Is fitness your aim? This is where a health coach play a useful role

This new year, I'm turning over a new leaf. In fact, several leaves, raw and cooked. I've resolved to fill my plate with a lot of greens and coloured veggies and less of everything else. The quest for greenie-points is the result of two happenings: First, I happened to read the obituary of Dr. Alexander Leaf. It said, “Dr. Leaf’s research into the cellular biology of heart disease led him to undertake a series of expeditions in parts of the world where heart disease was rare. He concluded that people who lived in mountainous places, worked outdoors into their old age, and consumed local food high in vegetable content and low in animal fat, tended to live long and healthy lives free of heart disease.”

The second was high tea with health coach Piyali Chatterjee. Her table had salads, fruit, dips, chutneys, chole, vegetable puff, samosa — all oil-free and delicious. The sweets were cut into small cubes. The food was light and satisfying. Between mouthfuls I asked, “Who is a health coach?”

Who is a health coach?

An HC is a “knowledgeable advisor/supportive mentor who helps you achieve wellness goals,” she said. “They're trained in principles of nutrition, health, lifestyle management and behavioural psychology to assist people to make lifestyle changes.” Her 12-month programme to become a certified coach included over 100 dietary theories, lifestyle management techniques and innovative coaching methods taught by health-and-wellness experts like Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. David Katz, Dr. Walter Willett and Geneen Roth, bestselling author and expert on emotional eating.

“Define wellness,” I asked. “To me, it is to have the energy to live life to the fullest, manage stress, have mind-body balance, and when you take personal accountability to actively chase health goals (weight loss, stress management), you achieve wellness,” she replied.

“What specific advice can you give me if l health were my new-year resolution,” I asked. She said, “I start with a health history consultation to determine what the client wants to achieve. It also gives me an idea of pre-existing medical conditions (high BP, excess weight, high cholesterol, etc.).”

She specialises in some areas. “Weight loss, stress management, cravings management, and an easy nutritional makeover for the family,” she said. She can do corporate and group workshops on health-related topics such as sugar cravings and stress management. Not being a physician or dietician, she cannot prescribe medicines. Her programme is customised to suit the client’s needs and is “based on making gradual, sustainable improvements in his/her lifestyle.”

She agrees changing one's lifestyle can be stressful, so the key to long-term success is to embrace changes slowly. “I provide the support and guidance on this journey.”

Reach her at piyalichatterjee@yahoo.com / info@piyaliwellness.com / www.piyaliwellness.com /

www.facebook.com/Piyaliwellness She does sessions online through Skype.

Piyali's health guide:

* Stop judging yourself. Focus on how you can improve.

* Get seven to nine hours of sleep. Sleep restores us emotionally, mentally and physically.

* Stay hydrated with water. How much depends on climate, activity level, body mass, etc.

* Consume a wide variety of vegetables, ranging from fresh salads to cooked curries or plain steamed veggies.

* Eat plenty of fruits. Choose what you can if you are diabetic.

* Minimise processed foods.

* Get about 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week. A gentle walk can be very peaceful and restorative.

* Consult a physician before starting any exercise programme.

* Find time to do some activity to pamper/rejuvenate yourself. Meditate, pursue a hobby, read, learn something new, or have a luxurious bath for re-charging and re-energising.

Piyali's health guide

* Stop judging yourself. Focus on how you can improve.

* Get seven to nine hours of sleep. Sleep restores us emotionally, mentally and physically.

* Stay hydrated with water. How much depends on climate, activity level, body mass, etc.

* Consume a wide variety of vegetables, ranging from fresh salads to cooked curries or plain steamed veggies.

* Eat plenty of fruits. Choose what you can if you are diabetic.

* Minimise processed foods.

* Get about 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week. A gentle walk can be very peaceful and restorative.

* Consult a physician before starting any exercise programme.

* Find time to do some activity to pamper/rejuvenate yourself. Meditate, pursue a hobby, read, learn something new, or have a luxurious bath.