How to Coach Individuals to be Successful in Achieving a Healthy Lifestyle

feature-July2015aA series focusing on how lifestyle coaches can help individuals achieve their healthy eating and physical activity goals.

By Anna Zilinskas, BS, DPP-GLB Lifestyle Coach, and M. Kaye Kramer, DrPH, RN

As a diabetes prevention program lifestyle coach, do you often feel that the individuals taking part in your program look to you for all of the “answers”? Whether it’s an exercise tip that was read in the newspaper, a new weight loss secret seen on TV in a daily talk show, or health information passed along by a neighbor; participants in healthy lifestyle intervention programs often ask, “Is this true?” Individuals taking part in such programs may come to class eager to learn, but reluctant to change, often searching for a “quick fix.” How do we approach these challenges as lifestyle coaches?

Making lifestyle changes to lower risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease is centered around healthy eating and being physically active. The DPP Group Lifestyle Balance (GLB) training offered by the Diabetes Prevention Support Center of the University of Pittsburgh teaches coaches that when conveying healthy lifestyle messages to group members, simplicity is key. Simplifying health information, compiling research and data into small “serving sizes”, and organizing the information in a presentable manner is crucial to an individual’s ability to understand and stick with the small changes that will in turn, produce big results.

For that reason, the Diabetes Prevention Support Center is initiating a series of posts over the upcoming weeks that will define some of the key tips and points of the DPP-GLB program that we feel are crucial to the success of not only this program, but weight loss and lifestyle change as a whole. Part 1 of the series will focus on tips for healthy eating and weight loss, while Part 2 will include thoughts and suggestions on being physically active.

To kick off Part 1 of this series, we will feature a deep dive in to each of the points listed below. In the upcoming weeks, we’ll provide you with detailed information on each topic in order to better equip you to coach your patients on these meaningful lifestyle changes. Whether you’re a coach, a participant, or just browsing the internet for knowledge and supplemental information to encourage a lifestyle change, these small changes in how and what you eat can lead to great success in creating a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.

Key factors for Healthy Eating and Weight Loss that will be Addressed in the Upcoming Weeks

1. How Keeping Track of Eating Can Help Participants with Weight Loss

Keeping track of what you eat and drink can have many benefits when it comes to healthy eating and weight loss. By keeping track, participants are able to gain a greater awareness of their current eating behaviors. Keeping track also allows coaches to point out areas for improvement and work with the individual to find healthier solutions.

2. Slow It Down – How Mindful Eating Can Lead to Weight Loss

Slowing down the eating process allows greater awareness of what is being consumed. By taking more time to chew food and having a heightened awareness, fullness can be detected earlier thus preventing overeating.

3. Tricking Yourself into Eating Less

Plate and cup size have increased over the past decades which can lead to larger portion sizes. By using smaller dishes, the perception of the amount of food on the plate or beverage in a cup can be changed. This can “trick” us into THINKING we are eating more.

4. Easy Ways to Build a Better Recipe

Favorite foods do not necessarily have to be eliminated! By making substitutions to alter recipes to be lower in fat and calories, favorites can still be enjoyed. Stay tuned for a list of great substitutions!

5. How to Plan Healthier Meals

It’s all about the plan. By planning meals ahead of time, overeating and “slip ups” are less likely. Grocery shopping becomes easier and sticking to a healthier diet becomes routine rather than facing tough decisions in the moment regarding “what’s for lunch?” Meal planning also has many other benefits such as allowing for occasional “splurges” that can be fit into your meal plan.

Summing it up

These five tips for healthy eating are some that we feel are very important to communicate to individuals taking part in a lifestyle change program. We will be providing detailed information on each of these points in Part 1 of this series in the upcoming weeks to show the impact they can make. As we elaborate on each point we hope that these small changes help lead to big rewards in the journey toward a healthier lifestyle for you and your participants!

Have you seen any of these tips play a part in the success of your participants? Share your experience in the comments section below.

Interested in becoming a DPP Group Lifestyle Balance coach? Get more information or register for an upcoming DPP-GLB training workshop by clicking here.