I recently met a doctor to talk about health coaching. His initial response was “this is all just bla bla”. I would like to believe that by the end of our meeting his opinion had changed. His comment, however, was spot on: many people think of coaching as just “bla bla”- and by this I mean “just” talking, pointlessly. Admittedly, this profession is new –at least in Europe- so it’s only normal that people have questions on it, and even question its purpose.
So all you do is talk.
Yes. But it’s not a casual friendly conversation over a cup of coffee. A coaching conversation serves the client 100%. Functional Medicine Certified Health Coaches (FMCHC) provide support, asking you right questions to help you understand what’s keeping you back and to get you moving forward. They know all about behavior change and can guide you step-by-step in making the changes you need to make with a co-created action plan. With this process, you can witness a real transformation.
But everybody knows you need to live a healthier life, so what’s the point of hiring a coach to do that?
Let’s face it. If knowing was so easy, nobody would have type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or any of the other chronic diseases so many people are facing nowadays. If doctor recommendations to change what you eat, deal with your stress, do more exercise etc. were enough, we wouldn’t have people going back to the doctor’s time and time again with no change in their condition whatsoever, because they haven’t managed to make any lifestyle changes.
Many patients come out of the doctor’s office with a prescription as well as lifestyle recommendations. The latter, however, fly out of the window 5 minutes later because they didn’t come together with an action plan. How can someone who’s never eaten a vegetable in their life or done any sports suddenly become a model of healthy eating and a triathlon athlete? This example might be extreme, but it’s really all about the coach acting as the essential bridge between the doctor’s visit and everyday life.
While we’re at it, let’s tackle a couple of myths that keep coming my way:
Myth no 1: You are a doctor, but without the right qualification
Not at all. FMCHCs do not have a doctor’s knowledge. They do not diagnose diseases, nor do they prescribe any medication or supplements. What they do is help you understand the diagnosis you received or the symptoms you are facing; break complicated terms and processes down for you in a more simple way; explain the causes of your health issues; all so that you can understand why and how your lifestyle can make a difference. They also have the time (that doctors don’t have), to listen to you. Doctors and coaches can work wonderfully in collaboration, but in no way does one replace the other.
Myth no 2: You are a psychologist, but without the right qualification
Coaching and psychotherapy are two distinct disciplines. In therapy, a psychologist helps a patient recover from past traumas and explore why past relationships have been destructive. In coaching, your coach helps you clarify goals and identify obstacles and problematic behaviors to achieve a goal. The process of coaching is more action-based and oriented towards the future, not the past. It starts from where you are right now and helps you move from that point on. It serves its own purpose, and it’s different to that of therapy.
Myth no 3: You are a nutritionist, but without the right qualification
FMCHCs are not nutritionists. However, they work with you on developing and adopting healthy eating habits -clean, nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, balanced meals- and can also help you with your relationship with food. While they don’t focus solely on weight loss, losing weight is more often than not one of the many benefits of adopting a healthier lifestyle. Nutrition is also only one of the many lifestyle factors they work on with you, the others being sleep, relaxation, stress management, social network, movement, emotional support etc. Again, coaches and nutritionists can work very well together.
Hopefully this clarifies why the “bla bla” of coaching can actually be transformative, as well how an FMCHC can help you. You can find more questions and answers on my FAQ page. I also have a Resources page with studies on the impact of health coaching.
Have I piqued your curiosity? Send me a message to try it out; I offer an introductory session for free.