Did you know? February is Healthy Lifestyle Awareness month.

I’m wondering how this makes you feel? Do you want to know more or are you ready to stop reading because, let’s be honest, you’ve heard this all before. Or does this just make you feel guilty – “Yes, I know I should stop smoking, slow down, eat more vegetables and go to the gym! But it’s just not that simple!” You’re right – if it were, you would have reached your goals by now.

The truth is, you don’t need to be told WHAT and WHY, you need a HOW.
As a single mom, working two jobs, how do you find the energy to exercise? Or as a busy executive with meetings back to back all day, how do you “manage” the high blood pressure your doctor warned you about? Sound familiar?

Deep down, we all know our unhealthy lifestyles are making us sick, but after trying and failing and failing again where do we turn? As a Functional Medicine practitioner, I see patients with chronic diseases of lifestyle all the time – obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, not forgetting burnout from too much stress. I give my patients a lot of advice and information but everyone has different challenges, and there’s little time to spend on how they can practically apply this in their own lives.

Then I discovered health coaching and as part of my coach training, I received a few coaching sessions. What a gift it was! My health coach helped me to see habits I was totally unaware of. Over the weeks we worked together, I learned firsthand how challenging it is to change deeply entrenched behaviours, and yet with my coach’s support and encouragement, my goals began to feel possible. I could do this! She kept me on track and held me accountable, but was never judgmental. Not once did she impose her own ideas, instead she guided me towards finding my own workable solutions. There was no such thing as failure. When things didn’t work out, she encouraged me to take the next step, however small. She was my biggest ally.

So what exactly is a health coach? Ideally, a health coach will be a health or fitness professional where their health coach training complements their existing qualifications. It is a relatively new field that has arisen out of the latest science on motivation and behavior change. Increasingly, doctors are referring their patients to health coaches to help them overcome chronic conditions resulting from poor lifestyle choices. In fact, anyone who wants to improve their physical and mental health can benefit from the support and professional knowledge of a health coach.

It’s important to realize though, that your health coach is not simply going to provide you with the answers. Instead, they will help you to explore what is getting in your way and together you will brainstorm possible strategies and together create a plan to move forward, step by step. Health coaching works because you, and the people around you, notice the positive changes and this encourages you along the way. In addition, good coaches also build self-efficacy – they empower you to believe you have what it takes to succeed.

If a health coach sounds like someone who could help you reclaim your energy and vitality then don’t hesitate to find one. After all, without your good health, how will you get out there and achieve your dreams.

If you would like to find out more about how Health Coaching can help you achieve your goals – book a free Introductory Session with Dr Lydia Altini on 021 847 8000.