I wish I had a health coach. Someone to pull me out of my obsessive dieting and overly critical habits. A health coach is a supportive mentor that provides the tools and instruction to facilitate behavior change and help you create sustainable lifestyle habits. What does that mean? A health coach can give you an outside perspective on your situation and the problems you are facing, providing suggestions or strategies you can experiment with until you find what works for you.
Being healthy is not a one-size-fits-all concept, which is why diets fail and people struggle to reach their goals. The biggest questions I hear as a health coach is “what should I be eating to lose weight?” I always encourage people to deconstruct their thinking when it comes to food and weight. Rather than focusing on what you shouldn’t be eating, instead focus on all the amazing, nutritious foods you love to eat.
Throughout this post, I will discuss what you can expect from a health coach. It’s important to mention that not all health coaches are the same. The philosophies and perspectives I talk about are a reflection of my education, training, and personal experiences.
What is health coaching?
There is a gap in our healthcare system where individuals who want to make healthy changes aren’t given the support or direction to carry out those changes. That’s where a health coach comes in. A health coach can help a client achieve specific health and wellness goals. Whether it’s eating a balanced diet, managing the constraints of a diagnosis, or reducing midnight sugar cravings a health coach can help.
Through personalized sessions, a health coach will meet with you usually a couple of times a month to discuss your progress or setbacks. They will offer tools and exercises to help you overcome whatever you are struggling with. A health coach will keep you accountable when you veer off track but still provide you with the support you need to succeed.
How does health coaching work?
Health coaching isn’t about adopting one specific diet or way of living. My philosophy as a holistic health coach embodies the idea that health goes beyond what is on your plate. In order to be healthy and happy, you must be nourished on a deeper level, taking into consideration your satisfaction with your career, relationships, spirituality and more. If you eat a healthy diet but you hate your job and are in a negative relationship, how is your quality of life? That’s the whole idea behind holistic health coaching. You must look at the body as it is interconnected to the whole, including physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing.
If you dig down into the foundations of who you are and find what makes you thrive, you can begin your journey of healthy living. There are often deep-rooted reasons most people adopt unhealthy habits. Physical cravings manifest from unresolved emotional needs. People don’t just give up on their health because they are perfectly happy and satisfied. There is a reason for everything you do (or don’t do) and a health coach will help you discover it.
Another important concept that is crucial in effective health coaching is the idea of bio-individuality, or that everyone is different and therefore has different needs. What works for one person, may not work for you, so a health coach will encourage you to experiment and step out of your comfort zone to explore what fulfills you and offers you pleasure.
Sounds great, but is it affordable?
Depending on where you live, the cost of hiring a health coach will vary considerably. Usually, there is some type of payment plan that breaks down the cost to make it more affordable and there are sometimes even a few options in the length of time you choose to work with a health coach. A 6-month program tends to be the most common and top recommended because it gives you enough time to successfully reach your goals, while also allowing for bumps and detours along the way.
New coaches charge anywhere between $50-$75 per session and as they gain more experience they may charge between $100-$200 per session. A lot of coaches will charge by the package, sometimes being as short as a 30-day quick program or one of the more common 3-6 month programs.
Even if the amount of money seems a little daunting, consider how much money you have spent on unused gym memberships, fad diet books, or any other health-related investments that didn’t pan out. When hiring a health coach you not only commit to your own health, but you have hired an accountability partner, cheerleader, educator, demonstrator, friend, and so much more. Health coaches wear many hats in their relationships with clients.
If you need someone to help you understand nutritional labels and how to recognize unhealthy ingredients, a health coach is your go-to. Or maybe you need someone to figure out how to manage cooking healthy meals with an overbooked schedule. A health coach can even be someone that helps you explore different ways of exercise until you find one you actually enjoy.
I encourage anyone looking for a health coach to be picky. You want someone that aligns with your own personal values and beliefs. Don’t settle for the first coach you find. Explore your options, ask lots of questions, and don’t be afraid to walk away.
I’ve tried everything. Can a health coach really help me?
So many of us have tried countless times to take control of our health. The failed diets, weight fluctuations, and short-lived gym routines have probably left you feeling negative about achieving your goals. A health coach might even seem too good to be true.
Truth is, there are two reasons we tend to give up when we are trying to become healthier. First, a lack of pleasure or enjoyment and second, a lack of support. Think of the way you feel when you start a new diet. You are so optimistic and excited! You explore new recipes, download fun workouts, and you even tell friends about your new endeavor. The first few weeks are a breeze! Sure it’s hard committing to a new way of living but it feels so good to be healthy. So why do you eventually fade away? Slowly your old habits creep back. It starts with one “cheat” meal, then you stop exercising, and slowly you are eating twice as bad as before. What happened?!
How ignoring pleasure prevents you from achieving your goals
Now, let’s talk about a lack of pleasure of enjoyment. How does this contribute to giving up on your health goals? The diet you are most likely committing to is probably not the right way of eating for you. We often force ourselves to eat a certain way because we associate it with losing weight or being healthy. Even though we love pasta, we will totally exile it from our lives because the ketogenic diet seems so promising! But that is not sustainable, for you. You need to surround yourself with food you love and actually enjoy eating. Rather than focusing on the long list of “bad” food, focus on the even longer list of nourishing food.
So you love pasta? Try a whole-wheat spaghetti and broccoli recipe or garlic shrimp over rice with a side of your favorite veggie! Eating meals that satisfy you will prevent binging and midnight cravings for something sugary or fattening.
Why you need support.
Another reason you may struggle to create sustainable habits is often a lack of proper support. What do I mean by proper? We all have those friends that swear by the ketogenic diet, or intermittent fasting, or even a body boot camp at 6am every morning! They swear it works for them and it will work for you too. Even though they have the best intentions, steer clear of anyone that says this. Let’s revisit the concept of bio-individuality, or what works for one person may not work for another.
Just because your friend has success with something, doesn’t mean that the same thing will show you success. Proper support in the area of achieving health goals means having someone that will explore new things with you, offer constructive ideas, or help you discover things you love. A health coach is trained to have an unbiased perspective and will only offer suggestions you want to try, rather than unsolicited advice they claim will work.
The final thing to consider when wondering if a health coach will be able to help you is if you are ready to change? Even the best health coach in the world cannot create success for a client that doesn’t want it. You have to be committed to yourself and ready to overcome challenges. Creating sustainable lifestyle changes is not easy and some days you will want to give up, but ultimately it is up to you to keep fighting. If you are up for the challenge and are ready to become the best possible version of yourself then a health coach is the perfect investment for you.