Medical science has brought tremendous innovation with its ability to eradicate countless diseases that have bedeviled the human race for centuries. As important as this is to the longevity of each human life, it is not enough.
The medical provider of this type of health care needs more support in order to mange these pressing problems. Thirty five percent of the population is medically obese, thirty four percent are overweight. Nearly seventy percent of the population is dealing with some type of weight issue, creating an environment where one in three Americans are struggling with diabetes.
These problems are driven by lifestyle habits. The medical provider has the ability to diagnoses the problem and prescribe a medication, but does not have a system set up to manage the lifestyle issues. Whether its time or reimbursement issues that prevents that level of engagement needed to address lifestyle habits, it is just not happening within the medical health care system.
A different but complementary approach to this medical model is needed. Anyone dealing with these medical concerns needs additional support. It begins when the total person is taken into account: body, mind, and spirit. How we live each day makes a difference to our total health. How we fuel our body. How we move our body. How we manage stress. How satisfying our relationships are. How fulfilling are our careers. All these factors impact how we deal with illness and how we heal.
As an experienced nurse practitioner for twenty-five years I have seen first hand this need develop. The nurse practitioner role was created to meet a need in the changing landscape of the medical health care system four decades ago. Now another shift is happening. Health and wellness coaching is entering the conversation to support both the health care consumer and the health care provider.
What is missing from the conversation is that that people have an innate sense of what they need to do to heal themselves if given half a chance. To me health is not merely the absence of disease. This about the individual’s ability to adapt to whatever health situation they find themselves in. It is more about a state of balance in body and mind. It is a positive quality. It is knowing that the mind and body have resiliency. These qualities allow an individual to move through life with out getting hurt by things that can harm them. However, if there is a glitch in the system from either an outside foe or an internal miscommunication this resiliency, this balance provides a way to adapt, regenerate, and repair. This whole system is enhanced by the lifestyle choices made each day. It is about how the individual nourishes themselves with thoughts, movement, breath, water, and a colorful array of nutrient-rich foods. This is key to the balance and harmony the body craves to maintain health and well-being.
Health coaching is the a process that facilitates behavior change. Knowledge alone does not change behavior. When the individual's values, strengths, and priorities are taken into account change can take place. The medical model focuses on the problem and the coaching model focuses on the solution. Motivation to change unhealthy habits paired with support, goal setting, instruction, accountability, consistency, and commitment lead to sustainable change and optimal health. Positive change brings positive results. Both the health care consumer and the health care provider are then successful at improving overall health and well-being.