Can a Health Coach Help You Achieve Your Health Goals?
With the start of the new year comes a rash of determined resolutions to face personal health challenges head-on. It’s a time when we set goals that we hope will improve our lives. But we all know how hard it is to bridge the gap between the idea of a goal and actually seeing it through to fruition.
UAB Medicine News reported that less than 8 percent of the population achieve the lofty goals of their New Year’s resolutions. Changing deeply engrained “bad habits” can seem daunting and may require more than willpower alone to achieve. Maybe we needn’t do it alone; enlisting the assistance of a health coach could make all the difference between staying in a habitual rut and getting unstuck.
Health coaches are trained professionals who help individuals work within the specific parameters of their own lives to improve their health and well-being. Coaches offer a personalized service that can help you identify unhealthy habits. Together, you design achievable goals and a plan of action based on your unique lifestyle, desires, and abilities. Think of it as having your own personal wellness counselor and cheerleader who’s there to guide and encourage you on your journey toward your intentions. A coach acts as an accountability partner, helping you stay the course and get back on track when you falter.
“A health coach is an attractive option when an individual needs consistent and wise guidance using a holistic approach to help heal a chronic health condition,” said Derek Henry, founder of Healing the Body and Thrive Academy.
“This service is virtually nonexistent in conventional and alternative practices. When specific direction is needed for day-to-day nutrition, supplementation, and lifestyle habits, a health coach typically provides the best programs and services to guide the client along that continuum of change at a much faster rate than quarterly visits to a doctor.”
The field of health coaching can touch on many different areas of life. Cleveland Clinic outlines the top six areas that health coaches address: smoking, stress, nutrition, sleep, exercise, and time management. These core areas can branch into a multitude of other, more specific concerns, from managing diabetes to coping with a stressful move.
Health coaches can be found in a growing number of places, including hospitals, fitness centers, and the workplace. Through a process of interview and discussion, health coaches get to know their clients’ particular health challenges and goals and help them grow in the knowledge, skills, and confidence to make positive changes and take responsibility for their own health and well-being.
The modern health coaching movement began in earnest in the early 1990s and has taken off in recent years. Marketresearch.com reported that the U.S. health coaching market rose to $7.1 billion in 2020 and is projected to climb to $8.87 billion by 2025.
Health coaches are emerging to fill a void that has long been neglected in health care. Currently, 6 out of 10 American adults live with some type of chronic disease, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or obesity. Chronic diseases represent the leading causes of premature death and disability, as well as nearly 75 percent of the trillions of dollars spent on annual health care costs in the United States.
A key factor linking chronic diseases is that the majority of them are preventable with modifiable lifestyle factors. Doctors, whose time with patients is usually limited to somewhere between 13 and 24 minutes per appointment, may advise a patient to quit smoking, exercise more, or eat a healthier diet, but their ability to help the patient achieve these goals is limited. A health coach can bridge that gap by providing time, attention, practical guidance, and encouragement in creating a realistic plan of action and support in carrying it out.
Dr. Sanober Pezad, a Dallas-based integrative and holistic dermatologist and health coach, shared her view of health coaching with The Epoch Times.
“I was part of the conventional medical practice before and realized certain drawbacks in the system; the major one is being unable to give the sufficient time needed to address various factors affecting an individual’s health, apart from the ones he/she came to me for,” she said.
“Health coaches support clients in figuring out where to start the change process and how to make sustainable shifts to achieve their wellness goals. They raise awareness and offer support as clients move on their own terms toward the greater health they want for themselves. I personally feel the role of a health coach is indispensable and invaluable.”
Having a knowledgeable, supportive partner to journey with through the difficult process of change is making a difference in the lives of many. According to a 2016 study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine titled “Clinical Effectiveness of Lifestyle Health Coaching: Case Study of an Evidence-Based Program,” health coaching resulted in impressive patient gains, including “clinically relevant improvements in multiple biomarker risk factors (including systolic and diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting glucose, body weight, body mass index, waist circumference, and cardiorespiratory fitness) in diverse populations.”
Patients who have used health coaches also reported high levels of satisfaction with their experience.
The holistic and personalized education, guidance, and encouragement health coaches provide help clients improve their lives in meaningful and long-term ways.
“Those that benefit most from a good health coach are those who want to learn not only what to do to improve their immediate health situation but also what to do to maintain it,” Henry said.
“The foundational approach a good health coach should provide is beneficial for nearly any situation to help the healing process along more effectively.”