What it Means to Work With a Health Coach
When we’re curious about learning something, we read a book. If we want a more serious study, maybe we sign up for a course. But, if we’re determined and know it’s time to truly master or overcome something, we call in for help.
When it comes to health, wellness, self-confidence, and transformation, that’s the time to call in the right health coach or counselor.
Years ago, I agreed to find a solution to my asthma and allergies in order to wean off taking so much medication while nursing our firstborn baby. I was also exhausted, caring for a newborn, and feeling pretty disconnected from my body. Let’s just say I was hiding out in big t-shirt and yoga pants on most days, anything to avoid accepting the new shape of my post-pregnancy body.
Not sure where to start, I did a lot of self-guided study to learn more and to facilitate my personal healing. I picked up books, studied some websites, and took a few courses. I made some progress.
I made enough progress to know I needed more help. When I still couldn’t sleep through the night without grasping for the inhaler, just before my newborn woke up to nurse for the third time that night, the sense of urgency hit me harder than before. I knew I had to say yes to more personalized guidance.
Now, let me be clear. I was already in the care of my doctor. However that care involved assessing the symptoms and prescribing new inhalers or pills. That was about as far as I got with my traditional medical doctors. It was the steroid medicine I wanted to wean out of my life so my daughter didn’t have to share it through breast milk. I knew it was possible because I had already experienced a taste of that relief. And, doctor’s visits did little to nurture self-confidence or guide me through sustainably strengthening my body after pregnancy. That’s not really the doctor’s job after all.
My personal situation required more individualized attention from someone who had been there. I needed accountability and understanding.
When I found my coach practitioner, everything shifted. My life changed. And, so did my understanding of health and my body.
First, here is what didn’t help . . .
It didn’t help to stay in this place of hating my symptoms and fighting my body. The stress of being in battle with my body only worsened the symptoms.
The symptoms were merely a message about a larger issue.
Identifying the cause and doing the real work to uncover and release the stress came from personal attention and care.
Healing doesn’t happen alone. Too often we get in our own way.
That goes for most things. If you want to start a new home business, you want to do it as low cost as possible. You try to do everything yourself. You try to do the marketing, the scheduling, the bookkeeping, the customer service, the website development, the social media, etc. Before you know it, you are so busy doing everything you haven’t really done anything. At least not enough to make the impact you really want.
By the end of the day you know you don’t have the systems, education, or help to do it the way you need to be successful.
We understand, in this case, we have to accept guidance. We believe in the value of professors to give us the education we need in college. We hire business consultants and coaches. We learn to create a budget to delegate.
We hire people who have been there first.
It’s not a new concept to seek out mentors and guides. It’s something ingrained in us.
We did it as children. We learned from our parents how to be in the world.
In school we learned from our teachers.
In college we learned from professors.
In our jobs we learned from supervisors and co-workers.
As adults and as parents, we have learned to ask for help from friends, relatives, parents, and caregivers as we navigate the world of parenting and having a life.
When it comes to our health, it shouldn’t be much different.
We live in a culture where the options are often more limited for health and wellness. We look to the men and women in white coats to tell us what to do. We learn from our doctors what pills to take, what vaccinations we need, how many doctor’s appointments a year we should have, what our blood pressure should be, how much we weigh, how tall we are, etc.
We learn about our bodies through numbers and statistics.
We are then told to treat any ailments as something to cover up. You have a headache? Take a Tylenol. You have stomach ache? Take a Tums. You have an itch? Take this itch cream.
When my first daughter was just a baby, she started getting these rashes and yeast infections after starting solid foods. This was when I was only beginning to learn about nutrition and health.
I was nervous. I knew that rashes, like Eczema, were a sign of allergies and many children with Eczema also develop asthmatic symptoms. Here I was in the process of healing my body from asthma and allergies and watching my daughter develop the symptoms that might send her on the same path as me. I was new to the world of natural health and hadn’t quite figured out the nutrition program, breathing program, and relaxation techniques that dramatically shifted my health later on.
So, we took her to our doctor. There were no questions about her diet or her exposure to household toxins.
We were told, “It’s hot outside.” “This is a common rash for all kids.” “The yeast infection will only clear up with steroid cream.”
Maybe it was a common rash for all kids, but why was it so common here when it isn’t common for allergies to develop everywhere in the world? Even with all the research supporting the connection between gut health and allergies, why wasn’t this information discussed in our doctor’s visit?
We did give her the cream. It worked temporarily. But the rashes always returned. The cream only worked to treat the symptoms, not the cause.
Here it was though. At an early age, the message we are told to teach our daughter is if “you have a symptom, you cover it up with x, y, and z.”
Luckily for our family, my practitioner and coach came into my life shortly after.
I shifted my thinking about symptoms. Here I was trying to heal my own body and seeing new symptoms in my daughter. The whole time I just wanted to find out how to make the symptoms go away.
But symptoms get covered up and come back. Or, they show up in new ways.
We can only hide them for so long before life forces us to face the reckoning of a body ignored.
A coach helps you ask the right questions. We started by asking:
“What is she eating?”
“What are we putting on her body in the soap?”
“How are the stress levels and the environment at home?”
We discovered, through a more curious approach, she was sensitive to different sugars and wheat products that showed up in even her organic baby snacks.
When we replaced those foods with more whole foods, her rashes CLEARED UP. No more cream.
It was amazing. And, it wasn’t amazing at the same time. At that point it seemed so obvious and simple.
Why wasn’t it brought up in the visit with our doctor?
It’s a hard road to go down, especially for doctors. It is a road in which you are asking patients to fundamentally shift the way they eat, think, and live. It’s a whole lifestyle makeover.
Doctors rarely have the specific resources, time, or even training to do that.
Their training focuses on sick care. In other words, they treat symptoms and sick people. It’s about disease control rather than disease prevention.
We are in a culture of sick care. Not preventative care.
This is why health coaches are so needed.
This is why health coaches are so powerful and so important.
Well-trained coaches and counselors offer a fresh perspective that’s truly needed.
They offer accountability.
They offer proven strategies tailored specifically to the individual.
They uphold body wisdom.
They value nourishment, self-confidence, body love, health, sustainability, whole foods, love, acceptance, strength, and movement.
I look forward to a future in which doctors and coaches will always work together as many do now. Doctors can offer insight into the cause of the symptoms while having the resource of a health coach to support that patient in getting where they need to go.
It is rarely effective to simply tell someone “You need to eat healthier and exercise more” in a one-off doctor’s visit. It is only a VERY small piece of a much larger puzzle.
A health coach walks down the path with you. For my daughter, the changes were simpler. Her body was young, adapted quickly, and her immune system bounced back
A personal lifestyle shift to improve the health, well-being, and wellness of most adults requires more personal care, love, attention, and individualized guidance.
That’s what health coaching does.
It’s not about diet plans and exercise plans. Sure, there are tons of health coaches who do those. They have a role and can be important. Sometimes someone just needs a good diet plan.
But, for something truly transforming and sustainable, an approach that will empower a person with the tools for a life of self-care and personal awareness, that person needs a partner, friend, practitioner, counselor, coach, and teacher who is willing to open the doors that have been shut for too long. That coach is willing to guide and instruct and hold someone’s hand and love that person along the way.
Health coaching can change face of health care as more and more people experience the power of meaningful transformation. We will have healthier, confident, vibrant, thriving people spreading the message of health, self-confidence, vibrancy, and thriving to others.
We can transform this state of sick care into preventative care into care of the soul, the mind, and body.