Many of us don’t visit a doctor regularly, unless we are sick or dealing with an ongoing condition or illness. And even for those of us who see the doctor annually for a check-up, it’s rare that we have time to address subjects such as nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management and more. These are all very influential in our overall health and well-being, yet often are shortchanged in standard physical exams.
Why is that? The U.S. healthcare system, while gradually evolving, still favors a rehabilitative approach over a preventative one, despite evidence of the multiple advantages of helping people avoid getting sick in the first place. As some have found that traditional medicine isn’t helping improve their everyday lives, alternative health practitioners have grown in popularity.
That’s where wellness coaching comes in. Here we examine what wellness coaching is and how it works so you can determine if it is a good option for you.
What is a Wellness Coach?
Different than a life coach, a wellness coach helps you focus on enhancing your life and meeting your health goals through optimal, consistent habits. While a wellness coach deals with exercise, nutrition and emotions, he/she typically is NOT also a personal trainer, dietitian or psychologist/psychotherapist. He/she is not supposed to prescribe specific training regimens, diet plans or medications. Rather than specialize with a narrow focus, a wellness coach takes a holistic view of your life, and helps you develop an ideal vision of your wellness.
A wellness coach evaluates the overall picture and can offer guidance regarding how to implement your physician’s recommendations or make changes to improve your well-being. Coaches can help you identify necessary changes, such as getting more sleep, eating more fruit and vegetables or consistently exercising, that can boost quality of life. They also work with you to identify obstacles and challenges (such as DVR binges or weekly happy hour) and develop strategies to overcome these to make progress.
Although many of us know what we should do to be healthy, we often don’t do those things, choosing instead to hit the drive-through, stay up late or skip the workout. Coaches work with you to uncover what will motivate you to undo bad habits, make healthier choices and practice regular self-discipline in these matters.
You can meet with coaches in person, on the phone or online, and sessions can be shorter (10-20 minutes) or longer (60 minutes or more), depending on what you are addressing and where you are in your wellness journey. You and your coach will set up a plan as far as how often you will be in touch – and this may be modified depending on your progress or setbacks over time.
- Multiple different organizations offer wellness coaching programs, but credentials, content and quality vary. This industry is not currently regulated or licensed, which means anyone can call themselves a coach. Do your homework and ask for recommendations from friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc. when seeking a wellness coach. Interview a few coaches first to assess their style. Wellcoaches, in collaboration with the American College of Sports Medicine, is well-regarded for its health and wellness coaching education and training.
- Wellness coaching typically is not covered by traditional health insurance, so make sure you understand the fees and payment plan upfront.
- Commit to at least a few months, as lifestyle changes take time, and obstacles can hinder consistent progress. Remember that you get out of this what you put into it. That said, if you feel like your wellness coach isn’t helping, it’s OK to look for a better fit.
Arrange a consultation with a wellness coach to see if they are a great fit on your road to wellness. Stay Fueled!