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Top 5 Lessons Every Health Coach Should Teach Their Clients

by: Jennifer Wannen
Published: August 4, 2016
Updated: June 23, 2022

Trainer helping woman on treadmill

Good coaches help their clients reach a goal. Great coaches, on the other hand, help their clients change their lives—largely by shifting their consciousness. From how we delineate the transformation process to how we reflect our clients’ progress back to them, we as coaches have the potential to offer our clients more than situational strategy. Yes, we make their goals our priorities. How we get there—and what we teach along the way, however—can have much longer term potential. What our clients gain from our partnership and what they take forward when our work is done is the legacy of our coaching approach.

What lessons do you purposefully incorporate into your methodology? Consider what ultimate wisdom you want to pass on, and check out a few key lessons that can move your clients forward today and inspire their efforts toward lifelong health.

1. Every day you manage your health—regardless of your intent.

It’s a critical realization—no matter whether we have a “plan” or not, what we do each day influences our health one way or another. Every choice is an input that the body uses to function. How well it can function is based on those exact choices.

What we feed our bodies, how much we move, how much rest we get, how much stress we subject ourselves to—it’s all input for the body, and every day we’re the gatekeeper. It’s a powerful message for our clients.

We’ve all heard people use the phrase, “You’re in control of your health.” It’s a generally accurate statement, but “in control” too often translates to “You can take control whenever you’re ready.” Telling our clients they manage their health, on the other hand, underscores the reality of their daily impact, intentional or not. It’s continual encouragement to own their power to make the next healthy choice.

2. Just get started…and keep going.

If we all waited for the perfect circumstances to begin new health behaviors (or any new choice), the fact is we’d never begin. The complications of life will always be there for us to contend with. Our purpose as coaches is to help our clients incorporate a healthy living program that’s sustainable in the face of their everyday responsibilities.

For so many of our clients, health—whether they define it in the moment as reaching an ideal body composition or being physically fit—has over the course of years or decades seemed to move increasingly out of reach. With time, that distance has likely taken on a deeply intimidating psychological dimension. Many people hit a bottom in not trusting anymore that they can make change happen in their lives. Overcoming that emotional inertia and personal distrust can feel downright insurmountable.

Here’s where we can help our clients put the process of reclaiming health in doable perspective. It’s not about becoming anything today. It’s simply about doing something different, making one choice at a time. Getting started is committing this moment to something healthier, to something better. We’re not claiming to be a more disciplined or motivated person even. We’re simply choosing one thing over another to the benefit of ourselves. Then we do it again. We keep going—regardless of whether we’re feeling the bigger faith or not. As coaches, we tell clients that we hold that faith when they can’t. And we will, until our clients grow into their own.

3. The way you talk to yourself has consequences for your success.

“Why do I always screw up every time I try to watch what I eat?” “I’m not an athlete.” “I thrive off of stress.” “I’m destined to be heavy.” “I’m not a high energy person.”

It’s so important to spend time listening to our clients because it’s in the random moments of conversation that we catch the stories they believe about themselves, the very narratives that may be working against their success.

Reclaiming health often means recalibrating our identities as well as our behaviors. What have our clients come to believe about themselves over the years? What assumptions about their potential live in their language? Spend time talking with clients about these questions, working toward awareness of how they define themselves to their detriment. The fact is, what they tell themselves is out of reach will likely remain so until they decide (and speak) differently.

Here’s where we as coaches can introduce the tools of affirmations and mantras to help our clients rewire their self-beliefs and open their minds to new possibilities.

4. Your process won’t look like other people’s, and it shouldn’t.

In the era of pre-fab weight loss programs and bus side health marketing, this can be a difficult truth to embrace. Many of our clients believe there’s a set formula they should be able to follow—a universal answer they can easily take up without much fuss or thought on their part. “Just tell me what to do,” we often hear. These clients might be ready to show up, but that doesn’t mean they’re ready to fully own their process.

To own your process means to personalize it, to shape basic health principles and practices to your own interests, lifestyle and personality. To be sustainable, a health program needs to fit a client’s needs and preferences. For clients who are more introverted and desire quiet and space, exercising outdoors rather than at a gym might be a better choice. On the other hand, we all know clients who feel more motivated working out in group classes and run clubs. Clients with unusual work or parenting schedules might choose to time meals differently or employ fasting practices. Other clients may benefit from extensive emphasis on stress reduction techniques to help normalize hormonal balance.

One of the most important benefits of health coaching is the attention to personal process. As coaches, we can help clients envision healthy, fulfilling lives that complement who they are and how they live. Their potential for well-being is too expansive to fit any pre-fab model.

5. Cultivating health is long-term endeavor.

As the old adage goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is our health. We build it, in fact, one day at a time, one choice at a time. Although individual goals give us something to aim for, our overarching purpose should be living healthy, vibrant lives across the full span of our years. This will inevitably be a labor of love and a lifelong evolution at that.

This perspective tells our clients that they have time—time to lose the fat they want, time to build strength, time to gain the resilience to climb mountains or keep up with the grandkids, time to live into the life they want. When our clients can accept health as a lifelong commitment, they will be able to see it as an act of continual creation. In doing so, they’ll likely learn the value of patience. Not everything will happen right away, and it’s okay.

Choosing to live a healthy life means enjoying vitality today in whatever way it’s available to our clients. It means having something to look forward to, achievements to celebrate, and yet it also means accepting the process as a long arc toward self-actualization throughout the phases of life. Well-being will creatively shift and reveal itself over time when our clients stay committed to the greater purpose of living the best Primal life they can envision—an ambitious and individual endeavor we can help clients believe in today.

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