Meet Telephone Health Coach, Helen.
Helen is a health behaviour change consultant who has worked in health psychology for approximately 10 years. She is also a group fitness instructor and is currently completing her doctorate in health psychology. Helen's thesis investigates the relationship between motivations and maintenance of physical activity.
What do you enjoy most about being a Life! Health Coach?
I love helping to empower people to experience the benefits that come from small, steady changes to their lifestyle habits. I really do. I have been involved in the Life! program for a long time, so I know it works. It feels pretty good to speak to one of my participants and hear about how much more energy they have, how they are sleeping better and feeling better about themselves because they have lost weight – it really is a great feeling. Especially when perhaps in the previous phone call they may have been experiencing the challenges of initiating changes.
I believe most of us massively underestimate how much of an impact our nutrition, sleep and activity habits have on our mood and energy levels. When people start to really experience these changes, with the increased awareness to realise that they have SO much more control over how they feel than they realised, it's powerful.
Could you share any particular success stories or memorable participants?
I have had SO many memorable participants – too many to recount! In terms of stories, the theme that sticks out in my mind is the inventive solutions that people come up with to improve their lifestyle habits, especially physical activity. Lots of people have found new passions – fun activities that they realise have so many benefits beyond simply burning calories. Everything from line dancing to table tennis and pole-walking. Then they notice the flow on effects – they are sleeping better, less prone to afternoon sweet treats, and they have more energy.
What are some of the common challenges your participants face?
It sounds obvious, but getting started is often the hardest part. When I first speak to participants, they may be feeling tired, stressed and discouraged. It can feel overwhelming to get started. But once they start to actually experience the benefits of change, and realise the huge difference that small changes make over time, it becomes self-motivating.
I'm always really upfront about things in the first phone call too – this program is not a diet, it's working toward small changes that can be sustained forever. This includes having foods or drinks that may be considered 'treats'. Everything in balance.
How do you like to keep fit and healthy?
I love cycling, yoga and strength training. I choose not to own a car, which means I usually cycle and walk everywhere, which is lovely in the warmer weather. I have found that yoga is an activity that is going to keep my body strong and flexible for life, so I prioritise doing a couple of weekly yoga classes. If I don't do some form of moderate physical activity every day, I really notice it – I start feeling sluggish.
I aim for all the things I talk to my participants about – lots of water, getting a good night's sleep (that's 8 hours for me), eating lots of veggies and using the plate model as a guide for meal proportions. I also pay attention to my thoughts. If I'm being negative I consciously replace my thoughts with positive, optimistic thoughts. If I'm stressed I take five deep slow breaths, scan my awareness over my body and relax any tense muscles, and think of five things I am grateful for in my life right now.
What advice would you give someone thinking about doing the Life! Telephone Health Coaching service?
DO IT NOW!!! There's no downside to giving it a go. I have had SO many participants tell me in the first call that they don't think it's going to work for them; that they know what they should be doing but they're just not doing it. By the final call they are thanking me for making such a big impact on their lives (which of course I don't really do, they do all the work!). The program results speak for themselves. It works.