As a Women’s Wellness Coach, I love to support women to improve their overall health and wellbeing. I have come a long way in my own view of health and it has taken me many years to get to where I am now. I used to think health meant restricting your diet and exercising like crazy to maintain a low body weight. After my own health breakdown I learned that there was much more to health than that! Now I run a holistic health coaching practice where I help women to truly take care of their bodies.
What is holistic health coaching?
Holistic health coaching incorporates more than just the usual diet and exercise program that we associate with health coaching. It is about building all-round health which will leave you feeling confident, energised and enthusiastic about life again. A holistic health coach helps you to set goals and design a personalised program to help you reach them. The exact format depends on the education and training of the coach. In my holistic health coaching practice, I include nutrition and yoga as well as menstrual cycle awareness. I help women to let go of restrictive dieting and find true health, balanced hormones and natural fertility.
Holistic health coaching focuses on 6 main elements which I will explain in more detail in this post. At the end of the article I will provide a Holistic Wellbeing Assessment questionnaire. Download the file and carry out your own holistic health assessment at home! This is the same questionnaire that I use with my holistic health coaching clients in our initial session to help us set direction for our work together.
6 elements of holistic health coaching
I fully believe that we are more than our bodies. Despite this, our physical bodies are the way we experience life therefore physical health is a foundation of holistic health coaching. This is not necessarily about being in a perfect state of physical health. Rather, it is important to maintain an adequate state of physical health to live the life you choose. Physical health includes:
- Good functioning of your bodily systems
- Healthy immune function and rapid healing
- Normal metabolic markers such as blood sugar and blood pressure
- Relatively free from disease and pain
- Ability to participate in life including social and work activities
Holistic health coaching to improve physical health starts with creating a vision of what health means to you. This could simply be having an adequate level of health to work, play and enjoy life. It could mean healing from chronic disease or having health markers in the normal range. You might see physical health as making healthy lifestyle choices. For example, quitting smoking, not drinking alcohol in excess or drinking enough water. Or you might view physical health as a feeling.
Either way, in holistic health coaching, we work with approach based goals rather than outcome based goals. This means focusing on behaviours rather than a specific end result such as a weight goal. I help my clients to identify behaviours that are harming their health and replace them with supportive habits. Measurements and markers can be a helpful motivator but they are not at the centre of holistic health coaching. My women’s wellness practice is influenced by researchers such as Linda Bacon, Dr Ray Peat and Dr Sara Gottfried.
Sleep and energy
Anyone who has experienced poor sleep (calling all Mums and insomniacs out there!) will appreciate the importance of good sleep. It is a fact that you need to sleep well in order to function at your best and enjoy life. When we don’t sleep well we can feel like we are constantly dragging ourselves through the day. And even for those who sleep well, the stressful and busy lives we lead can lead to fatigue and low energy levels.
A holistic health coaching assessment of sleep first looks at the amount of sleep that you get. For adults, sleep experts recommend anywhere from 7-9 hours sleep per night for optimum health and wellbeing. It also look at the quality of that sleep and the energy that you experience. For example, do you wake feeling refreshed and rested? Or do you start the day already feeling exhausted and wondering how you will make it through to the evening? I typically use a sleep journal with my clients to help them to identify patterns and factors which influence their sleep.
Holistic health coaching includes working to create space for sleep and developing helpful sleep routines. We all know it is important to relax and wind down to ensure you get a good quality sleep. Often, we know what we need to do to improve our sleep. However, prioritising and staying accountable to these actions is the hard part. That is where holistic health coaching comes in! We also explore how you are using your energy throughout the day. We identify “energy drains” that might be zapping your life force and leaving you fatigued and unmotivated.
Nourishing your body with a wholesome and varied diet is one of the cornerstones of holistic health coaching. We literally are what we eat as all of the substances we consume eventually become the building blocks for new cells. Our diet also provides the energy that we use to create our personal reality. In my practice, I don’t focus on counting calories or macro-nutrients. Rather I help clients to develop a positive relationship with food and understand the basics of a nutritious diet. From this foundation they are able to intuitively eat a balanced diet which is nourishing on both a physical and emotional level. I described in a recent post the key principles of a healthy diet which include: balance, variety, wholesomeness and individuality.
I work with holistic health coaching clients using a Non-Diet Approach to Coaching. This takes the focus away from dieting to lose weight or change your body towards an enjoyable and relaxed attitude towards nourishment. We work on tuning into hunger and fullness cues, accepting all foods and the diversity of body shapes and sizes. My clients learn how to eat nourishing food that supports their body without restricition, rules or deprivation. This includes diving into their history with dieting, unpacking beliefs around food and nutrition, using a food diary to identify unhelpful eating patterns and creating a pathway to overcome them.
For all my clients, I hope for them to feel liberated and empowered around food. I want them to feel able to make food choices that work for their unique body and life situation. No more obsessing over every bite, weighing and tracking every mouthful or living in fear of food. Instead, pure pleasure and nourishment from food on a daily basis!
Movement and physical activity
Moving your body is of course an important part of a healthy lifestyle. We know from many years of research that physical activity helps to maintain our physical health. It also protects us from disease and helps to maintain a sense of wellbeing. Unfortunately, for many people exercise has become either a chore to avoid or a way to punish our body. Either for over eating or for not being the perfect shape or size that we have learned is appropriate for society.
In holistic health coaching, we work together to dive into your beliefs and values around exercise and their physical body. We work together to discover activities that bring pleasure and joy back to movement. I encourage you to cultivate a sense of appreciation for your body and everything it allows you to do. Not only that, I help you to stay accountable to your goals and action plans around physical activity. Together we identify potential barriers and road blocks to physical activity. From there, we develop solutions to make movement a more natural and habitual part of your life.
I also work with clients on the opposite end of the spectrum. Those of you who exercise too much and suffer consequences such as fatigue or hormonal imbalances. In this case, we again dive deep into your beliefs around exercise and body image. We create a safe container for you to shift your attitudes towards your appearance and develop a positive self-image. This enables you to shift your perspective of movement to a more postive one. I help you to find the joy in moving your body once more and let go of all of the negative emotional baggage. After years of over-exercise and punishing your body, it is possible to find lightness and fun around movement again.
Stress.. unfortunately in today’s world it is something that we all experience more than we would like. The simple fact is that the pace of modern life with all of it’s pressures and demands can leave us feeling overwhelmed, anxious and exhausted. Stress can be responsible for many of the health issues we experience from insomnia to high blood pressure. Cortisol, a major stress hormone, can affect all of our bodily symptoms wreaking havock on our digestion, metabolism and fertility. It can leave us feeling on edge, moody, tired and lacking spark.
Holistic health coaching does not claim to get rid of stress. Rather we look at your attitudes towards stress and coping mechanisms you have in place to deal with life’s stresses. You learn how to stay mindful of your stress level and strategies to prevent overwhelm and burnout. Working with clients on stress management is extremely rewarding. This is because with just a few simple tweaks to your lifestyle, you can often experience huge reductions in the amount of stress you feel. This greatly improves your life experience day to day and reduces symptoms caused by stress.
I help clients to identify the different types of stressors in their life and the effects they are experiencing. We then work to find ways to either eliminate the stressor, change the situation or adapt to cope with the stress for things that cannot be changed. You create positive daily routines to help you feel more organised and in control. I teach you yoga and meditation techniques which promote deep relaxation and restoration.
The final element of holistic health coaching is your life balance. In other words, how you feel about your life and your place in the world. This element of holistic health focuses on you and how you feel about yourself. As well as how you experience life and how you interact with others and the world around you. Life balance includes the often forgotten elements of wellbeing such as connection, compassion, wisdom and fulfilment. Sometimes we get so wrapped up with “fixing” ourselves or our problems that we forget life is to be lived and enjoyed. This can leave us feeling lost and at sea in life.
In holistic health coaching, we look at strengthening your connection to your self. This includes understanding who you are at your core and developing appreciation for your unique personality and skills. You will build your confidence so that you can show up as your best self and go for your goals. We also shine a light on your relationships with others. I encourage you to ensure that you have positive relationships in your life which support your wellbeing and personal development. You learn healthy communication strategies to help you voice your needs and boundaries in a positive way.
Holistic health coaching summary
Remember that all of the elements of holistic health overlap with each other. This means that implementing positive habits in one area will have a domino effect on the other areas of your wellbeing. For example, eating healthy, moving your body and managing stress will help to improve your sleep and energy levels. Getting better sleep makes it easier to make healthier food and exercise choices. We are moving away from this reductionist view of health as a set of behaviours or a particular appearance. Instead, we are heading towards a new paradigm of holistic health as wellbeing and thriving!
Holistic Wellbeing Assessment
Download the free Holistic Wellbeing Assessment questionnaire below to gain insight into your health and wellbeing. This is the exact one I use with my 1-2-1 holistic health coaching clients!
Over to you…
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