Here's Why Nearly Everyone Could Benefit From A Health Coach — Even If You're Healthy
If there's one thing that has become apparent over the last several years, it's the increasing importance of a holistic and personalized approach to wellness. With a health care system that prioritizes treating diseases rather than preventing them, health coaches have become more valuable than ever. Even if you don't struggle with any glaring health issues, there's a good chance that you, too, could benefit from meeting with one. Here's why:
What is a health coach?
Health coaches differ from doctors and other health care professionals in a number of ways. While they may not have Ph.D.s, health coaches are still certified experts in the field of well-being who provide their clients with holistic and informed guidance for how they can better improve their overall health.
Rather than treating symptoms but ignoring the underlying issues they point to, health coaches look at sleep, diet, exercise, general lifestyle habits, and more to get to the bottom of health concerns.
There are a variety of certifications you can opt for when becoming a health coach or selecting your perfect fit, but it is the NBHWC certification that is most widely known for providing the benchmark of care for health coaching.
Who needs a health coach?
Just like everyone should see a doctor at least once a year, the majority of the population would also benefit from meeting with a health coach to create a baseline plan for supporting their overall well-being. Whether you're looking to improve your diet to address particular needs, build a sustainable sleep schedule, or figure out the best form of exercise for your body, a health coach is an asset for just about anyone.
"Health coaches help you to discover and implement practices that can sustain long-lasting improvement to your overall health and well-being," meditation instructor and certified health coach Pilin Anice previously told mbg. Beyond addressing obvious health concerns, health coaches can help you build habits that support your goals so you can be the most well-rounded version of yourself. It's their expert insight that takes your health plan to the next level.
The benefits of working with a health coach.
The benefits of meeting with a health coach are wide-reaching, and there are several areas of your life that can improve by connecting with a professional who has been trained (and certified!) to create a specialized plan of care:
You receive a holistic lifestyle assessment.
Reducing every person to the same recommendations of eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep, and regular exercise is not enough. Everybody has their own unique set of needs.
"How are you living, how are you eating, how are you sleeping, and how are you moving?" are a few questions LeVeque has noted that she asks clients in order to gauge their lifestyle and which areas they may need to address to feel their best. This information in tandem with scientific research allows your health coach to "support the resolution of [a client's] symptoms and potentially the resolution of [their] disease state," LeVeque added.
You get weight loss support.
If weight loss is a goal of yours, health coaches are qualified to provide specialized advice on how to go about it. In fact, a clinical trial of 415 individuals who were classified as obese revealed that those who met with a health coach to improve their diet and overall lifestyle experienced more significant weight loss than those who did not receive outside support. Remember, a health coach is there to help you reach your goals—just like any other coach.
You have help setting actionable goals.
Not only will your health coach create an easy-to-follow plan that will help you improve your overall well-being, but they will also guide you in selecting actionable goals that you'll actually be able to reach, contributing to an improvement in mental health and general healthy behaviors, according to a 2015 study1. The study abstract explains that over the course of 12 weeks, participants improved their healthy behaviors, eating self-efficacy, and even goal-setting skills with the support of their coaches.
You can improve your overall health in a number of ways.
- Body weight
- Blood pressure
- Sleep hygiene
- Physical activity
- Blood sugar
What to know before you begin.
Just as with every doctor or health care professional, you'll want to find a coach that feels like a good fit and is someone you can trust with your goals and concerns. It's worth noting that a health coach is not necessarily qualified to recommend a specific meal plan for you to follow. If this is what you're looking for, then a functional nutritionist may be a better option.
"For starters, a nutritionist is someone who typically has studied nutrition through a four-year degree program and offers advice specifically around nutrition," Anice explains. "On the other hand, a certified health coach is more holistic and offers a much wider range of support."
A good coach is one that looks at all of your lifestyle factors, avoiding a "one-size-fits-all" approach, so take your time finding someone with the right personality (and credentials) for the job.
You are going to be living in the same body for your entire life, so it's important to take care of it. There's no shame in seeking support to reach your health goals and build a body that feels strong, healthy, and well nourished. Certified health coaches are uniquely qualified to offer a holistic perspective to wellness that makes your health a priority and digs to the root of your concerns rather than only treating the top-line issues.
If you're interested in health coaching as a potential career choice down the line, mbg offers our own Health Coach Certification designed to provide real-world experience so you can practice your skills and gain the confidence you need to treat your patients with the knowledge and care that they deserve. Because at the end of the day, we could all use a health coach.
Merrell Readman is the Associate Food & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. Readman is a Fordham University graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and television. She has covered beauty, health, and well-being throughout her editorial career, and formerly worked at SheFinds. Her byline has also appeared in Women’s Health. In her current role, she writes and edits for the health, movement, and food sections of mindbodygreen. Readman currently lives in New York City.