More and more people are starting to understand the importance of focusing on overall health and wellness. However, when beginning this journey, it can be overwhelming to know where to start, so many people are turning to a variety of experts to help them achieve their health goals. Enter in….a health and wellness coach.
Athletes reach out to sports coaches who can help them develop and excel at a particular sport, right? Well, if you’re looking to improve your overall health and wellness, consider reaching out to a health and wellness coach.
OK, GREAT! BUT…WHAT EXACTLY IS A HEALTH AND WELLNESS COACH?
A health and wellness coach, sometimes simply referred to as a wellness coach, is a supportive guide that works with you to:
- Assess your current physical and emotional state.
- Set personalized goals for what you want to achieve regarding your overall health and wellness.
- Develop sustainable action plans to reach those goals.
What I think makes wellness coaching stand out is that, when you work with a wellness coach, YOU are in charge of creating your goals and planning out how you will achieve them. The coach you choose is helping and guiding you along the journey towards sustainable and positive lifestyle changes that will support your overall wellness.
HOW CAN WELLNESS COACHES HELP YOU?
There are so many things that encompass the topics of health and wellness, so knowing the areas you’d like to focus on (at least at a high level) can help you in choosing a coach that will best meet your needs. Some of the most common topics people work with wellness coaches on are things like:
- Establishing a healthier diet
- Improving physical fitness
- Managing stress in more effective ways
- Smoking cessation
- Improving relationships (with self and others)
- Improving mental health
You could certainly choose to work with nutritionists, personal trainers and therapists on some of these issues, but I think wellness coaches might be something for you to consider because HOW they address these issues can be quite different.
Wellness coaches approach their work with clients from a more holistic perspective. For example, if you hire a wellness coach to help you with improving your diet, the focus in your sessions will not focus solely on food. Your coach will work with you to determine the other areas of your life that might be impacting your food choices. They don’t “tell” you what to do; rather, they share their knowledge and provide you with tools and techniques that address your areas of concern. They empower you to choose the things that will work best for you and that will be sustainable. This can be very motivating! And…it allows you to become an expert on YOURSELF.
WELLNESS COACHING TECHNIQUES
As mentioned above, wellness coaches use a variety of techniques to help their clients achieve their goals. Rather than trying to “fix” you, a wellness coach will work with you to uncover the reason you’re seeing a particular change. To do this, a wellness coach will:
- Ask open-ended questions. For example, if you tell your coach your goal is to lose weight, he or she might ask you questions like “How do you think your life will be different if you lose the weight?” Questions like this can help to uncover the reasons you may be carrying extra weight in the first place…or the reasons you THINK you are carrying extra weight. Knowing the underlying reasons allows you to make the changes you need to make on your own terms, making you far more likely to succeed.
- Help you use your strengths to improve in the areas you’re interested in.
- Help you to create a personalized plan that is sustainable. By asking questions and helping you understand how to listen to your body, a wellness coach helps you to become the expert on what works for you and what doesn’t.
DOES HEALTH AND WELLNESS COACHING WORK?
Studies have shown that health and wellness coaching can help you improve your overall health, as well as help in preventing and managing a variety of health conditions. As a matter of fact, the proven effectiveness of health and wellness coaching is the reason some insurance companies now pay for it, and why some companies now offer it to their employees to help lower their healthcare costs.
I can tell you that, before I decided to become a certified integrative health and wellness coach, I worked with a coach myself. Yep…I sure did! And let me tell you, I had no idea what I was in for when I walked into that first session, but my intuition just kept telling me I needed help. Because what I had been doing was NOT working.
The first question my coach asked me was, “What brings you here today?” At this time, I’d just found out I had autoimmune issues after several misdiagnoses…and due to the many misdiagnoses, I’d put on over 50 lbs due to the medications I was prescribed and the extreme fatigue I was experiencing. And my adrenal system was wrecked! So when I was asked that question, I said “I want to fix my adrenal system.”
Throughout this initial session, which lasted about 1.5 hours, we covered EVERYTHING! We talked about the things that created stress in my life, my feelings about everything I was experiencing, my mental health, my values. We talked in more detail about my physical health, and I was asked whether or not I felt I had a purpose in life. With some of these questions, I remember thinking to myself, “What does THAT have to do with my adrenal system??!!”
After this first session, my coach emailed me with a summary of everything we’d discussed and gave me a little bit of homework to complete before our next session. And at our second session, she asked me about the homework, and covered her takeaway thoughts from our first session. With this information, she and I worked together to come up with ideas on how to help me meet my goals.
Over the several months that I worked with her, we were constantly following up with each other on how the tools she’d introduced me to were working for me and we tweaked when needed. But all along the way, it was ME being held accountable….after all, I was the one committing to making these changes in hopes of moving me toward my goals…it was on ME to raise my hand and let my coach know if things weren’t working. She’d always be there to guide me and help me find the things that would work for ME, the things that I would look forward to implementing. But it was up to ME to do the work….and it was HARD work, but it was also so easy because it was ME who got to decide what I wanted to take on.
SHOULD YOU CONSIDER WORKING WITH A WELLNESS COACH?
Most of us know that we need to eat right and engage in regular physical activity to lead a healthy life. And I think many of us also now know how important quality sleep and managing stress are to being happy and healthy. But…life sometimes gets in the way, making it a challenge to do the things we need to do.
Since my autoimmune diagnosis (which was in 2012), so many things have happened over the years that have thrown me off track: my stressful full-time job, raising my children, being a caregiver to my parents. And when those big things landed in my lap, I suddenly didn’t know what to do. It was like I was suddenly so laser-focused on the “thing” I was dealing with, I forgot how to take care of ME. And even though I am a certified yoga instructor (with over 500 hours of training), and am now a certified integrative health and wellness coach, it’s not always clear to me what approach I should be taking when I’m in the thick of it. And it’s not always easy for me to stay motivated when things get tough.
If any of this rings true for you, then perhaps working with a health and wellness coach would help you get on the right track.
CHOOSING A HEALTH AND WELLNESS COACH
Because there are so many categories in the health and wellness arena, health and wellness coaches have different areas of specialization. When you’re searching for a wellness coach, look for one that matches your wellness goals. Check their credentials and educational background to ensure that they are qualified to coach in your desired area(s). When I pursued my coaching certification, I chose to go with the Integrative Wellness Academy, as I really appreciated their holistic and integrative approach.
Most coaches offer a free initial consultation, so that you can ask about their background and explain what you are looking for. These sessions are great because they allow both you and the coach to determine if you’ll be a good fit for each other.
Finding a coach is an important decision, so take your time. Look for a coach you’re comfortable with and who you feel will motivate and empower you.
If you decide that working with a wellness coach is something you want to pursue, I’d love to help you. I’m happy to have a free 30-minute consultation call with you to help you with your next steps. If I’m the right fit for you, then we’ll talk logistics and get started. But if we determine — together — that you need to keep looking, I can provide you with some resources to help you find the best coach for you. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up some time with me.
And remember this. You DESERVE to live your best and happiest life. If you’re feeling like you need some help in achieving that, then working with a health and wellness coach may be exactly the thing you need.
Namaste and Have a Sparkling Day!