By Jessica Matthews, MS, E-RYT, Exercise Physiologist, American Council on Exercise (ACE)
With the New Year fast approaching, many of us are beginning to think about the resolutions we’ll make to improve our health and fitness come Jan. 1. But according to research, nearly 80 percent of people who make those resolutions will fail to see them through. Avoid becoming a statistic in 2018 by taking the steps today to truly start leading your most fit life. Your success begins with making an investment in your own health and well-being, which for many people involves working with a health coach. Here are seven ways that a health coach will help you to make lasting lifestyle changes, from weight management to overall wellness.
Focus on your whole being
From exercise programming and nutritional guidance to support and motivation, health coaches take a holistic approach to working one-on-one and understand the science behind true behavior modification. With a focus on enhancing, preserving and maintaining health, and preventing illness, health coaches understand the emotional, physical, behavioral, nutritional and lifestyle factors that are needed to enhance overall health and well-being.
Establish a connection
One of the most important things a health coach does is work to establish a bond built on genuineness, respect and trust with every client. To allow for a successful and effective coach-client relationship, health coaches establish an understanding of the psychological, behavioral and emotional needs and characteristics of you as an individual. That understanding begins by identifying your unique fitness personality through open communication and active listening.
Set SMART Goals
With an understanding your fitness personality and your personal interests, past successes and failures, your attitudes and beliefs about health and fitness, and your readiness to change, a health coach will work with you to establish SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) goals. Through this effective approach, which helps you establish both short- and long-term goals that are continually revisited, a health coach will help you to take vague ideas and aspirations and transform them into reality.
Retrain the way you think
Health coaches helps clients establish positive self-talk (the things we tell ourselves) by identifying negative, irrational and erroneous beliefs. By becoming aware of situations where negative self-talk occurs, including times when you may say to yourself, “I hate doing this exercise,” health coaches help you shift to a more accurate and positive way of thinking. By listening and applying their expertise, they help you transform your self-talk to thoughts like, “This exercise is challenging, but I know I can do it!”
From lack of time to financial constraints, inclement weather, injury or medical issues, there are a number of environmental and lifestyle factors that often serve as external barriers to people trying to lose weight or improve their overall health. Coupled with internal barriers such as low self-esteem and intimidation about exercising in front of others, a health coach will work with you to diffuse anxieties and identify misconceptions that may be standing in the way of you reaching your goals. Although obstacles are inevitable, with the right systems in place a health coach will arm you with the skills you need to cope with current and future barriers and provide you with strategies to help you get back on track following temporary slip ups.
While this may seem counter-intuitive, the ultimate goal of a health coach is to help you to become self-reliant to increase your motivation to adopt healthy habits. From helping you create or maintain an environment that fosters success to finding and implementing a support system, a health coach is committed to arming you with the tools you need to succeed in reaching your goals.
Make it a lifestyle
Health coaches enable individuals to see the value in reaching their health-related goals and building a true connection between exercise and activities of daily living. A health coach will empower you to take ownership of your experience and create positive, lasting lifestyle changes that enhance what you do in the gym and in everyday life.
Don’t wait until the New Year to become a healthier, happier, fitter you. Take the next step on your health and fitness journey and let an ACE Health Coach provide you with the guidance, expertise, support and motivation you need to lead your most fit life!
Jessica Matthews, MS is an exercise physiologist for American Council on Exercise (ACE), the nation’s trusted authority on fitness. Matthews, who is also an ACE-certified Personal Trainer, ACE-certified Group Fitness Instructor and an experienced registered yoga instructor, specializes in a number of areas, including basic wellness, women’s fitness and mind-body exercise.
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