What the Heck Is a Health Coach, Anyway?

Updated: Dec 5, 2020

Health Coaches have been around for many years and as a career choice, it’s becoming increasingly popularized among conscientious individuals for various reasons. The main goal of a health coach is to help others feel their best and to strengthen and improve the relationship people have in all aspects of their lives, whether that is with their bodies, with their loved ones, with their children, with their food, with their lifestyle habits, with their careers, spirituality, financial situations or something else entirely.

We empower our patients to explore various avenues for healing, mainly through dietary and behavioral change. We hold them accountable to match what they say they want in their lives to what they do in order to make their desires become a reality.

The reason health coaches are essential for optimizing wellness in the future

We are in a crisis, and I don't mean COVID-19, white supremacy, or divided nation. We are in a health care crisis. Health care costs and insurance are at an all-time high, a luxury many people cannot afford. Yet, the way the system works is not only unfair, it’s immoral. The healthy people are footing the bills for the sick ones. Now, I’m not faulting people for becoming sick, I wish all individuals a lifetime of health and happiness, and I understand health issues may at times be out of our own control, but I do feel that the healthcare costs should not fall on someone who is healthy to simply appease the economic stress of a capital system. Okay, end rant.

Despite rising costs of healthcare, our nation, as a whole is sicker than ever before. Regardless of the cost of these programs, our health is in a downward spiral.

It's actually not a ‘healthcare system’ at all. It’s a disease-management system at best. It’s a perpetual cycle of diagnose, prescribe, repeat. Western medicine has made drastic and substantial improvements to health and lifetime expectancy. It’s not that we’re not living long enough –in fact, statistically, we’re living longer than ever before. But while the length of our lives increases, so does the length of our morbidity period (the period of time before death, where one is too unwell to reach high levels of quality of life).

Our quality of life in the last years of our lives is, statistically at an all-time low.

It may seem as though I'm completely overlooking the improvements we have achieved through discoveries in Western medicine. It's true that Western medicine has prolonged the lives of many people, but we are sicker than ever. Epidemics are plaguing not only America, but the rest of the world as well. Chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes, are and have been on the rise for far too long, and are not stopping any time soon -- unless we change our habits (and policy makers change the way the food industry produces, labels, and markets our foods... more on that later). The methods aren't working, and the system is ineffective.

The current healthcare system is putting Band-Aids on serious illnesses. Doctors treat the symptoms, not the root cause. The root cause is left to fester. Symptoms are not what is wrong when we feel unwell. Symptoms are meant to show us that something inside the body is imbalanced. They are warning signs. Why would we just want the symptom to go away? We need the root cause to heal. Integrative modalities like functional medicine and Eastern methodologies like Ayurvedic medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and naturopathic medicine use symptoms as tools to lead them to the root cause. To find out what's happening inside our bodies, to eradicate that -- which then allows the symptoms to subside naturally.

It's not their fault, but conventional doctors are not equipped with the tools to help their patients understand why they must change their lifestyle habits in order to be well. Doctors are not taught about nutrition and behaviors that affect our overall health. In Western medicine, they are taught to diagnose and treat. And that will work for a while, but if a patient never comes to an understanding of the root cause, the symptoms will come back. They may not come back in the same form. Oftentimes, symptoms evolve into additional problems, seemingly unrelated to the initial problem. Eventually, patients develop serious, chronic illnesses that may completely change or end their lives.

We must not ignore the fact that nutrition and lifestyle affect our wellbeing. It is an enormous integral part of our wellness. On a cellular level, who can deny that as the truth?

Health coaches are the bridge between doctors and patients. We simply have different tools in place. We work with people who want to improve their wellness and who are ready to implement changes to do so. Maybe they don't sleep well, or maybe they have a terminal illness, whatever the issue, we help our patients connect the dots from what they perceive as the problem (the symptom), to the root cause of the symptom. We are the bridge between a patients' body, to their mind and their heart. Oftentimes people have a great disconnect between what they see and feel on the outside, to what their body needs on the inside. It's not always easy to know what your body needs, but by using practices health coaches encourage, patients gradually become more in tune with their bodies and reach a solution. Health coaches understand that every patient has the potential to know and understand their own body better than we, or doctors might, and we choose to empower our patients to lean into that understanding and align with their intuition.

We intend to guide, mentor, and inspire clients to take a supportive and active role in controlling their health, to remind them that they do indeed know their body best and to help them make connections between lifestyle and health. Many folks do not face major medical conditions like cancer or diabetes, but still need and want guidance in their health and accountability to implement lasting changes.

Have you worked with a coach in the past? What is your view on health coaches? What is your view on Western vs. Eastern approaches in medicine?

Leave a comment below!

If you'd like to learn more about becoming a health coach, let's chat! Here's the program I was certified through. I cannot say enough amazing things about this program!

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