The Value of Wellness Coaching at Hilton Head Health

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by Jeffrey Ford

Who We Are: Hilton Head Health was founded in 1976 as a 4-week weight-loss spa retreat center. Over the past 30 years, the center has evolved so guests are able to stay and participate in our Healthy Lifestyle™ program for up to 3 months. They can be submerged in the triad of health — fitness, nutrition, and SELF (Stress management, Empowerment, Longevity, Fulfillment). We offer a 1,200 to 1,500 calorie per day meal plan in which guests eat six meals throughout the day. We provide daily educational lectures on fitness, nutrition, emotional eating, and personal responsibility. Throughout the day we offer a variety   of fitness classes; we offer six to seven chances to participate in flexibility, strength training, and cardio classes. We also offer a variety of recreational activities, such as kayaking, biking, paddle boarding, and more. Finally, cooking demonstrations and hands- on classes teach our guests how to cook quick, healthy meals to prepare them for their return home. Our schedule is designed for guests to experience an entire week engulfed in making balanced, healthy changes in their lives, while still having a good time.

What Was Missing From Our Program: I have been with Hilton Head Health for just over two years and was hired to create a continued support program for our guests. H3@Home Wellness coaching offers a component that was missing from our program before. Upon returning home, guests now have the option for continued, structured support from one of our trained wellness coaches to ensure the tools and knowledge gained during their stay are not just being put into practice, but are actually sticking. We were all very excited when H3 fitness director Adam Martin started throwing around the idea of at-home coaching and came across the highly recommended and leading-edge coach training program. Adam and I shared the same vision for our guests, and he trusted me to bring that vision to life. We are so excited that we are sitting here today with the program successfully put into action.

How We Began: We made the decision that we were not going to start a coaching program at Hilton Head Health until we had a viable certification. We found that the coach training program we selected was a perfect fit and the focus went hand-in-hand with what we wanted to do here. We began the training with our entire program staff in June 2011 and we went through the training classes together and studied together. Learning about motivational interviewing and non-violent communication were particularly impactful to me. The format for structuring the coaching calls that the program uses has been huge for getting our program off the ground. I was the first coach to become certified, and right away we launched our H3@Home Wellness Coaching program.

Implementing Coaching: We now offer a few different types  of coaching programs, all of which are based on what we learned in coach training. These are follow-up programs, and our goal  is for our guests to sustain success in living the healthy habits they learned here. All of our programs offer an initial    90-minute coaching session to get started. Then to create a group feel, we send weekly group e-mail messages, weekly text messages, and challenges that we give our guests at home. Guests have  30-minute calls with their coach once a week for 3 months. At the end of the 3 months, they either continue with the coaching or feel ready to move on.

Coaching’s Impact: The biggest impact of coaching for our  guests has been accountability! We  felt the need to implement   a coaching program to become certified because although many of our guests are successful at home, we find several guests come back to our facility and need continued education and assistance. The difference today with the implementation of coaching is that these guests are coming back 50 to 60 lbs. lighter, with new sustainable habits, such as reducing work hours, exercising regularly, improved nutrition, planning, and journaling. Coaching has been a great way for guests to use the motivation that they get from staying a week with us and really focus on those habits as they go home. We have definitely seen more successful outcomes with our guests because of coaching. A little bit of accountability goes a long way!

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