Want To Be Healthier? YMCA Coaches Can Help!

YMCA Health Coaches Tessa Dowell, left, and Emily Schmidt. Courtesy photo
Los Alamos Daily Post

It is simple to say that the key to better health is eating healthy food and exercising but actually achieving a healthier lifestyle is sometimes easier said than done.

The Los Alamos Family YMCA Health Coaches Emily Schmidt and Tessa Dowell are here to assist.

A Health Coach, according to Schmidt, is a wellness professional who works with clients one-on-one or in group settings to help them achieve their personal wellness goals including weight loss, increased energy, stress management and better sleep.

Furthermore, Health Coaches act as a supportive mentor and guide to help their clients discover which foods and lifestyle choices make them feel and perform their best. With the guidance of a Health Coach, clients learn powerful tools that will empower them to live lives they love, Schmidt said.

The Y’s Health Coach program kicked off during the 2018 Los Alamos Heart Council’s Health Fair. Initially, Schmidt offered Health Coaching at Bandelier National Monument and when Dowell came on board, they decided to roll out one-on-one coaching.

Schmidt said former YMCA Wellness Director Stacey Castille embraced the idea of the Y offering this service because she felt Health Coaches could serve as personal cheerleaders to help people reach their goals.

Schmidt, who has been a fitness instructor at the YMCA for more than 15 years, enrolled in an online program through the Institute of Integrated Nutrition to become certified as a Health Coach. Dowell is also certified through the program.

Schmidt said she became interested in being a Health Coach because “I wanted to do something other than fitness classes to help people find wellness.” 

She said class members would dutifully attend her classes but did not see any change in their weight or physical health.  Plus, Schmidt said the federal government’s guidelines for nutrition do not address an individual’s specific needs.

 She said she wanted to provide people a wholistic approach to their health.

This could come in handy, especially this time of year when everyone is still determined to meet their New Year’s Resolution to lose weight, be more active or healthier.

“People have New Year’s Resolutions … I think Health Coaches offer small habit changes that (lead to) big health changes,” Schmidt said.

Health Coaches act as a guide, she said, adding, “I think that really makes a difference.”

Participants sign up for a 12-week program and meet with either Dowell or Schmidt for an hour every other week.

Just what happens during these sessions depends on the person’s needs and goals, she said. It might be going into their pantry and purging all the processed foods or it could be meditating to relieve stress.

According to Schmidt, coach and client work together to address areas that need most attention and an action plan is formulated based on that information. Coaches provide education and tools to meet the client’s needs. The process is a partnership between coach and client. Recommendations and action steps are provided during each session to provide guidance and a clear path forward to attaining the agreed-upon goals, she said.

Schmidt said she and Dowell both have their areas of interest. As a working mother, Schmidt can appeal to other busy, working parents and Dowell reaches towards retirees.

It’s important to click with the client, Schmidt said.

“You want to have a good, positive, healthy relationship,” she said.

The cost for YMCA members is $450 for a 12-week session.

“People always think it’s so expensive (to have a healthy lifestyle) but when it comes to health I encourage them to take the time to invest in themselves and to know they are worth it,” Schmidt said.

Interested participants are invited to meet Dowell and Schmidt 10:30 a.m. to noon Feb. 2 at the lobby of the YMCA. Both Health Coaches will answer questions and offer any information needed.

To schedule a session, call the YMCA at 662.3100 or email eschmidt@laymca.org


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