So, last month I became a life coach. To many people who don’t know what I do, that could seem like a strange thing for a dietician to do. So here's an explanation. The more I work as a dietician the more I realize that what we study at university is so far from what we needed to make us good dieticians.
I spent hours as a student doing renal diet plans and kitchen flow diagrams when I should have been studying human behavior change. Yes I know that university gives us a ‘good base’ but most dieticians should be out in the world seeing the general public, helping them prevent disease by educating them on WHY they abuse their bodies and HOW to eat – rather than doing ward-rounds in hospital with the sick ones (I know that’s controversial, but it's true).
So in my realization that my 5 years at university had not equipped me with enough tools to help our growing chronically ill and overweight population, I set out to find what I could learn to help me on my way. I did think that perhaps I should further my dietetic knowledge, and perhaps a masters in dietetics and nutrition would do the trick, but I knew I was only really doing that for ‘street cred’. Having a masters degree would really not enrich my work or the help I was trying to offer my clients. So I looked a little more… and eventually landed on the idea of coaching.
Now the problem with the coaching industry is that you can do a 1-hour coaching course and claim you are a life coach. There are LOTS of quick online success options – which I knew very well would be a waste of time and money. The word ‘life coach’ has also become very ‘hip/vague/airy-fairy and I see people judge me as soon as I say the word ‘life coach’. So I had to find the right course, the one where I could gather the skills to help me on my crusade! After about 8 months of research I found the only internationally accredited course available in South Africa and I dived in (Results Neuroleadership Course).
To say that the course has help me in my role as a dietician is an understatement. As a coach you help people become solution focused. You help them re-wire their brain and you help empower them to see that they actually hold the solutions to their own problems. In my industry the problem is normally, “Hi Kelly, I need YOU to make me lose weight… your eating plan, your protein suggestions, your exercise advice, your measurements, your weekly weigh in demands…. In other words – It is your responsibility hey Kelly?”. Now as a coach this doesn’t happen. The coach in me says let’s look at your options client. Let’s see how YOU are going to do this. Let’s change how YOU are choosing to think about yourself, your ability and your commitment to losing weight. I now hand the power over to my client but hold their hand as they walk in front of me. Because let’s be honest, if you decide you are going to do something and you feel like you can do it, then there is a much bigger chance that you will do it!
So in my crusade to help people change and grow and love themselves, the coach in me is my new most valuable asset. My dietetics knowledge is important but when you work with human beings and you realize that for the majority of people, willpower and self love don’t exist, no eating plan in the world can fix those two fundamental problems. So as a coach I can help my clients carve their own roads to healing, through solutions to cementing behavior change.
As health professionals I think it is our duty to work at understanding human behavior better. We need to empower our clients to change. We need to teach people about default thought patterns, and triggers and beliefs systems that prevent them from living healthy, happy lives. So as a life coach, I have more tools to empower them to do this. And for me, along with my dietetics knowledge, that is my biggest asset!
Lovely article, I completely agree with you that the skills you learnt from coaching will support you in empowering your clients to change. Eating a certain way is caused by something and if you can help your clients get to the root cause, the healthy eating will come easily.
Just wanted to also say, that Results Coaching is not the only internationally accredited life coaching course in SA, if you check the International Coach Federation Website there are 14 accredited programmes in SA.