Health coaching has emerged as a promising way to help people reach their health and wellness goals. And although you may have heard of health coaching, you probably don’t have a health coach. Here are 3 reasons why you don’t have a health coach and 3 reasons why you should.
Why You Don't Have A Health Coach
You don’t know what a health coach does. This is not surprising; there is no standard definition for what health coaches do and as a result anyone can say he or she is a health coach. The National Consortium for Credentialing Health and Wellness Coaches, defines a health coach as one who “partner(s) with clients seeking self-directed, lasting changes, aligned with their values, which promote health and wellness and, thereby, enhance well-being”. A good health coach will take the time to get to know you, and help you develop a realistic plan to reach your health goals. The right coach will guide you to establish well defined, measurable goals, and will keep you on track by holding you accountable for making forward progress. Some coaches will give you specific diet or exercise routines, while others utilize holistic approaches to help you reach your goals. Many coaches have additional expertise to offer you in areas like nutrition, personal fitness, yoga, or medicine.
You don’t know how to choose a health coach. Your first question should be about the training the individual has undergone that qualifies him or her to be your health coach. Education programs vary tremendously and range from weekend online courses to months-long training. You want to be certain your coach has received the right training to help you reach your goals. The National Consortium for Credentialing Health and Wellness Coaches maintains a list of programs that meet standards for health coaching training. These standards include a minimum number of contact teaching hours and a practical assessment of coaching skills. A critically important element in choosing your health coach is that you and the coach must have a good fit. Find a coach that offers you a free consultation so that you (and the coach) can determine if you think you will work well together. When you look for a health coach, know that you and your coach do not have to be in the same geographic region. You can receive effective coaching by telephone or video chat. Finally, be wary of any health coach that promises you a quick fix solution. There are no quick fixes to good health.
You don’t have the money to pay for a health coach. You may have looked into health coaching and thought it was too pricey. Some health insurance companies now see the benefit of health coaching and will cover your costs. Your employer may also offer health coaching as part of a wellness plan, so that is another great place to look. If you don't have health insurance or employer coverage, expect to pay from $45 to $110 (or more) per coaching session. For a more cost effective option, you can participate in group health coaching, which can be done either online or in person. Note, you may be able to pay for individual or group coaching with funds from a flexible spending or health savings account if you are getting health coaching for a specific condition. Both individual and group health coaching can be a serious financial commitment, but look at it as an investment in yourself for better long term health. You are certainly worth it.
Why You Need A Health Coach
Behavior change is hard. You already know that lifestyle changes can lead to better health. But we have all tried to lose weight, eat better, exercise more, get more sleep, or reduce stress and been unsuccessful. Why is that the case? Well, put simply, adopting new behaviors is hard. If it were easy we would all be exactly where we want to be with our health. It takes more than 2 months on average to successfully change behavior. The personalized guidance and support from a well trained health coach may be just what you need to achieve (and sustain) your desired behavior change. Your health coach will be knowledgeable about the process of behavior change, and use methods that allow you to be successful with behavior change.
Health coaches get you results. Despite it being a relatively new field, growing evidence shows that health coaching can help you make positive lifestyle changes. A 2014 study examined available evidence and found that for people with chronic health conditions, health coaching led to better weight management, increased physical activity and improved physical and mental health status. Health coaches accomplish this by helping you develop a personalized plan that fits your unique life circumstances. In this way you are more likely to achieve lasting results. As an added benefit, health coaching commonly leads to a deeper understanding of your personal values, motivations, and ways you best succeed. This serves you well in many areas of life.
You’re not going to get help from your doctor. Doctors are great at recommending you lose weight, eat a better diet, or exercise more. But they typically lack the time and training to help you actually reach those goals. Most doctor visits are just 15 to 20 minutes; too brief to enable lasting behavior change. Health coaching is structured to give you the necessary time to be successful at behavior change. Your coach typically works with you for 5-7 sessions, and each session lasts 30-60 minutes. Most doctors do not have a practice structure that accommodates this much interaction. Besides a lack of time, doctors are primarily trained to diagnose and treat disease, not in how to change your behavior. Good health coaches on the other hand, have been educated on applying the best strategies to help you be successful with behavior change.
If you are having trouble making progress reaching your health and wellness goals give serious consideration to working with a health coach. You won’t regret it.