It's More than Just a 'Diet' or a Workout Plan!
A health & wellness coach focuses on helping clients identify and achieve healthy long-term lifestyle goals. Throughout the coaching process, you will learn about fitness and nutrition while identifying and addressing emotional, behavioral, physical and lifestyle factors directly correlated to the process of behavior change. Health & Wellness coaching is not about encouraging a client toward a weight-centered goal, it is about creating goals that are positive, realistic, and sustainable. Choosing to partner with a health & wellness coach is a rewarding and beneficial experience for the reasons mentioned below.
A Coaching Process Driven by Your Strengths
Guiding clients through a behavior change is one of many ways in which a Health & Wellness Coach can be a necessary and integral part of your life. Health & Wellness Coaches are trained in the psychology of behavior change as well as nutrition and physical activity. To encourage and evoke change for their clients, Health & Wellness Coaches use a multifaceted approach that encourages clients to take a deeper dive into the root causes of their current behaviors and identify the barriers correlated with implementing new behaviors. Health & Wellness Coaches do not solely focus on helping their clients to become physically fit, they instead focus holistically on wellness.
Health & Wellness Coaches focus on the strengths of their clients and ask powerful questions to help their clients discover their own answers and solutions by exploring their internal thoughts, beliefs, and intrinsic motivation for lifestyle changes. Using this comprehensive approach allows a Health & Wellness Coach to collaborate with their clients to develop personalized strategies to sustain change long-term. Therefore, coaches use a client-centered style of coaching to allow their clients to have their own abilities and reasons for change.
Meeting ethical guidelines and professional standards while working with clients is a top priority for Health & Wellness Coaches. A coach’s professionalism is demonstrated through a high level of integrity, positive attitude, valid credentials, practical skills, and strong communication. Coaching agreements are commonly created by Health & Wellness Coaches during the initial meeting with a client to ensure a clear understanding of the requirements needed for the coaching interaction. For example, a coaching agreement should include a detailed outline of the rights and responsibilities for both the coach and client.
Although Health & Wellness Coaches go through extensive training while going through the process of becoming certified, situations may arise while working with clients that fall outside of their scope of practice. When this happens, it is imperative for coaches to clearly communicate with their clients and provide a credible resource or referral. Health & Wellness Coaches should maintain a diverse network of trusted professionals who are more qualified to help their clients.
Self-efficacy is the belief that one is capable of accomplishing a specific goal and is a product of our thought patterns, past personal accomplishments, vicarious experiences, and verbal persuasion. One-way Health & Wellness Coaches help clients build self-efficacy is by supporting them to develop positive thoughts and emotions related to their personal goals. For example, coaches work closely with their clients to design individualized action plans that their clients will enjoy and look forward to.
To help clients strengthen their confidence towards achieving their personal goals, coaches will ask clients to reflect upon their past successes in making a behavior change. After clients share their personal stories, a coach will ask them to compose a list of the things that contributed to their success. Once the list has been created, a coach can collaborate with clients to implement strategies that have proven to be effective in the past. When Health & Wellness Coaches utilize this strategy, clients are able to see their goal from a different lens while increasing their self-efficacy.
Health & Wellness Coaches encourage their clients to develop a strong support network to ensure they are receiving encouragement outside of their coaching sessions. Coaches can help clients create a support system by asking clients to identify other people in their lives who have proven to be successful in reaching their personal goals. When clients observe success stories from people who are similar to them, they begin to think that they too can achieve their goal. Additionally, coaches can make a recommendation for their clients to join online support groups for inspiration and accountability. In order for clients to develop self-efficacy, it is essential for them to surround themselves with people who support and believe in them.
Emotional states, stress levels, and moods can influence how we view ourselves and what we believe about our abilities. To build and enhance self-efficacy, coaches teach their clients various techniques to minimize stress and maintain a positive mindset. Once clients gain confidence and develop self-efficacy towards performing certain behaviors, they are able to achieve their goals by taking control during challenging situations. Working with a Health & Wellness Coach will strengthen your confidence in your ability to achieve your goals.
Develop Life Balance
Identifying a nurturing a balance between the physical, emotional, social, occupational, intellectual and spiritual aspects of life is what Health & Wellness Coaching is all about. During the strategic coaching process to ignite change, clients are able to identify and maintain a reasonable balance in their personal day-to-day lives. Whether a client desires to improve sleeping habits, reduce stress levels, learn how to practice self-care, improve relationships, or balance nutrition and physical activity, a Health & Wellness Coach can teach a client how to effectively prioritize their needs in order to successfully live a healthier lifestyle.
Behavior change is a complex process that can be frustrating and puzzling at times. Certified Health & Wellness Coaches are extensively trained to support their clients to develop sustainable change that will become more habitual in their day-to-day life activities. Therefore, deciding to work with a certified Health & Wellness Coach to make a behavior change will help decrease the confusion and make the process more practical and manageable for you.
Every certified Health & Wellness Coach has strong communication and active listening skills to create and invite open conversations with their clients. Understanding how and when it is appropriate to use these skills throughout the coaching process deeply impacts the level of comfortability of each client and their willingness to talk through their personal obstacles. Before certified coaches can successfully guide their clients to establish a healthy life balance, trust must be developed and maintained. When clients feel supported by having a trusting relationship with a coach who genuinely cares about their unique challenges, they are more inclined to have open conversations because they feel hopeful to find a realistic solution towards a healthier life balance.
As you go through the peaks and valleys of life, it is important to make adjustments in order to maintain a healthy life balance. Learning how to adapt to change can be difficult and overwhelming, however, partnering with a Health & Wellness Coach can help you to focus on a few small components of a larger goal that could be easily integrated and performed in your daily life. Once you have successfully mastered the simple tasks, you and your coach will create additional action plans that will move you toward the larger goal. The knowledge, skills and resources you obtain from navigating through this process with a coach will strengthen your confidence in your abilities to make future modifications.
Focus on Goal-Driven Change
Generally, clients will first approach Health & Wellness Coaches with general, loosely defined, outcome-based goals. For example, clients may identify their goals as, “I want to lose body fat” or “I want to add muscle.” Both of these goals are not specific and focus on the outcome versus a behavior-oriented action. Health & Wellness Coaches will work with their clients by using their generic goals and turning them into SuPeRSMART (Self Controllable, Public, Rewards, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals.
While going through the process of developing SuPeRSMART goals with a Health & Wellness Coach, clients are able to clarify their intentions and identify barriers that may prevent them from making sustainable lifestyle changes. After designing the action plans, coaches can assist their clients to identify effective strategies to help manage the change process. For example, how to plan for high-risk situations or how to practice portion control while dining at a restaurant. Ultimately, Health & Wellness Coaches are trained to guide clients in establishing a self-directed, personally meaningful and customized action plan.
Health & Wellness Coaches will incorporate both product and process goals while co-creating SuPeRSMART goals with their clients. A product goal is something achieved or focuses on the end of some desired result. For example, if a client says, “I want to run a half marathon,” the half marathon achievement is the end product. Additionally, it is most common for a product goal to fall within the measurable component of a SuPeRSMART goal. Product goals allow clients to have direction and they promote action towards goal-related activities.
On the other hand, process goals emphasize the qualities that one wishes to experience in carrying out certain behaviors or actions to achieve the product goal. For example, if a client tells a coach, “I will run four times per week,” this may be the process of completing a product goal of running a half marathon. Process goals are typically integrated into the specific component of a SuPeRSMART goal. Health & Wellness Coaches support their clients in identifying tailored process goals that are a true representation of how they will reach their ultimate goals.
Motivational Interviewing (MI) is frequently used with clients in health & wellness coaching as a strategy to strengthen motivation and commitment to a specific goal. A health & wellness coach creates an accepting and compassionate atmosphere to collaborate with a client to elicit and explore reasons for change. Whether your goal is to adopt healthier eating habits, reduce stress, or improve physical activity, working with a certified health & wellness coach who uses MI strategies will make a substantial impact on the success of you achieving your goal.
A coach uses open-ended questions with their clients to explore and discuss underlying thoughts, feelings, fears and goals. Using open-ended questions deepens the relationship by requiring clients to provide greater clarity that will help a health & wellness coach better understand their perspective. Additionally, open-ended questions can be used with clients who express ambivalence towards change. A health & wellness coach who uses this approach with their clients allows them the ability to explore and communicate any underlying reasons.
Creating a safe, accepting, non-judgmental trusting environment for clients is a critical element for a health & wellness coaches to be cognizant of throughout the coaching process. Clients are more likely to be honest about their thoughts, feelings and behaviors while working with a coach that promotes this type of environment. Health & wellness coaches are trained to actively listen and reflect the thoughts and feelings shared by their clients to ensure a clear understanding and eliminate confusion.
Instead of simply giving clients action plans toward achieving their goals, health & wellness coaches use MI as a tool to guide their clients in exploring options of healthy behaviors and identify strategies to overcome potential barriers. When clients do not understand the purpose of their action plans or how it relates to their personal goals, it is useless. Therefore, coaches collaborate with their clients to identify goals and create action plans that are meaningful and relevant to each of their clients.