The Wellness Coach Research Lab

Certified wellness coaches typically have a great deal of knowledge at their fingertips about optimal performance and helping bring out the best in both themselves and their clients.  However, sometimes the best thing a wellness coach can do to bring the greatest benefit to all involved is to get into the research lab and do some testing.

By “research lab,” I’m actually not referencing a place with test tubes and various chemicals.  Nor am I talking about a place to test your clients for cycling power or VO2 Max on the treadmill.  Rather – I’m referring to the REAL LIFE research lab.  As you’re very well aware, every one of your clients is completely different.  There’s no such thing as a “one size fits all.”  Everything in life – and that includes what we do as wellness coaches, is based on “one size fits ONE.”  What better way to discover that one size than to test it, tweak it, test it again, and on and on until the desired result is achieved?

Let’s look at a typical day that likely applies to many of your clients (and possibly you!)… daily energy levels.

The “typical” (somewhat health-oriented) person gets up when the alarm sounds…drinks some coffee… hits the gym or gets out for a run… sits down at their desk until lunch… lunch break… work… head home… TV… sleep.  Obviously there are quite a few more variables in there, but that’ll get us started.  During that day, they likely hit a bit of a lull mid-morning and then again around 3 PM. When the lulls hit, our “sample client” generally considers two choices: gut it out (just try harder to focus or slip in some distractions like Facebook/Twitter/etc) or get a stimulant (coffee/tea/sugar).  The result of the first option is lowered productivity in the short term.  The result of the second option is lowered productivity and overall health in the long run.

However, we have SEVERAL variables in this equation which can be modified.  What if we…

  • Went to bed 30 minutes earlier?
  • Skipped the morning coffee?
  • Moved the run to lunchtime?
  • Stood up everytime he picked up the phone?
  • Took a brief walk and ate an apple when the afternoon lull hit?

You get the idea.  Try changing one of these at a time, maybe 2 weeks apart and see what makes the biggest difference.  Then tweak again… and again… and again… until the individual believes they’ve hit that optimal state.  The typical issue is that we tend to get into a habit of doing things a certain way and then we just repeat them over and over and over for no apparent reason other than the fact that we did them that way yesterday!

Quick personal example that may bring this to life.  I’ve historically been a morning fitness guy.  I’m up early, on the bike or to the pool, etc and then on with my day.  This produced a very productive morning (both work and fitness), but the afternoon lull hit hard.  The combination of the post-lunch blood sugar changes mixed with the fact that it had been 8 hrs since the workout (by 3 PM) often produced a double-whammy at 3 PM.  So I started fiddling.

First, I moved my workout to lunchtime.  I’m somewhat of a morning person, so this often meant I could be at my desk by 5:30 or 6 AM, fresh and ready to go.  I’d grab my morning smoothie around 8 AM as the hunger pangs kicked in, which then provided (along with a healthy snack around 10 AM) another natural boost until mid-day.  By noon, I’ve had a good 6 hrs at my desk (and yes, I have been adopting the habit of standing up with each phone call, which provides a little boost in addition to the health benefits).  If meetings don’t restrict my schedule, I’ll often nudge lunchtime back to 12:30 or 1 in order to extend the productive morning and shrink the (generally) less productive afternoon.

A solid lunchtime workout makes it easier to choose a healthy lunch to top it off, and the post-exercise mental/physical boost carries me through 4 PM (or later if lunchtime was later).  Then a little cup of decaf green tea and/or an apple keeps the wheels on until 6 PM or later.  Boom!  A productive, healthy day!  And while I wasn’t exactly a sloth on the previous schedule, this one is like a day on steroids compared with the traditional approach.  Don’t worry – these are completely legal steroids 🙂

Obviously not everyone has complete flexibility with their schedules to make these adjustments.  However, most wellness coaches do!  Some of your clients will, and those who don’t still have plenty of options to create a study of their own.  And if we really want to create a “one size fits ONE” approach to wellness, we need to make certain we’re studying the ONE, right?

Back to the lab!

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