Archive for the ‘Health Coach Profile’ Category

J&J and Canyon Ranch Partner on Corporate Wellness Program

July 10th, 2014 by Cheryl Miller

An organization is only as healthy as its leadership.

And that’s one of the key reasons behind a recent corporate wellness venture between Johnson & Johnson’s Human Performance Institute (HPI) and Canyon Ranch. The Human Performance Institute has collaborated with Canyon Ranch by combining the principles of their flagship course, Corporate Athlete® with Canyon Ranch’s integrative wellness offerings. The hybrid course, called The EXCELerate Program — The Power of Energy for Purpose & Performance, offers clients a five-day health and wellness experience that incorporates the full resources and amenities of Canyon Ranch’s flagship property in Tucson, Arizona and HPI’s premier energy management performance training program.

We spoke to Bill Donovan, the General Manager of the Human Performance Institute, Wellness & Prevention, Inc., about this program.

HIN: Can you tell us a little about the program?

(Bill Donovan) The purpose of this program is to expand our reach and impact more lives by working together to create the ultimate wellness experience. The Human Performance Institute’s Corporate Athlete training is based on 30 years of proprietary research and depth of knowledge in training elite performers. We started with professional athletes in the world of sports. We learned very quickly that the strategy of increased performance in sports was easily transferable to any environment. So we moved into other areas, surgery, medical, Special Forces, military; now Fortune 500 executives are the main focus for us. The program combines the sciences of performance psychology, nutrition, and exercise physiology. And the premise is to help train people to expand their energy so they can increase their performance in work and in life.

When you look at Canyon Ranch, they’ve also been around for over 30 years. They have an award-winning integrative approach to wellness. Their world-class facilities create the perfect environment for this wellness experience to come to life. Together we educate, empower, inspire, and help create lasting change in people through the blended experience. Canyon Ranch is very much hands-on, one on one. HPI is more group training. Together, we create customized experiences that cover critical dimensions of health and can truly have impact.

Who is Canyon Ranch and Human Performance Institute targeting for enrollment in their new EXCELerate program?

The program is designed to benefit anyone, but the key targets are senior level executives and leaders that are looking to improve health, performance, and be able to thrive in the face of constant demand and pressures. One thing we see in the world today is that the demands and pressures being put upon us and our leaders in particular continue to increase. How do we rise up in the face of that and not only survive but thrive?

Secondarily, we’re focusing on past graduates of our respective programs; graduates of HPI and Canyon Ranch loyals who want a more in-depth and immersive experience.

What will this program’s impact be on absenteeism, productivity and performance for employees in general?

It’s designed with senior leaders in mind, and built on the premise that the culture of an organization is often a reflection of its leadership. So if you believe that great success and change starts with leadership, then that’s what this program is about. It’s an immersive five day training program designed to help individuals make healthy, sustainable life changes, resulting in optimized well being, improved health, and enhanced performance.

When a senior leader, who is often the busiest person in the organization, can role model the behaviors that people aspire to, whether it is an optimistic outlook, focus, better work/life balance, better fitness, or eating habits, or maybe even overall health across all dimensions: mental, emotional and physical, they give hope and inspire those they lead. That is the critical first ingredient towards creating cultural change within an organization.

How will this program differ from standard wellness or disease management programs?

The immersive experience is a big part of it. I don’t know of any program that brings together the best of both group training around performance with holistic, hands-on, unique, individual experiences to really focus on helping to improve health. Bringing together the best of Canyon Ranch and HPI and our Corporate Athlete Program create something unlike anything in the market, and I think this really sets us apart.

To learn more on the program, with dates scheduled for July 13-18, and October 19-24 in 2014, click here.

Meet RN Case Manager Turned Grief Coach Audrey Pellicano: “We Don’t Grieve in Front of People, We Grieve Alone”

August 7th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller


This month’s inside look at a grief coach, the choices she made on the road to success, and the challenges ahead.

Audrey Pellicano, RN, M.S., Case Manager, Corporate Grief Recovery Specialist and CEO, Wise Widow

HIN: Tell us a little about yourself.

(Audrey Pellicano): I was widowed in 1990, at 37. My baby was 2 ½ months when my husband Joe died and I also had a two-year old, a four-year old and a six-year old. I spent 37 years in healthcare, as a nurse, specializing in case management and health sciences. I have my bachelor’s in nursing and received my master’s in health sciences. In 2009 I went into grief coaching.

I also recently started the first Death Café in New York City. There’s usually 12 to 14 people who get together at a nice coffee place, and over coffee, tea and dinner or dessert, everybody discusses death. Everyone is there for a different reason. This is not a group of grievers. I’ve had some people who are with hospice. I’ve had journalists who are looking to write about the whole new trend. I had one woman who had attempted suicide twice. I had a young college student who was studying, taking a class on death and dying and she thought she would find information to write on a paper. It’s a wonderful concept, and the ages range from college students to a woman in her 80s. Outside of the Death Cafe, we talk about life and ignore death as if we could avoid it. In the Death Cafe, we openly talk about death, dying and living fully.

How did you get into health coaching?

I’ve been coaching my entire life. For 10 years I was a case manager at a managed care facility. It was very frustrating. When I first began it was very satisfying; the patient load was low and I felt as if I was impacting people’s lives. I got to know the patients and their doctors well; the doctors knew who I was, and what my purpose was in helping the patients. But by the time I left the workload was about 260 patients. It was impossible to effectively help these people change their diet, incorporate exercise. It was just overwhelming. So I left and started grief coaching.

Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road?

That would be after I left case management. After spending 27 years in healthcare, I thought I should help coach people who were diabetic, or who had heart disease, but the idea didn’t give me energy. And then one day, like a light bulb, I realized I needed to work with people who were grieving. I realized “Of course you’re supposed to be helping widows and people who have lost loved ones.” When my youngest daughter went off to college in 2009 I made my major move. I started doing it part-time so I could develop the business until I was comfortable enough to quit my full-time job.

Can you tell us a little bit about your grief recovery work?

Six years after my husband died, I came across a book called the Grief Recovery Method, by John James and Russell Friedman. It just hit me one day that I was not doing well; that I hadn’t moved emotionally forward after losing Joe. I was actually dating someone and he broke it off and I was absolutely devastated. And I realized that I couldn’t handle the goodbye. That’s when I said, “Oh boy, you’ve really not been looking at this grief at all.” We’re not a society that talks about it. Most often we don’t grieve in front of people, we grieve alone.

Can you tell us about your organization, Wise Widow?

As a grief recovery specialist to corporations, I provide information and training for managers and co-workers focusing on the necessary tools to support a returning employee after a personal loss. I use the Grief Recovery Method in my practice. I have not had a client that hasn’t had an ‘aha’ moment. I believe in it because it’s not long-term talk therapy. We’re in a society that wants it now, but you have to do the work in order to reach your goal. And this is just that. It’s a seven-week program, and there’s an assignment and my clients understand from the beginning, if you don’t do the assignment, we need to change your appointment because I will not meet with you. If they don’t do the work, we can’t move forward to the next step.

I also speak on Healthy Living After Loss where I incorporate meditation, yoga, guided imagery and nutrition. And I offer presentations on Moving Forward After Loss and The Right Thing To Do: Grief Support at Work.

What concepts or rules you follow in coaching?

The people that I work with have to be ready to work within the parameters of my program. It could be anywhere from two to 10 years since their loss, and it could be any kind of loss — it doesn’t have to be the death of someone. It could be a financial loss, any kind of a loss that triggers the same loss issues, but they have to be willing to work at shifting their grief.

How have your nursing and case management skills informed your coaching?

I was a telephonic case manager — I worked by phone. People would say, “You can’t be effective by phone.” But I disagreed. It enabled me to be comfortable starting my business virtually. As far as nursing goes, I know a lot of questions to ask that the lay person may not know. I work with the boomer generation, women my age, mid 50s to 70, and many of them already have some kind of chronic illness, weight gain and have been through a lot of changes. Let’s say they have hypertension. Most of them have absolutely no idea how the foods they eat are affecting them.

Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto for the coming year?

Focusing and being there for the baby-boomer women, whom I believe are going to make a lot of changes in the way they look at grief, in the way they move forward with their lives. Baby boomers are far more demanding; they’re going to make a change with end-of-life care; they’re more demanding about physicians, more selective. It’s a very strong and powerful group. Part of my mission is making people realize that they will grieve at some time in their life.

What is the most satisfying thing about being a coach?

I think the most satisfying thing for me is helping clients to see that they actually can make a change. Especially the age group that I work with, the tendency is, I’ve been doing this for years, it’s going to be so hard. And it’s not. It’s making things simple for people. And then they feel better, and they actually get better.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. Then, when my father got a new job we moved to the suburbs, Westfield, NJ, where my first husband and I continued to live and where I raised my children after he died. In 2009 I spent a year living alone in the Catskills, and then moved back to Brooklyn where I live with my second husband. I’m a city girl at heart.

What college did you attend?

I received my nursing degree from Bloomfield College, Bloomfield, N.J., and my master’s degree from Jersey City State University, Jersey City, N.J.

Are you remarried?

I got remarried in October, 2012. I had been widowed for 22 years. I wanted to raise my children, because they were quite young, and my focus was on them. My youngest daughter is graduating college this year. So I felt I guess I could give this a try. My four children were at our wedding and they were very happy for us.

What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?

I guess yoga is my hobby. I’m a certified yoga instructor. I studied in New York City. A studio had opened in my town, and I’d read about how healthy it was and great for staying in shape.

Is there a book you recently read or a movie you saw that you would recommend?

Having read all the widow books out there, I have to recommend Dr. Joyce Brothers’ excellent book, entitled Widows.

I also recommend Rework, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. It’s about business practice. I liked it because as a business owner, a lot of the stereotypical business models frustrate me. This is thinking outside the box. You don’t have to have this before you do that. It’s not complicated. You have to have a business plan in place typically, and then it’s just go and do it. I like that kind of attitude. I do that in my own life, just go ahead and do it.

Any additional comments?

In June my first eBook was released: Six Secrets to Surviving Widowhood. Within those six secrets is a lot of information about using meditation, guided imagery, making healthy choices. It’s not about the grief recovery method, because I tell people who want to go first towards that healthy lifestyle that they have to get through their grief first. I’ve been there and I know that it’s not going to work if you haven’t allowed yourself to complete the grieving process. I continue to offer my clients ways to get healthy once they’ve been through the initial program with me, and have been able to lift their grief a bit.

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Meet Health Coach Tiffini Holmes: Corporate Wellness Programs Key to Healthy Workforce

July 3rd, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

This month’s inside look at a health coach, the choices she made on the road to success, and the challenges ahead.

Tiffini Holmes, B.A., MBA, CHC, Owner, Health Coach at Total Transformation Wellness Coaching

HIN: What was your first job out of college and how did you get into health coaching?

(Tiffini Holmes): My first job out of college was as a human resource (HR) assistant for an insurance company. While there I worked my way up to HR manager and began career and personal development coaching.

Have you received any health coaching certifications? If so, please list these certifications.

Yes, I am an American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified health coach.

Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road?

My defining moment was when my first health coaching client hit their first target goal. I don’t know who was more excited — me or the client. But to be a part of that moment when someone who thought they would never be able to lose weight experienced their first of many victories and to know that in some way I helped them achieve that confirmed that there is nothing else I would rather do with the rest of my life.

In brief, describe your organization.

Total Transformation Wellness Coaching (TTWC) provides individual or group coaching that promotes mental, physical, and emotional wellness. Our organization believes that optimal physical fitness is not enough if the mental or emotional fitness is not in alignment as well. We work with our clients to achieve balance of the mind, body and spirit.

What are two or three important concepts or rules that you follow in health coaching?

  • My number one rule is: No gimmicks! We do not subscribe to quick fixes. We believe in making lifestyle changes that are sustainable.
  • Another rule is we don’t judge at TTWC. We assess where you are on your journey and where would like to be and help you get there. That’s it, that’s all. We don’t judge the why, the how, etc. We just work to fix it.
  • Finally, we have a collaboration rule. Health coaching is a partnership. Goals are set together and a supportive environment is nurtured to further ensure success.

What is the single-most successful thing that your company is doing now?

The single most successful thing we are doing is partnering with The Fitness Representative Personal Training to conduct interactive educational workshops for schools and youth groups to provide vital wellness information and create a fun workout environment to assist them in creating healthy mental, physical, and emotional habits early.

What is the single most effective workflow, process, tool or form that you are using in coaching today?

The most effective tool I am using is a readiness for change questionnaire. The clients take the quiz themselves and score it afterwards to see for themselves if they are really ready to make changes. It is a great discussion tool to get clients up open up about their barriers to change and how we can help them overcome those barriers.

Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto for 2013?

Corporate wellness is a trend that TTWC would like to lock into in the coming years. With healthcare reform, the increased costs of healthcare, and employers recognizing the importance of a healthy workforce, corporate wellness programs are becoming more popular. We would like to begin assisting with organizations in developing or improving existing wellness programs.

What is the most satisfying thing about being a health coach?

For me, it’s helping people to live a healthier life, which leads to more enjoyment. When your mind is clear, your body is in great condition, and your spirit is at peace you can really appreciate the fullness of life. The fact that I get to help people with that is a blessing.

What is the greatest challenge of health coaching, and how are you working to overcome this challenge?

People don’t understand what health coaching is all about and they are reluctant to pay for it. I am working to overcome this by partnering with other healthcare professionals like doctors and chiropractors, to pair services and continue to get the word out about how important health coaching is. Additionally, using as many platforms as possible (social media, blogs, health fairs, etc) to educate people on health coaching and wellness in general.

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Evanston, IL, just north of Chicago, where I still live today. I love it!

What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?

I went to college at Michigan State University where I met some of my closest friends! However, I graduated college from DePaul University with a B.S. in management. I also received an MBA from University of Illinois at Chicago and a M.A. of Psychology from National-Louis University.

Are you married? Do you have children?

No husband or kids yet but both are coming soon, I hope. I do have a fabulous niece, though, and I love her to pieces.

What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?

My favorite hobby is traveling. I am not sure how or when it developed but it’s a very big world out there and I want to see as much of it as possible.

Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend?

I recently read and highly recommend, The Wealth Choice, by Dennis Kimbro. It is a book of success secrets of African American millionaires. Not only does it give you keys to financial wealth but the same principles can be applied to many other areas of life, including health. My favorite quote in the book says, “Others are quick to point out what you should be, but you’re the only person who can decide what you will be.”

Meet Nurse Turned Health Coach Jeaneen Mullenhard: Moving from Fixing Disease to Preventing it

June 7th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller


This month’s inside look at a health coach, the choices she made on the road to success, and the challenges ahead.

Jeaneen Mullenhard, MSN, FNP-BC, CHC, CWC, owner of Fundamentally Healthy Coaching Program, specializing in weight loss and diabetes

HIN: What was your first job out of college and how did you get into health coaching?

(Jeaneen Mullenhard): I was a late bloomer. I got my original nursing diploma from the Maryland General Hospital School of Nursing. My first job after that was at St. Agnes Hospital on a medical surgical unit. I worked as a registered nurse (RN) in a host of different fields for about 20 years before I went back to college. I did inpatient, outpatient, insurance physicals, chart reviews; I was a legal nurse’s consultant, and a school health nurse. I also did pediatrics and ran pediatric free-standing urgent-care centers for a little while.

When I went back to college, at Bowie State University, I did an RN and MSN program, and received my family nurse practitioner (FNP) degree. My first job out of college was officially as an FNP with the Minute Clinic, one of the nationwide retail health clinics owned currently by CVS Pharmacies.

Every job I’ve ever had has taught me something. The one thing that really stood out to me as I progressed and moved forward in my FNP career was that it always seemed like we were chasing the cart. And by that I mean, always running to stamp out disease, never preventing it.

One of my more recent FNP jobs was for a national company that provides onsite healthcare clinics to some major self-insured employers. I was the clinical quality manager, and helped develop guidelines and protocols for the company on a nationwide basis. They were developing a health and wellness program, which is how I got exposed to health coaching. They sent me to Wellcoaches to learn about it, and I helped them develop 17 health and wellness coaching programs for their clinics. I thought, “I’ve only fixed disease, I’ve never prevented it before. That’s an interesting concept.” So it was a real eye opener for me, because I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to learn. I found that there was a tremendous amount to learn. And it actually helped me make changes in my own life.

Have you received any health coaching certifications? If so, please list these certifications

Because of my medical background and FNP degree I received both a Certified Wellness Coach and Certified Health Coach certification.

Has there been a defining moment in your career, perhaps when you knew you were on the right road?

The defining moment would have to be, as far as health coaching is concerned, when I participated in the Coach the Coach program at Wellcoaches. They pair coaches, so I had one of them coach me, and then I coached a different coach. Receiving that coaching has really been very important to me, because it helped me to keep myself well, focused and on track so that I’m better able to help my clients. And I see the difference in my own coaching, in how I approach things.

How has your medical background impacted your coaching?

For one, I don’t have to ask a lot of questions. I understand why people are saying, ‘I have this, and my doctor said that.’ But one of the drawbacks to having a medical background is, having done it so long, it is very hard not to flip and be the expert as opposed to the coach. I sometimes have to sit on my hands, bite my tongue and not say, “Really, this is how you need to do this.” Coaching is client-focused. Now I’m finding that I don’t want to be the person with all the answers. I want to help other people find their own answers that are going to work for them.

In brief, describe your organization.

I founded Fundamentally Healthy about a year ago. I specialize in helping people with weight loss, weight management and diabetes lifestyle management. It’s a single-person practice, with offices in both Severna Park and Stevensville in Maryland. I do some group coaching in my Diabetes Free Zone program, which is part of Diabetes Free America, where I help serve my diabetic clients and get everybody to share and open up, and it has worked very well. I also offer individual coaching, and some Medicare Wellness services. Now that Medicare has begun to cover those services, this will hopefully lead the way for other insurers to start looking at wellness services and coaching as a covered benefit. I also do independent health coaching for Take Shape for Life, a lifestyle management program focusing primarily on weight loss with some meal replacements, but mostly learning lifestyle changes, dietary changes, eating patterns as well as exercise, sleep and stress management.

What are two or three concepts or rules that you follow in health coaching?

First, that it’s a very safe zone. In order to really explore where your vision lies, and to really get down to basics, you have to be able to be honest with yourself. I tell my clients that it’s okay, no matter what they say, it’s more important to get it out there just so that they can hear or see it.

Second, that it’s also a positive zone. Everything should be focused on the positive. There are negatives that happen in our lives, and it’s important to aknowledge them, but it’s more important to focus on the positives.

What is the single most successful thing that your company is doing now?

Right now, my company is doing a lot of community outreach to get the message out about what coaching is and how it can benefit anyone, no matter how young or how old you are. Not a lot of people in our area (rural to suburban on Maryland’s Eastern Shore) know about health coaching. It’s a relatively new concept. Most people think it’s personal training. So I’m doing a lot of community outreach and free seminars, going to various community groups and speaking to them about health coaching.

What is the single most effective workflow process, tool or form that you are using in coaching today?

My most effective process is frequent communication. I conduct weekly coaching sessions with most of my clients. And I typically touch base with them via email twice in between sessions just to let them know that the support is there if they need it. If they’re feeling challenged, they can email. If it’s an emergency, they can call. I want them to know that it’s not a once a week, one hour thing, it’s something they have to work at all the time and it doesn’t matter if it’s morning, night, there’s a link via email to connect with someone who is there to support them.

Do you see a trend or path you have to lock on for 2013?

With Medicare opening up and offering more wellness services, particularly obesity prevention services, that’s going to be a big impetus to get the wellness initiatives out there. And for 2013 the biggest thing is going to be about the resources available to promote those wellness initiatives.

What is the most satisfying thing about being a health coach?

For me the most satisfying thing is that I have an opportunity to work with people who truly are interested, invested and engaged in improving their health. I work part-time at an urgent care walk-in center and sometimes the only thing those clients are engaged with right then is: ‘Make my fever go away, make my head stop hurting, make my ear stop hurting, make the cough go away.’ It’s not about the underlying symptoms, how to get there. So it’s very nice to see that people are really interested in prevention, that they’re interested in making changes, that they’re invested in that.

What is the greatest challenge in health coaching and how are you working to overcome this challenge?

The greatest challenge right now is that private health coaching is not covered by insurance. I have recently engaged in dialogue with a physician who is a former deputy state health director. She is working with the state health insurance exchanges about the value of health coaching and having it included as part of those insurance exchange plans. I’m very excited about that.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Baltimore, Maryland. My father was in the military, so we moved around a little bit. But home has always really been in the Maryland area.

What college did you attend?

I got my masters degree from Bowie State University in Bowie Maryland.

Is there a moment from that time that stands out?

Just that I survived, because I was an adult learner when I went to college. I had two teenaged daughters and a full time job.

Are you married and do you have children?

I am married to the same man for the last 30 years and I have two adult daughters. One is a physical therapist and my oldest daughter is married with two little boys, so I have two grandchildren.

What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?

Recently people have asked me that same question, and I always tell them my hobby is working. I don’t really have a hobby, to be honest. I’m one of those people who doesn’t like the grass to grow under her feet. So I do a lot of volunteer work. I am on the Anne Arundel County (Maryland) Obesity Prevention subcommittee, I am the treasurer for the Maryland Academy of Advanced Practice Clinicians, and I’m a member of various professional and civic organizations that do a lot of volunteer work. So my hobby is working.

Is there a book you recently read or a movie you saw that you would recommend?

The most recent movie that I saw that I would highly recommend was Lincoln. It was very well done and it was very nice to see our forefathers actually taking a few minutes and having some very reflective thoughts.

Any additional comments?

It’s a matter of moving forward. I really enjoy what I do and I love the opportunity to be able to get information out about health coaching, and about the value of it to our communities.

Meet Nurse Health Coach Elizabeth Scala: Helping RNs Avoid Burnout, Achieve Balance

May 10th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

This month’s inside look at a health coach, the choices she made on the road to success, and the challenges ahead.

Elizabeth Scala, MSN, MBA, RN, professional nurse coach, and founder of Living Sublime Wellness.

HIN: What was your first job out of college and how did you get into health coaching?

(Elizabeth Scala) My first job out of college was as a psychiatric nurse at the Johns Hopkins Hospital on a general adult inpatient unit. I got into coaching because the way I was living my life while I worked as a nurse was completely unhealthy. I had no spiritual life; my mental/emotional health was a roller coaster ride; my physical health was in the toilet. So I took a huge risk — against my parents’ wishes — and left that job to take care of me. I went to work at a wellness center, running their physician referral exercise program. At the gym, I was surrounded by exercise, nutrition, and people who could help me. I realized (and remembered) that I enjoyed being and living healthy! So I got into a health coaching training program so that I could do more at the club. That led to me loving it and deciding to open up my own practice so that I could help more nurses like me — who had lost their love of life and their passion for their career.

Have you received any health coaching certifications? If so, please list these certifications.

I went through the Wellcoaches certified health and wellness coaching training program.

Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road?

Not yet. I know this is what I want to do, but I still have fears and doubts (as any human being would and does). I still work part-time at Johns Hopkins, as my coaching business doesn’t fully support me, but I have faith and optimism (and hard work, dedication, passion, commitment, and self-care practices) that sustain me and help me to know that I am meant to do this work!

In brief, describe your organization.

My company is called Living Sublime Wellness. I use a variety of modalities with my work. As a nurse, health coach, and Reiki Master, I primarily work with nurses and healthcare professionals who are looking to make and sustain healthy lifestyles. I also host a bi-weekly radio show that is available via my iTunes channel and the Blog Talk Radio archive page. I put on monthly wellness workshops via interactive webinar, which vary each month in topic to speak to my belief that well-being is holistic. I love doing in-person talks on the essential steps to well being for nursing associations, nurse conferences, nurse departments, and anything/anybody nursing! I run small group coaching programs and work with clients one-on-one. And I tie Reiki into it all. I use distance Reiki with my coaching clients; participate in Reiki sharing and clinics; work on Reiki research at my hospital job; give Reiki treatments; and teach Reiki to groups.

What are two or three important concepts or rules that you follow in health coaching?

I don’t tell people what to do. It is my core belief that the answers, the healing, the help is all within us. We just need to take and make the time to listen and get to know ourselves. As a coach, I help people get the inside stuff out and allow them to really hear themselves. Then together we find the answers, ideas, and tools that work for them!

My second belief is that health is holistic. If I am eating well, but hating my job, am I healthy? If I work out all day but then go eat take-out and binge drink all night, am I healthy? No! There are many, many aspects that go into total well-being: in addition to the obvious three (physical, nutritional, and mental/emotional). We’ve got career, social, spiritual, environmental aspects to consider. Wellness is a total lifestyle. We can’t fix ourselves overnight with a quick pill. It is a lifestyle that takes time, support, and a broad scope. I work with clients on living healthy in all aspects of their lives.

What is the single-most successful thing that your company is doing now?

My RejuveNation Collaboration. It is a two-week, 14-speaker, and 14-topic video event. It is a virtual conference that offers a balanced dose of self-care. This event brings unique and diverse experts together from across the country. We have interactive and experiential workshops that the registrants actually participate in. We share a series workbook with reflective exercises; a secret social networking group for interaction with speakers and each other before, during and after the event; and so much more! This time around we added daily mini-meditation breaks and healthy samples of chocolate for participants to take time for themselves and enjoy peace and chocolate meditations. I absolutely love this event. The speakers have a great time getting to know me and each other. And since I do this twice a year, the speakers become a part of the family. We have a ton of fun and each time we do something different to change it up and take it up a notch! In the past this event was targeted at nurses, but we have future visions of expanding our audience and engaging on a larger level.

What is the single most effective workflow, process, tool or form that you are using in coaching today?

Using Reiki as a tool for everything I do. I have seen clients have amazing shifts, just from using distance Reiki in our one-on-one coaching sessions. It helps them to calm down, quiet that extra mental chatter, and really hear themselves so that amazing shifts can occur. Change happens and growth occurs. But I not only bring my Reiki into my coaching calls, I use it in all that I do. I bring my Reiki to my own goals, my health and well-being, and my nurse associations. It is a simple, but wonderful tool.

What is the most satisfying thing about being a health coach?

I love seeing other people figure things out for themselves. Being in healthcare for this long, this model doesn’t work. A provider tells a patient or prescribes a treatment and more often than not the patient never does it. Why? We are adults… we like making our own choices. We think for ourselves. Quite frankly, we don’t like being told what to do. So as a coach it is awesome to partner with folks so that they choose help, but of course with my gentle nudge. It is then so satisfying to hear back from them about what worked, how they have improved, and maintain it in a lifestyle.

What is the greatest challenge of health coaching, and how are you working to overcome this challenge?

Being patient. Sometimes I want things to go quicker than they are happening. I just have to relax, let go, breathe, and use some of my own spiritual practices and self-care techniques to remind myself to stay in the moment. It is challenging at times, but so rewarding when possible.

Where did you grow up?

Carmel, N.Y.

What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?

For undergraduate, the University of Delaware. For graduate school, Johns Hopkins University.

Are you married? Do you have children?

Yes, no children, but two dogs.

What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?

Yoga. I love how strong, yet calm I feel afterwards. I love relaxing and breathing and being with myself and my body. I feel very balanced and I need that sense of balance. So even though I enjoy other exercises that may make me sweat more and have my heart beating fast, I love yoga for the hard work yet gentle softness it creates for me.

Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend?

I loved Pamela Miles’ book Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide. I also recently enjoyed the Living Yoga book. I always, always recommend Jon Kabat-Zinn’s books, especially Full Catastrophe Living.

Meet Health Coach Alexis Koutlas: Natural Progression from Nurse to Case Manager to Coach

February 18th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

This month’s inside look at a health coach, the choices she made on the road to success, and the challenges ahead.

Alexis Koutlas, BSN, CCM, CHC, specializing in women’s, children’s and health professionals’ wellness

HIN: Tell us a little about yourself and your credentials.

(Alexis Koutlas) After graduating with my BSN, I started my professional career in women’s and children’s services. Over time I shifted roles from the bedside to referral and case management for high-risk obstetric patients and pre-term infants. Wanting to understand how these children progressed and what their needs were, I then transitioned to the outpatient arena in pediatric medicine. Once there, my interest led me to preventative medicine, which led me to the discovery of health coaching. Since receiving my Certified Health and Wellness Coaching certification from Vera Whole Health, I look at my nursing role as promoting and supporting wellness, rather than treating just the illness. I’m passionate about supporting children and colleagues, helping them to engage in their own health and well-being, and learning to be the best selves they can be.

What was your first job out of college and how did you get into case management?

Out of school I jumpstarted my career in a neonatal intensive care unit (ICU). What a fantastic opportunity that was! I worked in an academic care facility and had the opportunity to work with some very well-respected practitioners. To keep up with changes in the environment of care, the medical leadership created a position for a case manager, which I accepted, working directly for the physicians who were part of the Division of Perinatal and Neonatal Medicine. It wasn’t a traditional case management position; actually, our approach was quite unique. Rather than try and cut length of stay, we looked at the positives for increasing the length of stay of the mom, to decrease the infant’s length of stay and morbidities that occur from prematurity. There was no certification for this at the time. Working together for the best outcome for high-risk obstetric patients, we were able to expand the role to include referral management, supporting patients across the Pacific Northwest, Montana and Alaska.

When did you decide you wanted to go into health coaching?

The transition from treating illness to preventing illness was an entirely new concept that I discovered as I moved into the outpatient arena. Along with focusing on patient wellness, the care environment supports nurses’ own self-care. Better work hours and shorter shifts allow nurses to balance a personal life. My newfound schedule allowed me to engage with my own fitness and health regimens. And along the way, I met such fantastic, energetic experts who see and support the movement of wellness, and I am excited to return that gift to others.

How has your medical and case management background impacted your career as a health coach?

Understanding the physiologic ramifications (medicine) of the lack of wellness — the mental, physical and emotional components — is like the slab of foundation for a home. Understanding the financial ramifications and the necessity for conscious spending (case management) is that budget we maintain to build that home. Health coaching, however, is the covering; the roof, walls, windows and doors. If the roof leaks, the budget will be affected by the cost of repairs and your foundation will be destroyed from mold. Health coaching is the natural progression. Having a background in disease management enables me to help clients explore their own processes and circumstances with a deeper level of understanding.

In brief, describe your organization.

I’m an independent practitioner and specialize in two dynamic groups.

  • The first: families affected by pediatric obesity. Pediatric obesity is not just a child’s problem. It’s a family’s problem, and working with getting these children to engage in their health takes more than working with them independently.
  • My second area of focus: healthcare professionals. I work to get them to explore their own health needs and their role and responsibility as representatives of health, not just disease management.

What are two or three important concepts or rules that you follow in health coaching?

  • Never have a road map for your client.
  • The client has the answers, the client has the answers, the client has the answers. My job is to coach them, weed through all the mush to get to the answers that only they have and know are best for them.
  • I cannot successfully coach someone else if I am not working to care for myself.

What is the single most successful thing that your organization is doing now?

Health coaching is new. Independent practice is newer. The greatest most effective thing I can do at this time is promote the movement, help people understand why it’s important, and get them to engage in it in a different way. This is trailblazing and so with the weed eater in hand, I keep moving forward.

Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto for 2013?
Recognition of the wellness movement. On the West Coast, we are last to catch up to other parts of the country. Defining wellness, making it a household term, is progress in itself. Taking it into western medicine and proving its worth is monumental and will continue to be a work in progress backed by data acquired over time. Unfortunately, automated health coaching set us back from this goal. Two steps forward, one step back.

What do you mean by automated health coaching?

Automated, or scripted coaching from computer generated scripts. For example, you have this diagnosis, and the script encourages such and such questions. Hospitals have purchased the automated heath coaching for their employees. All the employee has to do is click here that they are getting their BP checked, and click there that they walked three times this week. For this, they receive a nominal bonus. The incentive is the bonus. Many employees participate. Many employess punch the buttons. Many employees do not make the changes that are necessary. I had the fortunate opportunity to have an informational interview with the person who has championed getting this service into a local hospital facility for their employees. She agrees, the true success behind this method will be to engage employees without significant issues or the ‘low hanging fruit’. The fact is, nothing replaces one-on-one personal coaching. But for right now, it isn’t a covered benefit, and if it was, would people value it the same way? I liken it to paying for a fitness trainer. The fact is, it’s personal service. It’s expensive. But when I pay for it, I am engaged with it. If someone else was paying the bill, I may show up, but would I engage?

What is the most satisfying thing about being a health coach? How is it different from case management?

As a coach, when the client discovers their sense of direction, that sense of self, that “aha” moment that is life changing, it reaffirms what I love about healthcare. It supports the notion of supporting health and allows the patient to design, dream and discover for themselves. Case management sets up a series of rules, set by a governing body with a focus on finances and limits the patient’s ability to be independent in their choices for improving their care. Although the goals are similar, i.e. patients who are not dependent upon the healthcare system, the methods to acquire the goals are in opposition.

What is the greatest challenge of health coaching and how are you working to overcome this challenge?

Understanding and engagement. People are naturally skeptical. They are unsure what they are getting with health coaching. It’s new. For those who have had exposure, they get it. They understand they have been beneficiaries of the inherited ‘wealth of health’ through their hard work. For others, it is an unknown. The most effective health coaching happens when the person is invested. Not only emotionally, but financially. Since this is not a covered service by insurance, it requires private funding. That can be costly, but the return on the investment is ten-fold. In short, people NEED to pay for the service, for their own sake, to reach success and stay motivated. But by the same token, it’s a cost that many are unwilling to pay if they are unsure of what it can do for them.

What is the single most effective workflow, process, tool or form health coaches are using today?

  • For the client: Getting them to a state of awareness at the beginning of each meeting. We so often go through our days as robots. We eat because it’s time to eat. We make lists and try and accomplish the items on the list. But are we ‘present’ with ourselves? Getting the client to ‘be’ for the coaching time allows them to process on a deeper level.
  • Processes for me as a coach: Working with clients to clearly define, describe, dream and design their goals and utilize both motivational interviewing as well as appreciative inquiry as tools to help clients separate out the mush and reach their own personal levels of success.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a little town just north of Seattle, Washington.

What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?

I attended college at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s hard to pick one moment that stands out because there are so many memorable events in college. However, if I have to pick one, I’ll choose the moment I arrived at the school of nursing. Growing up in the country, arriving at an inner city university was culture shock. Add to that the moment when I sat in nursing orientation and heard the dean speak. “Look to your left and look to your right. One of you won’t be here when you graduate.” I remember thinking – “what am I going to do to be here? What qualities do I have to help me get through this?”

Are you married? Do you have children?

Unfortunately I have never married and do not have children. I believe that this is in part one of the reasons I have always enjoyed working in pediatric medicine. I like to say “even when I’m in a bad mood, somewhere during the day, some child will make me smile.”

What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?

Designing my own fitness routines and attending fitness classes with my favorite trainers. After years of being a couch potato, when I took stock in my own health, I realized that I needed to make changes to not only be a healthier person, but a better person, a happier person, a better employee and health coach. Throughout my learning, I found great trainers, and have met great friends. I’ve learned what motivates me and what keeps me engaged. I now look forward to creating my workouts and challenges.

Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend?

Ok, this is not a good movie. Not noteworthy in the sense that anyone with great intellect would feel compelled to watch. But for me, I loved “Step Up” – the original with Channing Tatum. Why? Pure and simple, the dance. I am both inspired and enamored with the physical strength, endurance and flexibility of dancers. To me, their movement is its own form of expressive art. I’ve worked with dancers in some of my personal training modalities. Those experiences have led me to appreciate the true talent and physical discipline that each and every move requires. However, buyer beware, this really is a B movie at best. If you choose to enjoy it, think about it from the perspective I’ve shared and see if it doesn’t improve the enjoyment factor.

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Meet Health Coach Shelley Wroth, M.D. – “Health Happens Mostly Outside the Doctor’s Office”

February 8th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

This month’s inside look at a health coach, the choices she made on the road to success, and the challenges ahead.

Shelley Wroth, MD, Instructor for the Integrative Health Coach Professional Training at Duke Integrative Medicine

HIN: Can you tell us a little about your first job after college and how you got into health coaching?

(Shelley Wroth, M.D.) My first job after college was working for a company writing grant proposals for a non-profit agency, Helen Keller International, that does blindness prevention and rehabilitation work globally. Just writing about this life-changing work became frustrating; I wanted to be doing it! I returned to school to finish medical school requirements and began medical school at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. I became a health coach after practicing first as a general OB/GYN for seven years, then completing a fellowship in integrative medicine through the University of Arizona and shifting my practice to integrative women’s care.

Even with a much broader approach to treatment options after my integrative training, people still didn’t always do what I told them to do! I realized I was missing the tools to find out what people actually wanted for their lives and health, and to partner with them first to create a customized health plan to meet that big picture, and next break it down into concrete steps to put into place. Health coaching training provided me those skills and radically changed my practice and view of truly patient-centered care.

Have you received any health coaching certifications? If so, please list them.

I received my health coaching training through the Duke Integrative Health Coach Professional Training.

Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road?

I think the defining moment was when I was reminded in both my integrative medicine training and health coaching training that people’s health is their own, and happens mostly outside of the doctor’s office. People’s bodies heal themselves, even after a needed surgery or medication, and people decide how they want to approach their health based on their personal goals and values, and the most important things that support their health happen through their food, movement and relationships. In my medical training, I had truly forgotten that. To not only be reminded, but to learn a process, skills and strategies to work skillfully with people to discover what makes sense for them for their health, changed everything and let me know I was on the right path.

In brief, describe your organization.

Duke Integrative Medicine has a mission to transform medicine in the 21st century. Our professional training in integrative health coaching is a primary pillar of this mission, in addition to our clinical and research work. In order to transform medicine into a care system that is focused on supporting health, preventing disease and treating it at the earliest signs, and that supports each person to create and implement a plan that is based on best practices and is customized to their values and needs, we need providers with new skills in effective health behavior change. Our Integrative Health Coach Professional Training is designed to train a new professional on the healthcare to meet this need.

What are two or three important concepts or rules you follow in health coaching?

  • Start and stay curious. I may have a lot of information and even passion about different options to support health for my clients. However, I know nothing about what they already know about their health, how they work best, what is most important to them, and most realistic to put in place unless I ask. My favorite question is: What else? There is always more for a client to discover to increase learning and enact successful action.
  • Mindful awareness. At Duke, we view cultivating mindful awareness as a foundation to effective coaching and partnership. With mindful awareness, I am paying attention to the present moment, just as it is. This supports my ability to hear my client, be aware of my own thoughts without needing to automatically react to them, and notice changes in voice tone, or energy level, or emotion with my client, and follow up on them to see where it might expand client learning.
  • Work from research and neuroscience-based models. No one has cornered the market on effective behavior change; if they had, our country would not be in the healthcare crisis due to preventable chronic diseases that it currently is. However, we are learning more and more about how the brain prioritizes information and builds new neural pathways that are required for change. I believe in using health coaching strategies that take advantage of the amazing plasticity of the brain for sustainable behavior change.

What is the single most successful thing that your company is doing now?

We are focused on increasing the accessibility of integrative health coaching training to interested providers through the healthcare system, including nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physicians, psychologists, massage therapists, nutritionists, and exercise physiologists, in order to more effectively engage people in planning for their own health and making sustainable health behavior changes.

What is the single most effective workflow, process, tool or form that you are using in coaching today?

I believe there is no single most effective process or tool in coaching, as every person’s brain is unique based on their own experiences and decisions. Therefore the most effective process or tool will be unique for each client. The key is to listen to the client, have established a trusting working relationship, and as a coach be familiar with a clear process for exploring change that offers multiple strategies to try and see what helps the client make the greatest insight and implement new action.

Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto for 2013?

The questions about whether or not we will implement healthcare reform have been answered with the presidential election. It is now time for action. The old system will not work to provide the truly patient-centered, preventive care needed for reform. Integrative health coaches will be at the forefront of new systems and delivery methods for healthcare that make sense to promote and incentivize health.

What is the most satisfying thing about being a health coach?

For me it is when I am teaching health coaching and a coaching student sees the impact of asking the client a question that elicits the client’s own knowledge and solution instead of the coach offering advice. That is when everything changes in the neurochemistry of possibilities for the client and coach.

What is the greatest challenge of health coaching, and how are you working to overcome this challenge?

My greatest challenge is patience as the healthcare system moves to incorporate the position of health coaching. The need for expertise in health behavior change is so great and immediate, it is both an amazing opportunity and a personal source of great frustration with the gap in our current care.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Santa Barbara, Calif., though I have lived longer in my current home of Durham, N.C. I feel lucky to have lived in such beautiful university towns, with amazing resources for outdoor activities, music, food and arts.

What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?

I went to Yale University as an undergraduate. I loved being on the women’s rowing team and spending a junior semester living in London, studying and going to plays.

Are you married? Do you have children?

I have a partner who is an acupuncturist. I have learned a great deal from her about Chinese medicine’s approach to whole person care and healing. I have two children, one getting ready to drive and the other busy with Ultimate Frisbee. Life is full and always interesting!

What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?

My favorite hobby is yoga. I discovered yoga during my integrative medicine training about eight years ago. It has been part of my life ever since, supporting my physical and mental flexibility, stamina and strength.

Is there a book you recently read or a movie you saw that you would recommend?

Two books that I recently read and loved were The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and Escape Fire: Designs for the Future of Health Care by Donald Berwick. The Power of Habit has a great discussion of how we set behavior patterns as individuals, businesses, and societies, as well as how we can recognize those patterns and change them. Escape Fire: Designs for the Future of Health Care is an inspirational series of talks given by Don Berwick, the founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, over 10 years, detailing the gaps in the current healthcare system and outlining the framework of the solution and what our future healthcare system will evolve into. Absolutely masterful.

Meet Health Coach Linda Johns: Pediatric Nurse Finds Work-Life Balance

January 10th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

This month’s inside look at a health coach, the choices she made on the road to success, and the challenges ahead.

Linda Johns, RN, BSN, MHA, CPN, specializing in pediatric health and wellness for Femtique, Associates, Inc.

HIN: What was your first job out of college and how did you get into health coaching?

Linda Johns: My first job out of college was as an adult physical rehabilitation nurse at Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital in Darby, Pa. I worked there for five years, three out of four weekends a month. It was there that I saw a job posting for a two day a week position as a pediatric nurse. I applied and found my “niche.” I have been working in pediatrics now for 21 years.

I met Mary Jo Clarkson of Femtique while working as a clinical nurse supervisor for Bayada Nurses. She was a new nurse to pediatric home care, and was assigned to one of my pediatric clients. She told me about the classes she was taking towards becoming a certified health coach, and I was immediately interested in this new profession.

Have you received any health coaching certifications? If so, please list these certifications.

I have three classes left to complete my 40-week webinar graduate level certification curriculum in health coaching from Health Coach Alliance. I will then be able to take the test and become certified as a health coach. The standards of practice and the board certification are based upon the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road?

Yes! I recently completed a nine-week basic breastfeeding course that was offered by the Philadelphia Department of Health. Femtique will start teaching maternal-child health nurses the 20-hour breastfeeding curriculum in the early part of 2013. I previously worked as a clinical instructor at a community college teaching second year nursing students on a pediatric floor at a local children’s hospital. I knew when I was taking this course that I would love teaching nurses the correct ways to teach moms to breastfeed! I just wish I knew all this information when I was breastfeeding my own children and teaching new moms in the hospital setting.

In brief, describe your organization:

Femtique Associates, Inc. is a non-profit healthcare advocate and health coach organization providing health and wellness care information and resources for women and children, so they can attain better outcomes in their lives and maintain an optimum level of wellness.

What are two or three important concepts or rules that you follow in health coaching?

  • To coach clients towards their goals and let them make their own healthy lifestyle decisions.
  • To use the eight realms of life: physical, psychological, spiritual, social, financial, environmental, professional/vocational and academic to help coach the “whole” person.
  • To realize that some clients cannot be coached.

Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto for 2013?

Many physicians’ offices are employing health coaches to help their patient achieve healthier lifestyle changes. A health coach can spend much more time with the patient to help them set realistic goals. I am glad to be a part of this profession.

What is the most satisfying thing about being a health coach?

To help clients achieve their goals. I am also glad I have the opportunity to teach clients and professional nurses.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Havertown, Pa. I attended Haverford High School. I lived in the Delaware County area for 32 years before moving to Chester County, Pa, where I now reside.

What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?

I attended Delaware County Community College after having my first child. I was a medical assistant and decided I wanted to advance my career and become a registered nurse. I obtained my associate degree and started working as a graduate nurse at Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital. I then had my second and third children. I did not go back to school until my youngest children were in middle school. I sat down with them and told them that I was considering going back to school for my BSN, and they were excited. I could not go back to school at a traditional college because I worked 12-hour shifts so I decided to enroll in an online program at the University of Phoenix. I completed my BSN four years later in January 2006. I was back in school one year later and obtained a master’s degree in health administration in January 2009. I later obtained a certification in pediatrics in 2010. I started health coaching classes in January 2012.

Are you married? Do you have children?

I am divorced but have been dating the same man for 13 years. I have three grown children and three grandchildren.

What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?

One of my favorite hobbies is researching different healthcare issues that have been either brought to my attention or that are of interest to me. I also enjoy reading and sewing. My boyfriend gave me a new sewing machine last year. My family gives me all of their clothes that need mending.

Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend?

I am currently reading The Help on my Kindle. It is unbelievable to think of how not too long ago people acted toward each other because they had a different skin color.

I just went to the movies and saw The Hobbit. My boyfriend pointed out that it was nothing like the original Hobbit movie. I enjoyed watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy, on which the Hobbit was based.

Meet Embedded Health Coach Dr. Bud Harris – Engaging Truckers’ Heads, Hearts and Hamstrings in Triathlons

October 12th, 2012 by Cheryl Miller

This month’s inside look at a health coach, the choices he made on the road to success, and the challenges ahead.

Dr. Bud Harris, cWC, cPT, Senior Wellness Coach, Wellness Coaches USA

HIN: Can you tell us a little about your background after high school and how you got into health coaching?

After high school I joined the United States Air Force (USAF) as an electronic technician. I lived and worked in Turkey, Sicily, Morocco, Greece and Germany. After 10 years of USAF service I became a licensed electrician; I’d developed an interest in safety and health and began running shop safety committees. I remained in the safety and health field while pursuing my master’s degree and eventually completed a doctorate in safety engineering with an emphasis on health and wellness promotion in the safety role. It was my doctoral research that led me to wellness coaching and to the WellCoaches organization. I have now been preventing injuries for the past four years instead of investigating them.

Have you received any health coaching certifications? If so, please list these certifications.

I am a certified WellCoach (cWC), and I recently became WELCOA faculty, having completed five of their workplace university certifications.

Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road?

You bet! When I was managing the Health and Safety program at Tyco Electronics PI, I volunteered to take over the wellness role from a short-staffed human resources department, believing that a fit workforce was a safer workforce. I developed stretch breaks, started an indoor walking program, organized plant sports leagues and increased membership in the on-site gym from 200 to 500. My “Self Matters” initiative was nominated for the Tyco International Safety and Health Excellence Award.

In brief, describe your organization.

I work for Wellness Coaches USA (WCUSA), an on-site face-to-face wellness coaching company in the United States. I am embedded in the workplace and have an office in a trucking terminal in Portland, Ore. WCUSA can be found in all industries. For example, They have five coaches in the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas and 45 coaches in trucking terminals across the United States for my client alone.

What are two or three important concepts or rules that you follow in health coaching?

  • My belief is that nobody is broken and that we are all on a path, and that some need more guidance than others to stay on a healthier path.
  • While being a good listener is paramount, my goal and role is to inspire my clients to develop their own wellness vision by taking baby steps towards their best self. My motto is: Engage the head, then the heart and finally the hamstrings.
  • Unless there is a strong reason against it, procrastination, mediocrity and complacency have a tendency to creep back into one’s life.

What is the single most successful thing that your company is doing now?

The Certified Stretch Leader program is a peer based stretch program I developed in 2010, and modeled after the one I was involved with at Intel Corporation. In the freight industry, many truckers experience lower back issues and soft tissue injuries. Besides teaching proper lifting techniques, I instruct all of my trucker clients to engage their core and increase their range of motion in order to decrease the risk of injury. We do a series of eight stretches that target and prevent the top three injuries, which are lower back, shoulders and hands and wrists. I have certified 21 peer stretch leaders (including truckers, mechanics, and supervisors) who lead stretching at all of the shift safety start-up meetings. I have documented this program and it has spread across our clients’ trucking network and many of my peer wellness coaches for this client are using it to prevent injuries.

What is the single most effective workflow, process, tool or form that you are using in coaching today?

Each month, a health promotion topic is hand delivered to all clients, at which time clients can ask questions about the topic or anything else they are interested in: gym membership, diets or some muscle pain they may be having. Oftentimes, it is during these brief meetings that formal consultations and eventual coaching conversations are initiated.

Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto for 2012/2013?

Oh yes! Out of pocket healthcare costs are a big concern for many of my clients. So digging deeper into the Affordable Healthcare Act is on my short list. In addition, gaining the coaching skills to lead people to the obvious conclusion that taking preventive care of themselves is wiser than focusing on the current sick care industry is another priority.

What is the most satisfying thing about being a health coach?

When my clients move from the contemplation phase to the action phase. I have inspired many clients to complete either a full sprint triathlon or part of one on co-worker teams. We are in our fourth year of Truckers to Triathletes (T2T), a program I developed in 2009. It started with one trucker and on July 29, 2012, we entered seven T2T teams at the Amica Mid Summer Triathlon and took home five team medals.

In fact, the T2T program received national and company exposure. On October 15, 2012 I flew to our WCUSA headquarters in Pennsylvania and received the first annual WCUSA Coaches Excellence Award for Innovation and Creativity. Pilot Flying J, the largest truck fueling stop in the United States, sponsored me and four of my T2T trucker athletes to fly to Anderson, S.C. to race in the S.C. Rev3 Triathlon, competing against the best triathletes in the world. It really has taken me by surprise. It all started with coaching one trucker to do a triathlon. Trucker John lost 50 pounds, and (the better story) his son also lost 50 pounds as they trained together for triathlons.

What is the greatest challenge of health coaching, and how are you working to overcome this challenge?

The time constraints for sure. Most of my coaching sessions last two to five minutes as trucking is a fast-paced business. Our company has an internal coach training program and all of the coaches are enrolled in the CoachWell program. We get detailed training on what they call Laser Coaching which oftentimes leads to longer consults off the clock.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Hemet, Calif. but grew up in a small town in the Sierra Nevada high desert on Lake Isabella, Calif. in Kern County.

What college(s) did you attend?

I spent 20 years in night college and university while working full-time with a family. After I dropped out of Bakersfield Junior College in 1979 I joined the USAF. After five years I started night school and received my AAS in electronics systems technology through the community college of the Air Force. My BAS in managerial leadership is from Northwest Christian College and my master’s degree in organizational management is from the University of Phoenix online campus. My Ph.D. in safety engineering is from Kennedy-Western University.

Is there a moment from that time that stands out?

Yes, when I made the decision to focus my doctoral dissertation on workplace wellness and its affect on worker safety. That decision alone is what shaped my destiny and led me to WellCoaches and WCUSA. I love what I do now.

Are you married? Do you have children?

Yes, I married a beautiful Danish girl, then Marie Christine Hansen. I met Marie while I was stationed on the Isle of Crete, Greece. I was in the USAF and she was on vacation. We met at a disco and were married 18 months later on the USAF base in Crete and later with both families and friends attending in Copenhagen, Denmark. I have two daughters, Erika (24), who was born in Denmark, and Elisia (21). Erika is a dental hygienist and Elisia is mom to my granddaughter Payton (18 months) and will give birth to twin boys shortly.

What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?

Biking! When I was very young, about five years old, I would visit my grandfather over the summer. He would go to the wrecking yard and bring home piles of old bikes. He would then take my little brother Donie and me to the Thrifty Drugstore to buy tubes and tires and we would fix the bikes up and put them out on the street to sell for $5. Then when I was 13, a local bike shop went bankrupt and my brother and I bought out their spare parts for $300 and started B&D Bike Shop. We then followed what my gramps had taught us. My dad took us to the junkyard and we bought a pile of used bikes and refurbished them and sold them out of our garage. That was fun and kept us busy on weekends while earning spending money.

Today I have a small fleet of bikes in my garage, do triathlons and enjoy biking with my wife and daughters often. I started the City of Hillsboro Parks and Recreation Bike Program in 2005 and in 2008 REI granted me 10 very nice mountain bikes that I haul around in a city trailer and use to teach a youth program I developed called “Ready Riders Rock (R3).” As an Eagle boy scout, I added components of trail stewardship and responsibility, teach proper stretching, hydration and nutrition and bike maintenance. All grads receive a diploma and are expected to mentor these skills within their peer circles. I am also the part-time biking program director for Parks and Recreation and for the third year took the 10 mountain bikes up to our local state park for the international “Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day” (IMBA) and teach kids the art of trail riding in both a positive and safe way.

Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend?

Yes, both. The 2003 documentary “The Secret” does a great job of simplifying the universal Law of Attraction which says: what we think about we will bring about. So, if we are always thinking about how bad things are, we will attract more of that into our lives. This law or concept is really hard to teach as most people believe their thoughts are on autopilot and that they have no control over them, when in reality we can choose to focus on our goals or upcoming family events. But most people don’t.

The book, “Why our Health Matters” by Dr. Andrew Weil, is my other recommendation. The book details the current sickcare system of medicine practiced in the United States and paints a picture of how integrative medicine is a better way, using low tech strategies like wellness coaching and yoga for those with depression, diabetes, obesity and hypertension instead of costly high tech surgeries and medicine. It is a must read for those that want to hear an MD discuss a better future and show us what that system would look like.

Any additional comments?

I invite you to visit my coaching Web site.

Meet Health Coach Jennifer Sponholtz: Incorporating Coaching into Incentive-Based Wellness Programs

August 10th, 2012 by Cheryl Miller

This month’s inside look at a health coach, the choices she made on the road to success, and the challenges ahead.

Jennifer Sponholtz, Wellness Coordinator at Advocate Health Care

HIN: What was your first job out of college and how did you get into health coaching?

Jennifer Sponholtz: After I graduated, I started at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital as a fitness specialist and cardiac rehab phase III coordinator. I enrolled in the Totally Coached Intrinsic Coaching® development series shortly after I started with Advocate. The coaching methodology really intrigued me, so I pursued the opportunity to start health coaching for Advocate.

Have you received any health coaching certifications? If so, please list them.

I did both Intrinsic Coaching® Series I & II, was certified by the American Lung Association as a Freedom from Smoking facilitator and recently became certified in motivational interviewing. I’ve attended several coaching workshops and was a poster proposal presenter at the National Wellness Conference offered by the National Wellness Institute.

Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road?

I knew in high school I wanted to pursue my passion for preventive health. When I started my health education classes in college I knew I was on the right path. Now, when I work with people and they share their progress and express appreciation, it ignites my passion even more.

In brief, describe your organization.

Advocate Health Care is the largest integrated healthcare system in Illinois with more than 250 sites of care. I work in the Advocate Medical Group division to provide lifestyle health coaching and other wellness services to patients, employees and other organizations.

What are two or three important concepts or rules that you follow in health coaching?

  • Honor the silence when the participant is thinking and never interrupt.
  • Listen for key indicators of where to dig deeper. For example, if I hear more energy in the tone of voice, it indicates a higher level of motivation so I pursue that topic further.
  • Finally, I try to never think about what I am going to say next and just listen.

What is the single-most successful thing that your company is doing now?

Advocate incorporates health coaching as part of a comprehensive incentive-based wellness program at no cost for associates and spouses participating in our benefits plan.

What is the single most effective workflow, process, tool or form that you are using in coaching today?

The intrinsic method has been very useful for me as both a coaching technique as well as a communication tool in general. As long as it is incorporated into the conversation and not the sole technique used, it proves very effective.

Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto for 2012?

With the changes in health insurance and accountable care, we are starting to collaborate more with the physicians and care management team so patients have an entire network partnering with them to support their health goals.

What is the most satisfying thing about being a health coach?

It is gratifying to work with individuals who are motivated to make changes and very open to new ideas. I love hearing someone have an “aha” moment when a new idea just clicks.

What is the greatest challenge of health coaching, and how are you working to overcome this challenge?

When I train coaches, they often struggle with figuring out how to motivate someone who is in the pre-contemplation phase. Personally, I like the challenge of working with these individuals and see their mind-set change over time. I encourage coaches to find out one thing they are ready to change and work from there. If I hate exercise but want to lose weight, maybe there is an area of my diet I could improve. With health, one improvement triggers another; it’s all related.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Racine, Wisconsin and moved to the Chicago area after college.

What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Playing tennis was definitely the highlight of my college experience. I also enjoyed writing for the student newspaper and had the opportunity to develop a health section in the paper and became the health editor.

Are you married? Do you have children?

I am engaged and planning an August 2013 wedding. No children yet!

What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?

Tennis is definitely my favorite sport to play. I started in high school and ended up playing all four years of college. It helped me develop crucial prioritization skills to enable me to take the max credits allowed, work a part-time job and still have a social life in college. I use those skills every day now! I also enjoy running since it takes less effort to coordinate than playing tennis. Running helps me unwind and do some deep thinking.

Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend?

I just heard about the book FYI (For Your Improvement): A Guide for Developing and Coaching by Lominger. It’s on my reading list.