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Changing Behavior Changes Lives

In North America—and around the world—people are suffering or dying from the ravages of chronic lifestyle diseases that are mostly preventable. It’s troubling to write those words as a flat statement of fact, especially in an era of such astonishing medical advancements paralleled with a daily firehose of new health research that further pressure-washes what we already know.

Incidences of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, overweight and obesity would all be drastically reduced if we could just do less of what we seem to be unable to stop doing more of: consuming unhealthy food, being sedentary and letting stress control our lives. We need to reduce our indulgence in each of these unhealthy behaviors while increasing our sleep time. But, as we know, this kind of armchair quarterbacking works only on paper.

If there is anything that’s given me hope in recent years that we will see positive adjustments to this bleak public health picture, it is the gathering spotlight on behavior change science and the focus on training more fitness professionals to become health coaches.

If you are ready to join a new breed of health leaders who are a critical part of the healthcare continuum and who help others make meaningful and lasting change, it may be time to look at this career option more seriously.

In this issue, we devote both features to aspects of health coaching that we hope will enlighten and inspire you. The first article is about launching and building your health coaching business. After all, what good are your new skills as an agent of behavior change if you can’t pay the bills? We asked expert coaches with successful business models what it takes to succeed, and they generously shared their experiences. We hope their insights spark good ideas for you and get the conversation started so you can find a mentor or suggest other ways that IDEA can help you to prosper as a coach.

The second article is centered around motivational interviewing, a skill that many in the know consider to be the fulcrum of coaching and behavior change. Rather than direct clients on what their problems may be and how to fix them, MI techniques guide clients to explore reasons to change that lead to their owning and directing their personal transformation. As author Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RDN, FAAP, FACSM, writes, “MI evolved in response to behavior change strategies that focused on either telling people what to do or letting them call their own shots with little direct guidance. Both of these approaches tend to suffer from poor follow-through from the person trying to change. MI skills are most critical—and effective—with ambivalent clients, those who are not quite certain they need to change but who acknowledge the benefits and downsides of moving in a new direction.”

If you’d like to attend live education on behavior change, I encourage you to join us at the IDEA World Nutrition & Behavior Change Summit in just a few weeks (June 28–29) in Anaheim, California. This groundbreaking curriculum brings together world-renowned nutrition researchers and behavioral experts for a continuing education opportunity unheard of elsewhere: ideafit.com/fitness-conferences/nutrition-summit.

Either way, we hope you will give us feedback on what we can do to help you on this career path or other pursuits you’ve chosen within this great industry.

For all you do to Inspire the World to Fitness®, IDEA salutes you!

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster





Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster is the editor in chief of IDEA’s award-winning publications. She is Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified and is a Rouxbe Certified Plant-Based Professional cook.

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November-December 2020 IDEA Fitness Journal

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