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What is a Health Coach?

The story of your health is the story of your life.

Abby England Wellness is a private health coaching practice that provides one-on-one coaching and group program facilitation to people who want to write their next chapter happier, less stressed, full of energy, confidently achieving their biggest health goals.

What is health coaching?

In its simplest terms, health coaching is helping people get from where they are today, to where they’d like to be. There is an enormous gap between wanting to be well and the everyday reality of our busy lives.

No two people’s life experiences, gene expression, and current lifestyle are the same so to improve one’s health, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

That’s why at the heart of coaching is an individualized approach for each person.

A health coach is not

A licensed medical clinician (physicians, nurses, pharmacists, registered dieticians) are the only ones who can diagnose physical and mental health ailments, order and interpret lab assessments, and prescribe medications or supplements. If you’re working with a medical clinician, a Health Coach can be a wonderful addition to your team by closely working with you to implement the behavior changes and lifestyle modifications that clinicians prescribe.

One of the most common misperceptions is that coaching, counseling, and therapy are all kind of the same thing but that’s not true. Counseling and therapy are typically “backward facing”, asking ‘why’ to things that have happened in the past, whereas coaching is “forward-facing” focusing on where you want to be (your goals) and developing a plan to get there.

While encouragement and support are certainly important aspects to coaching, it is so much more than “way to go’s!” and “you can do it’s!” Apologies for my bluntness but a coach is not paid to be your friend. A well trained coach will challenge you to think about what you truly want for your health and life, help you uncover your deepest motivations (to keep you committed), and support you in holding yourself accountable to these goals. Sometimes that means calling out a blind spot and helping you course correct.

While a coach is not there to be your friend, we’re also not drill sergeants. Life happens. Even the best of intentions can get derailed by deadlines, responsibilities, and other priorities. Our sessions are a no judgment zone. A coach will help you reframe a “failure” to a learning opportunity and pull insights from your experience that will help inform your next attempt.

Unfortunately anyone can arbitrarily call themselves a “coach” so the term gets thrown around a lot from people who are not professionally trained. Many of them use a cookie-cutter approach for every client, but those typically don’t lead to sustainable, long-term results. These “cookie cutter” plans fall apart because they don’t take into consideration the reality of your life: the likes, dislikes, and responsibilities. The key differentiator is that coaching is all about creating an individualized plan based on what will realistically fit into the context of your life.

A health coach is 

In its simplest terms, health coaching is helping people get from where they are today, to where they’d like to be. From who they are today, to the person they’d like to be. A coach helps you visualize your big audacious goals and then helps you break them down into actionable steps so they don’t feel overwhelming. How do you change the course of a battleship? One degree at a time.

There is an enormous gap between wanting to be well and the everyday reality of our busy lives.  Most people already know or have a sense of what they “should” be doing to improve health, fitness, and wellness, but they just don’t know how to do it consistently. That’s where a coach can help. Health Coaches are professionally trained and specialize in behavior change to support clients in a highly personalized, one-on-one setting that taps into your own strengths, preferences, life experiences, and motivations for change. 

You are your own Chief Health Officer, and in addition to mom, dad, stepmom, stepdad, daughter, son, sister, brother you may carry the “CHO” responsibility and title for your family as well. One of your responsibilities with this title is to assemble the team around you. The medical clinicians and experts will give their expert advice and recommendations but only you can put it into practice in a way that’s going to work for your life. Health is a team sport and a private health coach can be the player on your team who helps bring it all together with you.

Personalized coaching with a certified health coach is the most effective use of your time to achieve your goals. Your sessions are personalized to you; this is your “me time.” You may find that our coaching sessions are your only time when you get to slow down, really think about your goals, and talk through with a trained professional how to realistically achieve them within the context of your life.

We’re going to come up with the most efficient and effective plan that should work because we’ve created it together based on your unique experiences, likes, dislikes, and lifestyle factors.

Most certified health coaches have a broad interpretation of the term “health and wellness” meaning it’s more than just the absence of disease. Health and Wellness is optimizing all areas of your life that contribute to your overall life satisfaction. From relationships to finances to nutrition to stress management, a professionally trained health coach knows we don’t live our lives in compartments and if one area is out of balance it can cause stress in other areas. That’s why we take a holistic, whole person approach to each client.

Typical client benefits from coaching

  • Behavior, diet, and lifestyle changes seem more realistic and sustainable with a collaborative guide
  • Increase confidence and decrease overwhelm by breaking down a treatment plan or big goals into bite-sized actionable steps
  • Resolve ambivalence and discover your own motivation for change, keeping you committed for the long-term
  • Getting “unstuck” with the help of a facilitative partner
  • Inevitable challenges aren’t total derailers because we’ve built contingency plans
  • Momentum maintained even during setbacks through encouragement and support

What to look for in a health coach

If you’re considering a health coach, even if it’s not me, I highly recommend narrowing down your list to those who are National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coaches. Look for the NBC-HWC credentials after his/her name. This robust board certification examination was developed in partnership with the National Board of Medical Examiners to advance the health & wellness coaching profession by providing training, education, and assessment standards for the industry.

Personally, I am a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC) and certified through Kresser Institute’s ADAPT Functional Medicine Health Coach Program (A-CFHC). These esteemed credentials represent my training in behavior change theories, functional medicine, ancestral health, and physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing.

text NBCHWC Logo

Areas of support

While some coaches serve niche client segments, I have broad experience across a number of health concerns such as:

Adult Acne & Skin Conditions

Alcohol Use

Autoimmune Diseases


Cardiovascular Health

Crohn’s & Other IBD


Diet & Nutrition

Elimination Diet(s)


Exercise / Movement

Food Allergies & Sensitivity

Food Labels & Ingredients

High Blood Pressure / Hypertension

High Blood Sugar

Inflammation Management & Reduction

Meal Planning

Mental Health

Overweight & Obesity

Sleep Optimization

Smoking Cessation

Stress Management

Time Management

Weight Loss

Is health coaching right for me?

If you’ve thought any of these, coaching may help you achieve your goals.

I want to close the gap between where I am and where I want to be with my health goals.

I’m done with quick fixes that don’t stick and want to make changes that last.

I want to improve my health but I don’t know where to start.

Does health coaching really work?

Lead to faster reduction of blood sugar levels in diabetic patients

Journal of Medical Internet Research

Lessen feelings of depression and improve overall quality of life

Dove Medical Press

Result in clinically relevant improvements in multiple biomarker risk factors (including systolic and diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting glucose, body weight, body mass index, waist circumference, and cardiorespiratory fitness) in diverse populations

American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine

Improve weight loss and help people maintain a lower weight for longer

International Journal of Obesity

Encourage people to stick with the changes they’ve made long term

American Academy of Family Physicians

Lower total cholesterol levels in people with coronary heart disease

The Journal of the American Medical Association

How I help you achieve your goals

Personalized coaching with a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach is the most effective use of your time to achieve your health goals. I believe that you are the expert in navigating your life based upon personal preferences and past experiences. You have unique likes, dislikes, individual motivations, specific challenges – all of these make you, you. And this means that what worked for one person, may not work for you, and that’s ok! No two journeys are the same; only you know what’s going to truly work for you. I provide structure to our sessions and serve as a facilitative partner to help you uncover what will work for you.

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