An Integrative Health Coach Might Be Your Answer
– By Deborah Lee, PhD, RN Better Choices Health Coaching, Naples –
Making that New Year’s resolution to change for the better is something 45% of Americans engage in each year as the calendar turns to January.1 Often times, February rolls around and people find that making the change is more difficult than anticipated. Only eight percent of people are successful in achieving their resolution.1 Why? Making a lifestyle change is not easy and it takes time and requires a planned approach in order to increase the likelihood of success. The good news is that fifty percent of what contributes to illness is related to health behaviors and lifestyle.2 That means we have the ability to significantly influence and improve our overall health and well-being by making behavior and lifestyle changes.
The beautiful spring weather in southwest Florida makes it easy for many of us to be active and engage in healthy habits. But what about when work, family demands or other barriers get in the way? Perhaps getting into a regular routine, meeting obligations or other factors in your life are deterrents to the healthy start you’ve made in 2012.
Wouldn’t it be nice to continue with the progress you’ve made regardless of the barriers? Having short- and long-term goals, and an actionable plan that takes into account barriers and strategies to implement when barriers arise, are key to making sustainable change. Making a lifestyle change that is sustainable is possible. Studies conducted by Duke University Integrative Medicine have found that partnering with an Integrative Health Coach increases the likelihood of being successful in making those elusive lifestyle changes.3,4
Engaging a Partner to Reach Your Goals
Integrative Health Coaches are experts in helping people make lifestyle changes in any dimension of health and well-being. They use a holistic approach to assist you in looking at all facets of your life and developing your vision for what it is you want for your life and why. The role of the Integrative Health Coach was developed to fill a gap in our health care system. Physicians and other primary care providers let us know what changes we should make to prevent illness or manage a chronic condition, such as diabetes. However, within the constraints of an office visit, primary care providers do not have the time to find out what it is that would be most beneficial to someone to make the changes that would improve their health and well-being or to develop a plan to do so. They can tell you what to do (lose 10 pounds), but not how to do it within the realities of your life, your goals, your values and how to overcome obstacles that might get in the way. This takes time and planning.
We often beat ourselves up when we can’t do something that on the outside seems so easy. You may think, “I know I need to get more activity in my day, so why can’t I just do it?” The reality is, it isn’t easy to do these things. There are internal and external factors that get in the way. It is understanding how to work with these factors that assists us in moving forward.
Integrative Health Coaching is about forward progress; looking at where you are now, where you want to go and how to keep you moving in the direction to get there. It is about failing forward; what have you learned when making changes in the past that may not have worked well for you? How can you apply that learning so you are moving forward rather than falling into the same trap? It is about spending more time in positive self-talk rather than self-criticism because negative self-talk does not help us move forward – it holds us back. If your inner talk is more often positive, there is less space and time for the negative self-talk to take hold.
For more information on how Integrative Health Coaching can help you sustain your healthy new behaviors, help you get started on the path to making positive changes, or help you move forward if you’ve made some changes but are feeling stuck, visit www.BetterChoicesHealthCoaching.com.
1. Happywink.org, New Year Resolutions, http://www.happywink.org/
2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2010. 2nd ed. With Understanding and Improving Health and Objectives for Improving Health. 2 vols. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. November 2000.
3. Wolever, R Q., Dreusicke, M.H., Fikkan, J.L., Hawkins, T.V., Yeung, S.Y., Wakefield, J., Duda, L., Flowers, P., Cook, C., & Skinner, E. (2010). Integrative health coaching for patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized clinical trial. Diabetes Educator, 36(4), doi . 10.1177/0145721710371523.
4. Edelman, D., Oddone, E., Liebowitz, R., Yancy, W., Olsen, M., Jeffreys, A., Moon, S., Harris, A., Smith, L., Quillian-Wolever., R., & Gaudet, T.W. (2006). A Multidimensional Integrative Medicine Intervention to Improve Cardiovascular Risk. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 21(7), 728-734, doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00495.x.