In my role as a health coach, I have supported adults of all ages and backgrounds on their journeys to get fitter and healthier. My coaching practice focuses on helping people shed excess weight or quit tobacco. Over the years, I have grown comfortable with the reality that there is no simple formula for achieving lifestyle-related goals. After all, each person’s circumstances are unique. For some, the path to improved health is smooth and swift, while for others it can be quite rocky and slow.
Regardless of the pace of their progress, many clients succeed in making lifestyle improvements and ultimately reach their health goals. As a health coach, I have learned to link my clients’ success with opportunity. Here is how you can help your clients make the most of this opportunity.
You’ve encouraged your clients to be thoughtful through the process of health-behavior change. Don’t stop now! Take the time to ask your clients thought-provoking questions, so that they can reflect on all the changes they have made in reaching their intended goals. For example, “What did you learn and what helped you the most to keep going with your plan to get healthier?” Or, “How did you stay focused, despite a packed travel schedule and family commitments?” You can also ask your client to reflect on the coaching dynamic. Your coaching skills will benefit by learning from your clients: “How did our work together influence the fulfillment of your goal?”
Reaching a hard-earned milestone is certainly a reason to celebrate. Do your clients know how to celebrate while still honoring their achievements? Perhaps they are used to celebrating with a trip to the bakery, for example, but that could reverse their recent weight loss. Help your clients discover new ways of rejoicing, such as buying a new outfit or spending the day at a special place that they didn’t previously have the energy to visit. Knowing how to celebrate appropriately is a generalizable life skill that your clients can continue practicing long after your coaching sessions end. Remind clients that reaching their goals is an opportunity to reward themselves with progress rather than counterproductive indulgences.
Set new goals.
It’s helpful to reframe the achievement of a long-pursued health goal as a new beginning rather than a conclusion. As a health coach, you are in a unique position to help your clients explore what other goals they might like to accomplish for themselves. The discussion can be liberating and exciting, as your client may have found confidence and motivation to tackle new goals. If the new goal falls within your scope of practice, perhaps improving a new aspect of physical fitness, you might continue working with your client. Otherwise, you can demonstrate your professionalism by helping your client determine the best next step for him or her.
Plan for relapse.
Clients may return to old habits after achieving a health-related goal. You can prepare your clients for this possibility ahead of time, encouraging them to be consistent and avoid backsliding from their new, healthier behaviors. Then do what coaches do best and help them make a plan to prevent a momentary lapse from turning into a full-blown relapse.
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