My evolution into a health coach has been a long one.
In retrospect, it probably started when I was ten and asked for my first set of weights. Santa came through with a set of 5 and 10 pound sand weights.
They were perfect.
By twelve, I had my very own Joanne Greggains tape, which I enthusiastically performed daily. Think thongs, spandex, leg warmers, sweat bands, aerobics and a gazillion hydrants.
Next, at the age of fourteen, came an official gym membership. Dr. Lauber's Family Fitness, a small, generic family style fitness facility located in a small, generic shopping center a short walking distance from my high school.
By sixteen, thanks to my best friend whose father and brothers were powerlifters, I was introduced to The Training Center, a hard-core powerlifting gym tucked away in an otherwise abandoned and dumpy strip mall. Bad for retail, but good for muscly, sometimes roided-out, head-banging, loud-grunting lifters who lived, it seemed, to lift heavy weight. Very, very, heavy weight. But I learned a lot from these massive mountains of men with their protein-packed powders and no-holds-barred approach to training
Fast forward to age eighteen, and I'm not only in college but I'm teaching group fitness. You name it and I taught it or took it, usually both. It is during these years that I also worked as a personal trainer, way back when only rich people housed in huge mansions had trainers.
In college, I pursued a Bachelor's Degree in Nutritional Sciences, followed by a Professional Master's in Physical Therapy. Throughout these seven years I continued to teach, train, and even received my first official personal training certification.
After graduation, I started my official career as a physical therapist, working in outpatient orthopedics and sport's medicine, but I also moonlighted as a massage therapist and as a personal trainer, again at a time when neither profession was particularly prolific nor well established. By all accounts they were in their infancy. And I was there, watching them take their first, wobbly steps.
Throughout the years, I've taught over a dozen personal training certification courses in conjunction with the local community college, conducted approved continuing education for licensed massage therapists, served on advisory boards for massage therapy and personal training licensing and certification boards, published articles with well-known formats like LIVESTRONG, treated thousands of patients, worked with hundreds of clients, and, most importantly, continued to advance both my knowledge base and fine-tune my skills through reading, continuing education and clinical practice.
And at the end of the day, all roads have led me here.
I can't speak for every health coach, but in regards to my role I would say think personal trainer, nutritionist, health advocate, best friend, biggest supporter, caring partner, competent teacher, and positive role model, all rolled up into one.
My decades of experience have taught me that the best way to cure disease is to prevent it, and the best way to prevent it is through consistent, positive lifestyle choices.
And the secret to losing weight? That's easy. Don't focus on weight at all. No kidding. Unfortunately, I've rountinely observed people win the battle of the bulge only to lose the war. I can't tell you how many pounds I've witnessed being lost and regained over the years. Statistically speaking 95% of all people who lose weight on a "diet" will gain it back within 2 years if not sooner. Sometimes, they even end up heavier as a result of this chronic yo-yo dieting. That's because weight isn't the problem. It's the symptom.
Coaching is based on the realization that lifestyle choices (the real problem) supported by habits are at the root cause of all dietary successes and failures.
Most people are obsessed with the scale (the symptom), and they approach weight-loss with a "I want the weight gone yesterday" mentality. What they forget is that in many cases there would not be weight to lose were it not for a dysfunctional, obsegenic lifestyle.
As a health coach, I give my clients the benefit of my decades of knowledge, experience, and continued studies. I understand that whether your goal is to lose weight, have more energy, get healthy, or all of the above, a road paved with good intentions and quick fixes will usually lead you right back to where you started.
Making healthy lifestyle choices isn't hard, but changing habits is. Anyone can follow a restrictive, one-size-fits-most reginmen for 6 to 12 weeks. But that's not lifestyle change. That's a diet, and diets don't work longterm.
As a coach, I advocate for eating better not less. Exercising smarter not harder. I educate clients on the role of sleep and stress management. But most importantly, I work with them to implement meaningful change that supports their health and wellness goals. Coaches offer accountability, structure, motivation, and problem-solving. Most importantly, they offer ongoing support. They don't pretend the process is easy or quick or always fun, but they also don't make it more difficult than it has to be. And they don't accept your excuses, no matter how convincing you think they may sound.
I chose to transition into coaching because I saw a disconnect between the science of diet and exercise as it relates to weight loss and health and the practice of diet and exercise as it relates to weight loss and health. For all our efforts, we're sicker, fatter, and less fulfilled. Too many people are confused or overwhelmed by the process and struggling with the choices.
And I know I can help.
In short, I know the best way to solve a problem is to actually address the underlying causes. A quick fix might provide the illusion of success, but it's short-lived. Just look around. How many people do you know that lose weight only to gain it back? How many people do you know who are tired, sluggish, carrying too many extra pounds that they hate, and who are generally dissatisfied with their appearance? How many people do you know who are suffering from diseases that are related to poor lifestyle choices? How many of your friends, family members, or coworkers erronesouly believe that a health lifestyle is either too expensive, too time-consuming, or otherwise unattainable? These are the people who can benefit from coaching.
Okay. But what exactly IS health coaching?
1. a personalized process
2. customized to the individual
3. focused on the individual and their goals
3. the creation of SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timed)
4. strategic planning
5. education, support, and problem solving to remove barriers to success
During a private session:
We meet. We talk. We discuss your goals. We strategize based on your needs. We develop an action plan together. We discuss your failures/successes and build on what works for you. I provide a detailed summary to solidify everything that was discussed as well as to make sure each client has a clear plan for the week(s) ahead.
During a group session:
As a small group we meet. We talk. We discuss goals. We strategize. Individuals develop an action building on what has worked for them in the past. I provide a general summary of the meeting.
The number of sessions required really depends on the individual. Remember, this is not a one-size-fits-most style of programming. I am also available to clients via text and email between sessions which means you can take advantage of my knowledge and experience any time you need it.
You will walk away from each session with:
1. a clear focus
2. SMART goals with respect to diet, exercise, sleep and stress management
3. a specific action plan
4. a sense of empowerment
You will ultimately:
1. develop new habits, better habits that support your goals
2. achieve long-lasting results
3. learn the difference between eating a healthy diet and dieting
4. achieve the best version of yourself that is possible
5. understand that self-care is not selfish but essential because you can't give what you don't have