What is a coach?

If you look up “coach” in the dictionary you’ll see numerous definitions. But under the “Train or instruct (a team or player)” definition three bullets appear:
• give (someone) extra or private teaching,
• teach (a subject or sport) as a coach, and
• prompt or urge (someone) with instructions.

If you think back to a team sport that you or your child played, think about the coach. What stands out about a good coach or a bad coach? I know my children learned when they had to practice something. Over and over. Some kids took to throwing a ball really well, a natural talent. Some kids had to practice hours and hours and weeks upon weeks to get to it well. The natural athletes aside, it’s those kids – US – that are the majority.

Most dieters aren’t good at it. It’s rare when a person just says to themselves “I need to lose weight. Oh, I pick XYZ plan and I will follow it. Oh yay me, I lost weight. And oh yeah, yay me AGAIN because I’ve kept it off for a lifetime. Goodbye.” No. Most of us have been through this circus before. They have lost – successfully – and then gained it back. They’ve tried again. And again. They tried something new. They read studies. They learn. And if you asked 100 people who need to lose weight how to do it – they all know. They might tell you that they have to eat less, move more, have more fruits and veggies – or they might spout off some food plan that worked for them in the past.

But in my opinion – and this is just my opinion – successful weight loss and maintenance has very little to do with a food plan and almost everything to do with a behavior plan. Enter coaching.

Back in the fall I trained and earned a Personal Coaching certification from Weight Watchers. Starting in December I started coaching members – both on the computer and on the phone. So Weight Watchers made me a Coach. An official one.

What does that mean? Well, according to our definition, paying members get to connect with a person (me) to discuss all aspects and challenges of their weight loss journey and I give them private counsel, I teach them about Weight Watchers and I prompt or urge them to create a plan for their life that will help them achieve their goals.

What is it about having a person to answer to (other than yourself, because we all know how we constantly let ourselves down) that is magic? What is it about accountability to a plan or to a person that works? I don’t come up with any of the action plans for my members. They do. They know what will work for them, in their life. They know they HAVE to make changes. They come up with the changes. I document, encourage, listen. I might hear something in their struggles and turn it in to a positive, learning experience making them realize they did NOT fail, they LEARNED and in the process they figure out yet another small change to make in their world. They have support – they always have support. They struggle and can tell me. We’ll adjust. They succeed and they’ll tell me. We’ll repeat. Support. There is magic in getting the support we all need.

And although the above paragraphs might serve as a free commercial for Weight Watchers Personal Coaching, I have another intent for this blog post. Coaching is all about the power of support, the encouragement. The helping people help themselves. It’s about listening to the changes of those around us and instead of telling them they’re not doing enough, they need to hear encouragement.  We have enough critics, we need more coaches. Encourage someone today. Tell them that the changes they’re making, no matter how small, are noticed and important.

Why aren’t we all coaches? I’m a friend. I’m a woman. I’m a wife. I’m a mom. I’m a sister. I’m a daughter. I’m a citizen. That means I was already a coach.

We are all coaches – or should be, anyway.


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