Did You Know: Approximately 50% of premature deaths in the United States could be prevented with behavioral lifestyle changes?
It’s a bold statement, but worth considering if you’ve ever thought about creating any new healthy habits yourself. (source footnoted)
The term “health coach” has been around for a little while now. Some think of a health coach as someone who creates a meal plan or fitness routine. Others see a health coach as someone who holds you accountable and consistently checks in with you to help keep you on track towards your health goals. What if I told you that for Integrative Health Coaching specifically, plans & accountability are only a small sliver of the complete, whole-person process?
Consider the woman who has the plan and knows what to do (and not to do) to get healthy, but just doesn’t have the time, energy or motivation to start? Or the mom who’s stuck in her habits and can’t seem to stick with a new, healthier behavior change longer than a few days, then it’s back to the kiddo’s nuggets & mac n’ cheese? What about the girl who has a plan all mapped out, crushes it the first 2 weeks, but then her work stress causes her eat poorly, lose sleep, skip workouts, get frustrated, act out, then start the process all over again?
That, my friends, is where an Integrative Health Coach comes in.
What is Integrative Health?
The term integrative simply means unifying separate things. Could your frazzled mind be affecting your job – whether as a manager or full-time mom? Yes. Could your poor nutrition be affecting your fitness performance? Yes. Could your uncertainty in your spiritual beliefs be affecting your relationships? Yes. These seemingly unrelated areas of our lives are all connected, and it is up to us as individuals to determine where we have strengths and where we have challenges so we can better harmonize it all.
In an Integrative Health practice, coaches have the expertise in health behavior change and the skills & time required to give clients the opportunity to discover their own direction, motivation and support in reaching their personal health goals.
To sum it all up easily, let’s get into the 7 (and bonus #8!) areas you may not have known about Integrative Health Coaching.
Here are 7 things you may not know about how Integrative Health Coaching changes people’s lives:
1. We work towards a comprehensive vision of health
- It’s not a quick fix. We’re not trying to fix a problem. We’re instead trying to proactively create your optimal vision of health that matches your core values and spans across a variety of categories that all add up to ultimate health. Focus areas to explore during coaching sessions may include:
- Mind-Body Connection
- Relationships & Communication
- Personal & Professional Development
- Personal Environment
2. Integrative Health Practitioners partner with the client
- It’s not a directive. We don’t stand on the sidelines like a football coach and tell you what your best move is. We don’t give you a prescription and say, “follow up in a few weeks.” Rather, we’re in it WITH YOU. We unpack your deepest aspirations and carefully select appropriate actions to get you there. We follow a specific, whole-person approach to encompass your life more completely.
3. We support the client’s personal purpose
- We do not give advice. This isn’t a “have you tried the latest X diet or Y fitness craze?” Nope. We go all in with exactly what the CLIENT wants. We help you the client open up about what you truly want & value in life and what obstacles we can remove from getting you there.
4. We enable lifestyle changes
- Change is hard, especially when dealing with unhealthy habits that have been deeply woven into our brains for decades. Understanding this, Integrative Health Coaches help you establish specific goals that are connected to your health vision. We discuss your priority of your goal and how confident you are in taking steps towards it.
- And it’s not all about the numbers. Here’s proof:
- A study was conducted at Duke University where people at high risk for heart disease joined a health education & coaching program to determine if changing their behavior could positively impact their health (source footnoted).
- Over the 10 months of the study, the participants made many health behavior changes, and those who partnered with an Integrative Health Coach lowered their risk of heart disease, increased exercise and lost weight more and faster than those who had regular (non-coaching) care.
- Here’s the kicker – the participants didn’t talk about how their numbers changed; they went on and on about how their LIVES changed! One man’s blood pressure and cholesterol improved, but he was more excited about his newfound energy to take his wife dancing! One woman lost 70 pounds, but she was more excited that she could tie her own shoes again and play with her grandkids on the floor!
5. We facilitate realistic action steps
- Change can only happen if it’s sustainable. Integrative Health Practitioners guide their clients in starting out with 1 to 2 feasible action steps per week so you’re not overwhelmed or feel like a failure straight out of the gates. You will LEARN about yourself in this process. There is no failing.
6. We hold clients accountable
- Meeting once a week or every other week gives you the client time to try out the actions we set forth, and then check in on how it went and what barriers you came across. We discuss lessons uncovered no matter the outcome.
7. We provide resources
- Many Integrative Health Coaches have expertise in numerous areas, such as Nutrition, Fitness, or Mindfulness. We can either offer our expertise on the matter, or provide you with valuable resources, such as websites, books, courses or even other wellness practitioners such as acupuncturists or physical therapist.
BONUS #8: What’s the difference between a health coach & a medical practitioner?
An Integrative Health Coach empowers her clients to make lasting health behavior changes that become cornerstones of their lifelong well-being. With this evidence-based approach, clients are guided through their personal vision of optimal health, and into creating plans with goals and steps to achieve that very vision.
Oftentimes, doctors may advise patients on healthy lifestyle changes to manage their conditions, but even with the best of intentions and recommended plans, some people may still have difficulty sticking to their newly prescribed habits. With Integrative Health Coaching, practitioners work to bridge the gap between medical recommendations, client understanding, and engagement in making personal health behavior changes.
Are you ready to explore your healthiest potential? Contact me for free consultation!
During this free 30 minute session, we’ll discuss what areas on the wheel of health you may want to focus on. We’ll talk through the coaching process and your role as a client, and determine whether an integrative health approach is the best method for you to reach your goals. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to being your partner in crime on your journey to YOUR version of the healthiest you.
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- (https://www.dukeintegrativemedicine.org/research/) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2000). Healthy people 2010 (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
- (https://www.dukeintegrativemedicine.org/research/) Edelman, D. Oddone, E.Z., Liebowitz, R.S., Yancy, W.S., Olsen, M.K., Jeffreys, A.S., … Gaudet, T.W. (2006). A multidimensional integrative medicine intervention to improve cardiovascular risk. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 21, 728-734.
- Duke Integrative Medicine, Integrative Health Coach Professional Training Foundation Course