by Shannon Talbot
Health coaching is a relatively new field in Canada which has many people asking what the heck is it and why is it important? I like to oversimplify what a health coach is with this example. You know those days when you take a shower and then all of a sudden stop and think about what you’re doing in the shower? You ask yourself whether or not you already washed your hair and really aren’t sure if you did, so you do it again? The best showers are the ones you don’t need to think about what or how to wash yourself and instead you can be thinking about other things like what lies ahead in the day, brainstorming ideas, relaxing under the hot water and letting your mind go blank. So how can we shower every day, not think about what we’re doing and still come out clean? Because 95% of our behaviour occurs out of habit. 95%! Our minds are pretty incredible when you think about it.
This can also be to our detriment however, especially when it comes to creating healthy habits. Most of us know what to do to be healthier but because it’s not engrained in our daily behaviour, we tend to default to our unhealthy habits.
Did you know that 98% of people who lose weight gain it all back within 6 months?
(Health Coach Institute, 2020).
That’s because the diet mentality is based on deprivation which leads to quick-fix results, not lasting change. So many of us get told to “eat this, not that” or “do this, not that” but if that approach worked, we would all be walking around a lot healthier. Unhealthy habits are not just about food either, they’re also about our inability to cope with the stresses of day-to-day life and, as we can see below, many Canadian adults 20+ are living unhealthy, stressful lives and these statistics are pre-COVID.
Sources: Public Health Agency of Canada; Statistics Canada, 2019-2020
What are the top 10 common chronic illnesses in Canada?
Mood and/or anxiety disorders (13%)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (10%)
Ischemic Heart Disease (8%)
Source: Public Health Agency of Canada 2020
What are the primary contributors to Chronic Illnesses? Unhealthy eating, physical inactivity and stress
Source: Public Health Agency of Canada 2020
And I’m guessing these health statistics will be worse after COVID due to gyms being closed, people being more sedentary and an increase in binge-type eating due to boredom, stress or depression given our circumstances.
Within the statistics above, adults 34-50 are the least healthy, although those 50+ aren't far behind. And as someone in that 34-50 age group, I can totally relate. Many of us are parents who are trying to balance home and work life, are time starved and deal with daily work stress. We don’t have time to do it all and while some are great at prioritizing their health and fitness, many others, including myself for a long time, tend to prioritize family and/or career thinking they’ll get around to getting healthier at a later date.
But what if we run out of time? Without health, what do we really have?
I am not a doctor, nutritionist or therapist. I am a health coach who works in partnership with medical and wellness professionals to help create healthy habits that stick. People don’t need more information about what to do to be healthier, they need to know “how” to do it and in a way that’s sustainable. My approach is around transforming beliefs and mindsets and providing step-by-step guidelines around healthy ways to approach eating, exercise and lifestyle.
Below is a summary of the approach to health coaching I take in my practice:
Working with health coaches, people can eat, sleep and exercise better plus bring more joy into their lives. Health coaches work with clients to set goals, commit to a plan, create action and be accountable. And the result? The creation of healthy habits that last!
Health coaches are masters of habit change.
I am on a mission to help Canadians live healthier, happier and more present lives and I invite you to spread the word about health coaches and why Canadians need more of them in their lives.
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