What is a Health Coach?


Life can be so overwhelming.  Between getting the kids off to school, answering a million e-mails the moment you get to work, all the stress of meeting deadlines, taking care of family obligations, it can leave very little time to take care of yourself.  We’re stressed out, and it’s getting worse.  Stress can lead to anxiety, depression, chronic pain, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke, and more.  In short, excess stress leads to poor health and shortened lifespan.  Stress not only affects our mental health, but our physical health as well.  So what can you do about this?  This is where finding a health coach can help reverse the impact that stress is doing to your body.

A health coach is a person that believes that the body will heal itself, by itself, if given half the chance.  How is that true?  If you get a cold, our immune system fights off the infection; if you get a paper-cut, your body clots up the area to stop the bleeding; if you break a bone, it will eventually mend itself.  So how is it that when we have health problems that our bodies are not healing themselves?  The answer to that can be complicated, but a health coach can be the person to help you find out why.  Once you and a coach identify the stressors of your problem, only then can suggestions be made to help improve your health.

What do I need a Health Coach for?

Are you feeling stuck with trying to achieve your health goals? Are you trying to improve your health but you don’t know where to start? Health coaches are there for you! I would look for a health coach that specializes in an area of your health that you want to focus on.  I’ve specialized my health coach practice around better nutrition and losing weight, which is obviously a big problem in our country.  It certainly was a big problem for me.

Why did I decide to start Health Coaching?

Most of my life was spent being overweight.  I’ve tried many diets over the years in which I would lose weight, just to gain more back.  Looking at a cookie the wrong way I’d gain 5 lbs. I finally made some progress getting my weight down from 270 lbs to 235 lbs by redundant calorie counting and going to the gym 5x a week; But whatever I did, I couldn’t get my weight to go under 230 lbs. In many cases, my weight started going back up again. I felt that it was almost impossible to control my weight. A few years ago, I was at a point where my doctor said I was pre-diabetic and that she would start me on a regiment of statins after 6 months if my blood work didn’t improve.


That was the moment for me in which I double downed on my nutrition. I practiced elimination diets (to see how certain foods affected me), sugar detoxes, intermittent fasting & more. I’ve lost another 50 lbs since then, blood tests are all in the normal ranges, and I have more energy than I’ve had in years (no diabetes!). Improving my own health has become a passion of mine, and I wanted to learn more to help others struggling with the same issues. So I went on to school to become a holistic health coach. Through that training, I learned that just making simple lifestyle choices rather than extreme diets can impact your health (and waist!) in a huge way. My goal will be to help others overcome those same dietary challenges I faced successfully.

What’s the difference between a Health Coach, Nutritionist & Dietitian?

I think Nutritionist Sharisse Dalby describes it beautifully HERE. A Health Coach focuses on basic health goals such as nutrition, lifestyle, losing weight, and focusing on increasing your overall health in a holistic manner. Using a health coach is a great way to stay accountable in focusing on improving your overall health. Typically, a health coach goes through training programs that range from 6 months to a year before becoming certified. My training was a 12 month program with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition which was amazing! A Health coach cannot diagnose, medicate or prescribe supplements or meal plans.

A Nutritionist goes a little bit more into the specifics of your healing journey. They can prescribe diets, supplements and run certain tests. In the same way as a health coach, they look at the whole picture of your health & try to find the root cause of whats impacting your health. Anyone can call themselves a Nutritionist as its a broad term in the healthcare industry. In many states, a Nutritionist is registered with that state and has undergone extensive training (2-4 years) in the field of nutrition. Nutritionists cannot diagnose or treat disease.

A Registered Dietitian follows more strict guidelines when it comes to healthcare. Typically, they work in medical settings treating disease and medical conditions. They have the most schooling; as they are required to receive a bachelors in nutrition sciences and a 1 year internship. They can diagnose and treat difficult health conditions. Dietitians are usually covered under medical insurance as well. As a health coach, if anyone needed specific dietary requirements for their health (such as an eating disorder), I would likely refer them to a dietitian.

Hope that clears things up if you were confused. Pick the professional that you’ll feel best suits your needs. In summary; go see a Health Coach for more general health concerns, a Nutritionist for more specific dietary guidelines & general health, and a Registered Dietitian for general or serious health concerns.

Get Started!

Now that you have an idea about what a Health Coach does, is it a service you may see a need for? Do you have a health goal that you’ve been struggling with? Would you like help reaching your weight goals?Reach out and schedule a free health consultation at Shawnblmt@gmail.com or head on over to my Contact Me page to get started! Also feel free to leave a comment below with any questions you may have. I’m looking forward to helping you along your journey to better health.

Shawn BellesComment