Holistic Health

Holistic health coaching is based on an integrative approach to health which combines all aspects of human life that may affect health or disease. Holistic health coaching helps find and address the root causes of a disease or suffering, not just alleviating symptoms.

Lifestyle and nutrition are effective tools, not only for improving the quality of life, but also for preventing and managing chronic disease.

A health coach is a trained professional who supports their clients in making dietary and lifestyle changes to improve their health and quality of life. Coaches offer a customized program based on the client’s health goals. Coaches support the client in introducing changes in nutrition, physical activity, stress management and sleep improvement techniques.

Moreover, they take a closer look at other aspects of their life like relationships, career, interests, finances that may affect the client’s wellbeing. This holistic approach allows us to see all of those small ‘details’ that affect our health and joy of life. Health coaching uses science- and experience-based tools to help clients reach their health goals and enhance the quality of their life.

The phenomenon of health coaching in the USA

The global market for health coaching is rapidly expanding. In 2021, it was estimated at 14 billion dollars, and current projections for 2030 are nearly 26 billion dollars. The coronavirus pandemic has played a significant role in this growth, as people have become more proactive about their physical well-being. They are seeking the help of specialists, stress-reduction tools, engaging in physical activity, and preparing healthy meals. People are becoming increasingly aware of the significant impact they can have on their health and well-being.

It is paradoxical that, despite global progress, many people are returning to natural methods of supporting their health. This trend is characterized by a desire for a closer connection with nature, a harmonious lifestyle, and the nourishment of the body. We are no longer just active and productive beings; we also understand that we live and feel. As a result, many of us seek internal, spiritual, and non-material development. This is why practices such as yoga, meditation, breathwork, natural nutrition, therapeutic massages, acupuncture, and other bodywork methods have gained significant interest. While modern medicine has brought undeniable benefits, it is clear that overusing drugs and supplements, relying on miracle diets, and treating symptoms instead of addressing the root causes can have negative long-term effects on our health. We often fall into the trap of believing that only natural methods can heal us and reject conventional medical therapies, or vice versa, that only pharmacotherapy can help, and resort to antibiotics for every minor ailment. However, finding a balance between modern medicine and natural remedies is the key to a healthy and fulfilling life.

We also know that there are no universal solutions for everyone because each body, its genes, biochemical processes, and lifestyle are radically different. Therefore, we currently observe the rapid development of functional medicine in the USA, which is based on an individual, holistic approach to the patient, treating the causes rather than alleviating the effects of diseases, and a strong focus on the patient’s lifestyle.

In the USA, the health coaching market is estimated at 7 billion dollars. Americans work with health coaches privately, through health insurance (many insurance companies offer health coach services), in health clinics (an increasing number of doctors work in tandem with health coaches), or at work (employers offer health coaching services as part of wellness packages). For example, companies like Apple, Microsoft, or JP Morgan & Chase, seeing the growing demand, have started offering health coach services to their employees to support them in health issues such as hypertension, heart disease, stress reduction, healthy nutrition, or physical activity.

60% of Americans declare that they would like to work with a health coach. This seems justified because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60% of Americans suffer from at least one chronic disease (such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or cancer). 70% of Americans are overweight, with 40% being obese. In the USA, the two main causes of death are heart disease and cancer, and their primary risk factors are related to lifestyle, including unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, smoking, or harmful alcohol consumption.

Health Coaching in Poland

Health coaching in Poland is still in its early stages. Poles are increasingly deciding to consciously take care of their mental and physical health. However, similar to the USA, the leading causes of death in Poland are cardiovascular diseases and cancer, responsible for over 50% of deaths annually (source: Central Statistical Office – GUS). Additionally, according to CBOS data at the beginning of the decade, only 39% of Poles had a normal body weight, 59% were overweight, including 21% were obese. Furthermore, the WHO Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative from 2017 revealed that a staggering 30% of Polish children aged 8 are overweight or obese. A similar concern is highlighted in a WHO report (32%), citing irregular meals, a sedentary lifestyle (coupled with low physical activity), high consumption of simple sugars (sweets, sugary drinks), and the consumption of widely available highly processed food (fast food, ready-made meals) as primary reasons.

The number of obese Poles continues to rise, annual expenditures on obesity treatment are increasing, and the prevention of overweight and obesity remains the number one operational goal in the National Health Program since 2016 and will continue to be so until 2025.
As evident, the challenges are significant; visits to the doctor and regular check-ups are necessary. However, it is essential to realize that health care happens every day, 24 hours a day, at home, at work, during a walk, or at a restaurant. Lifestyle and diet influence our health and can either increase the risk of disease or prevent it.

In 2023, we have knowledge of how to change our habits and diet to strengthen our physical and mental health. Health coaching is a form of support for clients in making changes in their lifestyle, diet, and other significant aspects of their lives, such as career or interpersonal relationships, which also have a tremendous impact on their health and sense of happiness. Health coaching provides clients with comprehensive information and tools to make changes according to their needs and goals, simultaneously offering emotional support throughout the implementation process.

My goal is to share knowledge and practical tools so that my clients learn to be experts in their health and make conscious decisions based on the latest scientific knowledge. Our collaborative work eliminates decisions and behaviors resulting from unawareness, lack of knowledge, or past habits.

Health Coaching. Why is it Important?

Over the past 120 years, the structure of causes of death has undergone significant changes. In the early 20th century, infectious diseases such as smallpox, polio, diphtheria, and influenza were the leading causes of death. However, with the advancement of medicine, the development of vaccines, and improved hygiene practices, we began effectively protecting ourselves from these diseases.

Currently, the leading global causes of death are cardiovascular diseases and cancer. After 2019 and the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, where infectious diseases again became a serious threat to health and life, claiming nearly 7 million lives to date (WHO data as of May 2023), cardiovascular diseases and cancer still remain the primary causes of death worldwide. We also know that lifestyle-related diseases, largely caused by improper lifestyles, diets, tobacco use, and ineffective stress management, contribute significantly.

Having successfully dealt with infectious diseases in the previous century, it is now time to face lifestyle-related diseases. Currently, we live an average of 30 years longer than in the early 20th century, and the trend suggests that this lifespan will continue to increase. As a result, since 2000, the World Health Organization has been measuring not only life expectancy but also healthy life expectancy (HALE). The goal is not just more years of life but longer years in good health, minimizing the years spent in illness. Knowing that we will live longer and having knowledge on how to incorporate health-promoting changes into our lives allows us to influence the length and quality of our lives.

How Can Health Coaching Help?

Holistic Approach

Holistic Approach

Health coaching is based on integrating all aspects of our lives that impact health or disease. Viewing health as the absence of disease is outdated. Since 1946, the World Health Organization defines health as complete physical, mental, and social well-being. Health encompasses many dimensions influenced by everything present in our lives: food, physical activity, stress reduction, sleep, social contacts, career, and personal development. Health coaching aims to help clients find balance in key aspects of their lives, striving for overall well-being in the long term.

Individual Approach

Individual Approach

Each of us is unique, with different genes and biochemical processes in our bodies. Moreover, we live, eat, sleep, rest, and work differently. There are no universal solutions for everyone, and what works for one person may not work for another. Each individual has different health goals, problems, and needs. A coach develops a personalized action plan for each client, significantly increasing the effectiveness of the change process.

Behavior Change

Behavior Change

At the core of a health coach's focus is behavior change. In health coaching, we work on implementing changes in daily life to serve our long-term goals. The coach helps the client identify and understand habits, beliefs, and thinking patterns that hinder achieving full health. The client seeks answers to questions about what they can start doing, change, or stop doing to be healthy, prevent diseases, or effectively treat existing ones. The coach collaborates with the client to create a work program for developing new behaviors and habits, along with strategies to overcome barriers. Work based on values and addressing the primary causes of harmful behaviors allows for long-term success.

Support and Motivation

Support and Motivation

Support and motivation are two necessary resources for success, and clients can expect this from a coach at every stage of the change process. Regular meetings, a specific action plan for each week, and careful monitoring of client progress help maintain high motivation and focus on goals while overcoming emerging obstacles. A coach offers informational and emotional support, creates a safe and client-friendly space, and assists in problem-solving.

Bridging the Gap between Health and Disease

Bridging the Gap between Health and Disease

Health coaching is beneficial in two situations: first, when we want to be healthy but do not know what to do, and second, when we know what needs to be done but lack ideas on how to implement it in our lives. Sometimes we leave the doctor's office with a list of lifestyle change recommendations: lose weight, eat healthily, exercise more, stress less, etc. However, most of us struggle with these recommendations. Health coaching fills the gap between the doctor and the patient, between health and disease, between what we know and what we do. Education on a healthy lifestyle, effective methods of behavior change, and emotional support during the change process are crucial for achieving health goals.

Growing Interest in Health

Growing Interest in Health

In Poland, we observe a significant increase in interest in health and how to influence it. It is not just illness motivating us to take care of ourselves, but growing awareness enables us to undertake more behaviors aimed at improving health and preventing diseases. As we live longer, we proactively seek ways to have the longest possible life in good health. We know that every person can improve their health and well-being. Hence, health coaching offers education and practical tools and methods, supported by research, to assist clients in consciously making health-promoting changes. In the coaching process, the client, guided by their values and priorities, sets health goals and, with the coach's support, implements them in their life.

Prevention

Prevention

The last important point to make is prevention, both in adults and children. Prevention begins from the earliest years; it is we adults who develop in children eating habits and lifestyles that they will benefit from for years to come. I believe that love, healthy lifestyles and education are the best investment in our children's future that we can give them. Children learn by modeling, that is, by observing others, most often people who are important to them. This means that children will imbibe their parent's lifestyle, ways of eating or relieving stress, and these behaviors will be in their repertoire in adulthood. Obesity in Polish children is reaching frightening numbers, and we are responsible for it. Let's develop healthy habits in ourselves so that we can bestow them on our children and contribute to their longer healthy lives.