Living a healthier, happier life is something we would all like to achieve. We explain more about how working with a health coach can help you to improve your overall health and well-being.
What is health coaching?
Making healthier choices isn’t always as straightforward as you might think. Knowing what choices to make when it comes to what we eat, how we exercise, lifestyle choices, and our overall well-being can be tough. Many of us know the basics of living a healthy lifestyle: following a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and caring for our mental and physical well-being. But understanding how we can implement healthier choices in our lives, making sustainable changes, and ensuring that we take a balanced approach to caring for ourselves as a whole can be overwhelming.
The health and wellness industry, along with our general knowledge and understanding, have both grown exponentially in recent years. While this has made it easier to find information online, it’s also led to a lot of conflicting advice, guidance and ideas. For some people, working with a professional offers a more straightforward, tailored approach to suit their needs and unique situation. Through trying health coaching, you can gain support with nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle changes that can help specific health issues, with general fitness and well-being, and even work towards setting and achieving specific goals to improve your health.
What is a health coach?
Health coaches help people live their lives in a healthier way. Helping both those with chronic medical conditions and those who generally want to improve their health and well-being, a health coach can help support and motivate you towards your goals. Acting as supportive mentors, their aim is to help you feel your best through making lifestyle changes, learning more about nutrition, and discovering new ways to put your well-being first.
Health coaching is a type of lifestyle coaching. This means a health coach can often help support with other issues associated with living a healthier life, such as weight management, career development, managing stress, relationship issues, work/life balance, and more. A health coach can help you with existing goals you may have in mind or can talk with you to discuss what you hope to change or achieve, helping you to set helpful, achievable milestones towards bigger goals.
How is health coaching different from wellness coaching, health counselling or personal training?
Health coaching differs from working with a number of different types of professionals and experts. Where wellness coaching focuses primarily on your sense of mental well-being, health coaching may focus more on physical health and how lifestyle choices affect you overall. There can still be many crossovers between these coaching approaches, with many coaches offering a combination of health and wellness coaching.
Health coaching differs from personal training and counselling, by promoting you as the expert in the partnership. This means that they focus is on improving your quality of life, over addressing an emotional or physical problem. A coach will typically avoid giving advice, prescribing or diagnosing an issue, instead using their expertise to help create an action plan and provide you with the tools needed to achieve your goals.
Health coaching is also available for some conditions and lifestyle changes as part of the NHS. Find out more about NHS health and wellness coaching.
What do health coaches do and what can they help with?
Health coaches can help with a wide variety of issues, lifestyles, and abilities. Common issues people may choose to work with a health coach about can include:
- help manage chronic conditions
- weight loss or weight management
- reduce or manage stress
- improve diet and exercise
- stop smoking/smoking cessation
- make lifestyle adjustments (generally or after a big health scare or event)
- help make career choices to achieve a healthier work/life balance
A coach may use a wide variety of techniques to help you better identify and understand your own motivations and desired outcomes you hope to achieve after making big changes. For example, if you want to lose weight, they may ask you how you think this may make you feel, and how it may affect your life if you managed to do this. For many, this can help to reframe big goals to be less scary and demotivating, allowing them to focus on their own reasons and benefits for making these changes – thereby making them more likely to succeed.
A health coach may use a number of different techniques, including:
- introducing you to stress management techniques
- teaching you about self-help techniques
- sharing more about the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet and drinking enough water
- teaching you about mindfulness and meditation to help you feel more present and grounded in the moment
- supporting you in finding the right kind of exercise for you, that is both enjoyable and can fit around your schedule
- promoting positive sleep hygiene habits and routines
- how to practise self-care and put your well-being first
What don’t health coaches do?
It’s important to remember that a health coach is not a nutritionist, therapist, personal trainer, or medical expert (unless they have specified another qualification on their profile or website). A health coach cannot diagnose you with a medical condition.
Many coaches will encourage you to set your own goals, rather than setting them for you. This is to help you to focus on what you really want to achieve, opening the way for discussions, further education, and self-motivation, rather than offering a prescriptive form of coaching.
A health coach is unlikely to tell you everything you are doing is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. They are there to help you learn healthier habits, pick up new skills, and discover how to manage your own goals, setting you up for long-term success.
What to expect in a session with a health coach
Some coaches provide one-to-one sessions, typically lasting 45-60 minutes. This may be delivered in person, online, or by telephone. Others may offer group coaching sessions with a number of other people. Some people find that this can provide a greater sense of accountability and community, helping to encourage them to stick to their goals.
What qualifications does a health coach need?
In the UK, coaching as a whole is currently an unregulated profession. That means that health coaches don’t technically have to have any qualifications – anyone can call themselves a health coach. However, here on Life Coach Directory, we only approve coaches who have provided us with evidence of membership with a recognised professional body, or who have sent us copies of relevant qualifications and insurance cover.
How can I find the right coach for me?
Finding a coach you feel comfortable working with is a key part of the process. Many health coaches offer an initial discovery call. This allows you to have a quick, informal chat with them to discuss what services they offer, their areas of expertise, and to talk briefly about what you are looking for help with.
Ready to speak with a coach? To find a health coach online, by telephone, or in person near you, use our advanced search.