If your reading this post and simultaneously expecting to get outraged it is probably because you cant understand how a health coach could possibly be saying ice cream and health in a sentence together. Your probably waiting to laugh at a health coach who must not be very good at getting you results and maybe your just waiting to tell me, Duh!
Before you laugh or get outraged I ask you to remember that a health coach’s job is to listen first and ask tough questions. The decision and opportunity to eat ice cream in today’s society is a very simple one. The struggle to abstain from yummy foods is enormous and that is why during a health coaching session I don’t shy away from the dreadful, “ice cream talk.”
The next move is very simple in the playbook of most health coaches. Many health coached believe its our job to immediately follow the “ice cream” talk with all the science about why they shouldn’t. I dont disagree with the notion that health education is important. I disagree with the notion that anybody truly needs to be told that ice cream everyday is bad for you. This is condescending.
My approach is more interesting and hopefully doesn’t come across as scolding. Here are some tough questions I could ask you:
- What do you know about how ice cream affects you specifically (not in a study)?
- Where are you and what is around you when you do consume ice cream?
- When did you resist your urge?
- What positive affects do you enjoy from this act?
- Who is with you when you consume?
I do believe that the big, “ice cream talk” is a very real but I also think many of you might be thinking it is a trivial subject. Ice cream for some reason isn’t a huge issue for most people. In my opinion that is not a totally settled issue.
Lets step it up then and replace the word “ice cream” in the title of this post with:
If a client of mine came to me and said that their health benefited from consuming any of the above, I still don’t jump on them. I’m a very open person but I also care a lot. I am not going to sit here and tell you I’m comfortable with all the choices my clients make. In fact I have to consciously resist the urge to automatically correct my clients choices until I fully understand where they are coming from.
My job is to help people and I chose this profession because I really like people. I want my clients to be healthy but I also want them to feel like themselves. I know science but my clients are not research papers. My clients are flesh and blood and as imperfect as me.
Eating healthy and doing health things in today’s environment can be very hard. And I don’t trivialize the struggle we all have from eating delicious ice cream everyday. My goal is to be able to educate when and if my client is open to it. But before I educate I want my client to know that I want to understand them for who they are.
Another objective is for their health journey to be as pleasant as possible. Abstaining from ice cream isn’t hard for a lot of people but for some people it is. If I told my client they are forbidden from eating ice cream for the rest of their lives, first of all this wouldn’t work. Second of all if a health coach told me this I would probably say in my mind, “who the heck are you to tell me what to do,… for my whole life? shoot!” Life completely devoid of ice cream for me is absolute torture. If ice cream helps you do the other 99 things on your healthy list, by all means, have at it, and then if it ever becomes a problem we can address it.