Why the world needs health coaches…

Why the world needs health coaches…

This may seem dramatic… but, we are experiencing a health crisis. Particular to western countries, we are getting fatter, sicker and unhealthier by the day. While science is advancing and keeping us alive longer (albeit artificially), we are forgetting more and more about the foundational aspects of our lives that ensure longevity. Our daily routines are filled with pharmaceuticals, surgery and serious interventions to correct problems that we could have avoided if we just took better care of ourselves. If we are unwell, we book in a 10 minute appointment with our doctor, we blurt out everything that is wrong with us, they prescribe us some kind of chemical to fix it or a list of unhelpful or poorly explained adjustments we can make which leaves us feeling more confused than when we walk in. The problem with this scenario, is that our health issues have bandaids slapped on them and then issues pop up in another area a short time later.

An example: Recently, my father-in-law had a heart attack. In he went a few days later to have a triple bypass, out he walked a week later. Problem solved? Not exactly. He was provided with minimal guidance on what to eat from now on to manage and improve his health! The band aid was slapped on and it was only a matter of time before that thing got soggy and began to lift around the edges. Now, while some adjustments were made, he continues to live a similar lifestyle and eat some of the same toxic food that led to his heart attack in the first place. With little support, follow up and guidance, how are we expected to be healthy?

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In order to get us back on the right path, we are in need of some serious guidance and support. Modern medicine is amazing, I am not doubting that for a second. But unfortunately, we think it is so amazing and have come to mostly rely on it guiding us out of sticky situations. We have lost our way a little, with the easy and foolproof ways of keeping ourselves healthy so that we can avoid hazardous outcomes. We are tackling problems when it is too late and rarely letting our bodies heal themselves through giving it time and good fuel. What we need here is someone who can bridge the gap between day-to-day lifestyle and your health professionals.

Let me introduce you to a health coach…. (Me – in a year’s time!)

Joshua Rosenthal, the CEO and founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) defines a health coach as…

“A guide and a supportive mentor who empowers clients to take responsibility for their health and achievement of personal wellness goals.”

They are a person who works alongside you to not only improve your physical health, but also your emotional and mental health as well. They are who you work with if ongoing personal development is your goal. A lot of the reason for our physical health issues, often boils down to what we have going on in our minds. A health coach helps you tap into all facets of your life and make meaningful changes. They are also that middle ground between the 10 minutes you spend with your doctor every now and then and/or the guide to support you alongside a nutritionist or naturopath. Alongside working with those facing health issues, a health coach is an excellent form of intervention and prevention. 

In a recent lecture given to IIN students, Dr Mehmet Oz commented how through taking the relevant preventative measures, we can work smart and not hard. A health coach can help people to achieve their potential when things are going well and when they are motivated.  Many people don’t have intensive medical conditions but really need guidance with their health. This support doesn’t have to come from a nutritionist or registered dietitian, especially when often what people need is accountability and coaching to implement changes.

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The difference between health coach and a doctor/nutritionist…

A very important thing to note is that a health coach is NOT a doctor or nutritionist. Sure, an experienced and well-read health coach may know a lot but they are not in a position to diagnose you. They may have their ideas, but should work alongside health professionals or be used as a preventative measure for some health problems, not as the be all and end all. Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches know how to live in a healthy manner, incorporate health foods and exercise, and help people find balance.

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While dietary nutrition is discussed with a health coach, there’s a larger focus on non-food forms of nourishment like career, relationships, physical activity, and spirituality. A health coach will assess a client’s overall well-being and together come up with recommendations to help enact basic health-supportive modifications.

A health coach is multitalented! They can help with:

  • Weight management
  • Maintaining or improving health following surgery or treatment
  • Feeding your family healthy and nutritious meals
  • What to order off a menu or purchase from the supermarket
  • Food preparation
  • Dietary patterns
  • Overall health and wellbeing
  • Behavioural choices which impact our health
  • Food cravings
  • Sleep
  • Energy levels
  • Stress management
  • Digestion problems or irregularities
  • Gut health
  • Inflammation
  • And provide information across a number of areas

 

Who needs a health coach?

A health coach can benefit anyone! If you feel as though your health isn’t optimal in any domain, then a health coach is a great partner and team mate to have.

If you aren’t feeling right you may choose to work with a health coach to address any one or more of these needs:

Physical (lose weight, maintain weight or health, exercise more, increase your energy, sleep better, manage your health after surgery or an illness, reduce high blood sugar or inflammation, manage a health problem (i.e. diabetes, heart disease, gut problems etc)

Emotional (manage stress, anxiety and/or depression, increase satisfaction)

Mental  (increase your performance, productivity or decision making skills, work through personal challenges, work towards the attainment of goals)

 

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Resource: Integrative Nutrition (2014), IIN Fundamental 3, INTEGRATIVE NUTRITION HEALTH COACHES IN THE HEALTHCARE FIELD

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Why I can’t wait to be a health coach

Around 6 years ago, I caught a very nasty stomach bug. As a result, I was sick for a long time. I saw a number of health professionals who in all honesty, didn’t do much to help the situation. I felt as though I was treated like a number, nothing was personalised and I (the person) was rarely considered as part of the diagnosis or prescription.  I was prescribed toxic doses of antibiotics and put on really generalised diets which did not take into account how I felt when eating certain foods. It was through lots of research and trial and error, that I managed to find a way of eating that not only managed a lot of these problems, but improved my overall health and wellbeing. Ever since I achieved such a feat, I have been really interested in helping others to rectify gut issues, improve energy and overall vitality. What I was lacking, was an understanding of gross dietary theories, the body and (to be perfectly honest) flexibility around what works best for different people. Until recently, I have been pretty rigid in my opinions of how people eat. Since starting this course and working towards my certification as an IIN Health Coach, I have learned that healing people isn’t about popping them on a diet or eating plan that worked for me. It is about working with a person to find what works for them in order to achieve success and ensure they are happy with a plan that works for them long term.

Health isn’t just about what you eat. Many aspects of our lives nourish us and it’s more than what you put on your plate. What I have also experienced across my lifetime are some really tricky life circumstances. From trauma, grief, loss, anger, anxiety and stress to the flipside – love, joy, forgiveness and healing. In this last year, I have worked hard on a ‘Happiness Project’ which I can attribute to a huge improvement in my mindset and outlook on life. I have come from an adult who was ‘damaged,’ ‘angry’ and ‘crazy’ (all terms used by myself and probably others as well!) to someone who can really reflect on my past, relationships, behaviour and choices to make some substantial changes to how I live my life. I believe I have a full bodied understanding of some of the mental and emotional highs and lows that people can experience, and I have a lot to offer in this area in terms of support and guidance.

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I am so eager to learn over the next year and can’t wait to partner with people to guide them through their very own happiness and health projects. This blog is a great way for me to consolidate my learning as well as help as many people as possible along the way.

Keep regularly updated with my blog as I will share my learning along the way. Have a read through some of my resolutions from the past year and see if there is anything you could try to start improving your wellbeing. You can join the mailing list by clicking on the menu tab at the top right of my home screen. 

 

References, Resources and Bibliography

ICF – https://coachfederation.org/find-a-coach/find-a-personal-coach

“What is health coaching?” Lecture given by Joshua Rosenthal for IIN

Institute for Integrative Nutrition website  – https://www.integrativenutrition.com

“The Good Life” – Lecture given by Doctor Mehmet Oz for IIN

IIN Course Resources – Modules 1, 2, 3. Institute of Integrative Nutrition

Resource: Integrative Nutrition (2014), IIN Fundamental 3, INTEGRATIVE NUTRITION HEALTH COACHES IN THE HEALTHCARE FIELD

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