Health Coaching: The New Bright Light in Fitness, but What Exactly Is It?

by: Jessica Idleman

This new kid on the block brings fresh hope to today’s saturated health industry. Yet it comes with a catch. Finding a health coach that suits you is not unlike a search for your very own four leaf clover. Before we explore further, let’s make sure we know exactly what the heck they do anyway.

A question for you, the reader:

On a scale from 1-10 how important is your health to you? If the first number that pops up in your mind is anything less than 10 let’s reevaluate. To answer that question with greater accuracy ask yourself,

“On a scale from 1-10 how important is the health of your children, your partner, and your friends to you”.

There ya go! A much more accurate answer to the first question.

Your health is a BIG deal. Making things happen and taking care of those around you can’t happen without your health. If you have ever had a major health crisis, you know better than anyone just exactly what that means.

Most people wouldn’t argue with the need for working with a health coach, but generally feel that someone they know needs one much more than they do. There is a big reason for this.

A little bit of honesty can immediately uncover this reason. It’s the same reason why most of us are walking around fat, sick, and barely awake.

The idea of self-health is very subjective; which is precisely why most of us are not getting the care we know we need.

There are two primary mental blocks preventing wellness.

  • Our personal narrative: We all have a belief system instilled about health and our worthiness to own it that began well before we could even talk. Whether it be the unknown reason why you avoid spinach, to thinking only if your doctor said it can it be true. We all think inside a box that frankly limits us beyond measure. Thanks mom and dad!
  • The Negative Assumption: No one ever wants to think about what it is they’re doing wrong. Taking back our health usually involves a lot of active self-awareness on what we could be doing differently. The human condition takes us straight to “I’m bad”, instead of to “I’m going to be better.”

These are quite paralyzing reasons. Therefore, personal health becomes one of the last things most of us consider investing in.

Where does health coaching fit in here? First of all, a good health coach won’t start out with a slap on your wrist and a list of do’s and don’ts. Health coaching isn’t a “Drop and give me twenty”, drill-sergeant style training.

A health coach is not a nurse or personal trainer. To coach means to listen carefully to what is not working, see strengths, and provide guidance for capturing the goal.

A fantastic health coach is a part of your power team.

When you’re working with someone who majors in self-health, you’re giving yourself permission to attain self-improvement. This is something that psychologically many of us are unable to do on our own.

Health Coaches are a unique breed of practitioner. But you still shop for one the same way you shop for a doctor. They all have an expertise in something.

Begin by asking yourself:

  • Have you been threatened with a disease requiring major dietary changes that seem overwhelming or impossible?
  • Do you believe you know what to do but consistently sabotage yourself with poor food choices because you don’t have time to plan ahead?
  • Are you struggling with energy crashes throughout the day? Do you rely on caffeine to get through the basics like making dinner or that rare workout, just to sleep poorly later?
  • How can you kick-ass during the day and be the best version of yourself more of the time instead of just occasionally?

In other words, “What’s not working for you?” is the best question to ask when looking for a true professional.

A lot of people call themselves health coaches along with many other fields of expertise. However, you are going to gain much more from a teacher whose primary expertise is in the category you need the most help with. Not someone who claims to know everything.

For example, someone recommends a guy listing health coach, personal trainer, and yoga instructor on his website. Yet under more careful observation you discover that what he does the most is yoga. That’s great if you want to start practicing yoga. You might not gain any nutritional knowledge though, which is what you started out looking for.

Match yourself up with a professional who walks the talk of a lifestyle you want more of.

If you are a meat loving carnivore, you don’t want to work with a raw-vegan. If it’s meal-planning skills you need, working with someone who really only sells supplements will most likely leave you greatly dissatisfied.

Everyone benefits from coaching. Whether it be a coach for a sports team, or a mentor at the new job. A coach should support our best efforts, while also giving us an educated point of view that drives us. With these tools we get a lot more awareness, and a vantage point that greatly boosts our likelihood for achievement.


-Jessica Idleman, graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, board certified through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and student of The Center of Mind Body Medicine has been educating and coaching holistic health since 2008.
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