With obesity and chronic diseases on the rise, health coaches are now more important than ever.
One of the main benefits of a health coach is accountability.
More often than not, deeply ingrained habits like diet and exercise don’t go without a fight.
However, a health coach can design a plan around your specific goals and hold you to it.
Keep reading to learn how a health coach can empower you to live a happier, more vibrant life.
What Is a Health Coach?
A health coach is a wellness expert and supportive mentor who helps you make balanced lifestyle changes.
Health coaches go by many names, including “wellness coach,” “nutrition coach,” and “health coach.”
However, in the US, none of these are protected titles.
In other words, their definitions and qualifications differ depending on who you ask.
According to the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, “Health coaching is a relatively new behavioral intervention that has gained popularity in public health because of its ability to address multiple behaviors, health risks, and illness self-management.” (1)
Health Coaches Fill a Major Gap in the Healthcare System
Primary doctors and specialists save countless lives, but even medical professors admit they don’t receive much formal training in nutrition.
In fact, most medical students receive less than 20 hours of nutrition education in all four years of medical school. (2)
For this reason, doctors aren’t usually comfortable giving diet advice.
When it comes to helping you address other areas of holistic health, like stress management and exercise habits, they’re even less qualified.
This is where health coaches come in: they talk you through obstacles and develop an all-inclusive strategy for self-care.
They care deeply about stress levels, mental health, relationships, and work-life balance.
After all, when your happiness falls apart, your health usually isn’t far behind.
Health Coaches vs. Nutritionists and Dieticians
What makes health coaches different from nutritionists and dieticians?
In general, health coaches take a bird’s eye approach to holistic health, whereas nutritionists and dieticians focus only on the foods you eat.
There are also major differences in education.
Here are some of the biggest differences between health coaches and nutritionists/dieticians:
- Most dieticians are accredited through the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. (3)
- Nutritionists and health coach programs, on the other hand, aren’t regulated by medical authorities or governmental organizations.
- Dieticians must have a Bachelor’s degree and complete rigorous training, including 1,200 hours of supervised internship.
- Depending on the program, education for nutritionists and health coaches takes between 6-18 months and is often done entirely online.
At the same time, most health coaches emphasize supportive relationships and doing meaningful work.
In other words, they try to keep your eyes on the big picture.
What Do Health Coaches Learn In School?
Health coach programs typically cover the following material:
- Dietary theories
- Emotional eating
- Weight loss strategies
- Coaching skills
- Goal setting and tracking
- Behavioral psychology and habit formation
- Natural remedies and herbal treatments
- Stress management
Many health coaches get certified while working full-time as a physical trainer, massage therapist, or in another related field.
In fact, some programs even require prior experience in the health industry.
10 Benefits of Hiring a Health Coach
Is it time to hire a health coach?
Your health coach will be your guide and mentor as you transform your most difficult habits.
They can help you with:
- Weight loss/obesity
- Existing medical conditions
- Stress management
- Mental health
- Eating habits
- Finding the ideal diet
- Exercise routine
- Connection to resources
Let’s take a closer look at all of the ways that a health coach can help you live your best life.
Correcting bad eating habits and managing stress are some of the hardest changes you’ll ever face.
Without clear checkpoints along the way, it can be easy to get discouraged.
However, a health coach knows exactly how to play the mental game and set solid goals.
According to a 2013 systematic review of recent health and wellness literature, effective coaches activate the learning process and incorporate self-discovery. (4)
Health coaches serve as a consistent, ongoing relationship that holds you accountable.
Plus, they’re trained in behavior changes, communication, and motivational skills.
For the most part, the advice you get from your health coach can be found for free on the internet.
The question is, will you consistently take action all on your own?
Health coaches use a variety of strategies to encourage you to grind day in and day out.
They actively listen to your stories, identify obstacles, and help you self-monitor.
3. Weight Loss
Should you just hire a physical trainer and a nutritionist instead?
Losing weight is first and foremost an emotional battle.
Shedding the extra pounds, and keeping them off, can be a roller coaster of stress and doubt.
However, a health coach can help you overcome the slumps.
Not only that, but health coaches can design exercise routines and diet plans that move the needle without overwhelming you.
4. Existing Medical Conditions
Health issues don’t have to define your program, but they do need to be taken into account.
Existing medical conditions that may affect your health goals include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Food allergies and intolerances
- Eating disorders
- Digestive issues
A health coach can take the extra time to plan around these issues and optimize your program.
5. Stress Management
Two key concepts of health coaching are stress management and self-care.
Why is stress reduction so important?
Because stress can ruin your motivation and cause poor sleep, fatigue, and food cravings.
Under the surface, stress can increase inflammation and trigger gut health issues.
Unfortunately, you might not realize how stress is affecting your health until it’s too late.
However, a health coach can help you push towards your goals without stressing you out.
6. Mental Health
If you deal with more serious mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and PTSD, your health coach can address them in more holistic ways.
For example, nutrition plays a huge role in gut health, and gut health is strongly linked to anxiety, ADHD, and autism. (5)
By healing the gut with anti-inflammatory foods like bone broth and wild-caught salmon, you can heal the gut and support the brain.
7. Eating Habits
Deciding which foods to eat and which foods to avoid is the easy part—the hard part is breaking life-long food addictions.
For instance, a lot of Westerners are addicted to sugar.
Believe it or not, simple carbs and sugars activate the same addictive centers as cocaine, and it can be incredibly challenging to stop eating them. (6)
Besides, ditching sugar is important for losing weight and reducing inflammation.
The bottom line is, a health coach can hold you accountable during the hardest times.
8. Finding the Ideal Diet
There are enough different diet plans out there to make your head spin, and picking one can feel impossible.
There are plant-based and vegan diets, high-fat, Atkin’s, Paleo, low-carb, and a host of others.
Rather than just plugging into a cookie-cutter program, your health coach can design one specifically for you.
First off, your diet has to be delicious enough to sustain.
Secondly, it has to provide your body and brain with the nutrients they need to feel amazing.
And of course, it needs to account for special digestive issues.
Finally, it has to incorporate cheat meals in a way that won’t derail you.
9. Exercise Routine
A health coach can help you design a realistic exercise routine.
When it comes to maintaining a fitness plan, you shouldn’t just “go hard or go home.”
Pushing too hard too fast is how you burn out and give up.
More often than not, it pays to start slow and gradually build the intensity.
10. Connection to Additional Resources
There are a ton of alternative techniques out there, and many of them you’ve probably never heard of.
Luckily, health coaches are in the know.
For example, if you’re having problems with stress and inflammation, your health coach might recommend deep breathing and cold exposure therapy.
On another note, hormone-related changes like pregnancies and menopause can threaten to knock you off course.
In situations like these, it pays to have a health coach by your side.
If you have any more questions about the benefits of health coaches, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.