Differences Between a Traditional and Functional Health Coach


Differences Between a Traditional and Functional Health Coach- picture of a clipboard with a list of health coaching client goals

Do you know what a functional health coach is? Today we’ll uncover this emerging field within the field of health coaching and look at the differences between traditional and functional health coaches.

If you were to look at your health right now, is it where you would like it to be? Perhaps you’re holding on to some extra weight. Or you aren’t sleeping as well as you should. Perhaps you’ve been feeling fatigued, or your brain is feeling a bit foggy. Maybe you are struggling with some tummy troubles that leave you bloated or gassy too frequently. Most likely you’ve tried some things to improve those nagging issues, but you just don’t seem to be getting anywhere with them.

Sometimes we need a little extra encouragement or support as we work to make changes to our health. And now more than ever, people are turning to a health coach for that additional guidance and support.

The field of health coaching isn’t new. It has been around for more than 30 years. But there has been an increase in awareness of health coaching and the benefits of working with a coach. As a result, the health coaching field is growing quickly, and new types of health coaching are now emerging. One newer type of health coaching that is gaining popularity is functional health coaching.

There are a few things that separate functional health coaches from conventional health coaches. Let’s look at those differences and why working with a functional health coach may be a better option.

Functional lab testing

Some functional health coaches are being trained to use functional lab testing to get a better look at what is going on with their client’s health. You may be thinking “but my doctor already gave me tests and said there was nothing wrong with me. But I’m still having symptoms, so I know that there is.”

And you would be correct. There is an imbalance occurring in your body. And that imbalance is responsible for those symptoms. But no matter how great your doctor may be, he or she has been trained to look at a narrow picture of what is going on with your health through your test results. Doctors rely on the reference ranges of those test results to see if there is something out of the ordinary going on in your body.

The reference range is a set of values that have been set as normal maximums and minimums for people who are healthy. If the results fall outside of that range, then to your doctor it signals that there is an issue that needs to be addressed.

But from a functional perspective, often there are patterns that can show up, even within normal reference ranges. These patterns can signify that there is an imbalance occurring in that area of your body, and that is causing you to have symptoms. Normal lab reference ranges alone do not always tell the whole story.

Spotting the difference

The functional health coaches that do use functional lab testing, such as the FDN trained coaches here at FDNThrive, have been trained to look at lab test results differently. Often before an imbalance in the body would become severe enough to test outside of conventional lab reference ranges, it shows subtle signs of imbalance. If your doctor doesn’t know how to look for these subtle patterns, he or she may believe that everything is fine. But symptoms may begin to occur well before it can be clinically shown that you have a problem. And most doctors have not been trained to look for the subtle patterns. So, they won’t understand the connection between the subtle patterns and the symptoms you are already experiencing.

Functional health coaches never diagnose illness. But being able to spot these subtle patterns is important. It shows these coaches that there is an imbalance happening in that area of the body. And it allows them to show you new ways that you can support your body’s own natural ability to bring your body back into balance.

Targeted natural, lifestyle protocols designed for your body’s needs

Any health coach can help you as you eliminate junk food and focus on eating healthy foods. And there are plenty of people who do need that type of support. A conventional health coach can support you and make sure you’re exercising regularly and getting plenty of rest. Some may even work with you on managing the stress that was impacting your health negatively in the first place.

But functional health coaches have an advantage. Those who use functional lab testing can create a specific, targeted, all-natural lifestyle protocol that is designed to support YOUR body.  If you are struggling with digestive issues, changing to a healthy diet is good. But if you have undiscovered food intolerances, you may not experience digestive relief if you continue to eat problematic foods…even if they are considered “healthy”. With the testing, a functional health coach can help you identify things to avoid.

Functional health coaches can support you in some of the ways conventional health coaches can. They can support you as you change your diet, optimize sleep, exercise regularly, and reduce stress. But they can offer you more than a traditional health coach with their targeted, customized protocols.

Help you save money

How many supplements do you have in your cupboard, pantry, or medicine cabinet right now? The supplement industry is big business. According to the CDC, as of 2018, 57.6% of adults over the age of 20 had used at least one supplement within the past 30 days before the survey. And supplement use has been shown to increase with age, with over 80% of women over the age of 60 taking supplements.

Many people purchase certain supplements in hopes that they will help them find relief from their mild to moderate symptoms. But those supplements often don’t do what the person had hoped. This keeps people stuck in a pattern of searching to find relief and guessing at what might work. Unfortunately, this gets expensive in the long run. And it causes too many people to waste money on supplements they just don’t need!

A functional health coach who uses lab testing has the advantage here. Understanding which areas of the body are showing signs of imbalance is important. It can help point to nutrients that can provide the right support to help your body recover from an imbalance. And this can prevent you from throwing your money away on supplements that just won’t work for you.

Removing the guessing game

Functional coaches can help remove the guessing game and point you in the direction of the nutrients your body needs to rebuild health. This can help you save money.

Functional health coaches like our FDNThrive health detectives can be a great support for you on your health journey. They can dig deeper and help you discover exactly what your body needs to reverse the imbalances that are making you feel bad. And this can help you restore your health and energy.

Contact us today to see if we are a match for you on your health journey.

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