Should You Consult a Health Coach?

Doing so could help you implement better lifestyle choices.


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We’re four months into 2016. Are you still on track with your New Year’s resolutions? Do you even remember your New Year’s resolutions?

If you’re struggling to overcome obstacles that are preventing you from eating better, exercising and making good health a priority, you might want to consider enlisting the services of a health coach.

What, you may wonder, is a health coach and do you need one?

According to The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a health coach is “a wellness authority and supportive mentor who motivates individuals to cultivate positive health choices. Health coaches educate and support clients to achieve their health goals through lifestyle and behavior adjustments.”

Simply put, health coaches offer the guidance and tools people need to overcome challenges and achieve previously unattainable levels of health and wellness.

“A lot of people know what they should be doing and there’s a reason they’re not doing it,” says Joan Snyder co-founder—along with Audrey Griffith—of Health Coaches of Delaware in Wilmington and Greenville. “We try to work with them to figure out why they’re not doing what they need to do and help them do it in a way that’s sustainable. We don’t want repeat customers.”

Not all of their clients have health issues. Some come because they want to have more energy or better sleep. “We get women who have raised their children and have done for everybody else and now they have the time to spare to focus on themselves,” says Snyder.

Snyder came to health coaching three years ago from a career in hotel management. While not a chef, she’s always had an interest in food and a strong desire to try new things. That, she says, is the fun part of the job for her—giving people the opportunity to try new things that are both healthy and enjoyable.

“We try to shift the focus to what you can have so we try to broaden that so they have a lot of options,” says Snyder. “If it’s broccoli they like, we try to think of different ways to prepare it. We give them a variety of options so it’s not chicken and brown rice every night.”

Snyder says health coaches work on the premise that everyone is unique and that no one diet or exercise works for everyone. Therefore, health coaches help clients experiment with finding what will work for them and how to tweak their lifestyle so they can move forward and achieve their goals.

Snyder says it’s important for people to realize what a health coach is not. A health coach is not a doctor. They do not prescribe medications although they do work with people who are taking prescription drugs.

A health coach is also not a dietitian. “We don’t devise meal plans or count calories or grams of fat,” says Snyder.

Snyder says she will, however, accompany clients to the grocery store to help them learn to read labels so they can compare options and make healthy choices.

A health coach is not a personal trainer although some do hold certifications in this area. (Griffith, for example, has significant experience as a fitness instructor and she and Snyder trade ideas about exercises for their clients.)

A health coach is also not a drill sergeant who screams orders or berates the client for not meeting a goal in a specified amount of time. Rather, Snyder says guiding people toward a healthier lifestyle requires a non-judgmental customized approach that includes empowering people through education to help them take charge of their well-being.

“We all want to be healthier,” she says. “No one wants to be unhealthy. We’re their biggest fans.”

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