health coach

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

6 Tips For Less Sleepless Nights

It's that time of year, apparently. People are complaining about sleepless nights. I can relate because I experienced some intense, situational insomnia two times in my life.

Before 2008, I had never really known the experience of insomnia. That year was painful. I had moved from an apartment I loved to one nearer to someone I was dating because she complained of the commute to see me. I don't recommend doing this.

This new apartment was located on an extremely busy (read: TOTALLY CLOGGED) main street in Downtown Boston about a half-mile from one of the biggest hospitals in the city. Ambulances roared past my window on a consistent basis, sirens blaring. My room was on the street-level and I paid over $1100 a month on my rent. To share the apartment. My roommate paid the same amount for her bedroom.Oh, the things I could have done with that money...!

That year, I barely slept through the night. It was a year filled with chronic illness, countless sick days and general, constant fatigue, lethargy and depression. Not fun.

The second time I experience insomnia was a year and a half ago. About 6-8 months before making the choice to medically transition to male. There was this restless, unrelenting anxiety inside and it manifested as general anxiety during the day and sleepless night. Like the kind I fell asleep at 10:30pm and was up at 1am, 3am, 4am and then finally, when I was about to fall asleep at 6am, it was time to get up.

That kind.

The freakin' worst.

This lasted for months.

Lately, my sleep is rock solid *knocks wood*.

Here are 6 tips for less sleepless nights:

1) Look at your nutrition. If you're overeating or undereating during the day and/or eating later in evening, your sleep will suffer. Your body is really smart and you will feel the effects of everything you do (or don't) eat during the day. Track the meals you've eaten during the day. Are you eating enough protein, fat and complex carbs? Are you eating greens? They are good for your brains and mood. If you eat late at night, your body will be so focused on digesting that it will take away from the internal clock stuff that happens to put you into a deep, super slumber. Likewise, if you're depriving yourself of essential nutrients and sufficient calories during the day, your body sort of has every right to be poking and prodding you during the night to get what it needs. This is science. I'm not making it up. And since I've been my own test subject for years, I speak from personal experience.

2) Take extra vitamin D. Or not. Some folks attribute restless nights with insufficient Vitamin D levels. Depending on where you live in the U.S. or around the world, this may or may not be true for you. Those living in places where there is less sunlight right now (Boston, MA for example) aren't getting much Vitamin D because their bodies are bundled up in winter(ish) clothing and warm buildings. We get something like 10,000 units from 30 minutes in the sun. If we aren't in the sun, this doesn't happen. Do you can get some extra D lovin' from egg yolks or fatty fish. If you're a vegan or vegetarian, there are some algaes that provide vitamin D, and you can buy them in health food stores. I seem to be getting what I need from my diet, despite less intense sun exposure, so I'll keep doing what I'm doing.

3) Don't drink before bed. I know a lot of my restless nights were caused by getting up and peeing during the night. It messed with me because I thought I was doing the right thing by drinking so much water to be hydrated. Little did I realize that I was causing my own insomnia by drinking right before bed. I work to get my fluids in early in the day and then cruising into the evening with less and less drinks.

4) Assess your surroundings. It may sound overly simple but is your living situation conducive to getting good sleep? Where is your dwelling located--in a quiet or busy location? Your bed--is it comfortable? Is your room cluttered and messy or tidy and organized--it may affect your subconscious. Is the temperature at night too cold or too hot for your needs and what can you do to change this?

5) Solve your stuff. It's possible your sleeplessness is being caused by a major stressor in your life. A job-related issue. Some relationship stuff, maybe even around your family. Questioning an aspect of your personal identity. Bigger picture problems. Guess what? Everyone has this stuff. You're not broken, weird or wrong to be struggling with something, or a few things. The extent to which you address this stuff and seek to solve it will affect your ability to relax and drift away to slumberland. Again, I speak from experience on this one. Even when I thought I was doing everything I could to manifest peaceful sleep, there were still things I wasn't doing to make it better. I strived until I solved it.

6) Wrap-up and wind-down. Each day will be filled with endless tasks, thoughts and responsibilities. But at some point, you have to be able to say, "this day is over. Plenty of time to tackle it tomorrow." Saying this out loud may help, because you may still think staying up is the solution. It might be, if getting more work done is your goal. If more sleep is what you're seeking, staying up late working on projects or doing things won't get you there. You will always find something to work on or something that needs to be completed. Wrap up whatever you're doing and intentionally wind-down, preferably without electronics nearby because all that motion and stimulation can mess with your brainwaves. Or something. Try reading or meditating. Seriously. How many people fall asleep while meditating? (wait, is that only me...?)