What is a health coach?
A Health coach is providing its client’s guidance concerning their overall wellbeing whether it is related to their eating habits, increasing or changing their fitness activity or helping them achieve balance in different areas of their life (work, family, romantic relationships). A good coach increases client’s capacity to change certain behavior for the better, increases their potential to face challenges. Through a joint work, a good coach facilitates the change through setting a bigger picture as well as small goals with the client. It is a partnership and supportive process where the client gets guidance in order to achieve their most balanced self.
If we talk about improving one’s eating habits as one of many roles of a health coach, we can say that the first transparent results of a person’s health come from biometric results. Nowadays many companies offer to their employees the possibility to get a biometric screen test. Employers offer this service in order to get the basic information about the “state of health of the employees” but also to show to them that they care for their wellbeing. It is expensive for everyone involved to have unhealthy staff, hence the increasing number of health screening checks offered to employees.
Where the problem starts, is in the understanding of the biometric values. Most doctor don’t have more than couple of minutes to explain the results which results in even bigger confusion for participants. If someone says “you have high cholesterol eat less saturated fat and processed food”, that sounds reasonable but I can bet that the person already knew that. There are many factors that contribute to your biometric results: eating habits, fitness activity, stress level, culture barriers, and lack of knowledge. We will get to that in another post, but for now let’s see what kind of information a person gets from the blood test.
Usually biometric screening results give us the following information:
- Total Cholesterol measures the amount of cholesterol in the blood. Eating too many high-cholesterol foods (primarily animal foods) and not getting enough exercise or fiber in your diet can increase this number.
- LDL Cholesterol is referred to as the bad cholesterol. Too much saturated fat in the diet increases LDL cholesterol levels.
- HDL Cholesterol is referred to as the good cholesterol. Getting more exercise helps to improve HDL – but so can substituting healthier fats like avocado and walnuts for unhealthier fats.
- Glucose measures the amount of glucose in the blood at the time the sample is taken. Taking in too many simple carbohydrates like candies, cookies or sodas and not enough fiber, not getting enough exercise and being overweight can increase glucose levels.
- Triglycerides are the most common storage form of fats. Eating too many calories at a meal, eating too many simple carbohydrates, cigarette smoking, not being physically active, being overweight or obese and drinking can increase this number
- BMI is a measure of weight compared to height. Although debatable whether this measure should be used or not, it gives some information about your health. Combined with other numbers, you get the overall picture
- Waist Circumference is a measure of the waist at the upper hip bone. Too much fat around the abdomen is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, among other things.
- Blood Pressure is actually two measures. Systolic blood pressure is the top number, which measures how hard the blood is pumping. Diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number, which measures the rest in between beats. Eating foods that are high in sodium like bacon or processed meats can increase blood pressure. Eating foods that are naturally low in sodium like vegetables can help to lower blood pressure. Obviously other factors can increase this number such as stress level, genetics but here we talk from nutritious point of view.
Keep in mind this is just basic information about these numbers. There is a lot more going on there ?
So, you have different numbers and you start your 5 minute conversation with the doctor. How much explaining can really be done in a 5 minutes period where the screener is required to go through the results, review the range values, and mention some ways to improve numbers? In most of the cases, you don’t have time to ask a question or make any kind of sustainable action plan.
This is where the health coach gets in the picture!
Certified wellness coaches have the knowledge about numbers, ranges and ways to improve your biometric results. They know how to read the results, explain them and make an action plan with the participant.
How can a health coach help you?
- Health coaches have more time with the employees than they have with their biometric screener
- Health coaches can use a variety of technologies, to get in touch with you. It is a more personal conversation and the participant may open up more about their health issues
- Health coaches can answer questions about health values, ranges, and how to improve these numbers. You have a very personal, tailor made program to improve your results
- Health coach follow your journey and adjusts changes with you when needed
- Health coaches can touch on nutrition as a way to improve all of the most common health values
- Health coaches can focus on the emotional, psychological side of making a change
- Health coaches can guide participants to make their own decision, take responsibility instead of ordering or prescribing them what to do. That’s the definition of coaching right there.
- Health coaches can touch on cultural issues related to food, exercise and stress management.
- Health coaches can assess if a participant needs a higher level of nutrition assistance.
If you have done a blood test and have concerns about your results that are usually underlined by the doctor, ask him for help. If you doctor doesn’t have time to explain your numbers and make a plan with you how to adjust them, consult a health coach and start your health journey the right way. There is no time like the present to take care of your health and invest in your future.