We all have things we know we should do to: Work out more often. Drink more water. Be more assertive. But knowing them and actually doing them are two completely different things. That’s where working with a health coach comes in handy. What is a health coach, exactly? A health coach helps you set goals for a happier, healthier life. Then—and this is the important part—they hold you accountable for keeping them.
It’s important to note that a health coach is not the same as a registered dietician, a nutritionist, or a life coach. A registered dietitian is a regulated health care professional who is licensed to assess, diagnose, and treat nutritional problems. They help promote healthy eating habits to prevent and treat illness. A nutritionist is a broader term for someone who helps guide clients on what to eat to lead a healthier lifestyle; they are not regulated like registered dietitians are. Finally, a life coach helps clients set personal and professional goals to put them on the path toward achieving the life they really want. They help clients create a life made up of “wants” instead of “shoulds.”
So, in a sense, a health coach is like a hybrid of a nutritionist and a life coach. They offer the best of both worlds and can seriously help you realize your goals.
We spoke with Morgana Mauney, an integrative nutrition health coach and owner of BodyLOVE by Morgana, about the positive benefits of working with a health coach. If you’re feeling stuck, a health coach could be just the person to help you set and maintain your goals. Read on to see if it’s right for you.
HelloGiggles: What is a health coach?
Morgana Mauney: A health coach works with clients to create goals that will help you live a happier and healthier life. We help break down the larger goal into smaller, more sustainable steps that can be accomplished without so much anxiety. Health coaches are accountability buddies when life happens and things get in the way of the bigger picture.
HG: What are the signs that someone should work with a health coach?
MM: For the most part, people know what they need to do in order to live a healthy lifestyle. They know they need to eat whole foods, exercise, and manage their stress. It’s the implementation of these elements that tend to cause internal chaos for people. Sometimes, when thoughts of self-doubt creep in, it’s easier to stay in a funk than do something about it. If this sounds familiar, maybe it’s time to reach for a lifeline. As a health coach, I’m there to put into words what’s blocking my client from moving forward, to sit on the side as a cheerleader as they accomplish and expand a goal, and to hold their hand while they dive into the unknown.
HG: What kinds of services do health coaches offer?
MM: Health coaches meet with their clients twice a month for three to six months and help them create goals specific to their overall wellbeing. They help clients navigate and implement tools that reduce stress, anxiety, and anything else that comes their way and interrupts their flow of life. My personal health coaching style is to help clients create sustainable goals, both personal and professional, which I use as a guide to facilitate productive sessions. I help clients dive a little deeper into where they’re lacking support in their relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality. Together, we create plans to make their daily lives less stressful and less anxiety-filled.
With my background as a professional dancer and fitness instructor, I can create tailored workout plans for clients depending on where they want to see changes. I also offer a “grocery stroll” where we go to their favorite grocery store and decode labels and ingredients lists together. Not only is this a great bonding opportunity between me and my clients, but it provides them with the knowledge to make healthier purchasing decisions. Finally, in between sessions, I make sure that clients never feel alone on their journey to a healthier life. I reach out and let them know I’m available for any time life seems unmanageable.
HG: What is a typical session with a health coach like?
MM: Each session is based around my clients’ goals. I start by checking in, seeing what’s new and good. Once they settle in, we peel back the layers. Because I’m not a registered dietitian, I do not tell my clients what to eat, nor do I diagnose any medical issues. Rather, I guide them to choose whole foods instead of preservative-filled processed foods and read ingredient lists before purchasing packaged food. I also encourage them to tune in to what their bodies need at that moment. I’m an advocate for intuitive eating and checking in with the emotional element that goes along with what type of foods they’re reaching for.
HG: Will a health coach ever give me homework?
MM: I love this question! I wouldn’t say that health coaches give homework. But for me, if I’m reading an interesting article or book that pertains to topics we’ve been discussing, I’ll pass them along. And I send home session notes about things to implement into their daily lives. For example, if I’m working with a client who has a hard time cooking at home because they “can’t cook,” or if the thought of boiling water throws them into panic mode, I encourage them to do a little research on different food services that will help them lean into this fear and help calm it. Or, because of my fitness background, I help them plan out their week of workouts, depending on their goals.
HG: What if I’m nervous to talk to a health coach?
MM: Being nervous to talk to a health coach is a beautiful sign of being human. Diving into your own vulnerability is a little daunting to think about, but reaching out a hand to someone like a health coach is a sign of strength and taking the powerful initiative to enhance how awesome you really are. When I first start working with clients, I can see their protective wall staring back at me. It isn’t until I start asking simple questions that the wall slowly starts to come down. But I’ll never push topics until my client trusts me enough to share. Breakthrough moments with clients are sacred, and I always try to acknowledge the growth I see in them as we go on this journey together.
HG: Why is now, 2019, a good time to work with a health coach?
MM: There has been a beautiful shift in our world when it comes to acknowledging the importance of creating a life full of elements that spark joy—thank you, Marie Kondo. In a world full of daily Sunday scaries, approaching life with a health coach can help make these dark days a little brighter. Sometimes, you just have to set your ego aside and pull over and ask for directions.