What is a Health Coach? 4 Tips for hiring the right coach for YOU!

What is a Health Coach? A Wellness Coach? A Nutritionist? Are they the same?

The terms get used so often, it's hard for consumers of health and wellness to know who they're hiring and what they're getting for they're money. Did you know that almost anyone can use the term "Health Coach", "Life Coach", or "Wellness Coach"? That's the case here, in Toronto, Canada, where I live. Health Coaching is not a protected title, like a Registered Dietician or a Registered Dental Hygienist, which has been my profession for 20+ years. Chris Kresser M.S., L.Ac, a leader in Functional and Integrative Medicine,  has called Health Coaching the “Wild West”, because of this. 

... an emerging consensus in what is referred to as health and wellness coaching; namely, a patient-centered process that is based upon behavior change theory and is delivered by health professionals with diverse backgrounds.
— https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3833550/

Health Coaches can provide education, help with goal setting, food choices, emotional well being and stress management. Your needs, desires, and unique situation is what drives the coaching experience. A coach should not have an agenda or tell you "what to do".

Here are 5 tips if you are interested in hiring a Health Coach (number 5 is at the end):

  1. A Coach meets you where you are at in life, and is a non-judgemental, empathetic and resourceful guide, working on your behalf, like an accountability buddy.

  2. A Health Coach, or any coach for that matter, should be trained in behaviour theories, communication and change strategies to raise your confidence and capability to get past any hurdles you have (the ones you have control over), blocking your best health and self.

  3. A Health Coach, is a professional, who has taken additional training in behaviour change and communication skills. We work with individuals or groups, to help them manage their lifestyle choices as it relates to their health goals.

  4. The Coach should already have an understanding of physiology, disease process, assessment and communication.  You may already see a health coach at your doctor's office, naturopath's physiotherapist's or chiropractors office. Yoga studios often have health coaches too. 

We help you make small steps toward your version of health, be it manage your eating habits, or strategize what to do when hanging around friends who smoke, while you are trying to quit.

We are a resource, an accountability partner, and a behaviour guide. We guide you to research, and are available when you feel stuck.

As a coach, I know that it’s not always about the meal plan, the steps and the calories. I have women say, "I know WHAT to do, I just can't do it!" Working on WHY someone eats, is as important as WHAT they eat. Working on the whole person is why I also became a Holistic Health Coach.

Coaching uses tools like Motivational Interviewing (1), Goal Setting, Readiness Assessment, Self-Efficacy and Client Education to move the meter toward where you want your health to go.

I know, these terms aren't SEXY, but they're super important skills in a coach!

Holistic Coaching builds on the idea that health is based on more than just diet and exercise, although they're important, so is sleep, relationships, positive body image and emotions. Holistic encompasses you as a whole person, your life, spirituality, surroundings, beliefs, and purpose. 

Coaching is about helping you discover your personal power to elevate your own health. We help you uncover all the things that stop you from succeeding and making progress toward your goals.   Yes, you can Google any health information on the internet. A Health Coach can help you navigate that information, and help you decide if it fits your goals and situation.

A Health Coach is NOT someone who diagnoses, treats medical or mental health conditions, but will be skilled enough to know when, and who to refer you to, if you need to expand your care team.

Becoming a Health Coach requires training, and when combined with personal experience, the coach can become a supportive ally and mentor on the road to health and longevity. We can also span the space between your other healthcare providers who just don't have the physical time to review your goals, your lifestyle and get you into action

And actions are what drives change! Change that can mean the difference in feeling like you are floating in the river of vitality, or feeling like your swimming upstream. And number 5 in the list is this:

Hire someone who has a conversation with you first. Talking, hearing someones voice, feeling their energy is so very important in this relationship. You will be having multiple touch points with this person, and booking she time to chat BEFORE the credit card comes out is crucial!

I like to learn and be coached by people who keep learning, as I like (LOVE) to keep learning. I’ll never stop.

I hope you find what you need on your journey to a better self. If you’d like to book a Mindful Call with me, click here!

 Be Well, and Be HAPPY!


1. http://psycnet.apa.org/buy/2006-13308-006