"I know what to do, I just need to do it....but how?

July 6, 2017

When it comes to weight loss primary care physician hear this nearly every day from one or more of their patients.  Patients know they’re suffering, they know that weight loss can help, and they know all about diet and exercise, but many have trouble sticking to the program. What can be done - engage a Health Coach to implement a lifestyle change program! The Health Coach can help identify strengths, overcome obstacles and help to uncover the values, wants, desires and preferences for a happier well-being.  


The following are some ways a Health Coach can help patients engage in a healthier lifestyle:

  • Set realistic expectations and focus on health, not the scale. When a patient has a lot of weight to lose and the pounds are coming off slowly, it’s hard to stay motivated. At the same time, people who weren’t expecting to lose a lot of weight tend to be more successful. In addition, harboring negative attitudes and assumptions about obesity, and feeling embarrassed about one’s weight, are associated with quitting. Patients can benefit with the help of a Health Coach, working in a non-judgmental way focusing on overall health, as well as develop smaller, more realistic goals.

  • Patients should take the time time to study their mood and food. Stress, depression, anger, poor coping skills, using food as a reward, and seeking comfort in food can derail a person’s commitment to eating healthier.  By building a trusting relationship with a Health Coach these behavioral health barriers can be identified and an alternative or additional resources can be offered. 

  • A Health Coach can help the patient put the oxygen mask on themselves first and encourage self-care management.  Attention to the needs of family above self and pressures from home or work are often associated with quitting a program.  If the patient is not taking good care of themselves, they can’t take good care of others. The Health Coach can utilize brainstorming techniques to encourage preparing healthier meals or getting some exercise.  The best experience for a patient is to see it doesn’t just benefit them, it benefits every person they care about and their ability to do their job, whatever it is.

  • Economic issues are often cited as a barrier to eat healthier or get exercise.  So many patients comment healthier food is more expensive and they cannot afford to join a gym.  A Health Coach can offer education on eating healthier for less or introducing free exercise ideas such as running, walking, hiking, or Rocky-style calisthenics.   Or, encourage exercise at home using a mat, or a simple manual exercise bike.


Willpower isn't the problem!  Many factors can get in the way, but with the help of a Health Coach the patient can find ways to overcome the barriers to a healthier well-being.



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