So how can a health coach help you overcome a chronic illness or condition when no one else seems to be able to?
A Health Coach will:
1. …help you focus in on your values and health goals with a personal one-on-one relationship, support you through your fears and frustrations, and keep you moving forward.
Many people never realize their health dreams or goals because they focus more on the problem than what it will be like for them to have achieved the goal. They hear all the voices, real and imagined, about how ludicrous that goal is, how it's impossible to acquire great health once you've let it slip and how all you can do now is just try to manage the problem. They decide the goal is just too big and to accept their lot in life.
A health coach meets you where your health is now and without judgment supports you in your dreams and goals. They work with you in breaking that huge out-of-reach thought into "bite-sized" small manageable daily steps. They'll ask what it will realistically take to bring about the change you desire and are you proactive and committed enough to start the journey.
A health coach is not a therapist. They don't focus on the past but, start in the present and along with you, point to the future.
2. …have supportive, strategizing, focused, action-setting coaching sessions. A health coach encourages and holds you accountable to stay the course to realize those goals.
It's easy to depend on a physician or someone else to solve your problems once your health seems out of control for you. They are the experts, right? They have all the answers, right? People just want the quick fix. The wonder drug. But even then, between 30 and 50 percent of patients routinely ignore medical advice, whether it’s a simple prescription for medicine or more-challenging lifestyle changes.
Most of us know we should eat more vegetables and exercise, but often we feel too busy, too tired or too tempted to bother. Your health coach will confront your unconscious behaviors and old patterns and help you begin and maintain new healthy behaviors. They help you realize every step, no matter how small, is a success and a step in the right direction.
In Optimum Sports Nutrition, Dr. Michael Colgan explains why patience is the key: "A principle of nutrition you need to know is physiological dynamics. Unlike drugs, nutrients do not have rapid effects. No quick fix. The business of nutrition is to build a better body. That has to wait on nature to turn over body cells. A blood cell lasts 60-120 days. In 3-4 months your whole blood supply is completely replaced. In 6 months almost all the proteins in your body die and are replaced, even the DNA of your genes. In a year all your bones and even the enamel of your teeth is replaced, constructed entirely out of the nutrients you eat."
Persistence in staying the course is key to overcoming chronic conditions.
3. …research your condition or illness and provide you with educational material, resources and options for you to make informed choices regarding lifestyle behaviors or treatment decisions.
Frequently people don't have the time or the know how to research data or treatment options available to them. They make choices on the basis of their healthcare provider's advice.
Even with the extensive training they have received, your physician can't know everything about everything. Oft times they are biased in their advice regarding medications and treatments because of that very training. In some instances physicians in a hospital practice are not allowed to discuss natural treatments unless the patient brings it up first.
Your health is your responsibility. It's your body and the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle are yours. The power of health lies in the everyday choices you make that compound over time.
A health coach will help provide you with as many resources as they can find and together work with you on what you are willing and comfortable to proceed with. Your agenda drives the coaching session but, your health coach will expect you to do your best and hold you to it.
What defines the fundamental difference between coaches and other healthcare professionals is the ongoing relationship between coach and client and the trust and accountability it inspires.