The term “health coach” has grown in popularity in recent years, but very few understand what exactly a wellness coach does or why they have value in your life. Health coaches can be a part of many institutions like doctor’s offices, spas, gyms and even private practices. Many of them provide healthy lifestyle services that doctors, nutritionists and dietitians don’t have the time or resources to offer. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the largest nutrition school in the country, defines a health coach as a supportive mentor who motivates individuals to cultivate positive health choices. As wellness coaches, they work in-person, one-on-one with individuals to formulate an attainable, personalized action plan to improve health, productivity and well-being.
What a Health Coach Is Not
A health coach is not a doctor. Health coaches don’t diagnose conditions, prescribe medications or recommend lower or higher doses of your current medications. A lifestyle coach is not a personal trainer, so it’s important to know what certifications your health coach attained, especially if he or she is recommending specific exercises. A health coach is not there to yell at you or make you feel badly about the choices you have made in the past. Health coaches help you feel better about yourself, better about your health and better about what the future holds for you.
Why Doctors Partner with Health Coaches
Many doctors are starting to partner with health and wellness coaches for their patients who are obese, diabetic or need to change their behaviors in order to improve their health and keep lifestyle-related illnesses at bay.
Health Coaching as an approach combines the following principles and skills:
• Empathy and compassion
• Motivational interviewing
• The "Stages of Change"
• Reflective listening
• Assisting the patient to identify barriers and obstacles
• Evidence-based practice interventions
• Safe, realistic health behavior goal setting
The focus is to have you meet with a coach to create an action plan with goals that are achievable and measurable.
When do you need a Health Coach?
People have been needing Health and Wellness Coaches for years, they just didn’t know it. Today, when one in five people will die of lifestyle-related disease and children are being diagnosed with high blood pressure at early ages, health coaches are a viable alternative to guide you or a loved one back on track to better health.
Whether your goal is to lose weight, increase energy or just restore wellness, health coaches take the time to listen to your concerns, help you discover where and why you are struggling, as well as help you navigate the world of contradictory nutritional advice to figure out exactly what works for your body.
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