Marcelle Dubruel – Zest4life Business Mentor & Health Coach Trainer
Working as a nutritional practitioner can be one of the most fulfilling jobs. It doesn’t get much better than watching clients’ health improve over the course of your time together. But what about the times when clients don’t get the results you, and they, are hoping for? Or when they achieve short term successes and you find them coming back to see you when things slip?
Many practitioners tell us that it can knock their confidence, and they start doubting their own abilities when this happens. If your advice isn’t giving long term results, then was it the right advice in the first place? If this sounds familiar, then perhaps adding health coaching to your skill set will provide the missing piece of the jigsaw when working with clients.
Wouldn’t it be incredible to know you can guide your clients to achieve their goals and enjoy long-lasting results?
Do your clients sometimes need more than just nutrition advice?
While we are trained in offering nutrition and lifestyle advice to our clients, health coaching can provide the extra tools to help clients tap into their drive to succeed and keep them prioritising their health long after the programme is finished. It can help them discover their own motivation and keep them moving forwards even when life gets in the way.
The added bonus is that seeing your clients feeling motivated and inspired will make you feel more confident as a practitioner. It’s a win:win situation.
In what ways can health coaching help your clients?
How often do clients tell you they’d like to have more energy and lose a few pounds, but are reluctant to make the changes that you recommend and prioritise themselves? Or manage them for a few weeks but then life gets busy and they return to their previous habits because they find it too hard to keep ‘being good’ when other challenges arise?
Health coaching is the answer. With health coaching skills and techniques, you can help your clients get clear on their wellness vision – it will be big, bold and inspirational and something they can draw on every day when life gets busy. Not only that, but they will understand their ‘big WHY’ – the fundamental values that, deep down, are really important to them. I know from working with my own clients that 'health goals' rarely sustain consistent healthier habits. However, getting clear on what is really important to them around how they want their life to be provides powerful motivation.
For example… a client’s goal may be to lose weight and get fitter. This is fine, but when it’s cold and raining outside will they want to get out and go for a walk? It’s easy to tell themselves that they can do it tomorrow instead. However, their wellness vision – “I have maximum energy, I feel confident in myself and I am a good role model to my children” – is much more likely to motivate them when things get hard. Drawing on their wellness vision, written in the present tense to make it feel ‘real’, allows clients to live today as their future self would do, and can bring about profound changes. Would their future energetic, confident self stay inside because it’s cold outside? Or would they know that they will feel 100% better afterwards and would simply lace up their trainers and get going regardless?
Helping your client connect with their wellness vision is just one aspect of health coaching. Other valuable tools include learning the skills of active listening and reflecting; following Zest's ‘GREAT’ health coaching model; providing the right support and accountability… and more. Put together, health coaching offers the ‘how’ to the ‘what’ of nutritional advice and, as we have seen time and time again achieves a far greater level of compliance and success.
While a wellness vision can be fundamental to your clients’ progress, it also offers you an insight into their values and their health dreams in a way that working on a purely nutrition + lifestyle level may not offer. By guiding your clients to discover their core values, you will learn what is important to them in life, and understand how you can support them to stay motivated and inspired.
It may be that you are the only person who can see the client as their future self. Your job is to keep their wellness vision alive for them and gently hold them accountable every step of the way.
How can health coaching benefit you as a practitioner?
As I’ve mentioned above, health coaching can help minimise frustration and increase your confidence when working with clients. Spending hours working on a personalised nutrition plan only to find that clients fail to follow your advice can be demoralising. You came into this profession because you wanted to help people. Just imagine how much more fulfilled you would be if all your clients achieved the health transformation they deserve.
And there’s no denying that happier clients can lead to more business for you. If your clients aren’t getting results then they may not return, so it’s vital you have all the skills you need to guide them on their behaviour change journey. Not only that, but once they see what a difference you can make, they're also more likely to recommend you to friends and family. When my clients tell me things like “you get me”, or “you understand my family”, I know I have stepped into the health coaching space and am turning up to serve.
Including health coaching in the way you practice can also mean that you are able to offer more profitable programmes and packages. Designing structured programmes that blend nutrition advice with a health coaching approach mean that you can offer longer and more profitable programmes to your clients that truly support long-lasting behaviour change.
Finally, introducing an aspect of health coaching in your discovery calls can help to avoid a feeling of being ‘salesy’ with potential clients. They will understand the value of working with you with no need for an uncomfortable sales push on your behalf!
Is it time to include health coaching in your programmes?
I hope you can see that health coaching is a powerful tool for client change that works seamlessly alongside nutritional interventions. It is the tool that keeps clients on track and results in lasting change.
I think it is the greatest gift you can offer them.
If you feel that you need to add health coaching to the way you practice, Zest4life run six-week in action Health Coaching for Nutrition Professionals courses twice a year. The next course starts on Friday 4th November. Please follow this link to find out more.
We also have an upcoming free webinar The Magic of Health Coaching on Thursday 13th October where Marcelle Dubruel and Zest4life Director Carolyn St John Loder will demonstrate three powerful health coaching techniques that you can start using right away. Book your place here.