Be the best you in 2015!

coach study

I recently earned my Health Coach certification through the American Council on Exercise. Since I’m already a Registered Dietitian and have a good knowledge base about exercise it was a fairly easy credential for me to earn. I did take about six months to study/review and I was nervous to sit for the exam. I passed the exam on the first try with a solid “B.”

The title of Health Coach is a fairly new title and as of now is unregulated. This means anyone can call themselves a “health coach” whether they’ve earned the credential through an accrediting agency or not. Contrast this to the title Registered Dietitian which, in most states, is protected by licensure laws from anyone from hanging up a shingle with the title Dietitian.

The title “coach” may sound silly. Does it make you think of a person with a clipboard, whistle and “coach pants” encouraging you to eat your veggies? But the term coach has expanded beyond sports teams to business mentors and now to health. That image of a coach as a sports mentor is probably what most people are familiar with. I have the greatest respect for coaches. I played sports for most of my childhood and teen years. And I was raised by a coach. In fact, when I talk to childhood friends they don’t ask about my dad. They ask about coach.

Coaches in this capacity mentor, coordinate, and motivate individuals and teams to give their very best. They inspire achievement!

How does this translate to what a health coach can do for you? Achieving and maintaining health is a fairly new phenomenon. I doubt my grandparents (all born in the early part of last century) thought much about their health until they were septuagenarians. At least not as we think of it today. They were all ranchers/farmers so health was more about injury prevention and infection avoidance. Contrast this with now. Numerous government agencies, our employer, our loved ones, blogs, etc. all give advice on getting and staying healthy. How did it get so complicated? There are exercise and dietary guidelines. There are recommendations on sleep. There are recommendations on sun exposure. The list goes on. And on. I suppose I am biased in that I think nutrition is the most important. But maybe not in the way that you might expect. I am not an absolutist on nutrition. I don’t believe in “clean” eating or paleo, or WAP guidelines or anything else. Know why? It’s much more complicated than that. There are social, economic and other factors that factor in to what we eat. Additionally, research has not yet identified the ideal diet.

It is similar with exercise. There isn’t a “right” way to exercise. Though there certainly is a wrong way to exercise. Well, at least in the purest sense. What I mean by this is that I will not tell someone that “just” walking the dog is not exercising. I believe in movement. Period. If square dancing (yes, it’s still popular here in Oklahoma) is your thing then by all means keep doing it! Depending on goals we can certainly move beyond this form of cardio to add strength training and flexibility. Again, depending on goals.

As for the other factors that affect health; sleep and lifestyle choices (substance abuse, seat belt use, etc)… Those things tend to fall into place when we honor our bodies by making choices that honor our health.

So, if you’re ready to be the best version of you in 2015. Hire a coach!

You’ll notice *weight* does not factor in to health from my perspective. I am a weight neutral HAES(tm) dietitian.