We all need a little help from time to time. Whether you’re looking to make a change, get more organized or reach a specific goal, it can be beneficial to have someone who’s on your side. A lifestyle coach is a professional who can support you in identifying your goals and guide you towards achieving them.
Health and Wellness
There are many types of life coaching, but one of the most widespread is health and wellness coaching, which specializes in improving the health of your body and mind. To find out more about what health and wellness coaches do, we spoke to Health Coach at American Specialty Health, Emily Adams.
“We’re working primarily on health improvement,” Adams noted. “So that’s gonna be nutrition, exercise and stress management. But we do get into what we call ‘life skills,’ which can range from improving your time management to understanding your values and how they relate to your overall well-being.”
“I always like to say that it’s like hiking up a mountain with someone or doing it on your own. A coach is having someone to hike up the mountain with you, so you have a little bit of guidance if needed to help you through the challenges. Let’s say there’s a big avalanche or something of that nature that you weren’t expecting on the trail. If you’re alone, you could get scared and want to turn around and go back. With a coach, you can kind of troubleshoot together and find a different path that might work for you and your unique journey.”
Qualifications for Coaching
There aren’t really any governmental or standardized regulations for lifestyle or health and wellness coaching, so you shouldn’t just pick any coach without doing some research first. The health and wellness coaches that you can connect with through the Active&Fit Direct™ Healthy Living program are employees of American Specialty Health, which has its own set of standards.
“All of us at American Specialty Health have a background in a health-related field,” said Adams. “We have at least a bachelor’s degree in psychology, nutrition, exercise or another health-related field. And then you get training through our program. I got three months of training when I was hired ten years ago. And I’ve since received two extra certifications outside of ASH. Those are through private companies, and one was the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching. I always like to tell my clients that we’re in the business of behavior change, so we’re working on taking small steps to make lasting changes in life. For us, we get basic knowledge of nutrition, exercise and stress management. We’re not nutritionists, we’re not personal trainers and we’re not doctors or nurses. We look at supporting people in making the behavior change.”
AAA members get access to the Active&Fit Direct Healthy Living program, as well as 1,500+ digital workout videos and 11,000+ fitness centers nationwide, all for just $25 a month. Join today!* The $25 enrollment fee is being waived through Dec. 31, 2020.
How Is Coaching Different From Therapy?
When people talk about lifestyle coaches, they often use the same language as when they talk about therapists. And from the outside, they do seem pretty similar. The main difference, Adams said, is in the methodology.
“So we look at going forward. We don’t go into the past at all. A therapist or a counselor can get into the details of what’s going on, into the pathology and things of that nature. They can look at discussing relationships and the details of that, and give advice. Whereas coaches, if we’re looking at stress management, we’re talking about what stress is, how it physiologically manifests for you, the fight-or-flight response, how they’re currently responding to stress, how they’d like to respond, using tools and techniques like relaxation and mental imagery. We also look at expressive writing or art, just teaching basic ways to get your body out of the stress response and into the relaxation response. We do some education around what’s acute stress vs. chronic stress, and how that can impact your blood pressure – your overall health and well-being.”
Why Do People Need Health and Wellness Coaches?
People seek out health and wellness coaching for a variety of different reasons, but they all have to do with taking care of the body and mind. Some clients are pursuing specific goals, while others just want to feel better and aren’t sure what to do about it.
Adams noted that many clients seek out health and wellness coaching for “weight management, people looking to lose a certain amount of weight, improve their nutrition, get more active. Even sleep hygiene we get a little bit, wanting to sleep better or to stay asleep. And then of course there’s stress management. And I would say this year in particular, there’s been a huge shift toward stress management and wanting to focus on that. I’m actually kind of glad, because we end up there a lot anyway, even if they’re originally wanting to lose weight or improve these other habits. It does seem like stress is the root of a lot of these habits, why their health isn’t the way they want it to be.”
You don’t need to be a specific type of person to use the help of a health and wellness coach. “I work with people who are running marathons, like ultra-athletes, and I work with people who don’t have any education around nutrition or exercise, or why it’s important or what to do. There’s a wide range of clients, which is a cool part of the job,” noted Adams. “I really love what I do.”
If you want to see what health and wellness coaching is like for yourself, AAA members can try the Active&Fit Direct Healthy Living program, in which members receive one-on-one lifestyle coaching in areas such as fitness, nutrition, stress and sleep.
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Have you ever worked with a health and wellness or lifestyle coach? Would you be interested in that type of coaching? Let us know in the comments below!
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