Health Coaching Tools: The Wellness Wheel

Health Coaching Tools: The Wellness Wheel

Ever heard the saying, “If you keep having the same problem, you’re the problem?” Yep. That’s true. Wherever I go, there I am. I’m a health coach but I’m also human. Just when I think I’ve figured everything out, another episode of Groundhog Day starts in a familiar fog of deja’ vu. It’s not easy to live and learn at the same time.

Training to be a health coach has opened my eyes to a whole new way (new to me, not necessarily anyone else) of dealing with the darker aspects of myself. I used to assume that healing requires insight to the root cause of an issue. But I’ve learned that understanding why something is wrong doesn’t change what is wrong. Explanations don’t produce change. We can spend a lot of money to have a doctor tell us what’s wrong. We can spend even more to have a therapist tell us why it’s wrong.

Or we can let go of the cause and work on the solution.

Let me share a wee-bit-too personal story of how health coaching worked for me.

In the fall of 2015, I fell into a post-marathon funk. I hadn’t actually run a marathon, but a finish line had been crossed. My book was finally sent to the publisher. And during the three years it had taken me to finish it, I had gone through a divorce, moved with my four children, remarried and inherited three stepchildren. After many intense struggles, highs and lows, my life down-shifted from chaos into peace overnight.

But I don’t do peace very well. Survival mode is motivating, albeit stressful. With no more fires to fight, I was at a loss for what to do next. There was no “normal” to get back to—too much had changed. So I enrolled in a health coaching certification program, hoping that furthering my education would help me figure out what came next.

What came next was winter–both actual and proverbial. Despite the fact that nothing was wrong—everything was actually right!—I felt stagnant and depressed. I’d go days without leaving the house. I slept too little, drank too much and forgot to work out. My sense of self and self-esteem seemed out of reach.

The health-coaching program proved to be a lifeline. In learning how to help others caught in their own spirals of descent, I was given the tools to help myself. And it was unlike any intervention I might have predicted. I had assumed that since there was nothing wrong in my life, the problem must be me. Crap . . . wherever I go, there I am.

But there was something wrong in my life. Looking at it from a holistic view helped me to see living in survival mode had allowed me to neglect other areas of my life. When survival mode ended, I was dazed and confused because I thrive on community and connection. Without those, I stop thriving. Health and happiness are inextricably linked, and require balance in all facets of life–not just the areas we prefer to focus on at the expense of the others. The epiphany came with an activity called the Wellness Wheel. There are 12 domains, each represented by a spoke in the wheel. I rated my satisfaction in each domain. It was immediately obvious why I wasn’t rolling steady through life like I should be. My wheel had a flat.

But the good news is that it was just a flat–not a fatal flaw in my character or mental health. The darkness was simply a lack of light. Awareness led to action. I visualized what my ideal and balanced life would look like. Each week, I set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely). Baby steps propelled me from my (dis)comfort zone. Soon it was spring—both real and proverbial.

Had I stuck with the assumption there was something wrong with me, the shame and guilt of my pathetic state would have perpetuated the cycle in which I was stuck. This is the beauty of health coaching. We don’t focus on what has brought you down. We focus on what will bring you up. The negative circumstances holding you back don’t matter nearly as much as the strengths and values that will move you forward. Healthy habits and happy feelings are far more rewarding than doom and gloom. Eventually the bad behaviors get “crowded out.” Balance is the most powerful anti-depressant.

Health coaching strives to solve problems so that they stay solved. Because life is full of curve balls. Accepting responsibility for your own wellness allows you to take corrective action instead of waiting around for rescue. There is always something you can do to improve today. And every something you do adds up to an even better tomorrow.

I’m a health coach, and I’m human. Groundhog Day episodes are part of my struggle. But when I find myself stuck in repeat mode, I need only to remember that there is nothing wrong with me that I can’t handle. I’ve simply put too much emphasis in one area of my life at the expense of the others. Darkness is a lack of light! Actions that restore balance turn on the light. Challenge accepted. Game on . . .

Interested in health coaching? Read more about working with me . . .

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Health Coaching Explained

Health Coaching Explained

Sometimes, it’s nice to be told what to do.

Just kidding.

Let me start over. When it comes to our health, we’re used to being told what to do.  It’s easier to accept a prescription than responsibility. Yet it’s our lifestyle that triggers chronic disorders and disease. And research shows (and countless people are discovering for themselves) that issues can be managed and reversed by making changes within our control.

Change is hard. For the most part, we know what we need to do. Drink less, sleep more, increase veggies and stop eating (and drinking) processed crap. Got it. But that’s too simple and also too hard. So we look for the hack. Pills are easy to swallow and programs get quick results. There are solutions at every price point.

But what happens when the pills cause more problems than they solve? Or when the program stops working because we can’t stick with it? Depending on our personality, we buy into the next promise or stoically accept our fate.

There’s another option—a new buzzword in town. I’ll explain what health coaching is, how it’s different than what you might expect, and why it works. It’s a complete shift from the normal “help” we’ve been offered. I’ll be honest. I didn’t understand health coaching until after I became one.

I wanted to be a certified health coach because I know a lot about nutrition and wellness. And I love to talk about it. Free advice is my specialty . . . you’re welcome. I’m the go-to gal with the fun food facts. Heck. I even wrote a book. Evidently, I had a lot to say–it’s so thick that few people actually finish reading it. It’s like a bible. But that’s ok–I’m proud of it. I continue to share the good news in every medium I can manage. Just sit next to me at the next band competition and see for yourself. Bring a notebook in case you want to write stuff down.

What is a Health Coach?

Imagine my shock when I learned in the certification process that effective coaches listen more than they talk. This was disappointing in light of my abundant words of wisdom. It was awkward to learn that my advice won’t work for everyone. In fact, it may not work for me indefinitely. I can’t lay claim to having the answers. My job as a coach is to help others figure out what they need, what works for them, and most importantly, how to auto-correct as life evolves.

From a young age, we’re told that the professional opinion is the correct answer. Experts are the authority. And this is true in many situations. Medical school is a legal prerequisite for diagnosing disease. But while doctors do prescribe treatment, it is not their job to guide you step-by-step to wellness. Doctors manage what’s wrong. In contrast, coaches help you discover how to get right.

Coaching is an emerging field in healthcare. Thus, most people do not understand what we do and where we fit into the big picture. It’s unlikely that your doctor has referred you to a health coach, and less likely that your insurance company agrees to pay for it. The landscape is changing fast, as evidence demonstrates that coaching yields significant results (at a fraction of the cost). For now however, we are still outliers in the system (aka out-of-pocket-eers). That will change in the near future.

Despite my theoretical understanding of coaching, I still gave a lot of advice when I began seeing clients. That paradigm is hard to shake. Clients expected me to be the expert and I wanted to deliver. And in the short-term, my rules (or anyone else’s) can work. Try this! Do that. You’ll likely make some headway. But eventually, there is a wall. Following someone else’s program requires a lot of willpower because it belongs to someone else. Eventually, you run out of steam and it doesn’t work anymore.

How Does Health Coaching Work?

When the walls closed in on my clients, and my advice was no longer working, I felt as discouraged as they did. Their failures became my own. So I enrolled in a masters degree program. I knew that I could do better. Coaching is a skill. Done well, it is powerful—just look at the results that business, executive and life coaches get! They charge big bucks, and the investment pays for itself many times over. Within a few months of entering the program, I made the turn. I got it. I stopped talking and started asking questions. And the answers were there.

We are each the expert of our own life. My job as a coach is to help you own that. There is no such thing as an “unmotivated” person. We’re all motivated by something. Sometimes our brain-wires get crossed. Coaching untangles those wires and brings clarity to our behaviors. I ask questions like, “You said this, but you’re doing that. Why?” And your answer leads to the next step. Connecting to your own unique values and God-given strengths results in lasting change.

My clients made the turn with me, once I stopped assuming I knew what they needed. They reached their goals and now push beyond. In turn, they inspire me. That’s what I love about coaching. I get to grow too. I do offer direction when asked, but now it’s more like an open-ended set of options. My clients chose their path. Together we evaluate the results and plan the next step. I don’t miss giving a lot of advice because plain and simple, that didn’t work. Failure isn’t rewarding.

And that proves that personal transformation is possible. Because if I can figure out how and why to stop telling people what they need to do next, you can change too!

P.S.: Please realize that results don’t happen overnight. I am not offering a quick fix, rather  real and lasting transformation. Together we will take one step at a time, and you will get where you want to go in a way that allows you to stay there. Check out Anna and Missy’s stories below. I’ve worked with both of these ladies for over a year.

Who Needs a Health Coach?

In my opinion, everyone can benefit from health coaching. Including me. In my observation, there are three categories of people:

  • Those struggling and want help.
  • Those struggling but prefer to argue that change is not possible.
  • Those who aren’t struggling but are ready to tackle a new goal.

Which category describes you? Would you like to give health coaching a try? I offer free consultations. Submit a health history form and I’ll contact you for an appointment. 

What is a Health Coaching Program?

Health coaches often have a specialty that appeals to a specific group of people. The overall focus of my program is nutrition and wellness. Though every client is unique, I most often deal with people looking to lose weight or maintain their weight loss, balance gut health and improve digestion, reduce chronic symptoms like pain, allergies and IBS, combat cravings, manage stress, and/or incorporate more home-cooked meals with meal plans, recipes and efficient strategies. My intention is to help you:

  • Discover what foods or diet plan works best for your body.
  • Assess your life from a holistic perspective.
  • Identify assumptions and thought patterns that are working against you.
  • Find true motivation, inspiration and energy.
  • Focus forward with timely, achievable and realistic goals.

My health coaching program provides you with:•

  • Two private 50-minute sessions per month
  • Ongoing email and phone support between sessions
  • Simple healthy recipes and nutritional guidance
  • Resources specific to your needs and goals (books, videos, websites, handouts, etc.)

What is Group Coaching?

Working one-on-one with a health coach means that every session is all about you. However, so much can be learned from others. Tapping into collective wisdom and experiences, and brainstorming from different perspectives can lead to discoveries you might otherwise miss. Group coaching is based on a team environment of confidentiality and trust, where group members are open to being coached. Themes arise from individual issues and questions. Discussions and exercises reveal varying perspectives that can offer a feeling of normality, inspiration, and multiple layers of support and accountability.

Success Stories

Anna M.–Tallahassee, Florida

“I have been a single mom since shortly after my children were born. For 10 years, I worked in a high stress job and spent all of my time taking care of my kids. Fourteen months ago, my weight hit an all time high. I was five feet tall, 165 pounds, and needed Spanx to squeeze into my biggest clothes. So I spent a year going to a personal trainer 3-4 times a week, and cut back on unhealthy food. When I didn’t loose any weight, my doctor referred me to a metabolic specialist, who found that my triglycerides were at 602, and my total cholesterol was at 347. A genetic test indicated that I don’t metabolize cholesterol very well. Statins were prescribed, and I was told I’d need them the rest of my life. But even at small doses, the side effects were immediate. Muscle fatigue, cramping, flu-like symptoms, daily exhaustion, and several severe depressive episodes were debilitating. I tried at least five different statins and each was as bad as the last.

I couldn’t live this way. So I did my research and made a decision. I believed that if I changed my lifestyle, cleaned up my diet and lost weight, I wouldn’t need those drugs. But I felt like I’d already tried everything! Even my doctor believed I’d always need the statins regardless of my efforts. It seemed hopeless.

And then I started working with Colleen. Unexpectedly, most of our sessions were not spent talking about what I should and shouldn’t eat. Self-defeating thought patterns were my greatest challenge. Colleen helped me get out of my own way and overcome my fear that things would never change. Every small step gave me the confidence to take another. I just needed someone else to believe in me until I could believe too. The weight was slow to come off and I had to push through frequent plateaus. But I now weigh a healthy 118 pounds. My cholesterol and triglycerides have dropped into the normal range—off the statins!—and continue to fall. And I have no fear that I can’t sustain this. Colleen didn’t just help me lose weight. She guided me to a completely new perspective. Her coaching style – combining both nutritional and psychological counseling – has been instrumental in my success. I know that I did the work, but I give Colleen all of the credit. And now that I have the knowledge (and the energy!) I will pay this success forward, starting with my kids!” –Anna M.

Missy B. — Fort Wayne, IN

“I lost over 100 pounds on my own. And then it started coming back. It was embarrassing and shameful to think I was destined to be among the 95 percent of people who regain all their weight. I envied the healthy and active people who seemed to have it easier than I did. Working with Colleen gave me the tools and skills to transform my relationship with my body and my understanding of food. She encouraged me to trust my intuition. She challenged me to break my own rules (because they were holding me back). Now, for the first time in my life, I am happy with myself and so very proud of who I’ve become. I would never have believed this was possible without Colleen’s support.” – Missy B

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Homemade Deodorant

Homemade Deodorant

Learn why I don’t race for the cure, I run from the cancer. Seriously, get rid of the Secret if you want to be Sure . . .

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Fort Wayne Business People: 5 Questions with Colleen Kachmann

Fort Wayne Business People: 5 Questions with Colleen Kachmann

Read 5 Questions with Colleen Kachmann in Fort Wayne Business People.

Colleen Kachmann is a Fort Wayne native, proponent of healthy living, mom of four and now she can add author to her growing list of roles. She earned her B.S. in Biology and Chemistry Education from Indiana University. After teaching for five years at a local high school, she decided to stay home with her four children. She worked part time as a wellness instructor in yoga, group exercise and personal training for the next fifteen years. Her writing career began in 2010 with a blog called Waking Up Vegan, which evolved into a book, Life Off the Label. She is also certified as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach.

Q1: What inspired you to write a book? 
Transitioning to a vegan diet while parenting four children taught me that there are no right answers. A sense of humor and an open mind are key. The physical and social impact of our food and lifestyle choices can’t be managed with a rigid set of rules. I wanted to be healthy and happy—not rigid and “right.” As I peeled back the vegan and perfect-parent labels, I found beauty in the contradictions and complications. Once I embraced them and stopped fighting, Life Off the Label was born.

Q2: Can you tell us about the book? What should readers expect?
The premise of the book is that it’s not normal to be healthy anymore. We’ve been taught there is better living through chemistry, and that health and happiness are conveniently sold in products, pills and pastimes. I bought into these notions for years, so the book is filled with funny stories of my own misadventures and the scientific reasons it’s so easy to go wrong.

Life Off the Label details my efforts to live and be well, only to discover that I wasn’t and I am not alone. Seventy percent of Americans are overweight and take at least one medication. I did not want to be a statistic, so I deconstructed the habits and beliefs that limited my potential. What I discovered changed my life and I hope it can change my readers’ lives too.

Q3: There are many weight loss/healthy lifestyle books on the market.
What makes yours different?
Normal life in our culture is stressful and exhausting. Life Off the Label explores the reasons we feel so depleted of energy, money, and time. It does not offer a quick fix. Examining the foods, products, and beliefs that are trapping us is the key to freedom. Life Off the Label is the path to freedom—freedom from ignorance, brainwashing and misleading marketing. This lifestyle does not demand more time, money or energy, rather it returns them. 

Q4: What advice would you give to others looking to improve their health?
A high-quality life isn’t fueled by low-quality food and sleep or stress. If life really is about the journey, then we have to stop running in circles. Most of us are aware of the bad habits that lead to disorders and disease. What each of us must discover are the healthy habits that lead to happiness. 

Q5: What do you like to do in your spare time?
I spend a lot of time with my family. Our gathering place is the kitchen, where we prepare meals, laugh about life, share stories, songs and videos, and plan new adventures. 

For more information, visit Colleen’s website, lifeoffthelabel.com. Here you will find recipes, a blog full of lifestyle advice, a self-assessment quiz, and more.

Colleen Kachmann
Photo by Steve Vorderman

 

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Dr. Rudy Kachmann Interviews Colleen

Dr. Rudy Kachmann Interviews Colleen

Dr. Rudy Kachmann and I discuss the first 50 pages of my book, Life Off the Label. He encouraged me to write the book four years ago. We discuss the writing process and delve into food addiction, Big Food, why we are fat and why exercise is not the cure. This is a fabulous discussion with my father-in-law. 

Click here to watch Part 2. https://youtu.be/Hrip1kXP7W4

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Good Soil. Bad Soil: Nature Vs. Nurture

Good Soil. Bad Soil: Nature Vs. Nurture

Nature Vs. Nurture

In the past 20 years, genetic research has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that genes do not determine our health destiny. The nature versus nurture debate is over. Lifestyle and eating habits are both the cause and the cure of disease.

But no one wants to believe that because it implies that the people suffering from chronic ailments or diseases are responsible for their illnesses. We can’t blame people for getting sick (except smokers who get lung cancer, of course). It’s no one’s fault they have allergies, suffer from depression, struggle with weight, or God forbid, get cancer. So we collectively continue to wait with hopes that medical research will produce the antidote for those with unfortunate and faulty DNA–neglecting the overwhelming truth that we can and must nurture our nature. We race for the cure, raise awareness for early detection and anguish over the cost of healthcare. Meanwhile, our health is going from bad to worse.

We know that plants cannot thrive in low quality soil. If two identical tomato seeds are planted, one in fertile compost and bright sunlight, and the other in shallow top soil next to a toxic dump, the result is of no surprise. One plant will be hearty and bear abundant fruit. The other will have stunted growth, diseased leaves and small and deformed fruit–assuming it grows at all. We don’t blame failure to thrive on a plant’s DNA. We know that nutrients are necessary if we want healthy and robust plants.

The same is true for humans. Seven in ten of us are overweight, on medication and suffering from at least one chronic ailment. We’re like sickly plants that are failing to thrive. Many ailments and diseases tend to run in families, just like specific pests and fungal rots plague susceptible species of plants. But it’s a fatal error to search our DNA for the cause. Consider that in 1940, one in four women with the BRCA gene got breast cancer. Three in four women didn’t get the disease. So the gene doesn’t cause the cancer. But in 2013, a whopping 85 percent of women with the BRCA gene get breast cancer. Yet the gene has not changed. Our lifestyles and food supply, however, have.

Genes do not cause disease or create wellness. They simply make both possible. In the last 20 years, we’ve learned that a short list of controllable behaviors determine our medical fate (smoking, food choices and exercise). Those willing to accept responsibility for their habits can opt out of the Russian Roulette. Taking responsibility begins with a return to age-old wisdom:

  • You are what you eat.
  • Food is medicine.
  • Laughter is the best medicine.
  • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  • The cure is worse than the disease.
  • Sound body. Sound mind.
  • There is no sweet without sweat.
  • The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
  • There’s none so blind as those who refuse to see.

We must stop listening to the mass-marketing messages that barrage us 24/7. They are designed to sell addictive foods and products–not guide us to health and happiness. Wellness happens naturally. Unlearn to learn. Cooking at home doesn’t require a culinary arts degree. A home with a kitchen and maybe a cookbook will suffice. Don’t believe it takes a masters in nutrition to know how to eat healthy. Just eat more vegetables and fruit and less sugar, meat, milk and chemically-enhanced artificial junk food. Exercise doesn’t require expensive equipment or a personal trainer. Comfortable movement and the desire to feel good in your own body is all it takes. You don’t need a therapist to guide you to inner peace–just a few friends that make you laugh. Genetic testing won’t identify what’s wrong. Just start living right. Let your instincts guide you to replace bad habits with new ones that will sustain your health. When wellness is the intention, it’s not nearly as complicated as we’ve been led to believe.

Don’t blame nature. Nurture it. The quality and quantity of your life will expand.

 

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