There has definitely been a rise in the number of “coaches” that we are marketed to believe we need help from to be successful in all areas of life – whether it is for a career, being in a relationship, or health. We all want to have success in every area of our lives and therefore the idea of having a coach can be appealing!
It’s not straight forward to work out who is the right coach for you… Should you consider qualifications or is how many followers someone has on Instagram more important? And then there is the challenge of titles such as nutritionists and coaches not being legally protected.
For this article I refer to coaching in the context of making changes in nutrition for health and performance. However, as a nutritionist, looking at nutrition in silo is meaningless and a client’s whole lifestyle needs to be considered – so sleep/stress/training. Hence why I am a nutritionist and health coach!
When might you “need” a coach?
In reality, there are not many things that we truly need in life – apart from food, water and shelter. However, clearly this is subjective and the extent to which we feel we need something depends upon its level of importance.
Examples of when having a coach may become something you feel you “need” more:
I could go on with examples but the underlying theme being that feeling like you “need” a coach usually corresponds with a time in your life when you have enough of a desire to create change in your life.
Also, i’m sure you’ve noticed this but all of the above examples are very dependent upon our own assessment of the situation and feelings which can often be skewed, variable and conflicting depending upon the level of attention and type of attention we give to those thoughts.
When might you benefit from a coach?
Perhaps a key difference between someone who who benefit from a coach versus feeling they “need” a coach comes from perspective. Again, anyone who is trying to create change in their health and performance may benefit from a nutrition and health coach to make that a reality – so the examples above apply again.
Additionally though, in my experience, anyone who is open to creating change can also benefit from a coach – this type of person is usually eager to learn, curious and confident within themselves.
Barriers to working with a coach
Partnering with someone else and trusting them with your health and life can be a big deal. It can potentially make you feel vulnerable.
Being able to let go and trust is not straight forward for everyone. To add to this, we are not always ready to make change – we may tell ourselves that we want to change but in reality, we are more committed to our current identity and struggle.
I would argue that this is one of the biggest reasons that we stay attached to misery or personal challenges for a longer period of time. Having some form of identity is safer than the unknown.
There are also people who generally like to do everything themselves and are not able to relinquish control to another person. They may second guess every call that a coach makes and still follow their own plan regardless.
This does not necessarily mean that this person would not benefit from having a coach, it’s usually more that they are not able to trust someone else – yet.
Additionally creating change can sometimes just feel too much and therefore brings up a level of resistance that means that we simply do not even go there – essentially denial. This may be in the form of thoughts such as “I haven’t got the time to do this right now” or “this isn’t a top priority for me right now” or “maybe later”.
Time and money are notorious roadblocks to creating change!
Why would you “need” a coach for your nutrition and health?
Nutrition can be simple but can become very complex. The food that we eat can become attached to different areas of our life – upbringing, familial traditions, emotions and feelings, outings with friends, body image, religion, social occasions, the way that we respond to stressors and quite often, sense of identity.
This can make it multi-faceted to resolve – the way that we interact with it, the way we respond to it and to create new habits.
The many attachments that we can have to food, as well as the physiological and psychological changes that take place when making nutritional changes, are another reason why implementing recommendations and following a nutrition plan consistently can be challenging.
The actual plan/recommendations may appear simple, but this does not mean that the implementation and application is easy – they are two different things! In reality many of the “what’s?” people have about diet, health, lifestyle can be searched for on the internet (although I get knowing what to trust certainly is not straight forward) but utilising those “what’s” is the challenge.
The way that we eat, or foods we choose to consume can become attached to our identity at a subconscious level. For example, beliefs of being fat, unhealthy and loving “bad” food, may make it challenging to love “good” foods and be healthy. Identity influences who we connect with and how we connect with them. This may or may not be helpful for reaching health and performance goals.
Additionally our relationship with food is intricately related with our relationship with our body. Often as we start to untangle one, we untangle the other. However, again, this can make it a little complex.
Seeking nutrition advice can often be to improve health but may be undermined when we are not wholeheartedly on board with it. When we’ve done something for a long period of time, it can feel hard to change it, let alone truly accept that it is not the best way.
You may not know what it feels like to be truly healthy, or be in denial about the fact that you are unhealthy. Therefore, when it comes to making changes with your nutrition, it may not be completely straight forward!
Food can also be used as a tool to respond to life, stressors and manage emotions. For example, turning to a specific food to feel “better” etc. Whilst there may not be anything wrong with this, the extent to which this behaviour is engaged with and frequency, may determine whether the overall balance is healthy.
High levels of stress may contribute to eating behaviours which may underly poor health/performance. Simple prescription about food/meals doesn’t necessarily facilitate being able to make the meaningful and necessary change.
Understanding the behaviour, increasing awareness, and following a specific plan to support the habits to make the change sustainably, may matter more, which is part of the coaching process.
How nutrition & health coaching may be beneficial:
What does a consult look like with me?
What are your thoughts on this and having a coach? I’ve had a few different ones and they’ve been game changing for me! What are your experiences?