A coach is “one who instructs or trains.” They teach and guide a group or an individual to uplevel the aspect of the trainee’s life being addressed. Health coaches apply this practice as a teacher and guide related to health and wellness. The profession is currently very broad; different coaches will have different areas of expertise. As defined by the school that conducted my training:
A health coach is a supportive mentor and wellness authority helping clients feel their best through food & lifestyle changes by tailoring individualized wellness programs to meet their clients’ needs.
~Institute for Integrative Nutrition
Currently, in most states this is not a regulated profession. In other words, there is not a licensing body ensuring certain credentials. There are a handful of certification agencies. My personal experience is only with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which I am certified through, but it appears that other institutions providing health coach certification provide differing levels of education on different skills and topics.
You want to make sure that your coach is a good fit for you. This may have to do with the area of expertise and life experience that your coach has, but even more so, you must be compatible with your coach. This is why I and most other coaches offer a free initial session. It is an important time for both coach and trainee to determine if they will be a good fit.
Doctors are not trained in diet and exercise. Our medical practice in the United States focuses on fixing problems with medication or interventions such as surgery. This is great for certain things, but it is a system designed to fix problems rather than create wellness, and practitioners often are not looking for the cause of the problem. Furthermore, doctors do not have time to work with you to create healthy habits, whether eating well, or starting a movement plan. Health coaches can spend the time with individuals to truly effect change. I wouldn’t be surprised if most doctors partner with health coaches in the near future.
Health coaches are not dietitians or nutritionists. We also do not diagnose or treat conditions, or take responsibility to tell you what to do. Instead, as you can imagine a coach or teacher would, we provide information and guidance to help you obtain a happier and healthy life. We help you take responsibility for your own health now and into the future.
Why not learn through books and videos? For some this will work fine. Others need accountability that a health coach can offer. Much of the value of a health coach comes from talking things through. It isn’t just about what to eat to be healthy. We work with clients to dig deeper to figure out why they may have difficulty eating healthy and eating the right amount on a regular basis. We also bring experience and knowledge that can be tailored uniquely to you based on what knowledge your bring and what your goals are as well as practical circumstances.
In my 1:1 coaching programs, what we cover is 100% uniquely tailored to you. We work together at a pace fitting for you at this time in your life, and I direct conversations and provide resources based on my growing understanding of who you are and what your goals are. I take pride in becoming an expert in you, in a way that sometimes is hard to do from within your own life. I provide resources, activities, and sometimes books or ingredients to experiment with and learn from. Each session we will set goals together for you before the coming session. Sometimes these will involve a time commitment, though often it is more mental energy that is important.
For group coaching, each session will have a particular topic or theme. I will provide information, and topics are generally decided in advance. Because there are many individuals, the programs are not as uniquely tailored to the individual. However, I will always leave time to work on something that may be challenging to you, or to answer questions you have. When I coach one individual during a group session, often others benefit from it as well.
If you are still unsure whether health coaching is something you want to try, I encourage you to schedule that initial meeting with me, or another health coach if they appear a better fit. We can give you more information, but you will also get a feel for what a health coaching session will be like. What’s more, I provide a money back guarantee – good even at the completion of your program. I want to ensure that you come away feeling that you got more than you paid for, and if you don’t feel that, then I will happily refund your money.
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary online, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/coach.