A Coaching Model Created by Lulu Cook
(Health Coach, AUSTRALIA)
Health coaching can be powerful in helping individuals who are mired in unhealthy behaviours. When clients create and embrace positive new health habits, they transform their vitality and energy immediately, whilst also reducing their long term risk of many chronic diseases. A clear coaching model that summarizes the key domains of health behaviours most clients are likely to struggle with helps the coach structure a coaching arc with the client that is of enough depth and breadth to be truly transformative. The ReFRESHMe! model captures the foundational behavioral areas that are needed for most people to live happy, healthy, high-energy lives. With these specific areas to investigate, a health coach helps an individual identify where they already excel and where they struggle. Coaching tools of active listening, exploring underlying beliefs, etc. are then applied around each of these in sequential coaching sessions.
The foundational behaviours for good health are captured in the ReFRESHMe! model. The image represents the slices of a juicy, refreshing orange, with each segment being a roughly equal piece of the whole. ReFRESHMe! is an acronym for:
- Reset your gut health
- Food that heals
- Relaxation and stress reduction
- Exercise you enjoy
- Helpers - supplements, health coach, friends, etc
Each of these arenas is explored in at least one full coaching session, in order to ensure that the client has the fundamental pieces of a healthy lifestyle aligned. Depending upon the individual, more time may be spent in any of these particular domains. They do not need to be explored in order, although gut health and food are so fundamental to well-being that they are great places to start if the client does not have a preference. If a person seeks out health coaching because they want a routine for physical activity that works for them, a skillful coach will begin with the E of the model to harness that motivation and build on success!
Reset Your Gut Health
In this topic, we delve into whether there are underlying aspects of inflammation and gut permeability that are impacting the health of the individual. Resolution of any problems may include food choices, probiotics, and referral to a doctor, among other possible solutions. This would not be appropriate for all health coaches to offer, but as a credentialed dietitian with expertise in the microbiome, it’s an integral part of why my clients seek me out.
Food That Heals
Health coaches are often well-versed in the basics of balanced diets, such as the many reasons why consuming more fruits and vegetables and reducing intake of highly processed foods are important. This is an area where health coaches can shine, supporting clients to develop a set of actionable, simple strategies to ensure they are increasing their intake of wholesome foods.
Relaxation and Stress Reduction
Here, we dive into habits that impair our clients’ abilities to truly relax so their cortisol-driven stress response down-regulates. This can be a revelatory for people who may be flippant about, “oh, yeah, I’m super-stressed”. Many individuals take this as a norm and have not noticed how negative the impact of this is on their health and well-being. Supporting clients to develop relaxation practices can provide impactful and satisfying feedback to them about the value of health coaching.
Health coaches are not the only ones who hear their clients struggle with the question of how to get to the gym more often! This topic offers a great opportunity to explore the “shoulds” and self-judgements that often arise for someone who is trying to do something they don’t yet enjoy or value. Excavating those old beliefs about what movement “should” be like creates more space for new options to arise in which the individual may learn to move their body in joyous ways they enjoy, and which are equally as healthful as any exercise regimen they might have read about somewhere that was not a good fit for them.
Not recognizing the negative impact of inadequate sleep on immediate well-being and long term health, clients may be surprised when health coaches bring this topic to the conversation. Again, the excuses and values that come into play around choices people make in regards their circardian training and sleep environment offer rich grounds for coaching.
I’ll shamelessly admit that this domain reinforces the value of working with a health coach! After all, everybody knows they should eat more vegetables, but they don’t always do it. Identifying allies such as coaches, family, and friends helps clients see how they can resource themselves for the changes they want to make. It’s important to help coachees keep in mind that some items in the “helpers” category, such as nootropics or supplements, are best viewed as fun add-ins. The foundational work of optimizing diet, stress, activity, and sleep should be addressed first when possible. In our role of ensuring accountability and helping clients perceive any faulty beliefs they may hold, we may be the ones to help them remember that no supplement in the world can make up for a diet that is heavily weighted toward junk foods.
Mindfulness has been well-researched for the benefits it offers for health, productivity, mental clarity, emotional balance, and other qualities broadly associated with health. Coaches can use meditation and visualization as tools in any session with clients and can also support coachees to develop a mindfulness routine that works for their lifestyle.
ReFRESHMe! Makes Health Coaching Tangible
Health coaches want to help our clients create the foundation for a truly healthy life, and that must include a variety of lifestyle domains. It’s not only about eating better or getting an exercise regimen going. It requires a broad sweep across a range of behaviours that can work against the individual’s goals…or be harnessed to support them. The ReFRESHMe! model allows coaches to engage with clients in an organized and powerful way to move through the key arenas that can derail or support them, using our other coaching skills in each interaction.