Losing 10 pounds. Running a half marathon. Getting six-pack abs. How do you turn short-term client goals into something meaningful, sustainable, and inspiring? Enter: deep health coaching, the revolutionary method that gets you the results you want, plus the results you need.
Are you truly transforming your health?
Are you thriving, in all aspects of life?
Sure, you may be boosting your bench press, feeling confident on your beach vacation, or get sidewalk-cracking swole.
But what if we told you food and fitness—the domains of physical health—are only 16 percent of what determines your success?
What if you could move beyond “12 week beach bod programs,” or “pre-wedding weight loss,” to something truly meaningful and sustainable, and even more inspiring?
After all… what happens to the beach bod at week 13?
Or by the 10th wedding anniversary?
Can you stay at or even grow beyond your goals without feeling deprived, hungry, and miserable?
Without turning food and fitness into a full-time job?
And without backsliding from short-lived pride and mirror selfies into enduring shame and baggy sweatshirts?
Where you aren’t just okay with the quick-fix results you get… but transformed inside and out, to the point where you rave about it to your friends and family?
That’s where we come in.
It’s called coaching for deep health.
This is when all domains of health are in sync, instead of just the physical.
It’s not only about how you look or perform.
It’s also about how you think, respond, solve problems, and deal with the world around you.
“Wait,” you might say. “I’m all for deep health, but I want to lose 20 pounds.”
Coaching for deep health will help you there faster and more easily than ever before—in a way that fits your life and is sustainable.
The 6 domains of deep health
Deep health doesn’t come from a pill or an operation or potion or magic adherence to strict rules.
Deep health comes from a balanced diet of fresh, whole foods. It comes from sufficient exercise combined with genuine rest. It comes from clean air and clean water. It comes from real human connection and sincere emotional expression. And it comes from living with purpose and joy, and using your life as an expression of these things.
When you are coached for deep health, we consider the multi-dimensional thriving of a whole person in your whole life. Not just body fat percentage and blood work, but also factors like how people think, feel, live, and connect to others.
Don’t worry: We’re not suggesting you master psychotherapy, or tackle the human condition.
We are suggesting you understand how healthy eating and lifestyle practices affect every aspect of your well-being.
And vice versa.
Here are the six domains of deep health.
These areas of health are deeply entwined and strongly connected.
You probably know how we feel can affect how we eat. (This is, after all, most people’s #1 nutrition challenge.) You might have also noticed that people with supportive families, strong connections at their gyms, or welcoming fitness communities (such as running or cycling groups) are more likely to show up for their workouts. Or that people with a clear purpose, self-stories that foster healthy activities, or the willingness to change suffering into action are more likely to stay motivated and succeed.
Every domain of deep health influences eating and exercise behaviors.
That’s what coaching for deep health is all about.
That’s what we’re all about.
Let’s see how this might look in real life.
Example 1: You are a dedicated runner with an injury.
You can’t run properly, which means you can’t train, and you’re getting deconditioned. That’s the current state of your physical health.
But because of this situation, you’re also:
feeling depressed and frustrated (emotional health)
lonely and disconnected, missing your weekend run clubs and races (relational health)
starting to wonder what the point of anything is (existential health)
Example 2: You work long hours at a high-stress job.
You sit at a desk (which affects your physical health via inactivity and back / neck pain), and you don’t get your proper sleep (physical health impact again)
Because of this situation, you’re also:
anxious and stressed, answering emails late at night (emotional health)
arguing with your partner about working too much (relational health)
spending most of your time in a windowless cubicle with takeout food a phone call away (environmental health)
on the cusp of a midlife crisis (existential health)
Now… here’s the really cool part:
The problems are connected… but so are the solutions.
Struggling in one domain of deep health usually means struggling in others.
But there’s a flip side here, too.
Improving one domain can also improve others.
This is the power of deep health coaching. Pull a lever in one domain of deep health, and gears in other domains will also move. Use the connections between deep health domains to your advantage. If one area is off-limits or temporarily broken, try another one.
Deep health looks different to everyone.
For a young stay-at-home parent, it could be balancing a certain pants size with weekly ice cream night with your kids. For an elite powerlifter, it might be pushing your bench press without screwing up your shoulders or social life. For a retiree in your 70s, it may be “mobility over medication”—staying off the blood pressure pills and enjoying long walks with your spouse.
That’s why you need coaching that’s individualized and thoughtful.
Deep health isn’t about rules or ideals.
It’s about exploration and invitation.
We coach for deep health… and better results
Where do we start?
Easy… we just ask.
You can tell me where you need the most help, or where you want to flourish more.
Don’t think of this process as a diagnosis or an interrogation.
Instead, think of it more like opening a conversation, building a story, and deepening a coaching connection.
Deep Health Domain #1
Physical health: “How do you feel physically?”
Sometimes it is easy to think clearly and specifically about food, exercise, health, mobility/pain, and overall recovery. For instance, maybe you’ll say “I’m freaking exhausted because I work 12-hour shifts. My knees hurt from lots of standing on the job. I have no energy to cook, and so I eat convenience-store crap.”
Great! Now we have a solid direction. Sometimes you can’t tell what’s up. Or you’ll say “Meh, okay, I guess.” If it isn’t clear, then we dig a little deeper, or change directions.
Deep Health Domain #2
Emotional health: “How are you doing emotionally?”
This can be difficult to talk about, but it matters. How you feel emotionally on a day-to-day basis can impact everything from your nutrition habits to your relationships with others. Body language cues can be especially telling an emotionally laden story. Do you smile rigidly while saying “I want to kill my boss,” or seem to collapse like a pile of unwashed laundry while saying “I’m so discouraged with my performance.”
Deep Health Domain #3
Mental health: “What happened last time you were presented with a big logistical challenge?”
This area is mostly about how well your mind is working. And this question helps you evaluate your ability to problem-solve, focus, prioritize, and put things in perspective.
This will also give us a chance to see what your capacity for insight is like. What additional reflections about how you handled the situation? Or how could you have handled the situation differently?
A client who’s not doing so hot in this area could be having a hard time focusing at work or constantly forgetting important items on their to-do list. So keep an eye out for signs they could benefit from upping their mental game.
Deep Health Domain #4
Existential health: “Why do you want to make changes to your health?”
Existential health refers to having a deeper “why,” or feeling like our actions have meaning.
When we have a strong sense of ourselves and what we’re here to do, we feel worthwhile. Valuing ourselves then affects how we treat our minds, our bodies, and the people around us.
People find meaning in roles as varied as being the best parent they can be to making the world a better place through their work. The important thing is that your client finds meaning in something.
Clearly understanding motivations, or what’s driving the desire to change, is also important. We can change without knowing exactly why we’re doing it, but it helps to feel like there’s a deeper purpose to the discomfort we’re facing.
And just a heads up, the more times you offer a curious “why?”, the more likely you are to get to the real reason they want to make a change in their life. Practice starting sentences with “I’m wondering about…” and “Why…?”
Deep Health Domain #5
Relational health: “Who in your life is supporting you in this health journey?”
Social support is incredibly important to success in a health and fitness journey, so determining your support network can be instrumental in your success.
If you have someone in mind they know they can rely on for support, it’s a good exercise for them to “notice and name” that person. This question may also help your client realize they need to ask for support from someone close to them, like a partner or spouse.
Relationships may affect your client’s habits without them even realizing it. For example, if their partner prefers to watch TV while eating dinner, it may be more difficult for them to eat slowly and concentrate on their food.
Deep Health Domain #6
Environmental health: “How do your surroundings affect your health?”
Everything from the food in your house to the weather in your city to the political atmosphere in your country is part of your environment.
Being and feeling safe, secure, and supported by your environment enables you to make better choices for your health.
Having access to resources such as healthcare or healthy food is also part of environmental health.
We can’t control some elements of our environment. They’re more structural and systemic, woven into the fabric of our societies. These are called social determinants of health, and include poverty, racism, homophobia, lack of accommodation for disabilities, and displacement (as in the case of refugees).
In any of these situations, it may be very difficult to take steps to change someone’s environment. What can help is to focus on the things you can control wherever possible.
So where do we go from here?
We look at the big picture. By now you understand how seemingly unrelated factors, like someone’s relationships and work life, might affect their ability to lose fat, gain muscle, and/or improve their overall health.
We dig for connections. The social bone is connected to the mental bone, is connected to the physical bone, and so on. Pull a thread of your client’s life with curiosity, assuming that things are related, and see what it unravels.
We collaborate. We don’t tell, direct, lecture, or immediately jump in with “helpful” suggestions. Instead: We Investigate, together. Ask, learn, listen.
We can start together today. Why diet and workout when you can train and thrive?!
Adapted from Precision Nutrition originally by Krista Scott-Dixon, Ph.D. and Brian St. Pierre, M.S., RD, CSCS. You can read the original article in entirety here.