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My first encounter with health coaching

My first encounter with health coaching

One of my Avid Bookshop regular customers posted something on her Facebook page a few months ago that interested me.  She’s a medical doctor (but not one of my doctors) who’s in the midst of meeting all the requirements to become a certified health coach.  I can’t find her original post anymore, but this was the essence of it: She announced that she was in training to be a certified health and wellness coach and, as with most training programs of that sort, she needed to do some practice coaching sessions with volunteers as part of her program.  I wrote her shortly after seeing the post, knowing I’d benefit from talking with someone one-on-one about lifestyle changes and better approaches to manage my health.  Sadly, I was out of luck: she already had enough volunteers.

A few weeks ago, though, she reached out to me to say that she needed a few more practice clients, and was I interested?  Yes, yes, yes. I keep running into a virtual wall, being aware of some of the things I could do to change to become healthier but not being able to incorporate those changes. For instance, I know I feel a lot better migraine-, arthritis- and fatigue-wise if I walk at least five days a week, drink my fruit and veggie smoothies almost daily, and eat more healthily. I’ve been reading a lot of books and research studies on veganism and know that a lot of my chronic health issues will likely be improved by adopting that diet, but I can’t seem to get in gear.

My initial meeting with my coach-in-training was last night, and I absolutely, positively loved it.  We talked for about ninety minutes. She asked me what sorts of challenges I faced, what health problems I have, and what I have done (if anything) to reach any goals related to those challenges and problems.  I could tell she was well-trained in the art of active listening, as she didn’t interrupt me and would occasionally ask me to tell her more about a particular thing I said.

She and I both know that migraine is incurable and that it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll be dealing with this illness for many more decades, if not the rest of my life. But she did ask me what my life would look like and feel like if I could reduce the impact migraines have on my life—say, if I got one once or twice a month instead of a few times a week (which has been the pattern most of 2015).

Wow. I’d imagined that before—a life with few or no migraines—but I hadn’t talked too much about it with anyone else before, let alone someone who was 100% focused on me and getting me to really explore that daydream.  “The word that keeps popping up for me is ‘space,’” I told her.  “Space to have more freedom, to do more projects, to see friends, to hang out with my husband, to visit with my family, to go on walks, to read more books.”

The health coach-to-be doesn’t want to help me set a game plan/goal sheet just yet—she knows it’s best for us to meet once or twice more before we come up with some initial goals for me to try to meet.  I’ll keep you guys posted.

Even if I don’t end up finding more space in my life, let alone more migraine-free days, I can already tell that this time with the coach is going to be really eye-opening and wonderful. Don’t get me wrong: I know it’ll be tough and challenging, too. But I look forward to talking with her again and seeing how I can improve my quality of life and find a little more space.

If you had the opportunity to see a health coach like this, what issues do you think you’d bring up? What sorts of changes do you want to make to your life that you’ve not had luck with so far? What do you think your days would be like if you were able to make some positive changes you’ve been thinking about? 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • wendy nikkel
    3 years ago

    I went to Australia to a weight loss and health resort for 3 weeks. Best thing I ever did. Hardly had any migraines during that time and it helped me afterwards for about a year and half before bad habits kicked in again. So I know I need refresher courses once a year for the type of person I am. You must have heaps of these in the states we have none in New Zealand that I know of.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Hi, Wendy:

    This is a very belated thank you for your thoughtful reply. Isn’t it fascinating how stepping away from your regular routine allows you to really examine your habits and reevaluate your goals? Is there anything you can do at home (even with friends) to do this kind of thing–a weekend away with a supportive group (or even alone)?

    If we do have heaps of such offerings here, I’m not aware of any that are affordable for me. I’m grateful my health coach and I were able to work out a deal to continue working together.

    How are you feeling these days?

    -Janet G.

  • Angiestl
    3 years ago

    I think I would jump at a chance to see someone like this. I’d want to discuss having too many blood sugar crashes, and the possibility of having gluten intolerance issues. Even though it’s been ten or more years since I’ve been one of those “normal” people that don’t have daily pain, I still remember those days, when I could lift my nieces even when they were seven or eight years old. Now I have trouble lifting and holding my 2 year old nephew, and watch out when he’s tired or grumpy or otherwise in a screaming-screeching type mood!! That goes straight through my head like a siren next to my ear!! So to find anything that would help me get closer to those days with my nieces, I would be all in!!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago


    If I were you, I’d try using our old buddy Google to see if there are any health coach practitioners near you. I know Arizona has an institution where they train people who live all over the world. You may luck out and find someone earning his/her certification who can practice skills on you for no cost!

    Of course I feel comfortable talking to my doctor about all my issues, but I am too well aware of how little time my doctor has to spend with me each appointment. With the health coach, I never feel rushed and definitely get everything on the table. It helps her–and me–to have a more holistic picture of what’s going on so I can figure out a plan.

    Best of luck to you–thanks for the feedback. Sorry it took me awhile to respond.


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