Losing weight, eating “right,” going to the gym, etc. can all be done by many of us “perfectly,” or pretty well- but for a short time. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle when there are curve balls, or big stressors, is the challenge. That’s where learning effective techniques to problem solve, manage your stress, and relate differently, change, or accept your emotions can help. And that’s the work that can be done with an effective health coach.
Why do you need health coach?
90% of people gain back the weight they lose within 12 months of a “successful” weight loss.
Have you ever tried to lose weight? Gain muscle? Improve your fitness level?
Have you succeeded before?
Did the changes last?
Many people successfully lose weight and many people increase the amount of lean muscle they have, and enhance their fitness levels. Fortunately and unfortunately that is the easier part.
The more difficult part is maintaining the weight loss, keeping that muscle and fitness level up for the long-term.
There are a multitude of diets, supplements, strategies, experts, etc. that can help you lose weight, gain muscle, and if you’re also exercising, increase your muscle mass and improve your fitness.
But most of the time these are short-term fixes.
This is where a professional with expertise in the areas of nutrition, exercise, weight loss, and behavior change can help. You might select a health coach, dietitian, exercise physiologist, or personal trainer.
How can a health coach help you?
As a health coach, my goal is to help you reach your goals as efficiently as possible. There are a few times when that might be as fast as possible. I’ve been willing to help clients drop weight quickly for an upcoming surgery since the anesthesiologist thought that would make the surgery safer, or for an important event like a wedding or work performance. But, to be clear my standard approach is to emphasize achieving the goals efficiently, and in an effective way.
Reaching a goal, only to lose the progress months later is a huge waste. You may be back where you started, e.g., the same weight; or even backslide further and weigh more than when you started. And in either case you will have wasted time, money, energy, and likely be experiencing stress.
Effectively reaching your goals with me, means we want the skills and strategies to enable you to maintain your achievements and continue to make progress. I emphasize giving you the tools, so you can do the work on your own, and make them habits, part of an overall lifestyle change, so that your new behaviors and goals will be with you for years to come.
What does a health coach do?
My health coaching will help you to develop and maintain motivation, set realistic goals rooted in your values, which we will clarify, develop self-assessment skills to better understand the role your emotions, stress, situations, relationships, and other factors play in affecting your behaviors and decision making.
I will give you concrete skills, do exercises to improve your habits, review scientifically based techniques, engage in discussions and act as a sounding board to help you reach your goals, solve problems that come in along the way, to improve your satisfaction with your life.
What type of health coaches can you get in NYC?
New York City health coaches are as diverse as NYC’s restaurants. While health coach certification exists, it isn’t required, and health coaches are not professionally licensed by New York State.
That means anyone can call him or herself a health coach. So health coaches can base their approach on any theories, philosophies, or scientifically sound practices they want. Many may have an educational background that might make sense given the needs of health coaching clients.
There are health coaches who are certified health coaches, psychologists, personal trainers, dietitians, yoga instructors, or others who have health care related educational backgrounds. There are also people who have just been interested in the field of health, weight loss, lifestyle change and have educated themselves.
For good or for bad, there are many different kinds of health coaches in New York City to choose from. Regardless of your goals, you want to be sure the person is going to be reliable, professional, and a good personality fit for you. Your specific health coaching goals should match the health coach’s capacities, education, certifications, training, and experience.
I highly recommend learn about his or her certifications, education, training experiences, positions held, and the kinds of health coaching clients he or she has had. There are many health coaches who don’t have advanced degrees in health related fields that are effective. In fact, they may be a better fit for you than someone who has numerous graduate degrees.
The important thing is that you speak directly with them about if they are a certified health coach, what that certification covered in terms of the kinds of issues addressed, and if they aren’t certified what education or experience equips them to effectively coach.
What to look for in a health coach:
As I mentioned, in terms of finding the right health coach for you, you want to be sure there is expertise that matches your health goals.
While your health coaching goals may change or grow during your time in coaching, you will likely layout your goals with the health coach during your first meeting. And that is when you can ask questions to be sure you have an idea of how your health coach is prepared to help you achieve those goals. What certification, training, research, etc. contain the techniques, information, and models that your health coaching work will be based on?
The other factor that is critical to successfully reaching your goals with a health coach is a goodness of fit. What I mean by this is that you genuinely like working with the person.
That doesn’t mean the work will always be pleasant or easy. It does mean that especially when the work is challenging or the information is difficult to understand that you are glad you are working with this health coach. You want to be sure the coach is as patient, warm, funny, intelligent, knowledgeable, etc. as you would like. Overall communication and even things like rate of speech are important.
If you don’t want to talk to this person, if you don’t trust this person knows what he or she is talking about, or is motivated to go and find out what you need when you need it, or communicate it to you in a way you can understand, you won’t get very far- no matter how experienced the coach is.
And I’ll say again, that even things like sense of humor can be really important. This isn’t an improv class, but believe me, in my work, if we can’t laugh (a lot), it is going to make the frustrations harder to work through.
Advantages of Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Health Coaching:
My health coaching is rooted in Cognitive Behavioral Theory and Behavioral Theory. That means aside from setting goals in areas like eating (nutrition), exercise, weight, sleep, strength, fitness, etc., we work to help you better understand the interplay between stressors, thoughts, feelings, relationships, and your behaviors and habits.
I will have you do exercises, learn techniques you can use on your own, introduce you to theories and models to help you make better decisions, engage in healthy behaviors even when you’re stressed or tempted, refrain from self-defeating behaviors, and build long lasting good habits that will become your new lifestyle.
Health coaching and nutrition:
I worked in a weight loss program in an obesity research center for years. We ran weight loss groups and I saw (and still see) many clients individually. It was almost unheard of for these clients to not lose huge amounts of weight very quickly once the dietitian started making nutritional recommendations.
What was also rare though was someone continuing on that trajectory indefinitely without running into the real issues that make maintaining weight loss so difficult.
Knowing what and how much to eat isn’t the biggest hurdle for most people, it is dealing with emotions, relationships, and situations that trigger overeating. That is where the behavioral and cognitive behavioral work comes in and where cognitive behavioral health coaching can help.
Health coaching and wellness:
Health coaching is all about wellness, i.e., not eliminating disease, rather going after optimal health. So many diseases that limit our ability to enjoy our lives are preventable. Plenty are not, but so many are tied to our lifestyle. The choices we make day in and day out related to our eating, exercise, relationships, recreation, relaxation, and sleep have significant impacts on our vitality.
Effective health coaching can help you maintain the healthy habits you have, identify areas for growth, and give you the skills and motivation to develop healthy habits to optimize your satisfaction and vitality.
Health coaching and behavior change:
How many times have you lost weight? For many of us, it is too many times to count. Unfortunately, as one of my college professors exclaimed, he didn’t usually lose weight, he just misplaced it, only to find it a little later. And that is the trend most of us in the field hear from our clients when they come in for the first time. This isn’t the first time they have tried to lose weight, but they want it to be the last time they have to lose weight.
Many of my clients are professionals—and I don’t mean their vocations. I mean most of them are more knowledgeable weight loss professionals than my colleagues with PhD’s. I’m not exaggerating. They can calculate their own basal metabolic rates and know how many calories are in a gram of alcohol. But knowledge is not enough. And unfortunately, typically, “will power” coupled with that knowledge is enough to lose a lot of weight, but it isn’t sufficient to keep the weight off.
Maintaining the weight loss, continuing the vigorous exercise regimen, or staying on the structured nutrition plan for years requires something more than just an understanding of what to do and will power. For my clients it is through a careful assessment of what causes and maintains those behaviors that we are able to develop the skills that lead to long lasting lifestyle changes. We establish behavioral patterns (habits) and come up with plans to deal with mistakes and relapses.
When I work with health coaching clients, I intend for the changes to help them for the long-term. That is where an emphasis and expertise in behavior change is valuable.
Health coaching for diabetes:
Diabetes is a serious medical issue that is treated by medical professionals. If you have diabetes or are at risk it is a very good idea to work closely with your primary care physician and possibly a specialist as well, e.g., endocrinologist, certified diabetes educator (CDE).
There are many lifestyle changes that can be helpful to people at risk for developing diabetes or who already have been diagnosed with it. But it is critical to be under the care of a physician. Hopefully the physician will provide you with a lot of information about the condition and make lifestyle recommendations to complement any medications that could be prescribed.
These are often nutritional and exercise recommendations. This is where a conversation with your medical professional could include health coaching.
You can discuss if your doctor thinks a health coach could help you stick to your new nutrition and exercise plan. If so, you want to get a specific plan from your physician that you can bring to your health coach. Then your health coach can help you build and maintain motivation, manage your stress, and find solutions to barriers to sticking to your plans. Through this process you can make these changes part of your new lifestyle. Your physician and health coach can collaborate to become part of your team to support you as you become more and more self reliant.
How to find a health coach in New York City:
New York City has the advantage of having so many health coaches to choose from. Did I mention that New York City has the disadvantage of having so many health coaches to choose from?
This is where I encourage you to be a researcher. First, ask professionals you know and trust if they know of any health coaches with expertise related to your health coaching goals. That could include your primary care physician, endocrinologist, personal trainer, chiropractor, acupuncturist, dietitian, or psychologist.
You can also ask friends and family members if they have ever had a successful experience with a health coach or know someone who has that you could contact to find out more. If those two groups of people don’t have any names for you to review, or even if they do, you can certainly do a review on the internet and collect a few more names based on what you see in their bios, approach, experience, etc.
Once you have a list of names and you have reviewed their certifications, education, training experiences, approach, etc. it could be time to schedule an initial consultation call or meeting.
During this time I encourage you to ask the questions that will reassure you that this will be a good fit. I recommend that you prepare a written list of questions in advance. It is just too easy to forget or get sidetracked from the questions you want to ask during an initial session. You may end up being absorbed in what you are sharing about your past, excited about your future, or even captivated by what the health coach is saying. All of these experiences may be very good signs this could be a good fit, but they could also distract you from getting your “must have” questions answered. So, hope the initial meeting will be absorbing, exciting, and captivating—and take your list of questions too.
How much does a health coach cost?
Health coaching in New York City can be very expensive. Rates can vary from $50-$400 an hour. Health coaching may be provided in person, but is frequently done by phone or remote video.
Before you call to make an appointment it is a good idea to decide what kind of rate you think you can afford. The last thing I ever want is my clients to become stressed by the financial commitment. You want to be sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew. Remember there is a big range of prices, so you may be better off trying one at a lower rate rather than starting with someone (even, or especially if you find it to be effective) you can’t afford, only to have to discontinue after 8 weeks and start over, or taking a break until you can save enough money to begin again.
Is health coaching covered by insurance?
Health coaching at this point is not covered by any insurance plans of which I’m aware. It is possible that this will change at some point as many medical professionals are beginning to see the benefits to health coaching. As that becomes a more popular perspective, insurers may determine it is financially beneficial to them to pay for health coaching since it may prevent later more expensive reliance on medical care for the treatment of disease and disorders. Health care costs related to lifestyle, e.g., sleep, nutrition, and exercise, make up a large portion of all costs.