The Health Benefits of Movement (and How to Get Out of Your Own Way with the Help of a Health Coach)
What does fitness mean to you? How does the way you move contribute to your overall well-being? What is standing in your way to moving more?
These are questions I ask new clients who decide they want to up-level their physical fitness and unlock the many health benefits of movement. They are a natural fit for health coaching. As an ADAPT-Certified Functional Health Coach, I am a change agent—I empower clients to get out of their own way, change their habits, reach their goals, and thrive.
Health coaches support people who are trying to change their habits and reach their health goals. Working together with a collaborative, Functional healthcare team, coaches offer the support their clients need to implement a new, healthier lifestyle. If you’re interested in making a difference in people’s lives, a career as a health coach could be the right fit for you. Click here to learn how the ADAPT Health Coach Training Program can help you take the next steps toward becoming a health coach.
How a Health Coach Can Help You Achieve Your Exercise Goals and Engage in Healthy Movement
In my experience, people often don’t exercise because they feel they don’t have time or energy, but a coach can break down those excuses to find out what is really getting in the way. Perhaps your doctor has recommended that fitness could improve your blood pressure or lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Even without a practitioner’s advice, we probably already recognize that moving more is important but cannot seem to get started.
This was the case for Kim.
What’s standing in the way of you reaching your exercise goals? Check out this article from health coach MaryAnn Jones to find out how to get out of your own way and achieve success. #healthylifestyle #wellness #changeagent
Kim’s Movement Journey: Getting Out of Her Own Way
Kim wanted to lose weight, and she knew that her inactivity was contributing to her midlife weight gain. She has a family history of cancer and cardiovascular disease that she wanted to avoid. She had tried a few things but kept coming up with reasons to avoid exercise. We decided to address her movement goals by examining what was getting in her way of taking action.
Envisioning the Possibilities
I sent Kim a series of questions to evoke her true, inward motivation for finding the time and energy to move more. Her initial answer was to lose her midlife weight gain and be healthier, but as we dug deeper, we found out so much more. She recognized that in her previous attempts, just knowing she “should” exercise was not enough to pull her through. She would initially feel excited and then fall back to old habits and criticize her lack of willpower. Her answers to questions like the ones below enabled her to find her “why,” her wellness vision:
- How have your strengths contributed to your success story?
- What fuels you?
- When do you feel the strongest?
She realized that she loves learning new things (she is a self-taught professional photographer). She remembered how challenging it was when she started out—how it wasn’t easy to expose herself to new people and situations. However, because she was finding joy and satisfaction in the work, she continued.
Old Thoughts, Step Aside
We discovered that Kim’s ability to enjoy being out of her comfort zone while learning something new is the driving force to motivate changes to her thoughts and actions around exercise.
Overall, she got really clear about what losing the weight and being more physically fit really meant to her. She wanted to feel good in her clothes, and confident that she is doing all she can to build her body’s resilience and avoid her family history of disease. I asked her:
- If there was nothing standing in your way, what would the ideal movement routine look like for you? How would it feel?
- What is holding you back from making changes?
- What would it look and feel like if you do not make the changes?
Reframing the Obstacles
Kim loves group fitness classes and being outdoors in nature. She expressed that ideally, she would love to increase her step count by walking trails and schedule one yoga class each week. Kim shared that she had recently begun to feel more self-conscious about participating in live fitness classes. She felt judged by the instructor and fellow students. She realized that it was keeping her from trying a new nearby yoga studio. So I asked:
- What obstacles and excuses are keeping you from achieving your goals?
- How can they be overcome?
- What support/resources do you need?
- What is your experience around hearing excuses from others?
As Kim answered questions during our sessions, she gave voice to the negative thoughts and excuses she had become accustomed to telling herself. She realized that she called her sons and husband out when they made excuses, so why was she not talking the talk to herself?
Kim was ready to face the mental barriers that were keeping her from joyfully participating in activities she actually loves. She started to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. She began to find the worth in breaking free from the thoughts that were holding her back. She began to bring focus to the benefits of a more active lifestyle. She knew that her current sedentary habits were linked to cardiovascular problems, insulin sensitivity, and certain cancers, while walking more carries many health benefits. (1, 2, 3) Next, we discussed:
- What could happen if you do not achieve your movement goals?
- What are your fears around others judging your performance?
- How can you create excitement and joy to fuel your motivation?
As Kim got more comfortable with the idea of stepping outside her comfort zone, it was literally time to make the leap. She had a fitness tracker, fitness-minded friends, support from her husband, and access to a nearby yoga studio. I asked her:
- How can your fitness tracker help you increase your trail walking trips?
- How can your friends inspire you to actually get out there even when the weather is less than ideal or you feel tired?
- How can your husband help out at home so you can enjoy your moments of movement without the tug of obligations?
- How can you integrate your work with your movement goals?
- What can you do to ensure you stick to your plan and attend scheduled classes?
Unlock the Health Benefits of Movement—One Hurdle at a Time
Once Kim realized that her increased exercise would not just whittle her waistline but build her confidence, she was ready to make a plan and implement consistent and joyful action. She is now continuing to put in the effort because she values herself and what she is capable of achieving when she focuses on her strengths and truly enjoys the process.
I hope that Kim’s journey inspires you to approach your movement goals with a new mindset (and if you’re looking for the help of a health coach, visit our directory to find someone near you). As you can see, Kim had all the resources and skills necessary to ramp up her fitness plan, but could not see how to get out of her own way. She wasn’t ready until she was, and at that point, anything is possible.
Whether you’re trying to improve 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: