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Your lifestyle prescription – Part 2

Last week we talked about chronic illnesses, their skyrocketing rates, and the idea that lifestyle prescriptions – based on health eating, movement, stress reduction and behavioural change – are becoming integral components of treatment plans.

I introduced the idea, that a health and wellness coach can be a great support and ally to implementing your lifestyle prescription and making behavioural changes that will last.

Today we’ll cover what to look for in a health and wellness coach and what the coaching process looks like.

Health and wellness coaching has been influenced by a number of fields. It combines the best practices, philosophies, and processes from life coaching and the behavioural sciences with expertise and knowledge from the areas of wellness and health promotion.

A heath coach is a guide and an ally who supports you through a process of make a lifestyle change related to your health and wellness. I liken the process to climbing a mountain. You could do it by yourself, but it would be much easier, and you’re more likely to reach the summit, if you had a mountain climbing guide by your side. Someone who has done it before, is familiar with the territory, and has the tools and resources at their fingertips to guide your journey. You still have to do the hard work, some heavy lifting, but chances of success are higher and the coach will be there with you every step of the way.

What to look for in a health and wellness coach:

A good fit. There are so many different types of coaches out there today, you want to find one that fits with your personality. Generally wellness coaches tend to be naturally warm, caring, empathetic, genuine, honest and real.They want to make a difference and really do care about your well being.

A non-expert attitude. A good coach is able to let go of the need to be the expert and to meet you where you are. They let you take the lead, and know that you are the only expert of your life. While the coach provides structure and guidance, the road map, accountabilities, and action plans are co-created together with the client. It’s not about the coaches agenda. It’s about being a guide on the side, a trusted ally and an advocate for your health and well-being.

A solid education. Coaches are a dime a dozen these days and many get their training through weekend workshops. Ask about their training and credentials. Look for 60-80 hours of training and what type of background they have. Does the coach belong to a coaching association or credentialing body such as the International Coach Federation (ICF).

Client experience. You many want to ask how many previous clients the coach has worked with and if you can get a reference from someone she’s coached. A good rule of thumb is 30 previous clients.

What does the health and wellness coaching process look like:

The Beginning: At the start of the process we spend a lot time focusing on helping you explore, assess and take stock of your health and wellness. Once you understand where you are, we work on where you want to be. What is your vision for your health? What are your dreams and desires? How do you truly want to live your life? And then what needs to change to to achieve your vision. From this foundation we can start to build a plan.

The Middle: Through the assessments you’ll have identified some areas of focus you want to work on. Together with your coach, you’ll co-create a plan including goals, action steps accountabilities, sources of support, overcoming obstacles, and methods of tracking. It’s not about the coach advising you on what to eat, how to get moving and strategies for reducing stress, but together determining what the right approach is for you and your lifestyle.

The End: As you move toward truly integrating the new behaviours into your life, the final stages of the coaching process are about measuring your progress and celebrating your successes. The coach supports you through to the very end. The coach reaches the summit of the mountain with you and stands shoulder to shoulder as you reflect back over the adventure to see how far you’ve come. As this phase of your health and wellness journey winds down, you’ve developed new habits, new mindsets, new ways of being that you’ll have for the rest of your life.

*This post was originally published in the Herald Community on October 14, 2014

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