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). We specialize 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 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? You get pulled off track and you just can’t seem to get your mojo back. Perhaps you’re a person who needs someone checking in on a regular basis. Someone who provides 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. These practices involve small, consistent changes at a pace that is comfortable 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/patients 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 way of eating. They help find what will work for you specifically, and how to change your diet and lifestyle as you continue to 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 focus of a health coach is not about ‘what is wrong’, but about overcoming your daily obstacles to successfully reach 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 a goal. 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 to build confidence and self-awareness. Health coaches encourage patients to become their own health advocate and support them in developing new behaviors. Health coaches are at the forefront of today’s health revolution. This is a time where one in five people die of lifestyle-related diseases (80% caused by what we eat and drink). As well as diabetes and obesity being at an all-time high. Health coaches provide lifestyle guidance many desperately need in achieving health success.