How to Choose a Health Coach

There are a wide variety of types of health coaches available to support your health improvement and weight loss goals. Many are available at no cost from your local health care or managed care company, or bundled with a weight loss program. The right health coach for you depends on several factors.

What is a Health Coach?
The term is applied today to a wide variety of professionals and semi-professionals. A person who provides physical exercise training and nutritional guidance for health improvement and weight loss can be a health coach. There are certifications available which may add credibility as well as knowledge, but may not be required depending on the support you need. These services are often available through a fitness center or may be offered by phone or online and are usually available for a fee.

Personal Trainers are sometimes referred to as health coaches but the distinguishing feature is that a personal trainer is educated and certified to provide physical exercise training with minimal nutrition training as well. Typically a health coach is a more generic term.

A health coach can also be a licensed nurse or social worker providing support to members of a health insurance plan, an employer group or a community health center. These kinds of health coaches can support weight loss goals but can also provide a much wider scope of social and community services and are most often available at no cost but are available only to those with greatest health or psychosocial risks.

Then there are coaches that are trained to provide motivation and support within a limited scope of a particular weight loss process or program. These services are often available as a part of the program and do not cost extra.

Health Conditions
The first thing to consider in determining the kind of support that would be best for you is to determine if you are simply overweight or if you have clinical conditions that makes weight loss more complex for you such as Diabetes, or heart disease. Anyone who has these clinical conditions should visit with their physician about their planned weight loss strategy and have their physician be a part of their health coaching team. That does not mean that your coach must be a clinician, but become a wise consumer and make sure that the guidance from your coach and/or your weight loss program is nutritionally sound for your clinical condition. If you are a diabetic for example, make sure the advice is in alignment with your physician’s plan for your care.

The Value of Health Coaches

Health coaches, if selected with your goals and specific needs in mind, can be of tremendous value in helping you meet your weight loss goals. They often serve a primary function of helping you remain accountable and motivated to meet your goals but they can also offer valuable problem solving when you hit the inevitable bumps in your weight loss journey. If you decide to commit to a program that comes with a structured process or product, you will want to see if there are coaches available as part of that service and use those resources rather than contracting with additional resources. If you enroll in a specific weight loss program, then hire an independent coach with a different philosophy you will constantly be in conflict with the direction provided and while the instruction may not be wrong, it can be confusing causing you to lose confidence in their advice or the program.