If you’re struggling to sleep or reduce your stress or having trouble making healthy habits stick, you’re far from alone. Fortunately, working with a health coach could be a life-changer. When it comes to living healthier lives and optimising our health, more information isn’t often useful—in fact, it’s usually more confusing. While one compelling Ted Talk highlights the many benefits of intermittent fasting, a reputable article warns against it, or a Netflix documentary cautions you about the negative health effects of eating animal protein, while a personal trainer promotes the benefits of sticking to an all-meat diet. As a result, you’re left feeling confused and overwhelmed about what to eat, what supplements to take and when, what exercise is best for you, what to do when you’re not sleeping, the list goes on.
Most of us don’t need more information. Instead, we need help to create an action plan that is personalised to our very unique backgrounds and someone to support us and hold us accountable to it. This is where a health coach comes in. Using a unique combination of skills to facilitate behaviour change, health coaches empower their clients to achieve wellness.
One of the main tenets of health coaching is the idea that everyone faces unique challenges when it comes to keeping healthy. Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach to one’s well-being, health coaches help clients create highly personalised strategies for achieving their goals. Working with my own coach, I discovered a variety of things that I’ve incorporated into my life: I feel best when I include some animal protein in my diet as well as certain supplements, that intermittent fasting isn’t good for my overall wellbeing, that I have to be mindful of the amount of coffee and sugar I have, that rather than intense HIIT classes, like Barry’s which I was used to doing, a combination of walking, weight training and pilates suit me best.
What is a health coach?
Simply put, health coaches support patients in creating specific action plans and keeping them accountable in four key areas of life: nutrition, stress reduction, sleep optimisation, and physical activity. Health coaches and functional medicine practitioners work in tandem with your conventional doctor. They should by no means replace your doctor. Instead they are there to guide you in prioritising the diet and lifestyle factors that will have the largest impact on your health—and they do it in a way that’s personalised, empowering, supportive and compassionate. Conventional doctors simply don’t have the availability to devote the amount of time that patients would ideally want and benefit from and health coaches help to bridge that gap.
The health coaches at Wonder Source hold respected credentials and take a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, teaching clients that it’s not just about the food on their plate, but also how they nourish themselves through other areas of life, like relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality and they help keep them accountable to make meaningful changes.
Is there evidence that health coaching really works?
Research has proven the value of having a coach as a game changer for those with chronic illnesses. The reality is that 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. Around 75%–90% of doctor visits in the US are in some way related to stress and 60 percent of adult Americans have at least one chronic disease, the majority of which are lifestyle-driven, preventable, and reversible.
Not only are they preventable and reversible, but they are costing money. In 2017, eighty-six percent of the US’s $2.7 trillion annual health care expenditures were for people with chronic and mental health conditions. These costs can be reduced with health coach programs for people to improve their lifestyles, eliminate bad habits, encourage better nutrition and exercise, and manage their chronic conditions. In this context, it’s no surprise that having a designated partner to help you make necessary changes to your lifestyle can dramatically improve your chances at achieving greater health and wellness.
Moreover there are studies to prove the effectiveness. According to the Harvard Medical School, health coaching is effective for people managing a variety of health conditions. One recent study demonstrated that, lifestyle health coaching “results in clinically relevant improvements in multiple biomarker risk factors (including systolic and diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting glucose, body weight, body mass index, waist circumference, and cardiorespiratory fitness) in diverse populations.” Coaching has also helped improve health-related quality of life and reduced hospital admissions in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
In a 2018 systematic literature review of 11 controlled trials investigating the effectiveness of health and wellness coaching, 82 percent of trials found that those who utilised a coach found improvement in nutrition biomarkers and eating behaviours. The most common improvements were seen in weight, blood pressure, and quality of dietary intake.
Aside from nutritional improvements, health coaching has proven to support significant changes in physical activity as well. While physical inactivity is more common in older age, studies show that when people over 60 work with a health coach, they are more likely to regularly engage in physical activity and also report secondary improvements in mobility, quality of life, and mood.
For specific health conditions, health coaching has shown to be effective in improving outcomes for patients with diabetes, obesity, chronic pain, high cholesterol, and hypertension. Patients working with health coaches are more likely to comply with taking recommended medications, have reduced rates of hospital admissions, and report feeling more empowered in making changes to their health to improve their quality of life. It’s no surprise that health coaching is on the rise.
Health Coaching Remotely
According to Harvard Health, coaching appears to be as effective when administered remotely by phone or the Internet when compared to in-person coaching. This reduces barriers to getting started and provides great flexibility for clients seeking help, as coaching can be performed in person, over the phone, or via videoconferencing.
Health Coaching at Wonder Source
Health coaching has strong evidence behind it backing its effectiveness for improving health and well-being. Moreover, it can be just as effective to work with your coach remotely leading there to be less limitations on one’s ability to work with a coach. Wonder Source’s health coaches are passionate about what they do and find the work of promoting happiness, and helping their clients build resiliency, save money, and live longer and more fulfilling lives to be deeply rewarding.