I admit it. Flossing is just one of those things that I can't seem to make stick. Every six months my dentist checks my teeth and comments that although my teeth look great, my gums would be healthier if I flossed more regularly. I give her a spiel about how I'm really good for a few weeks at a time, and then I forget one night and then before you know it, 5 months go by, and I panic to start flossing the two weeks before seeing her again.
It's not like I have a bad experience at the dentist. I actually really enjoy her and her staff. They are super knowledgeable and very nice - they ask me about things that we chatted about at our last appointment, which makes me feel connected. But when I lay back in the chair, I silently dread the moment they tell me to floss more regularly, even though they say it in possibly the nicest way possible. I have the best of intentions - so why can I not become a regular flosser?
Now let's imagine the dentist or hygienist had some training in health coaching:
I walk into the office and am greeted warmly. I'm seated in the chair and upon the beginning of the exam the hygienist starts asking me some questions about the past six months:
"Your teeth are looking great. How has brushing been going?"
"Fine," I tell her. "I am brushing at least twice a day, sometimes more. I like to brush my teeth before I go to meetings or events."
"That is fantastic - there is nothing like a clean mouth. How about flossing? How often do you find yourself flossing?"
*Hesitates* "Well, to be honest," I start, "I haven't been so good with that."
"Tell me more - why do you feel you've not been doing so well?" She asks with an air of genuine concern.
"I just forget. I am great for a few weeks, and then one night I get off my routine, and I have such a hard time getting back to it. I know I should floss more, I just can't seem to make it happen," I say with modest shame.
Her empathy radiates from her response: "It can be difficult to stick to something 100% of the time, and it sounds like you are having more trouble with getting back on track than necessarily staying on track."
"You're right actually. That is what it feels like - like I could stay on track just fine, but once I fall off, I feel like a failure so I kind of just give up," I tell her a bit excitedly - I feel like she understands me.
"How would you feel about setting a smaller expectation for your success?"
"Hmm. I never thought about that. Maybe that would be much easier to stick to. Do you mean like just trying to floss once per day, instead of twice?"
"Yes," she says knowingly, "or perhaps considering only trying to focus on a few days at a time, instead of the whole week."
"I really like that idea! I think I can definitely do that. Especially Sunday through Thursday - the routine of the work week is pretty well established. It is always the weekends that get a bit more unpredictable." I am actually excited to go home and floss now. This feels incredibly doable.
As she jots down our goal in my chart, she smiles and says, "This sounds like a great plan."
Wow. What a difference a little coaching can make!
Coaching is known as a "client-centered" approach, which means that the client is always in control. With guided questions, the coach can help the client come to their own conclusions about goals, behaviors, and barriers, as well as identifying their most likely routes of success. Through this process, the client becomes empowered in their own planning, learning the skills and connections that it takes to build lasting changes.
While professionals in the medical and fitness fields can apply methods in health coaching to help better their patients' or clients' rates of success, the field of health coaching is also growing in popularity to help clients manage their own lifestyles better. Set-Point Wellness employs health coaching services, but also draws upon health coaching as a process in our personal training plans. We put you in control, and are here to help you develop all the tools necessary to make your goals stick - not just for a week, or a month, but for a lifetime.
And while coaching can't necessarily make me love flossing, it can make me love the success I feel from doing it.
Are you willing?