The architect, the handyman, the analyst, and the weekend warrior; what do these people all have in common? The answer is good intentions. I am going to use these analogies to paint a picture of what a holistic health coach does and explain how they differ from doctors and dieticians. I am also going to explain how valuable it is to have a working relationship with someone who views you as an individual with unique circumstances and lifestyle.
Let’s start with the “handyman” or the family doctor. Doctors and modern medicine play a critical role in the overall health of the world. Many lives have been saved by doctors utilizing medical procedures and medication. Although doctors spend years in school, they are expected to know a vast amount of information. Doctors who specialize in a particular area spend even more time in school. Yet, for as much information as they are taught, their view of each patient is somewhat limited. Little time is spent getting to know their patients on a personal level to know what their life is like outside of the doctor’s office. The doctor may be clueless as to why their patient’s blood pressure is rising. Medication is prescribed without really identifying unhealthy lifestyle habits that are contributing to the rising blood pressure.
If we compare the dietician to an analyst, who is concerned with charts and graphs, we would see that they are also missing the whole person view of their client. A dietician has a better understanding of how food impacts our health, but they are looking at the vitamin and mineral content of food and not its overall impact on the individual. Lifestyle is not taken into consideration. As a licensed profession, it is highly regulated and influenced by other organizations such as the USDA and FDA, the American Heart Association, etc. A dietician, who is consulted by a doctor for extreme tiredness in a patient, may miss that the patient’s energy level is low due to excessive stress at work which is causing adrenal fatigue, and not a lack of vitamins and minerals.
A “weekend warrior” is someone who is looking for answers to their health problems on their own. They are either frustrated with their doctor, are trying to avoid taking medication, or simply believe that there is a quick fix supplement that will solve all their problems. Without understanding how each system in the body works together, misdiagnosis of the real problem often occurs. Treating heartburn and acid reflux with an antacid when the gallbladder is not functioning properly can mask symptoms until the gallbladder is so full of stones that it needs to be removed.
A holistic health coach is compared to an architect because the goal is to design diet and lifestyle habits for individuals that allows them to enjoy the best health possible while living a realistic life. In other words, the whole person is considered for determining the best means for attaining the client’s health goals. Working together as a team, a personalized plan is created for each client that fits into the client’s current time and financial space.
Clients are encouraged to work with their doctor to monitor health progress and to determine if medications need to be reduced or stopped as the client’s health improves. Many times a doctor knows a health coach that they will recommend to patients.
A holistic health coach has many resources available to enhance the client’s journey towards better health and wellbeing including individual programs, tele-seminars, workshops, and group programs; they can also recommend other sources of alternative treatment such as acupuncture and chiropractic care, when appropriate.
What is often not understood is that simple diet and lifestyle changes can free a person from being overweight, being depressed, having a low functioning immune system, feeling lethargic and not sleeping well, poor digestion, unstable blood sugar, and can improve or eliminate many forms of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, poor liver and kidney function, cancer, and more. Many health coaches offer a free health analysis and consultation to determine your health goals and to see if you want to work together.
Certified health coaches are becoming recognized in the healthcare industry and their services are now being covered by some insurance plans and health savings flex plans.
As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine.”