What 20 Years of Coaching People to Live Well Has Taught Me about Our Quest for Health

I’ve held many different positions in the fitness industry, corporate wellness, and in health care and through my experiences what I’ve learned is the ability for people to reach their health goals can be a complicated journey, and more often than not, filled with disappointment, vicious cycles of starting over, and frustration.  My top 10 observations:

  • People want to feel inspired.  Inspiration means the action or power of moving intellect or emotions.  Without inspiration from either a coach, instructor, or mentor, people were more apt to be disengaged and returned to old habits.
  • People want quick fixes for their health ailments and struggles.  I always found these discussions fascinating with my clients and groups.  Why do we want to lose weight so fast?  Why do we want our health goals to be reached immediately?  What emerged in these conversations were common responses – “I just don’t want to feel like this anymore”,  “The process is always filled with failure, and I really don’t want to experience that”,  and “Our culture is filled with immediate gratification in so many other areas of our lives so that now we’re conditioned to expect it with health goals too.”
  • People want to feel part of a community.   Whether with coaching groups or 1:1, I always witness better compliance and commitment when people felt they were part of a “tribe” of like-minded individuals with the same goals, challenges, and struggles.
  • People would prefer to get a band aid and treatment rather than going deeper to find out the root of “why”.   And my theory on this – finding out why means accepting responsibility.
  • Change is hard.  Old routines and habits are formed by operant conditioning and people have a hard time understanding why they can’t just automatically change their behaviors and lifestyle.
  • Feeling incompetent is the biggest indicator that someone will not follow through and continue with their new health routines.  Who wants to continue to do anything they feel completely incompetent about?  That just crushes our confidence.
  • Our environment – home, work, social circles, etc., will ultimately have the biggest influence on our health.  When our environments aren’t set up for being successful with our health routines and goals, it’s almost impossible to accomplish them.
  • People want to lose weight fast.  And when they don’t, they lose motivation.
  • The food we eat, how it’s made, the quality, how we cook it, where and why we eat, is the #1 thing for people to focus on first if they want their health to improve.   Food is medicine, it can either feed or fight disease, period.
  • On a quest to feel happier, people think its weight loss that holds the magic key to happy land.  However, from my experiences, I believe what people are really missing are connections with other people, purpose in their daily living, and meaning in their lives and relationships.

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