How many times has a health professional told you that eating the “right” foods and exercising for the magic number of minutes each week will create a pathway to a healthy life? For a lot of us, it’s at least once a year when we go see our provider for a check up. Sure, this is totally true! We need to make sure we move our bodies and eat balanced meals but (yes, there is a but…) these are only two pieces to a much bigger well-being puzzle.
The word “holistic” stems from the Greek word “holo-”, which means whole or complete. Along with that bit of trivia, is exactly what a holistic health coach does! They treat you as a WHOLE person to help you reach your health goals by focusing on several other factors of your well-being outside of just diet and exercise. These holistic health factors include (but are definitely not limited to): emotions and outlooks, satisfaction in life, social support and interactions, physical, mental, and financial health, and the way you engage in your day to day activities. A holistic approach takes all of these factors into consideration, because your habits don’t exist in separate from your day to day life. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
An Integrated Approach to Holistic Health
At this point you’re probably wondering what does a holistic approach mean for your experience with your coach. Well, another way to look at it is as an integrative approach that brings these different factors of your life together instead of treating them as independent of each other. This gets down to the nitty gritty of what drives certain behavioral patterns…you know, your habits! This is cool and all, but how does it work? A holistic health coach will help you drive personal discovery through thought provoking questions that help you think through your stress, sleep, relationships, challenges or barriers, work-life balance, self-care, and what works for you as an individual. Since we’re all different, we need much more than a one-size fits all approach when it comes to changing habits we may have had for as long as we can remember.
Thinking Holistically: The Benefits of the Bigger Picture
Habits are incredibly powerful and shape about 40% of our behaviors everyday. That being said, the context that these recurrent behaviors happen under is just as important (if not more so) as the habit its self. Having a coach that helps you see the bigger picture behind the habits you want to change can drive something that this sustainable long-term. Let’s think about this example:
Jane Noomer has noticed that she has been craving more sugar recently and has been giving in (we’ve all been in her shoes, right?). Her Noom coach wants to know what may be leading to this and asks about her day and what she is experiencing when these cravings hit. Jane realizes that these cravings hit after work when she knows she has to rush from her office (if she can get out on time) to pick up her son from soccer and shuttle her daughter to gymnastics. On top of that she, somehow, needs to get dinner ready for her family. If you’ve ever been in Jane’s shoes you know how this feels. It’s stressful…overwhelming even! And her cravings are operating under that context. Jane says its always been this way and she’s never connected the dots that this stress could be influencing her snack choices.
So what might Jane’s coach do next, you ask? Her coach may ask her about her social network to discuss carpooling for her kids’ activities, dividing and conquering with her spouse, discuss some time management strategies to help her feel less rushed, they could talk through easy ways to have dinner already planned so that’s one thing off her plate (sort of speak…), self-care ideas to help her take some time for herself each day, or maybe even encourage a conversation with her boss to help her get to her kiddos on time to name just to name a few possibilities. Then Jane may think about what suits her and her life best!
What factors is is Jane’s Noom coach considering?
- Emotions (stress, overwhelmed, etc.)
- Social connections (spouse, family friends for carpooling potential)
- Work-life balance (time management)
- Meal planning or prep (nutrition and physical health)
- Satisfaction with her life (self-care and time to herself)
Holistic Health Coaching: The Bottom Line
It may take time for Jane Noomer to change this habit of reaching for a sweet snack after work and managing her obligations. But now that her coach has now helped her through a moment of self-discovery, she can be more self-aware of and start to develop healthy behaviors from the inside-out. The bottom line here is that habits (the good, bad, and even the ugly) don’t exist in a vacuum and a holistic health coach can help you navigate your behavior changes by taking the bigger picture of your busy, messy, beautiful life into account along your journey to well-being.