Have you ever lost weight, only to find the pounds creeping back on just a few months later? Or vowed to eat a healthier diet but found it too hard to decipher food labels or set aside time to cook? If you're having trouble meeting a health goal, or if you've tried in the past and failed, you might benefit from an increasingly popular new resource—a health coach. Unlike, say, a workout buddy, "a health coach is trained to help you break your goal into manageable steps, track your progress, and identify and overcome personal roadblocks," says Karen Lawson, MD, program director for the health coaching track at the University of Minnesota.
Lawson notes that the number of health coaches has exploded in recent years, and until national credentialing standards are implemented, you'll need to choose one with care. Ask about her training (you'll want at least 80 hours of education), whether she has prior experience in a health-related field like nutrition or nursing, how much she charges (hourly sessions can range from $50 to $200, and a few insurers provide coverage), and how many clients she has seen in the past (Lawson advises a minimum of 30).
Once you hire a coach, what kind of advice can you expect to get? We asked five pros to share their best tips.