When I think about what health coaching did for me as a client, I look around my home in amazement, and with a sense of peace.
I had been stuck for a long time in one particular area of my life. But I never considered how it might be affecting my health, because it wasn’t in an obvious “health” area such as nutrition or exercise.
When I enrolled in the professional health coach training program at Duke Integrative Medicine, I wanted to learn skills to be a coach. While I knew I had a lot to learn (always), I didn’t think that I needed coaching. And I also didn’t know that I’d have the opportunity to be coached.
The first few hours of our in-person training opened my eyes.
Head knowledge, I got that. I didn’t expect the heart knowledge nor a personal transformation.
Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.
― Benjamin Franklin
How Health Coaching Starts
At the center of integrative health coaching is the individual. Each of us knows ourselves best, but sometimes we need help extracting our own answers.
Mindful awareness – paying attention to the present moment on purpose – serves as the foundation for the coach and client’s work together. We use the Wheel of Health, a tool developed by Duke IM, to help determine our area of focus.
As the client, I assessed my strengths and weaknesses in the different areas on the wheel.
And in that, I discovered how much my physical environment impacted my overall health and well-being. But I felt stuck.
For several years, certain areas of my home had been out of control. I love paper, and I am sentimental about photos, memorabilia, and books. My years of working as a direct-sales scrapbook consultant and personal photo organizer (work that I still do) had resulted in my own space being crowded and cluttered. I would try to sort, file, purge, and organize, but I never seemed to accomplish as much as I wanted.
I was overwhelmed, and I didn’t know how to proceed.
What Health Coaching Did for Me
The photo above shows our home office during one of my purging attempts this winter.
The first week of my training, one of the instructors guided us (as clients) through a visioning exercise.
I walked away from that experience with an inkling of what I wanted that room to look like and thoughts of the first steps I should take. Before that week-long intensive module ended, I took action, calling the hardwood floor refinishing company to go ahead and get on their schedule.
Two years before, I received their estimate and two others for that project. But the project was so big, so daunting, so expensive, that I dreaded it. I put the estimates aside.
During the visioning exercise and in the coaching that I received after it, I realized the floor project was the first step toward achieving my vision of a functional, comfortable, energizing office space.
In the following weeks, as I worked through my coaching coursework, I packed up the main level of our home. We moved out of our house for several days. I oversaw the refinishing as well as the repainting of some key rooms. It was exhausting, and rewarding.
And I vowed then that my piles and clutter would not re-enter that space. I made an agreement with myself to turn those rooms, and particularly my office, into the space I envisioned it could be, a place of warmth, welcome, refuge, and purpose.
I still have boxes to unpack and items to donate. But I feel fairly confident about taking the next steps, and I know I’ve made strides that I probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t worked through this process.
A person’s physical environment can be a big determinant of their health. While mine affected my mental and emotional health, other people are affected by environmental allergens and chemical toxins. Some people may be affected by environmental problems that may be difficult to change. A coach can help someone explore their options in this area, and others.
I’m grateful that’s what health coaching did for me.
Amy Hoogervorst is a national board-certified health and wellness coach, offering grace and space for a healthier you. She helps you fit healthier habits into your life, for more energy, focus, and fun. You can schedule a free discovery call here and subscribe here for her free e-newsletter, the Well Check.