It can be difficult to explain how working with a health coach can help you reach your goals since everyone is unique and we all face our own specific challenges. The following post is a presentation I gave at a corporate Wellbeing day, my topic “Regain Control of Life” and how this can be accomplished with the support of a Health Coach. During this short 20 minute presentation I explain to the group one concept in coaching, two exercises that you can do on your own, and then how I can help you as a health coach.
The recording of the presentation is here for you to listen or you can read the transcript below. The exercises are available for you to download at the end of the post.
Hello and welcome. My name is Megan McCrory and I am a certified international nutrition health coach based here in Basel. Today I'm going to be talking to you about how to regain control of life through health coaching. There are a lot of concepts that I can talk to you about today, but given the fact that I only have half an hour, I thought I would bring to you the one concept that I think will be the most impactful and that you can do today, right now. And that concept is a reflection. Reflecting on your behavior and your daily activities can bring about more time and control and balance to your daily life.
To start off with, let's talk about time. How many of you feel that you don't have enough time to do what you'd like to do? Most people don't feel like they have enough time. And how many of you have already said today the phrase, “I don't have time”?
Again, very common thing for us to say I don't have time. But the fact is that we all really do have a lot of time in our day but unfortunately time feels very different while doing different activities. From my point of view, time is very elastic and relative, right? If I'm bored, then time feels like it just drags on forever. If I'm excited about something or learning something new, somehow time seems to fly by.
So I think we can all agree that the feeling of how much time we have is very much dependent on what we're doing. It's also dependent on how conscious we of what we are doing when we are doing it. This is a, a bit of a mindfulness piece, which I'm not going to go into depth today, but a lot of times we're distracted. And this whole idea of just being conscious, or mindful, of what we are doing when we are doing it can bring you one step closer to understanding what you're doing with your time and how it makes you feel. But today we are not going to talk about mindfulness. I am talking about reflection and how reflecting can help you control and balance your time.
Reflection means to give serious thought or consideration. With all of our daily distractions we often don't take even a couple minutes to consider what we're doing with our time, then time somehow just slips away and therefore we feel that we don't have any time. The act of reflection means we take a few moments to really just understand what we do with our time. And more importantly why were we're doing what we do. So today I have two exercises for you, one that we can do right now and one that you'll need to take home with you because it's a, it takes a little bit more time.
PRIMARY & SECONDARY FOOD
My goal for you today is to help you walk away with one area of your life that you want to spend more time and energy on to create more balance and control in your life. In order to do this, I need to explain a concept that I learned at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I received my health coaching certification. They teach the concept of primary and secondary foods. Secondary foods are actually the food that you would eat that you think about when you hear the word food, right? So you know whatever you had for breakfast, the coffee you're drinking right now.
Food is important. There are a lot of things that focus around food. However, health is not just defined by what type of food you eat. This is where the concept of primary food steps in. And what is primary food? Primary food are the other areas of your life that also feed you. We're talking about your career, your relationships, your physical activity and your spirituality. You want all of those things to be balanced. I'm sure everyone has heard of work-life balance.
Well there is more to life than just work. Work is part of your life and you have to balance that, but you also have relationships and if you're in really good relationships, this is going to affect your health differently then if you're in a bad relationship. The same thing goes for spirituality, whether or not you believe in one God or many gods or any god. The idea that you have a purpose in life, a purpose for being here on this earth, that also has a balancing effect in your life. We don't have time to get too heavy or too deep in any one area, but the concept is to show you that we need to reflect on all of the different areas of our life to understand where we are imbalanced.
CIRCLE OF LIFE EXERCISE
And this all leads back to how you're spending your time. So our first exercise today is going to be the circle of life. The circle of life is designed to be a simple, quick way to identify any imbalances in your life. Simply ask yourself the question, "Am I satisfied with my social life" for example, then place a dot on the line to indicate your level of satisfaction. A dot toward the center indicates dissatisfaction, and a dot toward the periphery indicates satisfaction. In this example if your social life is abundant, place a dot on the line somewhere toward the outside of the circle.
I also want to stress that this is your level of satisfaction based on your own scale, not what society thinks you should be satisfied with. I had a client, an introvert, indicate she was dissatisfied with her social life. After talked about it for a little while, it was clear that she was feeling pressure from her co-workers to go out more. When in fact she was very happy and satisfied to be at home in the evening. She was quite satisfied with her social life.
After you place a dot for each area, connect the dots to see your Circle of Life.
So now that you have completed the activity, what imbalances do you see? Which areas of your life do you believe you should be spending more time and energy to create balance? Typically when I do this exercise with a client we focus on just one area at a time. If your circle is perfect, congratulations on your ability to live a very balanced life!
But for most people there is at least one area to focus on more in depth. Okay, so back to the topic for today. Today is about regaining control of life. So now by doing this exercise, as an act of reflection, we have already identified one area of your life where you'd like to gain more control or balance. So how do we fit this into your daily schedule? How can you spend time on balancing this area? Well, the next exercise I'd like to introduce is the time make over.
This exercise is from Laura Vanderkam. She has a great ted talk on time and this is where I this exercise from. This exercise is going to help you create a baseline of where you are currently spending your time. The first step to using your time better is knowing how you're spending your time now. This is a very eye-opening exercise.
For ideally one week record every day, what you're doing. I do mine in pencil and I do it in a physical format. You can use an app or really whatever works best for you is what you should use. Fold this up, put it in your pocket throughout the day, every hour. Just pull out and write down what you did the last hour. Then at the end of one week, you can go through your time sheet and put your activities into buckets like chores, work, sleep, family time, and travel. maybe three, four different highlighters to highlight areas so you have a good visual.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
Now let's put the results of the two activities together. The best way to explain this is with an example. I have a client that figured out from her circle of life that she wanted to spend more time on creativity. After she did the time makeover she realized that she had about 3-4 hours every evening where she was answering work emails and watching TV with her husband. Seeing on paper how she was spending her time was a big wake up call. Even if she was only watching TV 2 hours a night that's still 10 hours a week that she could be devoting to doing more creative things. She didn't want to stop watching TV since this was something she did with her husband but she did see the opportunity to balance her time to accomplish her goals. She chose to dedicate one evening a week to her sewing and other creative pursuits. This one change made a big impact on her. She didn't give up time with her husband but she gained time with her passion. It sounds so simple, and really it is, but without taking the time to reflect she would not have realized the opportunity.
So obviously we won't be able to review this today in our very short amount of time. But I'd like to offer you one free coaching session to discuss your circle of life and your time management sheet. This is a real coaching session, it's not an hour long sales pitch, but really working with you one on one to understand the areas you'd like to improve and help you come away with actionable items, which you can do right now to make sure you're getting where you want to be.
HOW HEALTH COACHING WORKS
And that brings me to how health coaching works in general.
First I'd like to tell you what I won't do as a health coach. I am not a medical doctor so I won't be diagnosing any ailments. I'm not a Dietitian or Nutritionist so I won't be prescribing a particular diet for you. And even though I used to be a lacrosse coach I'm not going to yell at you to run or do push-ups.
As a health coach, my job is to help you reach your health-related goals. Full Stop. That's it. I typically ask my clients to come up with, three to nine goals achievable within one to six months. You may have tried already to reach these goals by yourself but haven't been able to do it on your own. A health coach can now step in and help you achieve these goals.
A health coach provides you with a couple of different things. First of all, a health coach provides you with the space in which to think and analyze and plan for those goals. Just like what we did here today, a few very simple exercises can bring a lot of insight into your daily life and where you're spending your time and how you organize yourself. Dedicating just a couple hours a month to reflection can make such a difference in your life. that's one of the reasons why I wanted to do these exercises with you today.
Now another thing that a health coach provides is accountability. You know, we are all very intelligent people and you all know exactly what you should in theory be doing to get to your goals. However, for some reason you haven't been able to accomplish them. And that's because life is complex. You know, it's not just one decision. It is a decision that they're making a ripple effect and how it can affect the other parts of your life. And what a health coach can do in this area is to help you be accountable.
You are the driver in the coaching relationship, you need to be the one who decides which path to take. My job is to help you keep driving and to help you avoid obstacles in the road. And sometimes to help you pull over to the side of the road to check the map.
KNOWLEDGE AND TOOLS
The third thing I bring to the coaching relationship is the knowledge of what I gained as a health coach and my health coaching certification. So the knowledge of behavior management, nutrition, and how the body works. I've studied over a hundred different dietary theories and in the end, everybody's body is very different and everybody's life is very unique.
For that reason I don't have a cookie cutter plan for our time together, but rather each person, each individual has their own plan and their own goals, and how they get there is as unique as the individual. My private coaching program runs for 6 months and we meet 2 times per month to focus on you and your goals.
I also offer group programs that can run 8 weeks meeting a total of 4 times. Groups have also a very different dynamic than private coaching both are good in different ways. With a group you can give and receive support while hearing what other people's concerns are and other people struggles. where you can help them and they can help you in addition to the health coach who's leading the program. So that's just a little bit about what health coaching is and how it works.
If you would like to chat with me about your circle of life, the time makeover tool or any other health-related goals, here is how to get in contact with me.