The Sweetness of Health Coaching

The term Health Coach is misleading, and I’ve never thought it painted the right picture. After all, most coaches tell you how to do something and how much of it to do in order to perform optimally. This creates a misperception that health coaches do the same and simply prescribe solutions or regimes to solve people’s woes. The reality isn’t that. In fact, most of the time I use a variety of tools and skills to help clients come up with their own solutions, which is more akin to problem-solving. This sort of focused problem solving can help people achieve goals, find purpose, help with relationships, and reduce stress and anxieties. How often do you get to focus on, and really think through things? A health coaching session is a way to set aside time to focus on a solution to life challenges that may be impacting your health and wellness. Moreover, it’s a safe space where you won’t be judged or mocked when sharing your challenges or hopes, and feel supported in your pursuits.

Ironically, I like to use a cake baking analogy to explain the health coaching process. You see, when baking a cake, you need tools, ingredients, and time. The first coaching session or two are all about learning what your preferred tastes are, what kind of cakes you want, how you’d like them to look, and your various baking strengths. The coach might also learn if you’ve already tried to make cakes and why they didn’t turn out as planned. Next, comes deciding on what kind of cake to make. This can be hard because we often want more than one cake, after all they’re all so appealing. Yet, the desire to bake up multiple cakes at once will likely lead to catastrophe in the kitchen and burnout by the baker. So, to optimize success and reduce missteps the coach would encourage the baker to start out with a single cake, or maybe even a cupcake. Once the goal-cake is clearly identified, we begin planning, i.e. what tools are needed, what ingredients are necessary, and how much time this will take. Next comes the actual collecting of tools or ingredients, which are really small steps or goals themselves that contribute to the larger goal’s success. Next comes the baking process, during which discussions about the baker’s successes, substitutions, modifications, and set-backs are addressed. For instance, you may not have a round cake pan, but you have a square one - will this swap still yield you the cake you want? Is there a way to still make a round cake out of a square pan? Or maybe you find you don’t have an electric mixer and can’t afford to purchase one, so you have to either borrow one or mix by hand. Or perhaps you have just enough ingredients and time for a cupcake. Whatever modification, substitutions or shifts to the baking plan occur you may find baking up a delicious and beautiful cupcake or cake gives you more confidence to keep on baking. After all, baking cakes is hard work, but with careful planning, focus, customization of ingredients, and time you’ll find you can bake up a delicious concoction that’s a reflection of you – and that’s beautiful! Oh, and when you do finally get to enjoy a slice of your cake, it’s not a sugar rush you’ll experience, but rather the rush of empowerment and confidence.

The bottom line is people approach problems differently. Some people might avoid the problem or the associated conflict. Others might be aggressive in their approach and dive-in without taking time to reflect and analyze the situation. And sometimes, the actual problem is defining the real problem. Because, identifying the actual problem or cause of the problem can be tricky at times. Having a health coach ask powerful questions and use tools to facilitate insight about problems can be powerful and transformative on its own. Add to that, problem solving, where problems are solved by formulating small obtainable actionable steps that you’re confident you can accomplish, and BAM you’re on your way. This “baby-step” process may not feel like much at first, but, in time, those small steps take you quite a distance. You might also find that with time your stride lengthens, your speed increases, and suddenly you’re accomplishing new goals with greater ease and confidence. So, if you need a little help finding success with your goals, consider health coaching AKA a problem-solving nurse coach with mad cake baking skills.

Authors Note: I’d like to apologize if you’ve experienced a sudden onset of cake-craving after reading this blog.

Coaching Corner

  • What’s the most important problem you want to solve?

  • How might your life be different if this problem was solved?

  • What are 5 ideas for solving this problem?