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Originally Published: Jan 17, 2020

What is a health coach?

A health coach is a certified fitness professional that helps individuals build positive and lasting lifestyle change. Health coaches focus on building confidence and self-awareness, managing and relieving stress, setting healthy sleep patterns, improving nutrition, and creating healthy habits.

Why should I hire a health coach?

If you are serious about changing your lifestyle habits, a health coach can give you the tools you need to follow through and improve your nutrition, sleep, stress management, and physical activity. We chatted with a few acac health coaches to learn more. 

Here are our top five reasons to hire a health coach:

1. They will help you set realistic goals.

A resolution is not a realistic goal. “Resolutions often address a symptom rather than an underlying problem—focusing on bodyweight versus eating habits, for example,” says Lamees Hanna, health coach and personal trainer at acac West Chester. “They lack the specific parameters that can turn them into reality. This is why so many people have the same resolutions year after year!”

Our health coaches recommend setting SMART goals: goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. They all agree that it’s best to start small and to make one change at a time.

  • “Pick the smallest change that will give you the biggest impact; not the other way around.” – Margaret Moses, health coach and registered dietitian at acac West Chester
  • “List a goal that can be accomplished in just one week: veggies at lunch for five days, meal prep for the week, one more glass of water each day.” – Teresa Harris, acac Charlottesville health coach and personal trainer
  • “Take a look at your end goal and break it down into smaller goals. List those in order of ease to accomplish, then tackle each goal one at a time.” – Margreta Rempert, acac Timonium health coach and personal trainer 

2. They will keep you accountable.

If you set goals that are measurable, it is easy to monitor your progress and stay accountable. Health coaches are invested in your success and will help you determine the best way to stay on track with your goals. Lamees encourages her clients to choose one positive habit to incorporate over the next month. “We define a realistic frequency as well as how the client will be accountable to that habit, like tracking calories burned through exercise with a wearable device.”

3. They will introduce you to healthy ways to relieve stress and anxiety.

Margaret likes to encourage her clients to meditate or practice mindfulness. She recommends The Center for Mindful Eating as a resource for beginners.

Lamees says the trick is to disconnect and change your scenery. “Leave your phone at the house while you walk the dog or take the first five minutes when you get home to meditate and focus on your breath. Our lives are full of distractions and, for many of us, our ‘normal’ is to constantly juggle priorities and tasks. We don’t give ourselves the time to reduce the ‘noise,’ focus on the moment, or even the mental space to re-group and re-ground ourselves. There are many ways to cope but it may take time to find the mechanism that you consider a relief to stress or anxiety.”

4. They will help you see beyond the scale and improve your confidence.

“Everyone is obsessed with the number on the scale, but there is more to it than those pounds!” says Margreta. “Tracking weight isn’t the best use of your time or energy and it will drag your self-image down. Working with a health coach to identify the right numbers to track for you is the best way to improve your self-image over the long-term.”

Teresa challenges her clients to write in a journal. “Log three things about yourself each day that made you feel good. For example: I woke up early today, I drank more water, I wore the blue shirt I love, I rocked the presentation.” 

5. They will help you achieve positive change. 

“Pick one thing you can easily change this week and do it 100%. Celebrate it! Next week, add one more small, easily attainable change while you maintain the first change. Continue this process, letting each positive change snowball into the next, leading you into your end goal of a healthier, sustainable life.” – Margreta

“Focus on the positives, build yourself up, and remember your self-worth. What are you good at? What are you proud you can do that you couldn’t before? What is something you overcame today? What would your friends or family say are your strengths? Everyone has things to improve upon but that doesn’t de-value all that is great about you. Find the small victories in every day so you’re empowered to crush your challenges!” – Lamees

What’s the difference between health coaching and personal training?

A health coach is different from a personal trainer; however, the two go hand-in-hand. Margreta explains the difference between the two programs: “Personal training is physical; you will sweat and feel your muscles working. In health coaching, coaches and clients map out the client’s current successes, potential, and path to future successes.” 

Teresa adds on, saying that “both [programs] will succeed in teaching you how to create healthy habits that are sustainable.”

Ready to get started?

Learn more about Health Coaching at your local club.