Working with a Health Coach

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

A friend recently switched his healthcare insurance. His new provider declared that his weight was an issue and charged him a premium as a result. His former insurer had done so too, along with the two before that. Each time he’d shrug his shoulders with an “Oh, well” attitude.

This time was different. In addition to the premium bump they assigned him a health coach to help him bring his weight down to a not unacceptable level. This irritated my friend, who groused about the intrusion, the indignity of being forced to work with a coach.

Though he says his health coach is nice enough, he doesn’t like her. I doubt he would like anyone in that roll. They talk once a month. If my friend dodges the call, his mentor is persistent. Now he just answers her call when it comes and fulfills his once-a-month obligation.

The health coach offers suggestions, and my friend dismisses them: “Now here’s what I’m going to do” is his response.

I asked if his coach offers encouragement. With a dismissive attitude he admitted that might be the case. “Isn’t that what she’s supposed to do?”

Then I asked, “Do you find her encouragement irritating? Perhaps she is over-the-top perky?”

“No,” he answers. “She’s okay. She’s just doing what she’s supposed to do. It’s her job.”

He claims to have ignored every suggestion offered. Yet, he’s losing weight. After six months he is almost to his goal. I can see the difference, both in his appearance and in his actions.

“So she must be helping,” I counter.

“Nope,” he insists. “I just increased my physical activity and decreased my portion size. I figured that out on my own.”

Once he hits the weight target they assigned to him, the premium drops to normal and the health coach will stop calling. I wonder if he’ll keep the weight off.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.