You are not alone. You may be confused about which health approach to choose in order to obtain optimal health and vitality: Counting calories? Counting carbs? Cleansing? Increasing exercise? Trying to minimize your stress? All of the above?
What you may need is a customized approach to transform your health—inclusive of your health history, your lineage, eating style, eating habits, lifestyle, metabolism, and even how you tend to manage your stress each day. What you may need this year is a little expert advice in the form of a health and wellness coach.
What Is a Health and Wellness Coach?A health coach can provide many layers of support that will ensure you are able to eliminate the confusion that comes with weeding through diet trends and health overhauls, to assist you in creating long-term sustainable change while keeping you on track if (or when) you lose hope, momentum, or focus.
Here are six reasons why you need a health coach.
1. ReliefIf you have tried to make a change in your health in the past, you might be able to relate to feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, or confused. With so many new (and old) dietary trends hitting Google every day, where do you even begin? When you put a lot of effort into repairing your health based on a plan you discovered during your late-night hours of scrolling, to then discover that this plan is not working for you, you are likely to be left feeling discouraged.
Working with a health coach can quell these feelings of being defeated and frustrated and replace them with relief. Not only will you be led in an effective direction with where to focus your attention in regard to your health, but you will also have someone cheering you on along the way.
2. ExpertiseYour health is a tapestry of biochemical interactions, mind-body attunement, lifestyle choices, eating habits, automatic behaviors, emotional needs, stress management, and personal fulfillment. Where you are out of balance may not be exactly where you think. Furthermore, understanding what to add in or remove from your diet—dairy, gluten, carbs, meat, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), conventional produce, sweeteners—can boggle the average person’s mind.
Health and wellness coaches are trained to look deeper into your health (often through scientific testing) than you or a personal trainer may know how to do. A wellness coach is essentially trained to be a detective when looking into your behaviors, chemistry, and lifestyle. There are many nooks and crannies that are important to explore to create the complete picture of your overall health. Experts in the field of health and wellness coaching will often give you a different perspective on where and how you need to sculpt an effective plan—one step at a time.
3. ReflectionAs you move toward new health practices you may experience some resistance, fear, push-back, and even inner rebellion in making your new habits stick and giving up some old automatic patterns and behaviors. Often this is even subconscious, which makes change trickier. Consequently, creating new habits is challenging for most and studies show most people unconsciously prefer to stick with what is familiar. This is why the majority of folks (more than 80 percent) lose hope and give up.
Working with a health coach can provide you with the space to see these challenging feelings and emotions as they arise as well as a supportive place to work through them gently and gracefully. As with any big transformation, having someone to reflect for you—from an objective perspective—can do wonders for creating more awareness and mindfulness within the landscape of your mind.
4. AccountabilityDo you feel accountable for your health and wellness goals and intentions? When you are accountable to someone (or a group of people) you engage in what is known as social expectation. This type of expectation alone creates a drive in most people. To achieve your goals—in any area of your lives—you need to be accountable to them.
A study performed by Dr. Gail Matthews, a professor in Dominican's Department of Psychology, on accountability showed that you have a significant increase in your potential for completing a goal if you commit, share your goal, and are accountable to someone. In addition, the research showed that the research participants increased their chance of success by up to 70 percent if they sent their weekly updates to a friend, compared to 35 percent of those who kept their goals to themselves, without writing them down.
When you share your health goals with someone, it inherently fuels your excitement to achieve what you want for your health—even amid the obstacles on your path.
A health coach can provide consistent accountability. While all accountability is helpful, working with someone who is witnessing you every step of the way and aware of both your habits and blind spots can do wonders for accelerating your success.
5. Time ManagementOne of the biggest challenges you may face in today’s busy world is how to effectively manage your time. In fact, a lack of time is one of the most common excuses when it comes to adding anything new to your routine, changing your daily routine, or prioritizing yourself. Yet research shows that better time management leads to higher levels of success when it comes to students and academic achievement. It follows that effective time management is also possible that better time management will also help when you are attempting to achieve your health goals.
You know there are only so many hours in a day and yet deciding how to use them (Hello, Netflix?) can be tricky. You need time to work, spend time with your family and loved ones, exercise, cook, reflect, socialize, manage your finances, tend to your household chores and so much more. All of this can feel like an impossible puzzle to sort out within the given amount of time you have in a day.
A health and wellness coach will help you to create structure, time block, and prioritize your highest needs within your schedule. Once you collectively move some things around, see where you are out of balance with your time management, review your priorities, and set some clear goals, your health coach will help you create an ideal schedule to work within to support your health (and life) goals.
6. SupportEnlisting your support team can help you stay committed and on track with your progress toward your health goals. While it is always comforting to share this with a friend or family member, there is a different kind of support that you can get from a professional. According to the Mayo Clinic, having support in your life makes a shift toward healthier behaviors happen more smoothly and successfully.
Not only does the support of a health coach increase the ability for you to reach your goals, but the feeling of having support in place for yourself gives most people a sense of confidence and security.
Where Do You Find a Health Coach?With the internet at your fingertips, it should be easy to find someone to support you in your health-and-healing journey. Here are some things to consider in your search:
- Credentials: Looking into the experience, credibility (via testimonials), and credentials that a health coach has is a good place to start. Credentials to consider include (but are not limited to) certified health coach, nutritionist, nutritional therapist, functional nutritionist, or clinical nutritionist.
- Philosophy: Finding a health coach that aligns with your beliefs and values is an important aspect in supporting your greater health and success. Be sure to take a look into the various wellness programs, articles, blogs, and guiding principles that health coaches offer to decide if they are a good match for what it is you are working on.
- Availability: Ensuring the health coach you choose has available coaching hours that work into your schedule at a frequency that you envision (or your health coach recommends) is an important consideration. This will secure the ability for consistency, accountability, and ease within your schedule.
- Reviews: Most often you can look up the reviews and testimonials on the website of your potential health coach. This will help you to see the strengths and successes of their work. Looking into reviews will also give you a broad experience of the health coach’s specialties, programs, and longevity with other clients.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.