An introduction to health coaching and how it can benefit you
The word “coaching” is a very commonly, if not over-used, term and consequently tends to get a bit of bad press. I am yet to find a better word for what I do and until then I will continue to use it. This post explains what health coaching is all about and if and how it can help you to reach your health goals and hopefully change your life.
Most people are already aware of their unhealthy habits, whether it’s around diet, exercise or lifestyle in general. We don’t need to be told that we’re overweight, should exercise more, eat more healthily or create more me-time. There certainly isn’t a shortage of health information out there that teaches us what we should be doing differently and how to get there.
So if behaviour change was purely motivated by knowledge and education we wouldn’t be amidst a massive obesity epidemic, rapidly increasing rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Unfortunately, behaviour change isn’t simply about knowledge and following a simple recipe.
Why is behaviour change so hard?
If you are reading this, you’ve most likely been through the process of trying to change certain habits around your health and wellbeing. And you probably discovered that it takes a lot of discipline and really isn’t easy, especially once that initial burst of motivation and enthusiasm dies off (which it will).
Making changes can get really uncomfortable – it means doing things differently, breaking habits, which could mean getting out of bed an hour earlier to exercise only to then have to endure the pain of exercising. It’s no different when making dietary changes – this can also be a confronting, challenging, time-consuming and frustrating experience. Sometimes we don’t get the support from others that we hoped for and soon we give up.
So there are a few prerequisites for a successful coaching outcome. And these all have to do with your mindset and attitude:
- Real readiness to change
- Motivation and commitment
- A degree of self-confidence
Without these, it will be virtually impossible for anyone to reach their goals, at least long term. I read a great quote recently which pretty much sums it up:
Okay, so you more or less tick those boxes? Great, then where does your coach come in?
Your health coach is your support person, who will give you encouragement, improve your confidence about success, help keep up your momentum but also hold you accountable – similar to a personal trainer, just in a broader context.
A health coach will help you to:
- Develop a clear vision around your health and wellbeing. Where do you see yourself/what do you want to be doing in, let’s say, 3 months time?
The clearer your vision, the bigger your WHY and the more meaningful your goals are, the more motivated you will be and the easier it will be for you to stay on track when the going gets tough. Think about, for example, how your life would change if you were slimmer or lighter? Would it make you a better role model, give you more confidence or improve your relationship? And in what way? Body weight is a meaningless number until it is put into a broader context.
- Identify your strengths and past successes and develop strategies for overcoming any (potential) obstacles along the way. Things will come up and it’s good to be prepared.
- Develop a plan – this includes breaking your long-term goals into smaller, achievable steps. This is really important as it ensures that you continue to move forward, getting a bit closer to your end goal each week while ticking off your smaller goals along the way.
And what exactly could you achieve with the help of health coaching?
- improved strength, fitness and vitality
- better eating habits and consequently weight loss
- improved your confidence, body image and self-esteem
- a boost to your energy levels and improved sleep patterns
- pain management, e.g. through exercise and improved mindset
- reduced stress levels
- better general health and wellbeing
As you can see, coaching is very diverse and there is a lot you can get out of it. But don’t forget that your mindset plays an essential part in the process; you need to be ready to make some changes and willing to put up with a bit of pain along the way. Just remember to keep your eye on the prize. It’s the end result that counts!Book your free 15-minute coaching intro here
- Fattitude. Craig Harper (2003)
- Coach yourself to Wellness. Fiona Cosgrove (2007)