Just like having a fitness trainer or a career mentor, enlisting a pro to help light the way makes achieving your wellness goals a lot easier.
Starting a wellness journey can be daunting, especially if it entails making major lifestyle shifts, such as changing the way you eat, adopting a sleep hygiene routine or starting to exercise when you’ve been firmly planted on a couch. And with so much health information out there, it can be hard to know what's right for you and your body. My advice? Enlist a health coach.
What is a Health Coach?
A health coach can provide individualized support wherever you're at on your health journey. They approach your specific needs with a holistic, 360-degree perspective, taking into account body, mind and soul.
As a functional medicine doctor in private practice and now, as Chief Medical Officer of THE WELL, I've seen how health coaches dramatically increase the positive outcomes of my patients by supporting, guiding and educating them.
Can you reach the wellness milestones you set for yourself on your own? Absolutely. But I believe if you have the ability to recruit an authoritative accountability partner, it’s worth doing. Here’s why:
1. You’ll receive a personalized plan.
After a thorough health assessment and conversation about your goals, your health coach will create an individualized plan that takes into account all facets of your life — from food and exercise to sleep and stress. After all, your daily real-life responsibilities, stress levels and work/family dynamics affect how well you’re able to integrate new, healthier habits.
With a health coach as your wellness co-pilot, you’ll work together to develop a customized plan that takes your individual physical, emotional and lifestyle factors into account and fits with the way you live — ultimately leading you to permanent, positive change.
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2. The advice will be safe and sound.
Every day questionable diet and fitness fads hit the market, pushed along by slick marketing campaigns. Some trends are downright dangerous; others may be less so, but they can still have negative, energy-sapping side effects.
A trained, professional health coach will help you identify and integrate sensible practices to enhance your health because they rely on evidence-based protocols. And they’ll raise red flags as needed.
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3. Health coaches get granular.
Most primary care physicians — especially those not trained in integrative modalities — know that nutrition, stress reduction, weight management and exercise are important, but know little about specific wellness practices or innovations. Consequently, few healthcare providers are able to offer patients recommendations much beyond “lose some weight,” or “eat more vegetables.”
A health coach, however, is prepared to get granular — to drill down and identify the root causes of any issues you may be dealing with. For example, a health coach may ask you if you have a satisfying social life or are if you experiencing loneliness — not questions you are likely to hear from most traditional medical staff.
4. They walk the walk.
From my experience, health coaches are actively expanding their knowledge — hunting down wellness research, analyzing nutritional news, testing recipes, sharing tips, trying classes and attending courses. That means that you get access to a curated wellspring of information, fresh approaches and answers to keep your health journey interesting, up-to-date and enlightening! Need ideas on how to handle eating out? How to shop and prepare food for optimal nutrition? You’ll know who to call.
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5. We all need to be held accountable.
Changing long-held negative behaviors, beliefs and attitudes is challenging. And making big changes often requires being held accountable (in a really compassionate, caring way, of course). A health coach is the perfect person to do that, not only in your one-on-one sessions but also via email and in some cases, texts.
THE WELL’s ecosystem is fully integrated, giving our health coaches the ability to share notes with other practitioners on your team to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to your treatment plan. That, in turn, will amplify every outcome.
Learn more about THE WELL’s holistic approach to health coaching here.