You may have heard the term health coach, and thought “what is a health coach exactly, and why do I need one?”
You probably know what a nutrition coach or a fitness coach does. You may have even explored the idea of a functional medicine doctor. But health coach is a term that’s thrown around frequently, and can often be confusing to decipher from other types of common coaches and practitioners in the wellness world.
So, what is a health coach?
True health coaches are certified. We've gone to accredited schools and have received a certification. Though health coaches may also be personal trainers or nutritionists, those are separate certifications. A trainer is not necessarily certified to provide holistic counsel. A Nutritionist or a health coach is not necessarily certified to teach you proper exercise form and progression, just because they workout often and are in great shape.
The role of a health coach is to support our clients in making changes to their behavior. We help them develop strategies based on their specific goals, hold them accountable and provide support in overcoming challenges, and ultimately implement those changes into their life for the long term.
In my practice, the focus is on prevention and reversal (if possible) of chronic illness. Often, we are on a path toward illness that we may not even see in the day-to-day symptoms and behaviors we exhibit. Part of my job is to help my clients make small changes that become healthy habits. Over time, these small changes to behavior become largely impactful, and result in massive changes to health in the long term.
What do health coaches do?
Speaking of which, as health coaches, we take a holistic approach to health.
When I was a personal trainer, clients would come to me and say "I want to lose 10 lbs" and my response might be, “ok here's how we do that”.
As a health coach, my response is "why"? We go deeper to find out why you really want and need change. Is it really about the ‘last 10 pounds’ or is it about having more energy and feeling confident in your body? If it’s the latter, some changes to diet and sleep patterns may get you those results without having to focus on a number on the scale.
We look at your environment and what goes in, on and around your body. Weight loss may be helpful to help you reach those goals, but in other cases, simple changes to products you use, foods you eat, habits you incorporate and tools to deal with stress may be much more impactful.
Why do I need a health coach?
It's much harder to get to the top of the mountain when you've never seen the terrain before.
Sure, you can try on your own and you might make it pretty far. But with a guide who's been on the path before and who has made it to the summit multiple times; you can get there faster, with less struggle and with support and accountability along the way. And once you’ve done it with their help, you can continue the journey feeling much more equipped to do it on your own.
You have some of the knowledge about what is healthy already - and what you don't know, you can google. I won’t pretend there’s some magic door to which only health coaches like me hold the key. You can read the same studies and books that I can.
But a coach is here to help you implement. A coach will support you and hold you accountable.
A coach will push you and guide you along the path. A health coach will help you develop and implement the strategies and make sure they stick for the long haul.
One thing I've learned in life, in health and in business, is that we don't have to go it alone. And why should we, when coaches who’ve climbed that mountain before us want nothing more than to lead the way?