Nutrition and Health Coaches: How Thriving Is like Driving

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by MaryAnn Jones, A-CFHC

What nutrition changes do you want to make? How does what you eat contribute to your ability to thrive? And what does “thriving” mean to you?

These were questions I began to ask myself when I started my wellness journey, and now, they have become powerful questions that I ask new clients who decide they want to change their diet or nutrition choices. They are a natural fit for health coaching. As an ADAPT-Certified Functional Health Coach, I am a change agentI empower clients to create a plan (or a road map) that will help them change their habits, reach their goals, and thrive.

If you have your own set of diet goals, and you are ready to change habits, overcome obstacles, and strive to thrive, then let’s hit the road together!

Being a change agent means understanding what it takes for people to make real, lasting changes to their health and wellness. In the ADAPT Health Coach Training Program, coaches learn how to support and empower their clients as they change their habits and achieve better health. If you’d like to learn more about how you can become a change agent, visit the ADAPT Health Coach Training Program.

How a Health Coach Can Help You with Your Nutrition Goals

You want to improve the way you eat. You have tried to go it alone, but have gone off course, gotten lost, and felt frustrated. You have had some success, but have trouble navigating certain situations and find it difficult to be consistent. Perhaps you have begun to explore Functional Medicine and discovered that working with someone who can provide accountability, support, and a road map might forward your journey. This was the case for Sara.

Health coaches support clients who are trying to make difficult changes, like adopting a new diet. Check out this article to find out how health coaches help their clients develop a road map to success for their nutrition goals. #nutrition #changeagent #kresserinstitute

Sara’s Nutrition Journey: Finding a Way to Thrive with a New Diet

Sara was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome by her Functional Medicine doctor, who recommended that she incorporate a gluten- and dairy-free diet for six weeks before undergoing a follow-up endoscopy. Her doctor recommended that she consult with a Certified Nutritionist or Registered Dietitian.

After gathering information from her doctor and nutritionist, Sara was feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of having to completely change her diet, but had a deep desire to change the course of her health and was determined to put in the effort required. She recognized that she wanted ongoing support and help navigating the new decisions she wanted to make and habits she desired to change. Sara shared her thoughts with her practitioner who offered my contact information.

Sara and I scheduled a call. We began to build a connection and I assured her of my commitment to a trusting relationship. Through powerful questions, I recognized Sara’s strengths and her driving motivation toward optimal outcomes. I learned that Sara lives alone, loves music, and often travels to visit her parents. I heard a shift in her voice when she mentioned her trips to see her family. I shared my observation and she noticed it for herself, as well. We talked about her joyful road trips in detail. What about them made her so happy? How did she plan for them? What strength did she utilize to ensure that they went smoothly? I learned that she got great satisfaction from finding new routes, embraced the unexpected, and felt a sense of freedom out on the road. Sara’s travel success provided a powerful metaphor, enabling a new perspective and opportunity to reframe her challenges.

Map out Your Journey

Whether we want to literally get from point A to point B or reach a wellness goal, having a road map—a plan—will more likely empower our efforts.

We have all experienced that aimless feeling at some point during our life. Sara was feeling a bit lost. We began to map out a plan together. I asked her questions to help her envision the destination she wished to reach—these are long-term goals:

  • What elements of your health do you want to improve?
  • What are the benefits?
  • What is your driving force for making changes?

Then, we talked about her short-term goals, or how she would get to her destination:

  • What options or paths can you choose?
  • How have you achieved success in the past?
  • What are new and creative ways you are excited to try now?

Finally, we broke it down turn by turn using SMART goals:

  • Specific: What part of the journey do you want to focus on this week?
  • Measurable: How will you know you are getting closer to your destination?
  • Achievable: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how confident do you feel about your next steps?
  • Relevant: How do the changes you are making this week relate to your ultimate destination?
  • Timely: What deadline do you want to set for yourself to get you farther down the road?

Don’t Overthink It

For most of us, driving has become second nature. We have an intuitive feel for the wheel, how much pressure to apply to the pedals, and how to make quick decisions to avoid hazards. I asked Sara how it felt when she took her road test. She recognized that she was tentative and nervous, but with practice, she gained confidence and skill.

  • Remember what you know! How have your strengths, experiences, and instincts helped you navigate difficult roadblocks in the past?
  • Quite simply, practice makes better! What consistent action can you take that will drive proficiency and confidence?
  • What habits do you want to change? How can you practice your new habits?

Keep Calm Amid the Traffic Jams

Health coach tough love—Sara, you are going to hit road bumps! Recalculating messages on our GPS are common, and being prepared for a change in the plan is key to staying on track. Sara voiced her fears about how upcoming events outside of her control might sabotage her efforts. When we can anticipate a change of course, and have an alternate route, we can better manage our expectations and prepare accordingly.

  • What obstacles do you foresee?
  • What resources will you need to navigate them successfully?
  • How will you feel when you have faced and overcome your fear?
  • It is just as easy to envision a positive outcome as a negative; how can you shift your thinking to see a positive result?

Find a Co-pilot

Perhaps Thelma & Louise is not the best example, but trips are usually more fun and safer when you have someone along for the ride. Sara shared how traveling with a friend made the trip more enjoyable, how she felt responsible for her passenger and that inspired her to be more thoughtful about her actions and her time.

  • We are as successful as the five people we spend the most time with. How will these people influence your ability to reach your destination?
  • How will you create relationships and an environment that sets you up to win?
  • How do you want to be accountable for your goals?

Fill up with Premium Fuel

If you had one car for your entire life, how dutifully would you care for it? You would probably ensure that it was only fed the best possible fuel for optimal road performance. Well, time for a reality check. We can always trade in our car, but we do not have the same option when it comes to our physical body (mic drop). Sara’s success toward eliminating gluten and dairy has been empowered by her ability to change her thoughts about self-care and connect it to her ability to thrive long-term.

  • What are you ready to change? How ready do you feel?
  • What resources will help you make choices that align with your goals?
  • What is the value of prioritizing these choices?
  • How will knowing you are energizing your body for the road ahead make you feel in your physical body? How will it affect other aspects of your life?

You Are on Your Way to Your Nutrition Goals

Sara is well on her way to achieving her goal of eliminating gluten and dairy from her meals and snacks. She has replaced judgment with curiosity and is being kinder to herself. She is acknowledging her accomplishments and is practicing new habits she initially thought would be beyond her skill set. She sees the value in her efforts and has experienced how small steps create big results. She is doing the hard work not because her doctor told her to but because she has tapped into why it is important to her.

I truly hope that Sara’s journey inspires you to approach your nutrition goals with a new mindset. As you can see, Sara had all the information she could possibly need to begin driving down her new path, but she was stuck in neutral. She was ready to shift gears and just needed someone to help her find her way.

Do you need the support of a health coach to help you achieve your nutrition goals? Visit our directory to find an ADAPT-Certified Functional Health Coach near you.

Whether you’re trying to change your diet, get more sleep, manage your stress, or be more active, a health coach can help you reach your health goals. To find out how, check out the other articles in this series (and check back for more):