Navigating your personal health journey
As humans, we often compare ourselves to others or wonder how we can reach the next best thing: When will I reach my goal weight? Why is it so difficult to control my relationship with food? Where am I headed in my career? Why does everyone else seem to have it all together?
This mind-set can be exhausting as you try to create sustainable changes in your life. It distracts you from enjoying the present moment and acknowledging the steps you’ve taken to get this far. It’s important to remember there are always going to be roadblocks on your journey, whether you’re navigating your physical, mental, or emotional well-being.
Perhaps you’re feeling anxious about all the unhealthy foods that may be around during the holidays, or maybe you’re having difficulty keeping up with your routine while living with someone who doesn’t prioritize their health. It’s natural to encounter distractions or setbacks, but learning from and pushing past those points is where you build resilience and improve your mind-set.
What health looks and feels like will be different from person to person, and that’s what makes achieving health a bio-individual process. Wherever you are in your health journey, it’s important to remember that you are the creator of your own path. By recognizing this and choosing to stay in the present, you can grow more confident in your health choices and keep the momentum going on your personal journey.
How do Health Coaches fit into this mix?
Health Coaches can inspire the extra push you need to keep the momentum on your health journey. Here are some ways they encourage sustainable change in their clients’ lives:
1. Health Coaches create safe spaces and foster positive coach-client relationships.
A Health Coach is different than a nutritionist or dietitian in that they do not give personalized nutrition advice, nor do they prescribe diets or meal plans. Health Coaches have nutrition expertise, but focus on nutrition from a functional and holistic perspective, which means that everyone is different and will thrive off of their own unique wellness plan. This is IIN’s concept of bio-individuality!
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Heather Freudenthal believes this relationship forms by taking this bio-individual approach, which means acknowledging her clients’ unique nutritional and emotional needs as well as their personal fears, concerns, and goals.
She says, “First and foremost, I make sure to validate my client’s feelings and acknowledge how challenging it can be to feel like ‘everyone else’ has it easier.” She connects with clients by reminding them that everyone struggles with something – even her. “Whether we struggle with cravings, food addiction, poor body image, poor health, or general feelings of being stuck, it can seem like there's something wrong with us when others around us don't struggle with the same things.”
2. Health Coaches help clients find joy in their journey.
According to Heather, focusing on the healthy habits that excite you can prevent a client from feeling overwhelmed about the journey as a whole.
“There’s a ‘fear of the forever’ that clients feel when it comes to creating consistent habits,” Heather says. “I try to point out the healthy habits that are enjoyable for my client, so it doesn’t feel like a struggle to them.” Whether a client enjoys working out, making a home-cooked meal, or getting to bed at an early hour, Health Coaches help clients identify, appreciate, and keep up with the habits that bring joy to their life.
Five ways to keep the momentum on your journey (with or without a Health Coach):
1. Find an accountability buddy.
There’s strength in numbers. Enlisting a support system can motivate you to stick with your health goals and renew your energy on days when you’re just not feeling up to it. Your support system keeps your goals from feeling unreachable because they are on this journey with you (even if they’re simply cheering you on from the sidelines!).
You can build your support system by finding a friend to join you for your daily run, or challenging a friend to complete a round of sit-ups with you at the end of each night (this is a great virtual activity, too). If you live with a partner or roommate, accountability could look like swapping nights to cook a heathy dinner or leaving each other notes around the house with positive affirmations. When one person feels discouraged, it’s comforting and encouraging to know there’s someone there for you to keep you on track.
2. Document your progress.
When you write out your accomplishments, no matter how big or small, you’re reminding yourself of the work you’ve already put toward improving your overall health and happiness. This could look like keeping written or digital checklists, such as every time you exercise or choose a glass of water over a sweetened beverage. Documenting your progress is also great motivation to move toward the next benchmark on your list to reach your bigger goals.
3. Keep things fresh.
Change up your routine by getting creative in the kitchen! If you are someone who likes to meal prep, it can be easy to stick to the same few dishes in your wheelhouse. While habits and routine are comforting, learning new ways to keep your health journey interesting will go a long way.
There are so many delicious ways to enjoy functional foods – those that taste great and promote health – by experimenting in the kitchen. Try picking a new selection of fruits for your smoothie bowl or swap the meat once a week for roasted cauliflower tacos. Healthy eating shouldn’t feel boring – there are so many ways to integrate new textures and flavors by exploring new foods (bonus points if they’re colorful!).
4. Evaluate how your current habits make you feel.
Your energy is an important part of your overall health, so creating routines that leave you feeling optimistic, confident, and productive can help you stay focused on your health goals and journey. Perhaps you’ve been mindlessly scrolling on social media, or are often spending more than your weekly budget allows, leading to feelings of guilt. By perpetuating habits and behaviors that don’t promote great emotional health, you’ll feel less motivated to actually participate in the habits and behaviors that do promote health.
Creating healthier habits could look like putting your phone down during your morning routine and as about an hour before bed. When it comes to your shopping habits, explore whether there’s an underlying reason for wanting to spend more, such as a desire for comfort or connection. By bringing awareness to how these habits make you feel, you’ll be better able to shift the habits that bring you closer to your goals.
5. Be kind to yourself.
At its core, self-care means carving out time to show love and gratitude to yourself, while fueling your mind, body, and spirit in the process! Some parts of your health journey can feel stressful and overwhelming, so it’s important to give yourself the time and space to occasionally recharge. Self-care can look different for everyone, from a bubble bath at the end of a long day to a walk outside in nature.
Try giving yourself a break when you feel like you’ve been pushing too hard at the gym, or allow yourself to indulge in a piece of dark chocolate. You can even take it a step further by adopting a meditation or yoga practice, finding stillness and clarity amidst the sea of thoughts that may flow through your mind each day.
Gratitude for yourself and the process
Don’t forget to express gratitude for showing up for your health. Each day is an opportunity to remember where you started and reflect on how far you’ve come. Staying present and focused on your health journey can be difficult, and though you’ll experience setbacks or feel unmotivated from time to time, your continued and conscious commitment to improving your health will make you stronger each day.
Ready to learn more about how health coaching can facilitate health transformation? Check out the IIN Sample Class to discover what makes the Health Coach Training Program so life-changing.