


Enter a health coach. With many roles and expert advice that they can handle, a health coach can help guide clients throughout their journey to their goal. This includes

  • providing much needed support

  • understanding motivation and even creating it

  • consistency working together


With all of these working together as well as having two strong individuals team up to create more happiness and wellness, there aren’t many chances this does not succeed. A health coach is a vital role in anyone who is taking on a difficult goal.


There is a health movement right before our eyes and health coaches are on the forefront of this movement. If you are in need of any help or guidance I suggest speaking to any of the professional certified health coaches out there.


Suggested links to find your health coach:




I have good news for you. You are one step closer to that goal right now.



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