You have decided to make some changes in your life. You want to eat more healthily, exercise, sleep better, and stress less. You’ve read articles on-line, and talked with friends. You’ve tried everything and NOTHING is working. Perhaps it is less the programs, and more that the approach isn’t for you. Now it is time to call a Health Coach.
A Health Coach is a person who is there to hear who you are, what are your goals, and help you figure out how to get there. Health Coaches help you figure out how to attain your goals, not “fix” you or tell you what you are doing wrong. Health Coaches are active listeners and ask motivational questions. For example, a Health Coach may ask you how you see your life if you get your diabetes under control? This is a goal-oriented question that has you thinking of the future rather than dwelling on the issue of not having your blood sugar under control right now. A Health Coach can help a client to understand what foods are anti-inflammatory and what foods can be enjoyed while reducing blood sugar. Health Coaches also guide heart patients, recovering addicts, and ex-smokers towards new successful goals.
Donna Morin is a Health Coach who didn’t initially realize that Health Coaching was a business for her. Donna had been living with chronic pain, allergies, and asthma, all while being a mother of a young child. She told me the following: “One afternoon in the bookstore, I ventured over to the cookbook section and away from the dessert cookbooks I was usually drawn to, toward one about green smoothies. In the book, the author explained how smoothies changed her health, and the health of many in her family. She wrote passionately about the nutrients found in vegetables, and it was information that I had never heard before. Sure, I knew you were supposed to get 5 servings of vegetables and fruits a day, but here was somebody telling me WHY. How the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients influenced powerful actions and reactions within the body that stimulated their own actions and reactions. I was very intrigued. Pulled out my beaten up Cuisinart and started blending smoothies that week.” She added an exercise regime as well. By the next year, Donna was off her inhaler and back pain medicines. Donna was thrilled and amazed. She wanted to help others and that is when she discovered Health Coaching.
There are many programs that will train a Health Coach. It is important to ask around, look at the institutes that are training, and look up other Health Coaches to see where they have trained. Expect to study. The National Society of Health Coaches requires over 85 hours of study. Look for training that includes nutrition, how to ask informative questions, how to listen, practical guides to lifestyle changes in tobacco cessation, stress management, and weight management, as well as applied learning. There is also a practicum piece. Donna said that many Coaches have a niche. Hers has to do with helping mothers with families where the typical family diet is processed, high fat and sugar diets, however, Donna is trained in other areas as well. Most Health Coaches continue to train and gather new information as it comes available through on-line and in-person classes, so the education of Health Coaches is on-going. Generally, a newly trained Health Coach is ready to practice within a year.
Finding a Health Coach can be as easy as checking on-line, but Donna said word-of-mouth referrals are the best way. Knowing someone had success with a Coach is very important. Donna encourages people to interview a Health Coach before seeing one. Explain to the Health Coach your goals and ask how they would help you reach them. Ask about the program as well. Donna emphasizes that you should pay attention to how they respond to you. Are they listening or talking over you? Are they diagnosing over the phone? Make sure the Health Coach feels like a good fit for you. Once you find one, expect to answer a lot of questions on that first visit. Some of the questions may seem unrelated but provide the Coach with a well-rounded view of who you are, where you have been, and to help you get to where you want to go. Once you both have put a plan in place, you may talk once a week with your coach by phone or in-person to determine how things are going and make adjustments if necessary. Donna said that sometimes it is as much about changing old patterns and mindsets as it is about how we change our daily habits.
Health Coaching is more about the psychology of how we approach our old patterns and change to new ones. It is about looking at the positive new course and less about what we aren’t doing or have done poorly. Health Coaching is gaining momentum and more people are seeking assistance as they discover fads and social media aren’t right for everyone. So, if you are seeking to make changes in your life with an individualized plan, seek out Donna Morin, or another recommended Health Coach, and start your own journey towards wellness.
Donna Morin, M.Ed, CYT; Health Coach, Trauma-based Yoga, End-of-Life Doula