Why excess weight matters
Excess weight, particularly in the case of obesity and morbid obesity, can be a highly complex health problem to solve.
According to the CDC, people who are obese are at risk for numerous negative health outcomes including poor mental health; reduced quality of life; increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke; and even some types of cancer.
Especially relevant right now are findings that severely obese people are at an increased risk for severe (COVID-19) disease. (The Obesity Society has a large collection of helpful resources here).
Obesity results from a combination of factors.
Our behavior is one component over which we have control, even though sometimes we may feel powerless over choices we make. A well-trained coach can help you dig deep and regain your confidence and your power to make better choices for your health.
Losing weight does require effort and dedication!! However, it is well worth the benefits that await.
What does a health coach do?
Health coaches assist clients in developing a health & wellness vision that will aid in long-term behavioral changes. Health and Wellness Coaches aid in weeding through confusion, and provide encouragement for clients to stay focused on important objectives.
Tracking and accountability are key in this process and a skilled coach knows how to guide you in your evolving wellness goals.
Coaching is not about a formula or checklist. It is about helping the client understand they are unique and equipped for sustainable change. The coach merely helps the client fill their toolbox to help them succeed.
5 ways a coach helps you lose the weight for good
#1: A coach is your accountability partner
How do you hold yourself accountable with a very difficult, personal undertaking? To achieve your goals you have to be accountable to them. A coach helps keep you accountable in a positive way, helping you reset when you fall short, while you continue working toward your goals.
In a 2018 study, researchers followed participants in a 6-month weight loss intervention program to determine the association between methods of coach-participant interaction and weight loss.
Researchers found that coaching increases participant engagement, and participants who attended expert coaching sessions were associated with clinically significant weight loss.
#2: A coach guides you through the stages of change
We are all changing, evolving, and advancing forward; otherwise, we run the risk of becoming stagnant, even de-evolving.
In the 80’s some well-known addiction researchers identified very distinct stages that people progress through during the change process. This process (the Trans-theoretical Model or Stages of Change) can be applied to any behavior change, and is particularly useful in the health change process.
What are the different stages?
There are six different stages people progress through as they make health-related lifestyle changes. One may actually start their journey with a coach at any point before the end, but usually clients come to coaching while in contemplation or preparation.
A skilled coach helps their clients identify which stage of change they are in and ascertain the road ahead to success. Identifying which stage a client falls into is important, as this helps clarify their readiness to change. If someone is not ready and committed to change, they may go through the motions but will not likely achieve sustainable success.
Once the stage is determined, the coach and client can collaboratively draw on the client’s inner resources and strengths to thrive physically, emotionally, and socially, while adopting new behaviors.
Stages of Change
PRE-CONTEMPLATION: not considering change
CONTEMPLATION: thinking about possibly making changes
PREPARATION: planning to take action soon, starting to make small changes
ACTION: actively making new changes
MAINTENANCE: maintaining a behavior change
TERMINATION: problem has been solved, no longer in the change process
Working collaboratively with a coach produces a synergy in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
The coach gently nudges the client to:
Typically, a coach will use a variety of assessments to help evaluate where you are opposed to where you want to be. Together, you'll explore unique strengths and past successes, drawing on both to cultivate the confidence you need to establish new sustainable health changes.
#3: Reflection: coaches act as a mirror, helping you see more clearly
Change often greets us with excitement and anticipation of the benefits that result. Change also imposes fear, resistance, and even a veneer of inner rebellion that can destabilize the most stoic motivation.
Fear is very powerful, subjecting us to fall back into automatic patterns and behaviors.
Creating new habits takes time and patience.
This metamorphosis, while beautiful, is ushered in a bit easier when you partner with a skilled coach. In the process of behavior change there may be momentary setbacks or feelings of intense challenges that seem overwhelming.
Your coach will be there to gently and gracefully assist you in transforming your perspective through reflection.
Reflection can be useful in creating mindfulness and awareness, bolstering individuals in reaching their potential. Miller & Rollnick define reflection simply as statements of understanding.
During a coaching session, a skilled coach offers reflections in an effort to confirm what the client has shared. They are used to help move the client forward. This can be hugely powerful in helping one become aware of discrepancies between their thoughts and behaviors. Identifying discrepancies is often a major catalyst in moving forward into powerful behavior change.
#4: A coach provides unconditional support
Staying committed to a behavioral change can be challenging. Coaches help by supporting you to stay on track. They encourage you to keep moving forward toward your health goals and toward healthier choices.
Garnering support increases the ability to shift onto a healthier trajectory, bolstering your confidence and sense of self along the way.
According to an integrative review in Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity, “Coaching is an efficient, cost-effective method for combining formal education and treatment of health in the weight loss process.”
#5: A coach helps identify blind spots
Blind spots. We all have them. We only see them from hindsight -- the clues that have been hidden in plain sight in our daily lives. We often notice them in the periphery and we ignore them. But don’t blame yourself, blind spots have derailed even the most astute leader, getting in their way of maximizing their professional impact. Self-awareness is one example of a leadership blind spot. As executives ascend the corporate ladder, isolation can occur leaving them vulnerable to this blind spot.
To paint a clearer picture here, think about everything that brews in a family before it’s torn apart by divorce or other dysfunction. Or noticing you’re eating fast food every day because you’re too busy to make your own food, then suddenly you’ve packed on an extra 15 pounds in just a couple weeks!
The clues are always there! We usually don’t take notice until we hit a breaking point and decide we need change.
Blind spots are no different to the individual trying to construct a healthier lifestyle! In order to address a blind spot, you must first be aware of it.
Candid non-judgmental feedback in the form of reflections is an important step in identifying a blind spot. This can be as simple as the coach stating what was just said.
Client: “Yesterday was really rough getting up to get to the gym.”
Coach: “It sounds like there were some challenges you faced as you got up for the gym.”
Additional items to consider when hiring a coach
Most importantly, keep in mind that not all coaches are created equal.
What credentials does a potential coach hold?
When searching for a health coach you will want to consider their credentials as well as the coach’s experience.
Are they certified by the certifying body that manages their realm of coaching?
Do they have the experience you are looking for?
National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coaches (NBC-HWC) have additional rigorous testing administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners. Currently there are just over 3,000 NBC-HWC credentialed coaches. When you see those letters behind a coach’s name, you can be confident you are working with someone that has put in the extra time and effort to achieve a higher level of professional health & wellness coaching.
What is their philosophy?
Finding a coach that aligns with your own values and belief systems may be an important aspect in making you feel supported on your way to great health success. There are endless approaches when it comes to coaching — a coach’s story often shapes who they are and how they connect best with others.
It may be helpful to evaluate a coach’s standard of care in an effort to determine if they are a good fit for you. What is their purpose, their style and their values? Ask yourself if they demonstrate a practice of mutual respect.
In order to assist one in improving their health, the coach’s philosophy must reflect that everyone’s health is unique and important. Health coaching should be tailored and personalized just for you.
Do you know your own philosophy? Your character strengths, your personal values?
Your philosophy drives the choices you make and the actions you take. A misalignment in a coaching relationship can make you miserable at worst or only slightly successful at best, so take time to evaluate this.
Accessibility and fit.
Once you have assessed fit, ask yourself if the coach is accessible at the times that work for you.
Do they offer a consultation to see if the relationship is a good fit on both sides?
Are their coaching hours amenable to your work schedule and frequency you envision?
For a partner in your weight loss or health and wellness goals, book a session with one of our National Board Certified Coaches.
To learn more about Teresa or book a coaching session with her, visit Lean On Me Coaching .
The information in this article is intended for educational use only; it is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider regarding your personal medical conditions and before undertaking any diet, supplement or fitness programs.