The word “health” gets thrown around a lot. It’s used so often it has almost become meaningless. It’s plastered all over products in the grocery store, and it’s used to sell everything from supplements to gym memberships. Health is this nebulous goal we all seem to be trying for but never quite achieving. We often think of health as what we eat, our medical conditions, and how often we go to the gym. However,
I’m going to let you in on a secret.
Health actually goes much deeper than that. Health and wellness definitely encompass diet and exercise, but when it come to overall well-being those are actually secondary to mood, relationships, spirituality, and self-image. In fact, your habits around food, diet, and sleep are often symptoms or reflections of how you feel about yourself and your life. Ever felt like you just couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t resist a less-than healthy treat, or just couldn’t get enough sleep for the life of you? Think about what was going on in your life at that time. My guess is that those behaviors didn’t come out of nowhere, but out of the stress or overwhelming feelings in your life at the time. Maybe you were stressed about an overly-demanding job, a relationship that wasn’t going the way you wanted, or you were worried about a friend or family member who was having a hard time. Maybe you were grieving a loss in your life or battling your own internal demons that tell you you aren’t good enough. Maybe you are feeling that way now. But here’s the thing: that’s ok. It’s normal to experience ups and downs in life. There is nothing wrong with you and you don’t need to be fixed. Nonetheless,
Something is holding you back from the life you want.
Why aren’t you full of energy first thing in the morning? Why do you feel constantly drained by daily life to the point that even mundane tasks can seem monumental? Why is it that, even though you start out with the best of intentions, you just can’t seem to make changes in your habits last? Well, before we get to that, let me first tell you what the problem isn’t.
Lack of information is not the problem.
I don’t need to tell you that we live in the “information age” – where everything we need and want to know is right there at our fingertips, pretty much at all times. Can’t remember the name of the actor in the movie you just saw? Google it. Not sure if you’re free this weekend? Check Facebook events to see what you said yes to (or is that just me?). Not sure why you feel bad? The internet will give you more options of what’s wrong with you and how to fix it than you could possibly know what to do with. Theoretically you have all the information you could need. Just one problem – how do you sort the information? What’s important and what’s just fluff? How can you boil that information down to just what you need, and most importantly, how do you apply it to your own life?
Ideally you’d have someone to simplify things so that you can take in the information without feeling overwhelmed or confused by the often conflicting opinions and advice. But even if you can get that information from an expert, it may not be enough.
Lack of personalized advice is not the problem.
Not all of it, at least. It’s really just the first part of the equation. Don’t get me wrong, personalized advice from a medical expert like a doctor, naturopath, or nutritionist is invaluable – you get all of their knowledge, experience and years of schooling summed up in a neat little package that’s just for you. But as valuable as that can be, it may still leave you feeling confused or lost – now you know what you’re supposed to do, but you have no plan around how to get there and no accountability or support when it gets difficult or confusing to implement and maintain those changes.
Lack of a plan + lack of support = a set up for failure.
You see, doctors are in high demand. They have to see lots of patients every day – sometimes so many that they may only have 15-20 minutes to devote to you. And even if they have a little longer, you most likely only see them once every couple of months. In addition, doctors actually receive little to no training in nutrition. That may seem hard to believe, as we all know instinctively that diet and health are undeniably linked. But a 2004 study found that doctors received, on average, only about 24 hours of nutrition training in total during med school, and a 2010 study showed that the number of training hours may have actually decreased since then. Unfortunately, Western medicine tends to be focused on treating symptoms, not preventing illness or using diet and lifestyle changes to improve health. I believe this is changing and we will see a shift in this in the coming years and decades. But even if your doctor is knowledgeable and progressive in this respect, the amount of time they have for you will not be enough to teach you what changes to make and how to make them fit in your current life. That’s where a health coach comes in.
There is something special about seeing the same person on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for personal attention to what you’re dealing with. Part of that is just getting greater access to their base of knowledge and experience. But there’s also something deeper that comes out of the personal connection between you. One is the fact that you are committing the time, money, and intention to improving yourself is, in and of itself a symbolic and energetic shift for the positive. The other part is the joy of human connection and having someone who is on your side as a cheerleader and helper, but also a witness to your pain, setbacks, and struggles. That is the magic cocktail (don’t tell me you thought cocktails weren’t allowed in health coaching?) to create real, lasting change.
To sum up, here are the four things you need to achieve your health and wellness goals:
1. You need the information.
2. You need it to be personalized just for you.
3. You need a plan around how to use the information, broken down into manageable steps.
4. You need someone to hold you accountable, help you with setbacks, and be a cheerleader.
Health coaching is similar to counseling in that we will explore what is causing your symptoms and what you need to improve them. But health coaching goes a step further, by talking not just about your emotional health, but your physical health, diet and exercise habits, relationships, and sleep. Health coaching is the answer to Western medicine’s disjointed and sometimes backwards take on wellness. Health coaching is not a magic pill, a quick fix, or a cure-all. It can be powerful and effective, but only if you’re willing to commit to making the changes you want to see.
So do something nice for yourself! If you think health coaching may be right for you, feel free to give me a call or an email to schedule your initial session. If not, I urge you to think of other ways you can make yourself and your wellness a priority. I’ll give you some ideas here, but ultimately the change is up to you!
Lorraine Storm, LPC ~ Counselor & Health Coach