Why and What’s a Health Coach?
Health coaches are popping up in gyms and spas, wellness clinics and online – But why and what do they do?
Plain and simple: They fill gaps that doctors, nutritionists, trainers and dietitians don’t have the time or resources to fill.
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the largest nutrition school in the country, defines a health coach as “a wellness authority and supportive mentor who motivates individuals to cultivate positive health choices. Health coaches educate and support clients to achieve their health goals through lifestyle and behavior adjustments.” To put it simply, health coaches like me are highly educated guides (and cheerleaders) in the fields of nutrition, wellness, bio-individuality and mentoring.
Have you ever been given a list of “eat this, not that?” Have you found that making drastic changes at once are unsustainable and don’t work for you long-term? Perhaps a friend of yours lost a bunch of weight on one particular diet, but when you tried it, the results were minimal at best? Have you ever started a program with 1 million percent passion and commitment but 3 weeks in something happens to pull you off track and you just can’t seem to get your mojo back? Perhaps you’re someone who needs someone checking in on a regular basis with a loving – but firm – voice to tell you to put down the donut and drink your smoothie??
That’s where health coaches come in. Kathleen Ronzio joined our practice in October to support our patients to help implement the recommendations from Dr Zub and Lisa, but also supports clients who aren’t 4 Better Health patients with small, consistent changes at a pace that is compfortable to meet their health goals (and overcome obstacles that sabotage progress).
Whether someone wants to discuss food elimination, anti-inflammatory diets, low FODMAP, etc. or has a goal to lose weight, increase energy, reduce brain fog, sleep better or just stop eating ‘crap’ but life is too busy to figure out how… Kathleen’s health coaching is that one added tool in the toolbox to help clients/patinets achieve success.
Everyone is unique and different. That’s why no one diet works for everyone, or only works for a small amount of time. although many will say ‘Eat real food’, health coaches don’t promote one specific type of diet, or one specific way of eating. They help you experiment with finding what will work for you specifically, and how to change up your diet and lifestyle as you continue to grow and make strides forward.
So? How does this differ from working with a Functional Medicine provider (such as Dr Zub and Lisa)?
Although many health coaches have a great amount of education and experience in their field (and in Kathleen’s case also in Functional medicine), a health coach is not a provider. Health coaches can’t order unlimited lab work. They don’t diagnose conditions, prescribe medications or recommend lower or higher doses of your current medications.
The health coach focus is less about ‘what is wrong’ and developing specific plans and more on overcoming your day to day obstacles in your unique plan to optimize success for your goals.
Health coaches have more time and focus to support you, not just in your appointments but in between (when the going gets tough). In a 24 week study in Providence, Rhode Island those who had the health coaching support had 33% more success with weight loss than those who did not have a health coach.
They meet with you more often to allow for small, consistent changes that help to build a more solid base for all the changes you are implementing and your body experiences.
Although health coaches are great with accountability, a health coach is not a drill sergeant. We do not scream orders at you, or berate you for not meeting goal in a specified amount of time. We understand that life happens, and we work with you and support you in every way we can to achieve optimal wellness.
Ultimately, health coaches act as allies, helping the patient/client to build confidence and self-awareness, encouraging them to become their own health advocate, and supporting them in developing the skills to sustain new behaviors. Health coaches are at the forefront of today’s health revolution. At a time when one in five people will die of lifestyle-related disease (80% of chronic disease is caused from what we eat and drink), as well as when diabetes and obesity are at an all-time high, health coaches provide the nutritional and lifestyle guidance many desperately need to achieve health success.