Guest Post by Lisa Levine: Life Coaching vs. Health Coaching

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  I've been a health coach since I started my business in 2009 but I can count on all my fingers and toes (multiple times over) how often I get called a life coach or nutritionist.

I'm neither.

I do get stopped, however, when trying to explain the difference but I don't really know what a life coach does and how it's different from the work I do as a health coach. One of my recent IIN health coaching students, Lisa Levine, IS both a life coach AND soon-to-be health coach graduate. I invited her to weigh in on the difference(s) between life coaching and health coaching and she put together a brilliant post. You can read more below and check out Lisa's website in the info about her at the bottom of this page. :)

Thanks, Lisa, for sharing your insight and wisdom to help clear up the important distinctions!


From Lisa:

Ever since I started what I like to call my "Coaching 2.0" journey, I've had lots of people say to me, "Lisa, what exactly is the difference between a Life Coach and a Health Coach?" With that in mind I have created a little primer.

Without further ado, here is your guide to Life Coaching vs.Health Coaching, and a look at how some kind of coaching might be helpful in your life.

Life Coaching vs. Health Coaching

Hello friends! I have been MIA from my blog for a few months while working on a course with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Soon I will be adding health coaching to my wheelhouse! My plan is to combine what I am learning at IIN with what I already practice as a certified Life Coach.

Ever since I started what I like to call my "Coaching 2.0" journey, I've had lots of people say to me, "Lisa, what exactly is the difference between a Life Coach and a Health Coach?" With that in mind I have created a little primer.

Without further ado, here is your guide to Life Coaching vs. Health Coaching, and a look at how some kind of coaching might be helpful in your life.

Coaches empower people to change their lives. 

As a Life Coach, I help people change their lives by changing their thinking. I am like a personal trainer - for your mind.  I can teach you how to understand and overcome your fears and frustrations, how to shift your perspective, how to tune in and reconnect to your body, and, first and foremost, how to truly Pay Attention to what you are thinking, feeling and doing.  Just the simple act of Paying Attention alone can be life changing! If you find yourself stalled out or at a crossroads, then hiring a Life Coach is just the ticket.

As a Health Coach, I believe that food is all the things that sustain your life, not just what you find on your plate. Your career, relationships, spirituality, hobbies - anything that you feel passionate about - can be considered a primary food. As the Institute of Integrative Nutrition teaches, “When primary food is balanced and satiated, your life feeds you, making what you actually eat secondary.” And if what you actually eat makes you feel so tired and crappy that you don't have the energy to do the things that feed your soul, then I can help you get back in balance.

In addition to studying over 100 different dietary theories, I have learned numerous strategies for helping clients create new habits and lifestyle changes. I can help you feel healthy, energized and back on track with your primary and your secondary foods.

Coaches listen deeply and reflect back to their clients what they hear and see - often with a fresh perspective.

As a Life Coach I encourage you to explore the places in your life where you are stuck or uncomfortable. I give prompts and ask questions that help you dig deeper towards the light so you can move forward. Sometimes the questions are harder to answer than you might think (i.e. what would you do if you knew you could not fail?). I listen carefully to what you are saying and not saying. Then, together, we can look at things from a different angle. It's like having brand new batteries for your flashlight on a camping trip.

As a Health Coach I read between the lines of your Health History pre-work. I employ Active Listening skills and ask questions that encourage you to really look at what feeds your body, mind and spirit. I don't expect you to immediately change everything and jump headfirst into 2 hours of daily meditation and the land of green smoothies. It's important to me to find out where you are on your health journey and meet you there.

Coaches trust that each client has their own special path. We are there to shine a light, not to chart the course.

As a Life Coach I don't know what's best for you  - but somewhere inside yourself, you do. The new resources I give you can help you tune in to your unique Essential Self and move towards your destiny with joy and excitement. By shining light into forgotten corners that have become dusty and dark, your path gets brighter and clearer, leading you home to yourself.

As a Health Coach I know that bio-individuality is key to achieving sustainable health and wellbeing.  There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet or lifestyle. One person's diet of yoga and vegetarianism is another person's diet of CrossFit and Paleo. It all depends on your body, your genetics, your beliefs and what lights you up. Together we can see what is working and what is not working. By listening to your body we can create a plan that works specifically for you.

Coaches provide their clients with accountability, support and feedback.

As a Life Coach I am your biggest cheerleader. I am also the person who calls bullsh*t if it looks like you might be floating down the river of denial. If you are hiring me to help you move past a roadblock or navigate through some rough water, it serves us both to keep focused and make the most of your time by being honest and straightforward.

The same goes for me as your Health Coach. If what you are doing is no longer working then its time to do something different. The best way to create transformation and growth is to show up. If you are committed to change then I can help you get there.

Coaches help their clients come up with an action plan that is tailored just for them so that they can move forward and live their best lives.

In my practice as a Life Coach, you decide how many times you want to meet (I recommend at least 4 or 6). Sessions are 60 minutes and take place via phone or Skype. I provide notes after the session and encourage you to take your own notes as well. I often give action items and homework in between sessions to help you move through a challenging time or dream and scheme your way toward your heart's desire.

As your Health Coach I will meet with you twice a month, for 3 or 6 months. Sessions are 50 minutes and take place in person, on the phone or via Skype. I will provide you with information and recommendations that you can implement as we work together. We set concrete goals so that you can experience measurable change and success by the end of our time together.

There are lots of compassionate, bright and intuitive Coaches out there right now. Every one of them brings his or her, own "special sauce" to the equation. Most Coaches offer a free consultation that will give you both a chance to ask questions and get a sense of each other. The key is finding a coach whose style and approach most resonate with you. All good Coaches want their clients to live their happiest and healthiest lives and we know that when you show up for yourself you can achieve just that!


About Lisa Levine

Lisa is a Certified Martha Beck Life Coach and a soon to be Certified Health Coach through IIN. She works with all kinds of folks who find themselves stuck on their life paths but she has a special affinity for women who are approaching "mid-life". Lisa is currently creating a program for clients like this that she fondly calls "F**k You, 50!", as in A Number Won't Define Me, I will Define Myself, Thank You Very Much. This will include practical tools, ideas & support for body, mind and spirit on the ramp up to 50 and beyond. Lisa lives happily in Seattle with her husband and 2 teenagers who keep her sharp as a tack. You can find her at