What Is Health Coaching?


And why it is the largest growing sector in healthcare

Photo by Deann Zampelli

Recent studies have shown that 70–90% of all chronic illnesses are preventable with lifestyle modifications alone (NY Institute of Health, CDC, NIH, etc.) I had to read that statistic a few times when I first saw it. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), this includes obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer. 70–90%?!

Western society is riddled with diseases that cause immeasurable suffering and billions of dollars in cost. One of the many reasons for this, is that our healthcare system is a disease model; we get sick and then seek treatment when it could just as easily be the other way around. Self-care now, to prevent illness later. Instead, we are all part of a never-ending game of Twister trying to figure out where to move next that won’t cause us to come crashing down.

This is where health coaches come in. They can be the bridge between where you are in your health and wellness and where you want to be.

How often have you left a doctor’s appointment after being given some advice and not only felt no better off, but were also now confused and anxious as to what your next step should be? You have been told, for example, that your cholesterol is high, you should start exercising more and add fiber to your diet. You are already being pulled in so many different directions, the thought of adding even one more thing can be overwhelming.

Through coaching, you can create and set your own attainable steps, one mini-goal at a time. Working at your own pace, coaching can help you tap into not only what you want to achieve, but how you can get there. Health goals can often seem unattainable and overwhelming but if you break them into smaller goals, they are much more accessible and less daunting.

I just launched my own health coaching business and have seen both as a coach and as a client how effective this process can be. Health coaching encompasses more than most people realize. So many different aspects of our lives affect our wellness; stress, work-life balance, spirituality, our environment, our connections to community, nutrition, movement, toxins.

Duke Integrative Medicine created a simple, but effective mindfulness-based program that I use in my practice. By identifying your health vision of where you want to get to, and connecting it to your values (meaning what is important to you in your life) you are able to set S.M.A.R.T. goals that act as a roadmap for your ultimate well-being destination. Smart goals are:





T=Time Bound

During coaching, you create the content of a session, and the coach holds the framework, which helps you to stay on your chosen path.

Unlike many health-related professions, health coaches don’t tell you what to do or offer advice. We might suggest resources if needed, or do a bit of brainstorming , but you are the ultimate expert on your own life, and have the answers already. Coaches help you filter through some of the self-talk, confusing messages from society and goals we may have set only to please others, to find out what it is you really want and need.

Health practitioners around the world have started hiring health coaches in their practices as they are recognizing that our system isn’t just broken, it is immeasurably toxic. We simply won’t have the financial or physical resources to care for all of the ill if we keep going on the path we are on. Insurance companies have even caught on and many plans now cover it. Larger corporations are offering coaching as part of their health packages. Healthier employees are happier employees. And happier employees are more productive.

Through a neuroscience-based approach, coaching can help you form new habits through different layers of understanding of why this goal matters to you. The process taps into your overall vision of where you want to be in your health, what your values are and how they are connected. The many layers of connections strengthens your thought pattern, and eventually your behavior chain. It is effective, but simple.

Even without a health coach, you have the power to make health changes now. Be kind to yourself and break your larger goals into smaller pieces. Losing 30 pounds can start with keeping a glass by the sink and drinking water every time you go in the kitchen. Small changes can lead to big differences.

I wish you well, and rather than stay on the Twister board, might I suggest a soothing game of Backgammon?

For more health news and coaching tips, subscribe to my weekly newsletter, The Mindful Messenger: https://mailchi.mp/montecitocoachingandnutrition/xxo39s52kw?fbclid=IwZXh0bgNhZW0CMTEAAR1OZtH_R3rUQXer8NEmIC8LSRrrer4HdkHDEAiEI8JLIEE4r7XdFCLZAnc_aem_AZlMYrcxUVMqcyt5n5rrZcc_UvYcxX9tdScku87HYTHml5ufro546G6DQPBpqE732FYnjd_MP12nQYT1IOQLfsvN