In the words of Albert Einstein, “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” For many individuals, who are seeking to make a change or do something different to improve upon their overall health and wellness, this pattern can be frustrating. The motivation to start making healthy changes can come from many sources, such as concern over health, an upcoming event like a wedding, wanting to look and feel better, and even peer pressure. However, establishing a healthy lifestyle routine is challenging for most people due to various reasons; lack of knowledge of how to build a fitness program or meal plan, overcoming barriers like time, space, equipment, etc.
Beyond the external factors, psychological and cognitive factors play a significant role as well, such as sustained motivation, mental barriers to lifestyle modification of life-long habits and behaviors, as well as maintaining a personal commitment to make their health journey a priority in the midst of all other life priorities, including demands from family, work, and other competing interests. With the high likelihood of failure to overcome all these challenges, many mentally “wave the white flag” and make an agreement to tackle this obstacle at a later date and time, often not even realizing that this has been a recurring issue, with the same outcome of not reaching the goal, as the person’s process didn’t change.
As discussed in our previous blogs, we are seeing an alarming increase in preventable chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and the decline of the quality of life for many people. Due to this declining health epidemic, everyone is impacted by the rising healthcare cost and limited access to healthcare professionals to get our health care needs fulfilled, which only further exacerbates the problem. In response to this issue; healthcare organizations, insurance companies, governments, the fitness industry and even the business community need to change their approach and business strategies. Primarily, businesses and insurance carriers turned to offering incentives like reductions in health insurance cost, gym memberships and preventive health screening without a copay. The US government and other large organizations like the CDC, AMA, ADA, etc. provided online resources like: educational resources, recipes, tracking templates for fitness and nutrition and even free community events. These interventions, however, did not have the intended impact that was hoped for. Why, you ask? To explain, we like to use the popular quote from Dr. Seuss’s story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, that says, “It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!” Meaning it’s more about the community of support that was seen in Whooville as they sang joyfully and thankfully Christmas morning, even though all their Christmas had been stolen from them, which turned out to be much more beneficial for their health and wellbeing, similar how community support appears to be more useful to health and wellbeing than than the fancy, decorated, information provided by various organizations.
Research has shown that adopting a lifestyle modification, will require more social support-not more information, education and self pace how-to-do’s to be successful. To overcome these challenges many will seek proper guidance and support from a fitness or healthcare professional to partner with them to make a plan of action for sustainable change and results by providing useful information that has been used successfully by others and individualized to you personally based on your experience, current status, and goals. Information is static but the individualized person to person support is dynamic which, with expected adaptation, has a higher likelihood of success!
Social support will be vital to an individuals’ success to improve upon their health and adopt and follow a healthy lifestyle. Social support refers to the intentional actions taken by people to assist others in achieving a specific behavior. Social support includes encouragement to participate in structured physical activity or exercise, consultation on nutrition, providing support and guidance to overcome barriers and challenges, determining or offering solutions, and providing exercise instruction and companionship.
Healthcare professionals (doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nutritionists, etc), although experts on the human body, nutrition, and overall health, are unfortunately, due to their job function and time limitations, unable to give the proper amount of time and support to individuals wanting to make sustainable change, unless they are business owners offering consultation services. We have spoken to many providers and patients that share in the frustration of not feeling like the healthcare system is helping them to reach their goals.
With frustration and challenges, however, comes change. Health coaches are now being integrated into the healthcare system to meet this challenge as part of the continuum of health, fitness, and nutrition. Health coaches work with individuals to improve upon their nutrition, movement, recovery, self-care and simply living well, transforming people’s bodies, outlook, emotional health, relationships and experiences.
Let’s talk about the differences in these categories. Fitness professionals include certified personal trainers and group fitness instructors, having the responsibility of designing exercise programs and creating an environment to help their clients adhere to a fitness routine. Nutrition coaches are certified, or have an advanced degree, in nutrition, and invest their energy in helping their clients achieve positive behavioral changes toward diet and nutrition. And finally the integrated health coach guides, supports, and motivates clients to make lasting lifestyle changes through fitness, nutrition, mental and emotional wellbeing, recovery and regeneration, taking a hands-on approach to improve their customer’s overall health.
These health and fitness professionals are in no way experts that hand down wisdom that will improve their clients overall lives. But through their training and education, they facilitate a process where they ask vital questions, use active listening techniques to discover underlying issues and help develop a plan of action to take the necessary steps needed to get their clients on a path to success. Coaching isn’t simply about giving information, it’s about inspiring and helping people to take action and focus on purposeful behaviors that build towards real, sustainable change. There is no such thing as one plan that fits everyone, for everything, all the time, however practicing the fundamentals in fitness, nutrition and managing other health factors have been found, together, to be highly successful.
People are multi-faceted. We are not merely physical bodies, but complex beings with highly interconnected mental and emotional components. Some of these components help our growth and development and others work against us. The stronger of the two, greatly impacts our overall well being. Understanding this fact, fitness and nutrition professionals provide their expertise in guiding individuals toward the positive healthy aspects and away from the negative unhealthy ones we all have by focusing on three areas of support: emotional, informational and companionship.
Emotional support is very important for people to start and to continue their journey of living a healthy lifestyle. This support refers to the encouragement, positive reinforcement, caring for and showing empathy to their client’s needs. Specifically, fitness and nutrition professionals will encourage their clients to exercise, provide positive feedback, listen to clients when they are frustrated with exercise and be empathetic as habit and behavior modification can be challenging.
Informational support is a large part of what fitness and nutrition professionals provide. Informational support refers to providing accurate and up to date information about general fitness or nutrition advice and programming, providing specific feedback on progress with program adjustments, providing new and interesting information about the benefits versus the drawbacks of inactivity, being able to dispel and correct myths and inaccurate information. Specifically, the information provided should be sound advice, based on quality research regarding how to achieve optimal health and fitness, providing education about the current recommendations for physical activity and educating people about the risk of poor health accompanying a sedentary lifestyle.
Lastly, fitness and nutrition professionals provide companionship support which is provided by the physical presence of another individual while engaging in the experience. Specifically exercising with someone, accompanying someone during an exercise session and finding physically active options for social gatherings.
Need help finding a fitness, nutrition and integrated health coach? Well, there are several options available to you. Certified personal trainers are present at your local gyms however many are small business owners and can provide services at your home or even virtual options are available. Nutrition and integrated health coaches also are small business owners or can work for gyms and/or healthcare organizations. Pricing options, flexible schedules and packages are often available.
Looking for more of a group or community? Well, besides the 1:1 instruction, you also have group workouts. Group fitness is led by a personal trainer or group instructor and encompasses all fitness genres including aerobic and strength-based exercises.
Benefits of group fitness classes include: helping individuals meet weight loss goals, improve overall health, reduce risk of disease, provide accountability, work with a fitness professional, affordable options, while in a group setting which affords the individual with a sense of being a part of a group or team. Here’s some other benefits:
Comradery: individuals can form connections with people who are attempting to achieve similar results and can bring about friendly competition among participants to reach their personal best.
Consistency: having a schedule that will help form habits and set expectations.
Energy: most group exercise classes are designed to be high energy.
Mindless: since the exercise session is planned, participants just need to show up and follow instructions without thinking about designing their own workouts.
Group fitness is offered at your local gyms and studios, in your community (churches, hospitals, parks) and virtual options are available as well.
The Self-ish Life program is an integrated program (fitness, nutrition and overall wellness) with in person and virtual options. With our experience as a doctor, athlete, certified nutrition coach, fitness and personal trainer; our programs are designed to ensure your success. Want coaching with all these qualifications, expertise and experience? Join The Self-ish Life integrated coaching program by visiting our website at www.theself-ishlife.com and enjoy the same success that others before you have at reaching their individual life goals.
We hope this message serves you well and we hope you will join us for our future blog posts. Thank you for joining us for this segment of The Self-ish Life and remember to go out and live life intentionally.