As a Nutritionist, Yoga Teacher and Women’s Wellness Coach, I love to support women to improve their overall health and wellbeing! Wellness coaching incorporates more than just the usual diet and exercise program that we associate with health coaching, it is about building holistic health which will leave you feeling confident, energised and enthusiastic about life again. Holistic health coaching focuses on 6 main elements which I will explain in more detail in this post as well as how I work with clients who are looking to make improvements in this area of their health.
At the end of the article I will provide a Wellbeing Assessment questionnaire so that you can carry out your own holistic health assessment at home. This is the exact same health assessment that I use with my health coaching clients in our initial session to help us set direction for our work together.
Even though, I fully believe that we are more than our bodies, our physical bodies are the way we experience life and therefore it is a foundation of holistic health coaching. This is not necessarily about being in a perfect state of physical health but it is important for us to maintain an adequate state of physical health to live the life we choose. Physical health includes:
- Good functioning of our 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
Some clients who want to improve their physical health are under the supervision of a doctor and need support and accountability from a health coach to help them stick to their health management plan, for example quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption or a lifestyle program to manage diabetes or high blood pressure. Other clients prefer to focus on the other elements of holistic health and as a result see improvements in their physical health markers. Either way we work with approach based goals, concentrating on building positive habits for physical health rather than outcome based goals which focus on the end result such as weight.
Sleep and energy
Anyone who has experienced poor sleep (calling all Mums out there!) or suffered with insomnia, will appreciate the importance of good sleep and energy levels. We need to sleep well in order to function at our best and enjoy life rather than feeling like we are constantly dragging ourselves through the day. For adults, sleep experts recommend anywhere from 7-9 hours sleep per night for optimum health and wellbeing. A holistic health assessment of sleep looks at both the amount of sleep that you are able to get as well as 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?
For clients who focus on improving sleep and energy levels, we work on creating space in your life for sleep and developing helpful routines to help you relax and wind down to ensure you get a good quality sleep. Often, we know what we need to do to improve our sleep but prioritising and staying accountable to these actions is the hard part, that is where a health coach comes in! I typically use a sleep journal with my clients to help them to identify patterns and factors which influence the amount of quality of sleep they are able to get. We also explore how you are using your energy throughout the day and identify “energy drains” in your life that might be zapping your life force and leaving you feeling fatigued and unmotivated.
Nourishing your body with a wholesome and varied diet is one of the cornerstones of holistic health. We literally are what we eat as all of the substances we consume eventually become the building blocks for new cells as well as the energy that we use to create our personal reality. In my practice, I don’t focus on counting calories or macro-nutrients but rather on helping clients to develop a positive relationship with food and the ability 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 clients looking to improve their dietary habits using a Non-Diet Approach (read my post on NDA here) which 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 internal cues of hunger and fullness, accepting all foods and the diversity of body shapes and sizes. Our work focuses on developing your intuition and self-confidence so that you can eat the foods that support your body whilst still enjoying all of the pleasures that food has to offer. This can look like diving into your history with dieting, unpacking your 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, 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, protect us from disease and maintain a sense of wellbeing. Unfortunately, for many people exercise has become either a chore to avoid or a way to punish our body for over eating or for not being the perfect shape or size that we have learned is appropriate for society.
For clients who feel that they would like to be more physically active and improve their level of fitness, we work together to dive into their belief and values around exercise and their physical body. I work with you to discover activities that bring pleasure and joy back to movement and help you to cultivate a sense of gratitude and appreciate for your body and everything it allows us to do. I help you to stay accountable to your goals and action plans around physical activity and together we identify potential barriers and road blocks to physical activity and develop solutions to make movement a more natural and habitual part of your life.
For those clients on the opposite end of the spectrum who exercise too much and are suffering the consequences such as fatigue or hormonal imbalances, we again dive deep into our 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 that allows you to shift your perspective of movement. I will 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 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 havok 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 and prevent overwhelm and burnout.
Working with clients on stress management is extremely rewarding because with just a few simple tweaks to your lifestyle, you can often experience huge reductions in the amount of stress you feel day to day and the symptoms that can go along with that. 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. We create positive daily routines to help you feel more organised and in control as well as prioritising activities such as yoga and meditation which promote deep relaxation and restoration.
The final element of holistic health coaching is your life balance, that is how you feel about your life and your place in the world. This element of holistic health focuses on you, how you feel about yourself, 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 and this can leave us feeling lost and at sea in life.
With clients for whom shifting life balance is key to improving their holistic health, we might look at strengthening your connection to your self, understanding who you are at your core and developing appreciation for your unique personality and skills. I help you to 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 and I encourage you to ensure that you have positive relationships in your life which support your wellbeing and personal development as well as healthy communication strategies to help you communicate your needs and boundaries in a positive way as well as be more accepting and understanding of others.
As a final note, I want to highlight that as all of the elements of holistic health overlap with each other, implementing positive habits and routines in one area will likely have a domino effect on the other areas of your holistic health and wellbeing. For example, making changes to your dietary habits, physical activity and stress management can also help to improve sleep and energy levels or adjusting your life balance can help to dramatically reduce your stress. We are moving away from this reductionist view of health as a set of behaviours or a particular appearance towards a new paradigm of holistic health as wellbeing and thriving!
Over to you…
If you would like to gain insight into your holistic health and identify areas you might like to improve on, download the free wellbeing assessment below from Well College Global which is the exact one I use with my 1-2-1 clients! Please like and share this post to support my business and follow my blog for more useful posts on nutrition, yoga and holistic health.
If you are looking for guidance, support and accountability on your holistic health journey, please contact me or check out the nutrition and health coaching packages I offer. My specialty is helping women to balance their hormones and heal their body and metabolism after chronic or restrictive dieting but I also help anyone who is looking to improve their overall health and find the perfect balance for their body. I would love to work together with you to move past any health blocks and get you feeling your best again!