You don’t have to travel this road alone
There is strength in numbers. When you start out on your journey to good health, making changes may seem easy – until you hit that first bump in the road when you face junk food at a party, a stressful work week that forces you to skip your daily exercise routine or even a personal loss that pushes you back to the comforts of old habits, like smoking.
ONE STEP AT A TIME
What will you do when your back is against the wall? If you already have a support system in place, many, if not all, of these hurdles are possible to overcome without taking a toll on your health.
As research has long been telling us, two are better than one. A study published almost a decade ago in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior laid the foundation for this concept — a research team led by Judy Paisley, Ph.D., R.D., of Toronto’s Ryerson University observed that a person’s significant other can play a pivotal role in making changes to their diet.1
When the researchers interviewed 21 people making dietary improvements, often related to a medical issue, and examined the support of their partners, they drew a connection in what they called the “social nature of dietary change.” Almost across the board, significant others were both positive and supportive – even joining in on the new diet, in some cases. Some significant others helped to support the process by changing their cooking and shopping habits as well. In rare instances, significant others were not supportive and continued to eat unhealthy foods in front of their partners.
As Dr. Paisley explained, it was the overt support from a partner that may have proved to be the most beneficial when making lifestyle changes. “For example, indirect indications of support like not complaining about dietary changes may have been less meaningful to changers than direct support offered through positive reinforcement and encouragement,” she said.
This long-standing research sheds light on what it really takes to achieve good health and live a long life. We have seen many examples, except for very rare cases, where a person is much more likely to see success in improving their health and quality of life if they have outside support.
If receiving help from friends and family can increase your chances of living a healthy life, just think how much more valuable the support of a trained professional could be.
LEND A HELPING HAND
Like visiting a therapist for a mental health issue, a good health coach can provide targeted, unbiased advice to help you create positive and healthy change in your life. A good health coaching centre that specialises in health rehabilitation, as opposed to the disease care model you would find in a local hospital, can offer training for healthy living and even provide nutritional guidance for disease management and recovery.
Joanna Maggs, International Administrator of a Good Health Coaching Center in the UK, describes her approach in helping to treat a client with thyroid problems in July 2015: “A focus on specific diet tips, along with the full Thyroid Plan and specific guidance on our Nascent Iodine and Selenium intake doses and monitoring, resulted in improvement over five sessions. Although energy levels took slightly longer to improve, with our support and motivation, the client improved exercise levels and overall enthusiasm for health, and coaching graphs proved massive increases in all areas, including sleep patterns, general malaise, and pain reduction.”
Even for more complicated health issues, Maggs has seen partial to full recovery in a great many clients, simply by implementing diet, nutritional, and exercise changes step-by-step. Of treating a client suffering from bronchiectasis in May 2015, Maggs says, “We concentrated on a partial plan at first, due to budget, but concentrated focus on all other areas – diet, exercises, relaxation, electro-acupressure, and soon progressed to a full plan of our recommended supplements too – once she started to see the benefit in what we were doing. After only seven sessions, she felt she had progressed enough to continue alone, with the knowledge that she could come back to us for further coaching, anytime. Her coaching graphs showed a progressive improvement in lung function, blood pressure, energy level, improved emotion and mood, and general malaise, with a huge drop in overall symptom level.”
Finally, Maggs tells of a unique experience with a client who reached out for good health coaching in August 2015. While the client did not have an official diagnosis for her health problems, countless troubling symptoms were beginning to overtake her life – including difficulty sleeping, digestive issues, and possible toxicity related to the liver and digestive system, to name a few.
At first, the client was reluctant to make any healthy changes, which Maggs says is quite common for people who are embracing a new routine for the first time. But with a little education and organisation from the Good Health Coaching Center, slowly but surely she began to make important changes in supplementation, diet, and lifestyle. As a result, sleep was the first to improve, alleviating the client’s most severe issue once the new, healthy habits were in place. Maggs says that from that point forward, the client’s symptoms began to subside when the full health and diet plan was put into place. By her tenth session, the client was happy to report that a full recovery had been made.
Maggs compares these remarkable results to another client, who, though reluctant at first due to past supplement sensitivities, saw a full recovery after undergoing good health coaching for just 10 sessions. This client, suffering from digestive troubles triggered by too much acidity in the body, said she felt confident that she could now “go it alone” after the foundation had been laid for a new and healthy life. “Our health coaches guided her so that she could take the right supplements, without concern, and provided lots of alternative advice and a more individualised plan due to sensitivity issues. She was very grateful for all the constant support and attention to individual detail,” Maggs says.
Maggs confirms that out of the hundreds of clients seen by her coaching centre, over 70 per cent consider their results successful, as compared with only an average of 20 per cent, prior to the coaching being introduced.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
While good health coaching may often be advertised as a trendy new wellness craze, research has proven time and again that outside behavioural support can provide a wealth of benefits.
In a 2014 study released by the Mayo Clinic, health coaching was deemed to be an important strategy to help improve overall wellbeing. Researchers discovered that individuals who met with trained wellness coaches through a professional organisation were able to identify potential barriers and create new goals to achieve healthy lifestyle success. People who met with a health coach saw an improvement in perceived stress, mood, and quality of life.2
Good health coaching is popularly used to provide motivation to get back in shape, but research suggests that it may be especially beneficial for those who are at risk for disease. Results from a 2015 study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session showed that patients with prediabetes who received health coaching – with guidance to improve nutrition, stress, sleep, and exercise — were able to bring their blood glucose metabolism back to normal. Health coaching, in this case, was able to reduce the risk of diabetes and the subsequent risk of heart disease.3
For large to small health problems alike, health coaching remains effective because it focuses on the simple foundation of good health that is as old as time. Healthy habits make for a long and healthy life. Change starts small, and mistakes are to be expected. Putting one foot in front of the other, with a helping hand to guide you, makes it easier to stay on the path.
Individual health coaching is available to anyone and everyone in the comfort of their own home. To answer any health- related questions – or to provide the encouragement to face another day — you can connect with a trained health coach online, on the telephone, and through print and e-books. Using the nutritional resources provided, taking the recommended supplements, and staying active can strengthen you on your road to recovery.
If you could best describe your life as taking one step forward and two steps back, this might be the reason why. Trying to make healthy changes on your own, without the proper education or support, will most always end in disappointment. But relying on the wisdom of someone who has gone before you can heal and inspire. “Your life does not get better by chance,” Jim Rohn, American author and entrepreneur, famously said. “It gets better by change.”
1. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2008 Mar-Apr;40(2):80-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2007.04.374.
2. Mayo Clinic. “Wellness coaching: Expert explains how it improves overall quality of life.” ScienceDaily.
3. Kashani, Mariam, Arn Eliasson, Renata Engler, Ellen Turner, Nancy Tschiltz, Marilyn Grunewald, Joy Halsey, Todd Villines, and Marina Vernalis. “Prediabetes Reversal Using A Novel Comprehensive Health Model.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 65.10 (2015). Web.