Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Why a Health Coach is More Effective Than Just a Personal Trainer

Happy almost 2013, everyone! It's that time of year when we all push back from the holiday dinner table and proclaim how the new year is going to rock because of _______________. And more power to you! We all can change, but it takes some work and reality checks to create a new habit. So with that in mind, I thought I'd recycle this earlier post about why I think working with a health coach can be more effective than personal training. Read on…
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I've been certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as a personal trainer since 1997. In 2004, I earned my Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant (LWMC) certification. I never was jazzed about that title. It didn't exactly roll off the tongue, and it left people wondering what exactly is a Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant anyway. Thankfully, ACE changed our title to Health Coaches, which seems a bit more self-explanatory.

I'm super excited about the change! Doctors don't have enough time with their patients to create meaningful lifestyle changes since insurance companies basically demand they move-'em-in and move-'em-out. Some doctors are actually writing out prescriptions, such as "walk for 20 minutes at lunch time on the Spring Water Corridor". Which is great, because that's along the lines of a SMART goal. But a lot of them don't have the time or even the latest exercise science to help beyond saying, "you need to start exercising." Most personal trainers primarily focus on exercise and maybe a little on nutrition. But there's more to a healthier lifestyle than just weight loss. As a Health Coach, I fill a void for people (and their healthcare providers) looking to create healthy lifestyle changes. With my training, I aim to help people conquer psychological obstacles to reaching their goals. People who work with me discover they have to commit to making positive changes, not just today or for a few months, but for the rest of their lives. It sounds intimidating, but that goes away quickly after their new routines become habits.

Accountability and motivation, in any form, can help people make lasting changes. But how successful we are often depends on who's providing the help. A recent study had a group of obese participants meet with either a peer (a fellow group participant), a mentor (a previously successful weight loss participant) or a professional health coach 12 times over a 24-week period. Those working with the health coaches lost the greatest percentage of body weight compared to the other two groups.

Unfortunately, a lot of health coaches are out of financial reach. Their fees are high because they only work 1-on-1. My approach is different. When someone comes to me, we may start with 1-on-1 sessions to focus on her/his particular goals, obstacles and plans. But then, to help with motivation and accountability, I encourage them to attend my small group training sessions so they can work on their goals, but at more affordable rates than the 1-on-1 fees. And the community support really keeps them excited and on task, which makes their goals easier to reach.

As an ACE-certified Health Coach, I'm here to… well, coach you on to achieving better health through carefully thought-out lifestyle changes. Beyond just exercise and food choices, my Health Coach mission is to help you make your health a daily priority. Like any coach, I'm here to help you win. Only this is not just a game. It's your life. 

Yes, this may seem like shameless self-promotion. But if you're reading this, I'm guessing you're considering working with a health coach. If so, let's talk!

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