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News Room: ENQUIRER: Health coaches motivate healthy choices

To download a pdf of this article, please click here.

By: Melissa Stewart

Health coaching is as much about empowerment as it is about living well, according to St. Elizabeth’s Target Health wellness specialist Sara Faller.

“We try to dispel the misconceptions out there (about health coaching),” Faller said. “People ask: ‘Are you going to tell me to exercise?’ I say: ‘No.’ We’re here to support and guide people, and to provide the educational tools and resources they need to make good decisions on their own.”

Independent health coach Linda Baier, of Burlington, said she too aims to get her clients “to take control of their own health.”

“(Health coaching) empowers people to be in charge of their own lives, their own destiny, their own health,” she said.

Choose to change
The first step toward living well, according to Faller, is choosing to make a lifestyle change.

“We see success with people who are ready to change,” she said. “I can’t bring you to that point, it’s up to you.”

Once that point is reached, Faller said many don’t know where to go next. That’s where health coaching comes into play.

“We can help along the way (offering) knowledge and support,” she said. “As a health coach, I don’t tell you what to do. I ask: ‘What do you want to do?’ Health coaching, for us, is driven by the participant’s goals.”

Faller and fellow staff members of St. Elizabeth’s Target Health program offer health coaching, wellness services and disease management internally to hospital associates and externally to corporate clients.

Faller, who resides in Fort Thomas, has worked within the program a little over two years. She studied exercise science at Ashland University and earned her master’s in health promotion and education at the University of Cincinnati.

She can’t imagine having any other career.

“You get to see people grow, change and mature, at all ages,” she said. “It’s incredibly motivating and rewarding. You feel like you’re making a difference in people’s lives.”

According to Faller, exercising and eating right greatly affects quality of life. The Target Health program staff work with associates and clients on shaping their goals and mapping out a plan of accomplishment. The staff serves as a source of support and encouragement, she said.

“A lot of times our job is about just being there and supporting people and letting them know they have someone they can turn to and talk to,” Faller said. “Also, if you know I’m going to be sending you an email or following up with you on your goals, like exercising for 10 minutes a day, you’re more likely to do what you’ve set out to do.”

Crave overall well-being
Health and wellness coach Linda Baier focuses her coaching efforts on nutrition, health and healing.

“I help people understand how their body relates to food and how they can be their own nutritionist and chef,” she said. “I teach people how to eat food with a purpose, to heal and energize their bodies.”

Baier has operated her own business, Isaiah’s Way Nutrition, located on Houston Road in Florence, since 2012. Her personal choice to live well was made in 2006 after her husband died from multiple complications from obesity.

Baier hired a health coach who helped her eliminate unhealthy foods and introduce healthy choices. Needing more support for her health issues and exhausting conventional forms of treatment, Baier said a friend introduced her to a naturopath who specialized in Nutritional Response Testing and healing with whole food and whole food supplements.

“Finally,” said Baier, “I felt better for the first time in years. I started getting results.”

Within a year and a half, she was off all prescription drugs, including pain medications, allergy shots and synthetic hormones.

A friend who noticed a change in Baier’s life asked her for help.

“As I was helping her, I thought: ‘I might be able to do this full time,’” she said.

A Christian, Baier said she sought direction from God.

“I kept coming to a verse in the book of Isaiah,” she said. The Scripture, Isaiah 55:2: “Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food!”

“I felt (nutritional health coaching) was the path God was leading me to,” Baier said.

She received training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has been on her way helping others ever since.

“It’s rewarding. Each one of my clients inspires me and challenges me,” she said. “Seeing the change we’re making in their lives has been inspiring for my own healing and health.”

According to Baier, food has everything to do with how one feels. Her goal is to help clients identify ways to eat healthier and to rely less on “secondary foods” that we eat, she said.

Instead of finding fulfillment in these secondary foods, one needs to discover fulfillment through “primary foods,” like healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career and spiritual life, Baier said.

Through talking, listening and teaching, Baier helps others recognize the difference between these primary and secondary sources of energy. She helps set a plan for each individual and guides them to healthier eating – healthier living.

“It’s simply amazing, people leave here different – feeling better,” she said. “They feel more empowered.”

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