Recently I reintroduced my new business to you Hormone Love. It’s very reflective of what I had been doing, with a bit less yoga teaching, and a more expansive focus on Hormone Health Coaching, DUTCH Testing and Histamine Intolerance. Essentially, I am coaching 1:1, and will be teaching courses again in the near future.
My reintroduction got me thinking… It might be helpful to hear what a Health Coach does and doesn’t do.
And answer that question…
What is a Health Coach?
It’s a good question.
There are a variety of coaches in the world, and each one of us brings to the table a special expertise. For some, it’s working on your life and career goals, others spiritual goals, some work on fitness goals (these are probably the coaches we are the most familiar with), and others like myself, work on your health and wellness goals.
A Health Coach is an educator that helps you feel optimal in your body. We help you optimize your health, lifestyle, help you meet your wellness goals, and optimize how you feel in your body every single day.
Can you imagine having an awesome coach like… (insert your favorite coach here) Cheryl Reeve, 4x Championship Winning MN Lynx Head Coach, cheering you on from the sidelines with your life and health goals?
This is what a Health Coach does!
Maybe we don’t have as many championship wins, but we do have an awesome sideline “Whoop, Whoop” cheer!
Why would you hire a health coach?
Did you know the average doctor appointment is somewhere in the range of 13-16 minutes?
This is… So.. Little..Time.
I am sure you have experienced it. I certainly have. Sitting in a doctor’s appointment, feeling like I had barely touched the surface of why I was there, and also feeling like my caregiver was sprinting through the appointment. This does not feel good, at all. And it has happened to me multiple times. It’s really hard to get anything accomplished in 14.5 minutes, Certainly not anything that feels intentional. I left these appointments with a long list of questions that never got answered.
It was also really frustrating! I didn’t feel like a human in that situation, I felt like a box that needed to be checked off.
If you have had the benefit of working with an Integrative or Functional Medicine Doctor (which I highly recommend), my experience is those appointments are more in the 30-40 minute range. So, much longer appointments, which is great. But still, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not much time.
For instance, I usually see my functional medicine practitioner 2x a year, and we work hard to pack a lot into those sessions. Twice a year for the total of one hour-ish, leaves me to figure out a lot of this health stuff on my own!
And how do you navigate all the nutrition information out there, the latest diet fads, symptoms you can’t seem to make sense of, your wellness goals, and all the “shoulds” we run around with every day?
That’s a lot to ruminate on every day.
And… did you know the average traditional medical doctor’s study of nutrition is a 3-4 hour course? That’s it! 3-4 hours on nutrition in the whole grand scheme of things. And… the bulk of this information has been based on debunked medical information from the ‘70’s.
Yes, it’s true the “no fat”, “low fat” diet studies were completely debunked studies that were manipulated by the sugar industry to make fat the bad guy, so sugar could shine through, and it has! For reals. If that wasn’t sucky enough, it can take DECADES for traditional medical practices to catch up on accurate information in cases like this. So oftentimes, the information being taught on nutrition from traditional medicine is flat out wrong.
Not that long ago I was visiting a family member in the hospital that had a cardiac event. I was present for a conversation where the doctor went on to tell them the importance of eating low fat and no fat. I was unfortunately not surprised, but also really frustrated by that conversation. That information is not what keeps our hearts healthy.
I also read the menu that was offered for the hospital cafeteria that outlined almost a full menu of highlighted low fat, high carb items, many filled with sugar. It was incredibly disheartening.
This is a deeper conversation for another day, that we will talk about more… and…
This is where the beauty of a Health Coach comes in.
A health coach is someone that has specifically studied nutrition, dietary theories, wellness, stress, emotions, the nervous system, the mind, the body and the spirit…and how every one of those things is interconnected.
We have also studied things like the above debunked studies, toxins, food chemicals, pesticides, xeno-estrogens and… most importantly… their effects on the body.
Most of us then go on to study other aspects of the body and carve out a specific focus. And many of us walk into this work with our own mysterious symptoms, that brought us to dig deeper into our health. This lived experience brings an immense amount to the table.
For me, my own mysterious health journey is what brought me to the work that I do today. I had mysterious symptoms for years that no one could figure out. It is actually only recently that I have the most clear picture of what has been going on in my body since I was a teenager.
Of course there are varying degrees of study within any coaching program, so it’s a great idea to check in with someone you are interested in working with about their background of study, so you can find someone who’s credentials you resonate with.
In general, I’ve found Health Coaches to be consummate researchers, and the root of our work is based on Functional Wellness practices. Which means, we look at the whole body, and how everything is interconnected.
I have been studying wellness since 2005. Many of you know, I started with yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, the nervous system and spirituality. And moved on to study nutrition, dietary theories, and hormones. And most recently I have been studying even more about hormones, the DUTCH test, Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. I am grateful to have some amazing mentors.
A word of caution, I have seen some individuals tied to a network marketing product, without credentials, call themselves a health coach. I don’t personally have an issue with most network marketing products. However, I do have an issue with those calling themselves a coach without study, credentials, and experience. I would be wary of this type of coach, as the focus is primarily the product they represent.
What are the benefits to working with a health coach?
When you work with a health coach, you have the opportunity to work with someone for a much longer period of time. As we established, doctor appointments are far too short, and there isn’t time to cover nutrition, wellness, sleep, stress, and how you are living…. in a 14 ½ minute appointment.
When you work with a health coach, you get to dig deep into your wellness story. For example my most popular coaching package includes eight, fifty minute sessions, where we work together over a period of four months. And see each other every other week.
We talk about your symptoms. Work on your health and life goals. We talk about what’s challenging in life, and what is working well in life. And we agree on mindful, achievable growth-work (like homework, but with a growth mindset attached), that steps you towards each of your wellness goals.
This is how you create real change! Small bits of growth-work that over time add up to a big boon of healing. This is what steps us forward to achieving those big goals.
And a Health Coach is there, by your side, supporting you consistently. Empowering you, helping you reevaluate when things are not working, and celebrating with you when things are going well! You know, the coach on the sidelines with the celebratory “Whoop, Whoop”!
But let’s face it, not everything in life is worthy of that cheer either. There is some REALLY hard stuff that we are navigating. Especially over the last couple years. And Health Coaches are also there to help you navigate through those really challenging times too.
What do we not do as a Health Coach?
It’s pretty simple…
We don’t diagnose anyone.
We don’t prescribe anything.
And we are not therapists.
We do give great referrals though!
My Favorite Things about Health Coaching are…
My favorite thing about health coaching is the ability to dig in deep with my clients, and really explore the root of their symptoms. I have an awesomely expansive toolbox I use to help women get to a place of balance and optimal health.
I also have a framework that I walk into each session with. And that framework helps me create a plan as well as tailor my work specifically to the person that I am working with. So essentially even though I work similarly with each person, the work that I do with each person is totally customized to them and their goals.
I also work intuitively. And everything I do has an overarching theme to nourish the nervous system. The nervous system is paramount to balancing the body. Culturally we have rarely been taught to nourish and give back to our bodies. It’s more often revered when we can go 24/7, and are plugged in 24/7. And yet, with the last couple years of living through a tumultuous pandemic, I think many of us have at least considered whether or not we are giving back to ourselves.
What’s in a Health Coaches Tool Box?
Of course it all depends on the coach, their study, and their specific focus. I find that many of us study a multitude of interrelated subjects that often overlap. So you’ll want to find the person whose overarching theme resonates with you the most.
And find someone emulating the changes you want to make in your life and your body. Find someone inspiring to you!
Here is an example of the educational topics in my tool box:
- Hormones, Imbalances, and Balance
- Fertility & Infertility
- Perimenopause and Menopause
- DUTCH Test Interpretation
- Nutrition and Food
- Nervous System Balancing
- Chronic Stress
- Digestive Health
- Blood Sugar Balancing
- Histamine Intolerance
- Yoga – Restorative, Iyengar, Vinyasa & Hatha modalities
- Yoga Nidra
What shall I ask a potential Health Coach I want to work with?
- You could check out their credentials. It can be confirming, and help you to understand if they have the study and experience you are looking for.But I think…. even more important, is to talk to them about the results their clients are getting. Ask them about their client success stories and look for client reviews.
- Ask them what they are most passionate about in their practice. What really lights them up? This is a great way to get inspired with someone!
- Find out what is in their tool box, and see if you are in alignment with the tools they use. Keep in mind, not everything needs to feel comfortable. Sometimes the best tools are those that push you just outside of your comfort zone. This is where the best growth happens. So keep an open mind as well.
- Be sure to go over the details of the Health Coaches program and agreement so you know exactly what is included, exactly what is offered, and exactly what you are paying for.
- In respect for your time, and your Health Coaches time. Be clear on the Health Coaches cancelation policy, so you know what’s expected if you need to reschedule an appointment. Many practitioners require 24-72 hour notice, so you want to be clear on this ahead of time.
How can I prepare to work with a Health Coach?
- Set aside a little savings to work with your health coach. Working with a Health Coach is not typically covered by insurance. So expect that you’ll need to pay out of pocket.
And… make peace with paying out of pocket.
Health insurance is about sick care. Focusing on, and investing in your wellness is setting an intention for a healthy life for decades ahead. This is so you can avoid the sick care model. We need to normalize that not everything in our wellness plans is covered by insurance.
In some rare cases you might be able to use your Health Savings Account. To do so, you will need to check with your HSA company ahead of time. You will want to ask if Health Coaching is covered, and if you need a referral. Then ask the Health Coach if they can accept an HSA card.
- Set aside time.
Set aside 1-2 hours to fill out the necessary forms your Health Coach needs, one of which will be a Health History. Think of this as an act in self care. Don’t rush through it. Don’t do it at the last minute. But really give yourself a nice quiet and calm chunk of time to take care of you. So, you can commit to giving your coach the most thorough information you can.
- Be open to change.
I know this can be the hard part. Be willing and ready to throw out old comforts and routines for new ones. And know, this can really be mentally challenging. Just keep in mind, this is not about perfection. In my practice, coaching is about making small changes over time that add up to a bigger boon of healing later. The small steps are gentler on us, create success more quickly and help you feel accomplished and empowered.
I suggest asking the Health Coach you are interested in working with, what their philosophy on making changes and homework (or growth-work as I like to call it), and see if it aligns with you.
It’s important to find someone that doesn’t give you so much homework that you feel overwhelmed. And… you want enough growth work to push you, and help you feel empowered. There is definitely a sweet spot here.
- Find comfort in the discomfort.
You will have moments where you are uncomfortable with the changes. Know this ahead of time, and prepare for it. Consider what self sabotaging behaviors might come up… share with your health coach what those self sabotaging behaviors might be, so you can work as a team to create a strategy if that happens.
And… allow yourself to have a sense of humor about those behaviors too! Levity helps.
If my ego self starts to retaliate with change. I consider that inner child part of me, and offer myself grace, self care and kindness when this happens. I essentially parent my inner child to get through those moments.
- Commit to Action
In my own personal work I realized something interesting. There is a place of ambiguous complacency that I can get stuck in. It’s essentially when my anxiety wants to run with something. Like when you are circling the drain. This is not a place where change happens. This is a place where anxiety builds, and we ruminate on the challenge at hand, and don’t make progress.
Set the intention of moving into action when you want to make changes in your life. I like a little blend of the Mel Robbins 5 second rule, and a self love practice inspired by Gabby Bernstein’s teachings in this scenario.
When you notice yourself getting stuck in an anxiety cycle, or circling the drain on something…
1. Acknowledge the thought that you are spiraling on.
2. Forgive the thought by repeating a mantra like.
“I forgive myself for having this thought, and choose loving action instead.”
3. Shift the thought into an action item.
4. Step into action. 5,4,3,2,1.
- Take a step towards your goal, and plan to spend at least 5 minutes in this action. (which usually will grow into more time).
For example, I have been circling the drain recently on daily movement. The weather has been terrible lately. It’s been so cold and damp, which is really not motivating to me. So instead of being stuck in those circling the drain, weather thoughts, and excuses.
I acknowledged my thought, and that it was not putting me in action. It was keeping me stuck. I forgave myself for the thought, and chose loving action instead. And shifted my thoughts into an action item, strength training. Then 5,4,3,2,1 I took action and did my strength training for 30 minutes. And I felt so empowered and happy once I was done with that action. I stepped toward my goal of daily movement, and felt really good doing it!
I hope this article gives you a good understanding of what a Health Coach does, the benefits of working with a Health Coach, and inspires you to take your wellness into your hands with a supportive coach!
If you’d like to work with me as a Hormone Health Coach, sign up for your free “Let’s Meet Session”
And if you were inspired to look into becoming a Health Coach yourself, here is a great resource for you. Look into the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, this is where I received my own Health Coaching Certification.
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