It seems like the term “Health Coaching” or “Health Coach” are being flung about a lot these days but most people aren’t really sure what it is or what it means. It’s a pretty young field and is still developing. In fact, it’s so young that at this moment there is no single licensing board that regulates who can call themselves a health coach and whether or not they can dispense nutrition advice varies by state. Anyone can call themselves one without any training (that’s why you see diet pill pushers on TV calling themselves a health coach). This makes people a little wary of hiring one (and they should be). You want to know a little about someone’s background, training and what you’ll get by hiring them. When I’m asked what I do and tell the person that I’m a Health Coach, sometimes I get a look of confusion (when that happens I just know that they think it has something to do with kale).
I’m always happy to explain more about what it is that I do (and what training I’ve had) and I know it’s only a matter of time before the term Health Coach is in everyone’s vocabulary but for today I thought I’d take a minute to lay out exactly what you can expect from working with me. I think it’s important for clients and potential clients to know exactly what they can expect from my services and our sessions.
I also want to be clear about what they won’t be getting when working with me. I am not a nutritionist, dietician or personal trainer. I can’t diagnose you with anything, prescribe medications or treatments and I won’t advise you specifically on how much fat, carbs or protein you should be eating.
Health Coaching is a subset of Life Coaching. You have health or wellness goals you would like to reach (lose weight, stop your sugar addiction, find more time to exercise etc), I’ll hold you accountable and together we’ll confront obstacles in your way and work through them. We’re so used to having to go to outside of ourselves (the doctor, books, the internet etc) for help managing our health, that we forget that much of it is actually in our control. We have the power to create a healthier lifestyle by making little changes that add up to make a huge impact. A Health Coach can help you get control back and be an objective sounding board when you feel like you are going in circles with information overload or decisions. And, no, it’s not all about kale (but maybe it’s a little bit about kale). And a real coach with a quality background is not going to try to sell you a quick fix.
Here’s what you can and can’t expect from me as your Health Coach:
- I will help you define goals and form a plan with you on how you can reach them.
- I will hold you accountable. When we decide that you are going to take an action, I expect you to take it.
- I will ask you questions that make you think deeply about your choices, excuses, motivations and more.
- I will keep what you tell me private. I want to provide a safe and trusted space for you.
- I will be your cheerleader and support you through both the ups and downs on this journey.
- I will help you deconstruct your food cravings so that they don’t derail your goals.
- I will help you address issues that may be forming in many areas of your life, including your career, physical activity, diet, spirituality, creativity, social life and even relationships.
- I will give you my undivided attention during our appointments.
- I will let you know that you are not alone.
- I will help you figure out the “how” when it comes to implementing these changes.
- I will let you lead the discussion. Some days you may want to talk about your diet, other days it might be work or your home life that needs some attention. We’ll go where the need arises.
- I will encourage you to be open to trying new things (in your diet and elsewhere in your life).
- I won’t hand you a meal plan that tells you exactly what to eat but I will help you figure out what foods make you feel your best.
- I will help you dig deeper when you feel stuck in a situation.
- I will recommend eating more whole foods and less processed foods (but I don’t subscribe to one particular diet for everybody).
- I’m going to make these lifestyle changes as easy as possible for you by being with you every step of the way.
- I don’t expect perfection from my clients but I do expect effort!
- I won’t judge you. I want you to feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings with me.
- I won’t and can’t do the work for you. I’m here to support you in making lasting changes. If you aren’t committed to doing the work, then coaching may not be for you.
- I won’t recommend or support magic pills, surgery or other drastic measures for losing weight.
- I won’t tell you that you can’t eat something (but I may suggest alternatives to try).
- I won’t hesitate to suggest you seek additional help or services from other medical or mental health providers if I believe your needs go beyond my scope of practice. Your safety and health is of utmost importance.
I hope this helps you to have a clearer picture of what working with a Health Coach is like. I really love the work that I’m doing. It’s so awesome to watch people transform their lives (especially if they were feeling stuck before). Have you ever considered hiring a Health Coach? The first session with me is free if you want to test the waters and see if it’s for you. If you have any questions, please submit them in the comments or send me an email and I’ll respond as soon as I can.
I do believe there are a lot of misconceptions out there as to what health and wellness coaches do. Your explanation of what you do and don’t do is excellent.
Thank you Kendra! There really are! I’d hate for someone in need to miss out on the benefits of working with a coach because they thought it was something it isn’t!
I have had the opportunity to utilize a life coach, so being a health coach is very beneficial and by you pointing out the guidelines it is very important for those that may need your services.
I’m glad you a good experience with a Life Coach Toiia!
Thanks Andrea for your clear explanation of what you offer as a health coach. It’s so powerful to understand what someone has to offer and how it will benefit others. I believe that someones health and well being is the foundation for everything else they want to achieve. If we feel healthy and vibrant then miracles can happen from there. If we feel sick and tired then it’s pretty hard to focus on anything else. The service that you provide is invaluable to others and it’s so great to understand specifically what you will provide. Thanks for the work that you do and for defining it so clearly.
Thank you Michael! I wholeheartedly agree with you that our wellbeing is the foundation for our achievements in life. I really enjoy being part of someone’s journey to get back to their best self. So fun to see all they want to accomplish afterwards!
I love this, Andrea. I think this post fills a gap in people’s expectations when considering a coach, for sure. A lot of your points carry over to other professional coaching industries, as well. There is never a one-size-fits-all approach, and I love how clear you make that in a loving and supportive way!
Thank you Natalie! I think it’s so important to spell things out so that the right people receive the message. A health coach like me may not be a great fit for someone who wants all their meals & calories planned out for them, but it might be exactly what someone who eats a ton of processed food and wants support in changing that, needs. There is a coach or specialist out there for every change we want to make.