Most people are familiar with the concept of couples therapy, the process of seeking counseling from a neutral third-party who can assess the couple’s needs in a variety of areas from conflict management to co-parenting. It is something that nearly all couples can benefit from, as it focuses on strengthening the relationship and mending any areas of weakness.
However, couple’s therapy is certainly not the only refuge in which partners can seek to gain a better understanding and appreciation for their relationship and enhance each other’s part in it. In fact, more and more couples are starting to partake in health coaching side by side.
Health coaching, although less mainstream and talked about in today’s society, is becoming increasingly popular, especially for couples. “Health coaches are essentially guides or mentors who inspire, motivate, educate, and provide accountability for clients who want to improve their overall health and wellness,” explains Lianna Nielsen, a London-based integrative nutrition health coach. “Health coaches tend to be experts in behavior changes and lifestyle improvements, and many also have different specialties in areas like nutrition, weight-loss, hormone balance, gut health, and sleep.”
While, off the bat, this might not sound like something a typical couple would indulge in, experts say that it can be extremely effective for couples, especially those who are aligned in their health and wellness goals. “Not only is maintaining optimal physical and mental health one of the best things you can do to support a lasting relationship, but it’s simply easier to make lasting health and lifestyle improvements with the support of your partner,” says Nielsen. “Taking the time to create healthy habits that will support both of you long term is one of the best investments you can make in your relationship—and something that most couples don’t think of doing.”
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How Health Coaching Can Benefit Your Relationship
Here’s a closer look at all of the ways health coaching can positively impact your relationship, according to experts.
As Nielsen explained, working with a health coach requires you to make certain lifestyle changes that can be difficult without the support of those around you. When your partner is also on board, there's far more incentive to stay the course. “The excuses that health coaches often hear, like ‘I am too tired’ or ‘I don’t see any results yet’ are not as common when working with couples, because there is a deeper level of accountability that is held and then met with working partners,” says Mckenzie Hathaway, a Mindbody holistic health practitioner and nutritional health coach.
Working with a health coach will help you to develop a deeper understanding of your physical (and often emotional) needs as well as the needs of your partner, explains Nielsen, which she notes will allow couples to more effectively communicate with each other and inevitably lead to improved health and quality of life for both.
Establishing New Interests
Hathaway finds that many of her couples tend to explore new activities together once they embark on health coaching. “For example, in the past, cooking might have been one partner's primary job, but now the couple is meal prepping together or looking for a restaurant that can accommodate their food plan,” she says. “I have also seen couples get really into going to the gym together, and doing runs and half marathons—activities they would have never done together prior, but since working with a coach they are finding many new common interests.”
Accomplishing Goals Together
Every good partnership involves celebrating each other’s wins, but getting the chance to do it side-by-side is truly something special. “Seeing your partner transform mentally and physically before your eyes, and knowing that you had a positive impact on that is so amazing,” notes Hathaway. “When working together there is an added level of excitement when you achieve a goal—knowing that it was hard work together that you were able to work with this coach and transform some aspect of your life.”
Working with a health coach can also help each of you better manage the stress in your lives, which can reduce your risk for weight gain, disease, and mental-health issues, notes Nielsen. “Learning to manage stress in a healthy way will not only help improve your physical health and the health of your partner. But, it can also improve your communication and reduce tension, which supports the health of your relationship.”
What to Expect From Working With a Health Coach as a Couple
If you and your partner are interested in seeking out a health coach to help you achieve some of the goals you’ve set out for your wellbeing as both individuals and as a couple, here are a few things you can expect as you start your journey.
To Learn More About Yourself Than You Expected
“Health coaching takes a more holistic approach, examining all parts of your life since they each impact your health,” explains Nielsen. “As you start paying closer attention to your current habits, you will develop a much deeper understanding of yourself, how your body works, and why you’ve been making some of the less helpful choices you’ve been making.”
To Be Open and Honest
Health coaches will want to keep open communication with you. The more open and honest you can be with your coach, the better you will find your results are, according to Tara Allen, a registered nurse and a certified health and nutrition coach. The reason for this is that coaches will help you celebrate your wins and continue to plan when things are going well. And, when things are not going as well as you'd like if it's a busy time or you're feeling unmotivated, they will step in and really coach you through. But, they can only do this if you keep lines of communication open.
To Be Asked a Lot of Questions
In order for a health coach to truly grasp an understanding of your lifestyle and the areas that could use some improvement, they will have to ask you a fairly large set of questions. These questions can range from what you eat for breakfast on a daily basis to how often you take time to meditate.
To Receive a Ton Of Support
Health coaches want to support you and be there any way they can. “You are not too much for your coach and your questions are always welcomed and supported,” says Hathaway. “Your health coach most likely finds true joy with working with you, so please know they want to do this and that they want to support your health and lifestyle changes.”
To Score Impressive Results
Since a health coach isn’t solely focused on your fitness only or your eating regimen only, some clients tend to think that results won’t be as instant. But, the opposite is often true. “Change, in this case working with a health coach, is a great thing,” says Hathaway. “People may comment that your healthy lifestyle is intimidating, or comment on your body or the food you are now eating. But know that it is all a part of the change.”
To Realize You Have More Control Over Your Health Than You Think
Your health is the result of the millions of small choices that you make every single day, from how much you sleep, to whom you chose to engage with, and even how you speak to yourself,” says Nielsen. “Once you start making small adjustments that are more suited for your body, you will notice improvements in how you feel, which can easily build into lasting habits.”