October 18, 2012 | by Kevin M. Norris
The benefits of wellness coaching
fitness, holistic wellness, gay news, Washington Blade

Photo of Donna Dowdell (left), a doctor specializing in holistic nutrition, talking about the value of natural medicines to Cynthia Ricks-Brunson, Human Resource Department specialist, Enlisted Management Division, Directorate of Human Resources, U.S. Army Garrison. (Photo by Kevin Stabinsky via wikimedia commons)

Holistic is a buzz word that’s used a lot these days but the concept extends to the coaching world as well — certified wellness coaches are trained to assess and guide your overall health and well being.

Wellness coaching is a relatively new trend in life coaching that addresses the entire person and focuses on his or her overall life style rather than some of its elements. In particular, there is a more directed focus on eating strategies, fitness, exercise and the integration of healthy habits into daily lives.

The American College of Sports Medicine, the gold standard certifying agency in the fitness industry, stands by wellness coaching and now endorses a coaching certification program. There are several other wellness coaching certifications that are gaining respect as well. Some of the more reputable personal training certifications are integrating the wellness coaching paradigm into their certification programs.

Some physicians started referring their patients as they recognize they deal with physical and emotional manifestations of the impact unbalanced lives have on their patients. Stressors we have to deal with on a daily basis and might lead to all kinds of ailments require changing our attitude, life style, replacing bad habits with good ones, etc. It is very hard to do on our own, just as it’s hard to bring our physical fitness to the desired level without a personal trainer if we want long-lasting results.

Wellness coaching brings together several wellness disciplines together such as nutrition, physical training, yoga, meditation and spirituality. Some wellness coaches might be experts in any of those disciplines or none. What they are certainly experts in is helping clients develop a vision for a healthy life style where those elements are present and are part of the strategy for overall wellness.

It might be one or two, or all of these elements depending on the client’s needs and goals.  Coaches have a comprehensive tool kit and extensive knowledge they acquired through their training that is designed to assess the client’s “current state of affairs,” set up goals, develop vision and a sound strategy to achieve those goals. Just as a physician might refer a patient to a wellness coach, a coach might refer a client to a personal trainer, a nutritionist, a yoga instructor, etc. The difference between doing it on our own and as part of wellness coaching is that the coach will keep us accountable on incorporating these elements in our daily/weekly/monthly activities in the context of our whole life while keeping us focused on our short term and long term realistic goals.

How many of us fail at New Year’s resolutions? How many diets fail in the long term? Just as the Japanese proverb says, “Vision without action remains just a dream; action without a vision is a nightmare,” we tend to stop at either having our vision of our life in a distant future or frantically trying to do this and that just because we saw it in a magazine or on TV having no idea how it applies to each of us individually.

We might be pretty good at vision but then we fail at acting consistently toward making our vision our reality. Or, we grab a trendy diet and rigorously follow it while ignoring daily stress, lack of exercise, dissatisfaction at work place, in the family, giving up on our passion and just being kind and nurturing to ourselves.

In a results-driven culture of high stress, wellness coaching is especially popular among those who woke up to the fact and realize that there is more to life than a hefty bank account, a promotion or a 10-hour work day. The realization is that there is something missing or I am missing out on something. How often is it pondered that a 10-hour work day can be utterly fulfilling if our work is our passion and not an obligation. If we get to change that one element our life can change completely. But those of us who are stuck at doing it need to realize that while we are thinking we are providing our needs, those needs are not met anyway due to lack of time, poor health, low energy level, bad relationships, etc.

I like to think of wellness coaching as a new awareness that can bring both peace and passion into our life while staying fit and healthy. It may seem like a lot of work if you have never worked with a coach, a nutritionist, a personal trainer, a spiritual advisor, yoga instructor, etc.  Nonetheless, we are priceless commodities and wellness coaching can be one of the most effective investments you can make toward your overall health and well being.

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