Connect with a wellness coach for better health

MAY 15, 2017
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If you’re looking to make a healthy change, you don’t need to hire a personal trainer or sit through hours of classes. You can find the key to improving your health right in your phone.


Many people find that wellness coaching by phone is one of the most effective ways to achieve goals like quitting smoking, reducing stress, getting fit, or managing weight.


The basics of wellness coaching


It’s a process that involves a series of short conversations with a specially trained health professional. Using an evidence-based method known as motivational interviewing, coaches ask non-judgmental questions, listen, and help you reflect on what you want. It’s not therapy, and they won’t prescribe a diet or make calorie recommendations.


Wellness coaching is based on the idea that you’re more likely to make lifestyle changes if you’re the one choosing to make them. This means your coach will focus on helping you discover what works for you. Coaches can also help you find resources such as places to exercise, healthy recipes, or support groups.


How wellness coaching works


Mindy Boccio, MPH, senior consultant for Regional Health Education in Kaiser Permanente Northern California, uses weight loss as an example in explaining the process.


“In the first coaching session, we elicit members’ own reasons to achieve a healthy weight, assess their readiness to make lifestyle changes, and help them focus on a realistic step forward,” says Boccio. “We then schedule follow-up sessions to provide guidance and support to help maintain lifestyle changes.”


Depending on the provider, phone sessions typically last about 20 minutes. While some programs enable members to talk with a wellness coach for up to 6 sessions, even 2 sessions can produce positive results.


The proven benefits


According to a new a new study published in the journal Obesity, people looking to lose weight who used coaching by phone lost an average of 10 pounds over 12 months. In addition, they changed their year-over-year weight trajectories from upward to downward.1


A study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that coaching participants were able to quit tobacco at higher rates than those who didn’t use coaching (31 percent vs. 23 percent). The participants’ quitting rates were comparable to people who attended in-person group classes.2


Not only is wellness coaching by phone shown to be successful, it’s convenient. You can schedule sessions when they’re most convenient for you, without having to arrange child care or take time off from work. Telephone counseling is inexpensive, or sometimes provided at no-cost.


How to find a wellness coach


Many major health care organizations offer wellness coaching programs for members. Ask your health plan carrier which ones they provide or recommend. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a wellness coach, as well.


Calling a wellness coach can be a small change that puts you on a pathway to lasting results. Together, you’ll create a customized plan for change.


Learn more about wellness coaching.


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1Julie a Schmittdiel et al., “The impact of telephonic wellness coaching on weight loss: A ‘Natural Experiments for Translation in Diabetes (NEXT-D)” study.’” Obesity, January 26, 2017.


2Mindy Boccio et al., “Telephone-based coaching: A comparison of tobacco cessation programs in an integrated health care system.” American Journal of Health Promotion, November 11, 2015.


TOPICSDiabetesfitnessNutritionquit smokingWellness Coach