Benefits of a Personal Health Coach

Being well is not about the absence of disease, it’s about being in a state of wellness and includes the physical, emotional and spiritual sides of oneself. It is never too late to be well. Little Company of Mary offers personal health coaches to help you realize your health and wellness goals. But what exactly does a personal health coach do? We sat down with Eileen McNichols, Manager of Health Promotion Services and personal health coach to find out more.

Who should schedule an appointment?
Anyone who wants to make a change in their behavior or their lifestyle, to improve their health. For example, a lot of people go to the doctor and are told to lose 50 pounds, quit smoking, improve their cholesterol—and to these people it seems like an insurmountable task. With a personal health coach, we realize that you are the expert on yourself, so you will be selecting what improvements you’d like to make. A personal health coach is there to help give your plan shape and assist you in identifying and setting realistic goals. The plan is driven by you. We’ll help to keep you focused on your goals and the activities you decide are best for you to reach the goals you have set.

What happens on your first free visit?
First we explain what a personal health coach is all about. Then we discuss your reasons for choosing a personal health coach. We work with you to identify what you would like to accomplish, and the steps to get there—we ask, what you want to work on and what are you willing to do. (For example, some people decide they don’t want to quit smoking, so we figure out what they will do to make improvements and reach their goals.) Finally, we send you home with a health risk assessment form to answer at home so you can see your personal health in black and white. And last, we plan to be in touch in a specified time to see how the goals we have set are going.

What kinds of things do you do throughout your time meeting with a health coach?
Once you have identified what you want to work on, we work with you to determine how you are going to meet your goals. What actions are you going to take? We decide what will be done between now and the next visit. During that time, the personal health coach will make contact to see how is it going and provide encouragement. If you are not able to accomplish your goals, we work to identify obstacles, taking into account your life and you personally. The coach helps focus on what it is you are there to do, identify what you are able to do, and help you to stay on track with that. It’s not about what a book says, a doctor, a girlfriend—it’s about you taking setting your individual priorities and coming up with a plan that works for you.

What are the benefits of partnering with a health coach?
It’s a buddy system—you will do better if you have an advocate that is on your side and is there to help you meet your goals. You will have a private, personal relationship with your coach. We will help you stay focused and do what you’re committed to doing. Often on your own you can lose momentum, and become overwhelmed. Your coach can help you remain in control of the situation and really affirm that no one else can do this for you—you are the person who can do it. You’ve decided you can do it, and we will help you. We will keep it positive, help you figure out where to begin, and help you develop skills to address your problems.

How often do you meet with a health coach after the first visit?
Average number of visits is 4-6 with phone conversations between, based on the relationship with the coach, the individual, and the areas being addressed. After a while when you see the results of the changes (for example, improved blood pressure, weight loss), you feel empowered. You realize you can do this on your own.

What do you enjoy most about being a health coach?
I think every individual has their own issues, including myself. I really enjoy sitting down with someone and letting them know that nothing is insurmountable. Also, I love to see someone successfully manage a health issue and realize they did it on their own—that they have all the power they need to do it themselves. It’s great to see that light go on and have someone see they have control over their health and well-being.

What are your hobbies and interests outside the office?
I am an avid reader. I’m currently reading Brava Valentine—it’s one of those laugh out loud books. I love to walk—that was a activity I developed as part of my own journey with health. I love to crochet. I do sing at my church. I love to go out with my friends and go to the movies.

Your first visit with a Little Company of Mary Health Coach is free, so take the steps to begin a healthier new you today. Your personal health coach is just a phone call away. Contact the Health Education Center for your complimentary consultation at Little Company of Mary Hospital at 708 423-5774.

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