What's it Like Working with a Health Coach or a Life Coach?
Over the years, I've had many people ask:
What exactly is a Health Coach and what is a Life Coach? What is the difference (and how is a health coach different from a Nutritionist)?
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of a Life Coach is "an advisor who helps people make decisions, set and reach goals, or deal with problems".
Meanwhile, Wikipedia states that Health Coaching "is the use of evidence-based skillful conversation, clinical interventions and strategies to actively and safely engage client/patients in health behavior change. Health coaches are certified or credentialed to safely guide clients and patients who may have chronic conditions or those at moderate to high risk for chronic conditions".
Like the varying Life Coaching certification programs available, a Health Coach and an IIN Health Coach could be significantly different-- since I've recently seen many coaching schools that boast that you can receive a certification in as little as 2 days! So, I will be speaking in the context of an Institute for Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, since this is what I have experience with, being an IIN grad. According to the NCCRS, the Health Coach Training Program through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition requires 360 hours lecture (40 weeks), plus 400 hours applied lab in order to receive your certification. It's also licensed by the New York State Education Department.
So, I’m sure working with Health Coaches can be quite a different experience, depending on education. An IIN Health Coach has knowledge of the many dietary theories: paleo, vegan, macrobiotics, keto, etc. and approaches within medicine: Chinese, Ayurvedic, etc. IIN’s belief is that while your diet is important, your primary foods: fitness, relationships, home environment, education, finances, career, creativity, joy, social life, home cooking are PRIMARY foods. Because you could be eating everything perfectly, but if these areas are imbalanced, your whole body will feel it. However, if you’re mindful of being invested in these areas, you’ll likely have an easier time keeping a healthy relationship with food, which makes it SECONDARY.
That all being said, I do give a lot of validation to some coaches who are self-taught. Those who learn through both life experience and amazing teachers/ gurus out there can offer very legit support. Many, like me, personally experienced transformation after knowing something wasn’t quite right and all specialists wanted to do was prescribe medication, say it was all in their head because the labs came out fine, and/or their modern therapies didn't help. Within my story, specialists expressed their concern about my daily running routine— as if was a sign that I had some sort of disorder. They then suggested anxiety and depression medication instead. While I mentally probably ran for some of the wrong reasons, the length and frequency of my runs were truly one of the only healthy things about me at the time! I'm sure many have success stories from taking these typical of prescriptions, it wasn't for me personally. I wanted to get to the source of the problem and find out how and why I had these ailments-- which also included digestive upset, food intolerances, and skin issues.
Since this isn't my biography, I'll summarize-- but I dug into everything I could find along the topics of clean eating, your microbiome (big shout out to Donna Gates), minimizing toxins in your beauty and body products, and learning more about HSP and empaths. The more I felt improvement, the further I wanted to go in that direction. People started to take notice, wanted to learn from me, but once outside referrals started coming, they wanted my “qualifications”. That became a big area of insecurity. I very well could have helped people purely with the information I’d accumulated on my own— however, finding IIN was the perfect choice for me. Within the year of school, I was able to gain so much more knowledge from all of the amazing instructors and specialists who taught those courses. (I loved it so much, 7 years later, I decided to enroll in their year-long continued education alumni course!)
Becoming a nutritionist wasn’t the right path for me because I realized a lot of the curriculum was government-regulated and knew how out of touch the food pyramid was and the “calories in, calories out” methods were… I knew because I’d accumulated an autoimmune disorder due to the food pyramid's advisement to eat 6-11 servings of bread or pasta a day and while I stayed “fit” from eating processed Lean Cuisine and 100 Calorie Packs, I by no means was truly healthy. (I am not discrediting Nutritionists— they do amazing work and many of them have a ton of education within what was taught in school and what they’ve independently studied.)
Many IIN coaches choose an emphasis based on their personal experiences or preferences: prenatal and mommy health, autoimmune disorders, etc. Same goes for Life Coaches and their particular areas of focus or emphasis: dating, relationships, finding your purpose or a new career path, etc.
- A Life Coach helps you look at ways to improve your everyday and accomplish goals. They talk about important areas like relationships, career, social life, and they could potentially also discuss your health goals.
- An IIN Health Coach also emphasizes on all of the same areas a Life Coach, but has an intensive understanding of acquiring wellness by way of lifestyle paired with proper nutrition and fitness.
- So, there can be a lot of parallels, but the type and duration of school can play a large role in the depth of coaching you’ll receive.
- In addition, the personal experience or preferences of the Coach will also determine the type of support you'll get. Typically, you’ll be able to gain this insight from the coach's website or by requesting a call.
I have a target niche which is goal-oriented professionals because I really enjoyed mastering keeping a thriving fashion and coaching career while keeping the balance within my diet and lifestyle. That doesn’t mean I haven’t worked with amazing caretakers/ moms and those struggling from being overweight or having an autoimmune disorder. So, be sure to simply ask the coach about their level of comfort with certain topics you might want to focus on. They might also have extensive experience in your area of interest or concern OR know someone else who they can refer you to!
Looking for a Heath Coach or a Life Coach? I'd love to offer you a COMPLIMENTARY 40-minute session. Sign up by clicking this link!
My chosen title is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, although my certification and coaching focuses on SO MUCH MORE THAN "health" coaching. Click this link to see an overview of my program. Looking forward to hopefully hearing from you soon!