COOL TIP: How to Find a Wellness Coach

A wellness what?  Hey, this could be one of the best kept secrets to aging well and you don’t know about it?  It’s the secret that savvy seniors have used to be more active, healthier and independent than their friends (or even, partners).  It’s a secret that could make aging a whole lot more fun and adventurous.  And it is useful for EVERYone and ANYone.   So how come you don’t have a wellness coach?  In all probability, no one has shared this secret with you……………until now.Wellness and life coaching is service that largely originated in the 1990s.   People trained in exercise, nutrition, behavior-change theory and motivational strategies used these skill sets to help their clients improve their healthfulness and welfare…….thus the term “wellness”. They often offer services and fill gaps that doctors, nutritionists and dietitians don’t have the time or resources to fill. Given the current shortage of gerontologists – doctors who are trained to understand the needs of older patients – wellness coaches have become a valuable tool for seniors looking to:

  • Lose a few pounds
  • Eat better
  • Lower stress
  • Living independently
  • Getting to spend quality time with someone who knows and cares about you
  • Connect you to community resources to help you stay healthy.

There’s no magic to it — but there definitely is a skill to improving your wellness.  Your wellness coach can help you increase your motivation, build your confidence, and develop a plan for creating healthy habits. This includes finding the motivation and tools help you improve your:

  • Sleep
  • Regular physical activity
  • Eating habits
  • Managing and reducing stress
  • Work-life balance
  • Reducing or quitting smoking
  • Overall energy

Keep in mind, a wellness coach is not a doctor……nor do they cost anywhere close to what doctors charge!  Importantly, they don’t diagnose conditions, prescribe medications or recommend lower or higher doses of your current medications. A wellness coach is also different from a psychotherapist, who is a mental health care professional with training in medicine, psychology, nursing, or social work.  (If you think that depressionanxiety, or other mental health problems may be getting in the way of realizing your goals, then you may want to talk with a licensed mental health professional before you hire a coach). Many health coaches are not personal trainers or drill sergeants, for that matter.  The best part is that many senior health centers make wellness coaches available to their members at little or no cost.  So, you may find it quite easy to experience a wellness coach for the first time.

How Do I Find a Coach?

It’s not as hard as you think.  As mentioned above, many senior centers and independent living residences have wellness coaches on their staff.   That’s a good place to start.  You’ll likely want to work with a few different coaches over the first year or two until you find one that fits you to a T.  If you live at home or your residence doesn’t offering wellness coaching, you might try one of the many coach directories:  LifeCoachHub,  HeartMath, or Noomi.

Once you narrow down your list,  you’ll interview your  wellness coach candidate over the phone or in person. During that time you’ll talk about what you want to accomplish and how that coach will help you achieve your goals.  You’ll want to be as focused as possible on perhaps one or two primary objectives.  During the interview, you’ll want to be able to agree upon a clearly defined set of goals and activities to meet those goals in a specific period of time (no more than six months).  Because you would spend a lot of one-on-one time with your coach, not to mention trusting him or her with your goals, make sure the two of you are a good match. You should be comfortable sharing your life’s vision with that coach candidate.

You may also want to consider a person with certification from a wellness training program. Coaches who studied in certification programs get training and mentoring. Because the industry doesn’t have regulations. That means anyone can call himself a life or wellness coach, without certification or even any real training.   So it is worth asking about this candidate’s training and experience. Even ask for references so you can get a sense of their personality and style and whether they fit with yours.

Once you’ve made a commitment to a wellness coach, give yourself a few months to evaluate whether this professional relationship is working for you.   You should find that the coach is giving you support, guidance and encouragement without being judgmental.  The good coach makes you feel as though they are helping you bring out the best in you.  You’ll find that they are bringing you thoughtful assessment and inquiry, collaborative problem-solving and goal-setting through an open and honest dialogue.  In short order, you should find that you are clearer about your objectives and how to achieve them.

In contrast to a psychologist or therapist, wellness coaches help clients understand how the past is influencing the present.  Wellness coaches focus on the present and help the client move towards the future.  They’ll listen to you — and listen very intently.  Then they’ll help you come up with a realistic game plan and then spend the remaining part of their time helping you achieve that plan. Along the way, they’ll come up with creative solutions to get around roadblocks and give you that extra bit of motivation when you are having a bad day.

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