Are you curious about working with a health coach, but you’re not sure where to start? If this sounds like you, then this post is for you. Here, I’ve rounded up my top five health coach tips to help you find your perfect match. While the best health coach for you may be different from what is best for someone else, there are general skills and competencies every good health coach needs to hone in order to do their job best.
The health coaching business has been nothing short of booming over recent years. The market accounted for 15.2 billion USD in 2022 and is expected to more than double over the next decade, with primal and paleo coaching making up a substantial portion of those figures. Clearly health coaching works, and for good reason—a health coach can fill the gap between knowing and doing.
We all are aware of what constitutes leading a healthier lifestyle—eating nutritious food, exercising, stressing less, and sleeping better, amongst other things. However, many of us fail to accomplish all of these facets of overall health and wellness on our own. Making behavior and lifestyle changes to improve your health can be overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable. Enter the health coach.
But before we dive in and explore the top health coach tips, let’s first review what a health coach is and how hiring one may be just what you need.
What Is a Health Coach?
A health coach is like having a little best friend and cheerleader in your back pocket. They serve as the missing link between what you know you should do for your health, and actually doing it.
Essentially, a health coach will help you get out of your own way by guiding you through implementing actionable steps and building habits that bring you closer to your health goals. They are the supportive partner you’re not able to be for yourself, coupled with a thorough knowledge of healthy behaviors and how best to make lifestyle changes.
A health coach can help you figure out your underlying intention that will help you make—and stick to—sustainable changes. For example, a weight loss goal of 40 pounds is a reasonable wellness goal, but having a health coach guide you toward a more meaningful “why” is what is going to get you through the hard times when you want to give up. A health coach may ask a series of questions that offer insight surrounding your goal beyond just a number on the scale, such as your wanting more energy to play with your kids or simply wanting to feel good in your skin again.
As the field of health coaching is burgeoning and there is no set educational standard and their scope varies by location, it’s important to grasp an understanding of what a credible health coach should, and should not, do in their scope of practice.
What a health coach can do:
- Educate, inform, and share knowledge
- Guide and support you
- Provide insight
- Make suggestions regarding health and habits
- Assist you with implementing habits
- Encourage you to stay on track with your goals
- Teach behavioral change techniques
- Collaborate with other health professionals
- Refer you to other health and wellness experts
What a health coach cannot do:
- Treat, cure, or diagnose any disease medical condition
- Recommend supplements
- Prescribe a diet
- Offer medical advice
- Evaluate your health issues
- Interpret or analyze lab results
- Order or run tests
- Assess your state of health
Ultimately, the health coach that is best for you will be credentialed from a program that is inline with your values and stays within the universally recognized scope of practice for the profession.
Top 5 Health Coach Tips for Finding Your Best Match
A good health coach should have top-notch coaching skills—no surprise there. But there are a myriad of other health coaching skills and talents that can make a health coach not just good, but exceptional. When it comes to selecting a health coach, these are my top 5 attributes I suggest looking out for:
- Acts as Your Accountability Partner
Much like how a personal trainer or fitness coach holds you accountable to finish that last rep or even show up to the gym in the first place, knowing you have an upcoming meeting with your health coach may help you make better and healthier choices. Your health coach should be someone you trust and feel safe with. You want to feel comfortable sharing with them when you’ve slipped up, when you’ve succeeded, and everything in between. A lot of the health coaching work is done in between the actual meetings. You want a coach who checks in with a quick text or email and makes you feel accountable in a supported way.
- Is Supportive and Non-Judgmental in Their Communication
On a similar note, a health coach should be supportive of you and non-judgmental in how they receive and respond to what you share with them. They should use accepting and affirming language and serve to lift you up with positive reinforcement, and never down with criticism or disapproval. Cheerleaders cheer even when their team misses the goal. Your health coach should be just as supportive and positive.
- Has a Vast and Deep Knowledge of Health
Your health coach should be well-educated on health and wellness and able to work with you on any of your issues or worries. They should hopefully have an arsenal of evidence-based resources to share with you and know how to read a research study and identify its strengths as well as limitations. They only provide reputable and credible sources of information and refrain from opinion-based materials. It is also best if your health coach is unbiased in their sharing of information. In other words, they refrain from black and white thinking and keep an open mind to different viewpoints.
- Meets You Where You Are At
A good health coach will meet you where you are at and walk alongside you as your support system instead of setting unrealistic expectations. They’re capable of recognizing the size, quantity, and timeline for goals that are suitable for you. They also stay at a pace that you are comfortable with and know when to shift directions if needed. Your health coach should take temperature checks from time-to-time to gauge if you are feeling overwhelmed, apathetic, or wanting more action items. Most importantly, a good health coach consistently checks in with you for the duration that you are working together to see how you are feeling about your progress.
- Is a Good Listener
A health coach that is chock full of knowledge, passion, and encouragement is ideal, but that won’t go very far if they are lacking imperative listening skills. They should be empathetic to your needs and validating of your experiences. A good health coach will always be completely present and focused when they meet with you, and be reflective in their listening— offering a summary of what you said to demonstrate their understanding and clarify what you voiced, if need be. You should always feel that you have your health coach’s undivided attention in all of your interactions and communications.
If you start working with a health coach and find they are not a good match or are lacking a necessary skill, it’s perfectly fine to part ways and try again with another. Many health coaches specialize in certain niches or are best suited for one personality type over another. Sometimes trial and error is necessary—it’s just like dating or finding your favorite restaurant.
If you’re struggling with taking action to address your health concerns, a quality health coach may be the missing piece of the puzzle that can give you a boost. Not only will they encourage you to get started and steer you in the right direction, they’ll join you on the ride. All while enabling you to stick to it and providing you with support and knowledge. What more are you waiting for? If you want more tips and are ready to find your perfect match in a health coach, a myPrimalCoach is at the ready to guide you on your health journey.