Recently the New York Times published an article titled We Could All Use a Health Coach.

Given the amount of information, misinformation, opinions, and clickbait on food and health that bombards us on a daily basis, it’s not surprising that the health coaching industry is starting to grow.  

We recently chatted to Hanya’s Medical Director, Dr. Rav James, about the value of health coaching.

Why is health coaching growing so fast?

Humans are confused.

Coffee or no coffee? Red wine or not? No dough or sour dough? Kale or not? Soy milk, almond milk, or plain old cow’s milk? Meat or not? Supplements or not? And the list goes on. That’s just food and supplementation.

Now you add illness and disease and it gets even more confusing. Statins or not? Anti-depressants or not? And more recently, vaccines or not?

Never in human history has there been so much information about health and so many people searching for health news online, and never has there been so much confusion.

People are looking for clarity from trusted sources.

What do you think people are most confused about?

Deep down people know that food and lifestyle can change their lives, curing illness, preventing disease, and fundamentally shifting happiness.

The problem is that people born in the last 70 years have grown up in an age of industrialised food, office jobs, and medicine, so nutrition and exercise are way out of their comfort zone. Add clever marketing or foods that pretend to be healthy and Doctor Google where information changes all the time, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

So I don’t think it’s a confusion so much as a tension or misalignment from the truth. Deep down inside people know that the truth – food, breath, movement, community – is simple, but the culture continues to promote extremely unhealthy habits – from sugar to over-working – and then as we get older it gets more and more complicated to reverse these unhealthy habits.

Kids parties still look like this. The message: This is what we “treat”ourselves with. The biology: Sugar addiction and problems for life.

So how does Health Coaching help?

I don’t want to speak on behalf of other Health Coaches, but here’s my answer: I strive to help a person rebuild their health from the basic building blocks of food and lifestyle. So we’re talking sleep, movement, stillness and fulfilment. I am here to empower my clients to understand their health better, provide knowledge and direction, and motivate change. And we can’t forget accountability too – regular sessions with a coach of any kind is more likely to keep a person on track.

I work with clients to plot a path towards restoration. In other words healing the ecosystem of the body, restoring balance, and helping a person to thrive naturally, with as little external or man-made intervention as possible.

Alternative milks have taken off. But many of these “healthy” options contain unhealthy additives like thickeners, stabilizers and emulsifiers.

What results have you seen in your own practice?

I’ve just completed a programme with two clients who describe the simple changes we have introduced as “game-changing.” They’re sleeping better, they’ve lost stubborn weight, they’re feeling more energised, and they express being able to make better choices. This was based on diet adjustments, personalised supplementation and a basic movement plan.

Because I’ve been following a Functional Medicine lifestyle for years I see the process as simple, but as I’ve mentioned, so many people still see change as overwhelming. It’s our default to stay in our comfort zone and then procrastinate by filling our heads with loads and loads of health information from the internet. The fad diets are not going to fix us!

So my role as a Health Coach is to de-clutter and motivate. And to show people that they have it in them to get to their healthiest and happiest, they’ve just got to trust that they’ve got it in them to heal themselves.

What is the difference between Life Coaching and seeing your GP?

Normally you consult a GP for a specific ailment and the appointment lasts between 10 and 20 minutes.

Health coaching should be a series of appointments that last at least 30 minutes or more.

The health coach listens to all the frustrations and hopes and goals of the client and, together, they plot a path forward that will lead to better health.

With more time, and more focus on the root causes, the client has the space to really understand how their body, mind, spirit, past experiences, medication and illnesses have all converged, arriving at the present status. The puzzle pieces should all start to click, kind of like… “Okay so that’s how I got here.”

And then again, with more time, we plot a do-able path out of the present status one step at a time. It should be challenging, but also fun. And as we make progress, we plot the next milestone.

What’s been your biggest game-changer?

Definitely yoga and food. We’re all so disconnected from our bodies, investing almost all of our time into our brains, our computers, our work. No wonder we’re unhealthy: We don’t exist to ourselves. Yoga (with Denise Sohandev and BeJay Watson, both Associate Healers at Hanya House) helped me to reconnect to my physical body. From there I could see my brain better and I could begin the process of playing and exploring in the metaphysical. And on the food front, I cleaned up and I’m loving how I feel as a result.

If you would like to book a 6-session Health Coaching Package with Dr. Rav to identify challenges, set goals, and create short- and long-term strategies for success, click here to get in touch.

This July and August, sign-up for a 6-session Health Coaching package with Dr. Rav and receive 15% off the normal price.