In short, a health coach is a mentor with expertise in health and wellness. Here at NAU, our heath coaches are students just like you. They know what it’s like to have too much homework, work too many hours, all while trying to squeeze in a social life. Our UCAN health coaches are pursuing degrees in health-related disciplines and have completed a minimum of 45 hours of training in health coaching.
You might think that a health coach is skilled in talking to clients. But in reality, most of the health coaching training is in LISTENING to clients. Listening deeply with compassion and non-judgment is a skill and an art, and just like anything else in life, it takes practice. Our health coaches have practiced and practiced and practiced.
They are knowledgeable and prepared to support you in making changes related to physical activity, meal planning, stress management, body positivity and mindful eating. Health coaching is great on its own but also works well with other health professionals such as physical trainers, physical therapists, counselors, and dietitians or nutritionists. You may have been given a diagnosis, or specific recommendations for change by a healthcare professional. It can be hard to start and then stick with a change. That’s where we come in. We can walk you through the journey.
It’s nice to know you’re not alone.
Now, you might be thinking, “I don’t need a health coach. I just need motivation.” Here’s the thing – by talking through a change with a health coach, you’ll likely feel more motivated afterwards. Hard to believe, but it’s true.
UCAN health coaches are trained in a skill called motivational interviewing. Motivational interviewing helps you clarify your personal values and how they align with your health goals. In its simplest form motivational interviewing means asking questions in a way that increases motivation. But it’s so much more than that. We provide a safe, non-judgmental space to talk it out – to explore your values and health goals and to help you break it down into small manageable bite-sized pieces.
Questions you can expect from a health coach include:
- What is one small change that feels doable right now?
- Why do you want to make this change?
- If you’re successful with making this change, how might your life improve?
- Who in your life could support you in making this change?
- How do you plan on going about making this change?
If you get stuck, we’ve got ideas; but, we’re not going to tell you what to do. We’re just going to help you brainstorm the best strategies that work for you. While all of us college students have similar struggles, there are different solutions hidden in each of us. What works for one college student doesn’t work for another college student. And sometimes, it just helps to talk it out with someone.
Your coach will support you in making choices that YOU feel are best for your health. As your UCAN health coach, we believe that you are the expert of yourself. By using your core beliefs and strengths, your health coach will help you create successful habits that are sustainable building blocks for a healthier future.
Whether you’re new to Northern Arizona University and you’re having a hard time juggling all of your classes, or you’re a seasoned athlete who needs a few pointers on how to improve your performance, or just don’t like broccoli, we as your UCAN health coaches would love to help you find ways to pursue health and well-being this school year.
Emily Verebelyi MPH Nutrition Graduate Student & UCAN Health Coach