6 Things Your Asthma Health Coach Should Do for You

What Am I Going to Get out of an Asthma Health Coach?

Asthma Health Coach
Meeting With Your Asthma Health Coach. Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images

What should you get out of your asthma health coach?

We all seek out coaches when we get stuck in some area of life. Health coaches are no different and can help individuals maximize their wellness. In full disclosure related to this topic, I perform health coaching for asthmatics or the parents of asthmatics on a periodic basis. While my professional practice involves a lot of coaching, I am specifically referring to people who I do not serve as their treating physician, but they have asked me to assist or be part of their asthma team in a coaching role or they subscribe to a coaching newsletter I publish.

1. Focuses on You as a Whole Not Just as an Asthmatic

Many different things impact your or your child’s asthma. You may want to do certain types of exercise, try to quit smoking, or improve your nutrition. A health coach looks at you as a whole person, how your asthma fits into your whole life and provide guidance on steps you can take. A health coach can incorporate your medical issues with the emotional, physical, behavioral, nutritional and lifestyle factors that are really the key to better asthma control. While your asthma control is important, if your mental health, emotional health, or physical health are otherwise impacted, your asthma cannot be under good control.

2. Change Your Mindset

Our minds are very powerful. If you think or tell yourself you cannot get your asthma under control, you probably won’t. We often have erroneous beliefs (“I can’t exercise because of my asthma), ” negative beliefs (“it’s too hard to control my asthma”), or irrational beliefs (“smoking is not that bad for my asthma”), related to asthma. Your health coach helps identify those beliefs and works on changing your ​mindset. A health coach can help you go from “I can’t exercise,” “eat right ” or “remember to take my medication” to “ I can’t believe that I ”just completed my first 5K,“ ”I haven’t had a diet coke in a month,“ or ”this is not really all that hard after all."

3. Helps You Establish SMART Goals

Asthma is a really complicated disease and it is easy to get discouraged. I often I find when patients want to take a step forward to improve health, they attempt to make giant leaps that lead to frustration and ultimately going back to an old, learned habit. For example, the patient that lost the most weight in my practice last year made one small change every 2 weeks. First, she decided she would limit soda to one per day. At the end of 2 weeks she started walking for 30 minutes per day. With this slow, small and achievable steps she lost 20 pounds last year.

Similarly, a good health will help you achieve SMART goals. Goals that are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound are more likely to be achieved. When you think about these concepts related to your asthma goals, you can think of long term goals and the small goals that need to be achieved to reach your goal. For example, if your goal is to only use one rescue inhaler over the next 12 months, a number of smaller goals need to be achieved, like remembering to take your medication daily. “I will place my controller medication by my sink and use it every morning when I brush my teeth.” is an example of a SMART goal. Do you see how this is a smart goal as opposed to “I will take my rescue inhaler daily?”

4. Develops a Personal Relationship With You

Connecting with your health coach is important. Most health coaches will offer a free initial call or visit to see if working together is a good fit on both sides. There are questions that a good health coach will ask you as well as some questions that you can ask your health coach. Your coach needs to find out what makes you tick- the unique psychological, behavioral and emotional needs and characteristics of you as an individual that impact your asthma and overall health. [Like your doctor](psychological, behavioral and emotional needs and characteristics of you as an individual.), your health coach should be a good communicator.

Unlike friends or family members, you health coach is non-judgmental and is trying to get you to be an expert in your own asthma care. Hopefully, you will develop an excellent rapport and communication with your health coach. The personal relationship that develops leads to learning, exploration, and insight to your health and ways to improve it.

5. Strategize

There are a whole host of barriers that lead to poor asthma control that range from remembering to take medication, dealing with the coach at school, to having trouble getting an insurance company to cover a medication. A health coach will develop a plan with you to develop systems to track, monitor, and anticipate what you need to do for better asthma control.

Through good communication, your health coach will identify the areas that are most important to you and develop a step by step action strategy to achieve your goals. Once you have developed a plan, your health coach will serve as your accountability partner and further develop strategy based on what worked well and what did not.

6. Educate With a Focus on Self-Reliance and Developing a Lifestyle

I tell my patients with asthma that my goal is for them to become better in managing their illness than me. Your health coach’s main goal should be for you to become more self-reliant too. Helping you develop systems to monitor, take action, and improve lifestyle choices will empower you to take ownership of your asthma. In taking this step you can become a much better partner with your doctor in relation to your asthma care.

When you develop systems and see the connections between your asthma control and your lifestyle, you are able to make great changes. When you own your asthma control and the small steps that lead to how you feel overall, you can take a powerful step towards better health.

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