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Stressed? Overworked? Some turning to wellness coaches for help

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People are finding themselves stressed to the max, trying to balance work and family with no time left over for themselves.  Christine Silva is no different.

"I was constantly exhausted.  I felt like I was never able to keep up," says Silva.

So she decided to try something new.  She hired a wellness coach to help her regain control of her life.

"Within the very first session I realized this is not about just getting exercise.  It was about how do I see myself and where do I want to be," says Silva.

Unlike personal trainers, who concentrate on physical fitness, a wellness coach takes a more holistic approach, focusing on both the body and the mind.  They meet clients one-on-one and help them create an individualized health plan.
"The coach is really trained to help you take a bigger picture of you, over all aspects of your health and wellness and then come up with a formula that combines all of these things together," says Margaret Moore, founder and CEO of Wellcoaches Corporation.

Wellness coaching used to focus on helping individuals cope with one particular disease.  And life coaching in general was reserved for busy executives.  But now a new trend is becoming more mainstream: wellness coaching that blends life coaching for regular people and it's even endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine.

"It was seen in the workplace with executives that they were more productive if they were healthy and fit and they were handling their stress well and addressing all the issues of wellness. So now it's showing to be advantageous for the average person to pursue wellness as well," says Dr. Holly Benjamin, a specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine.

And the medical community is taking notice.  A limited pilot program from Harvard Vanguard allows patients with weight and health problems to try a coach at no charge.

"The coaching world has come up with skills to help people make changes that last." says Moore.

Of course hiring the right coach is key.  Right now there is no national certification for wellness coaches.  So, experts suggest you ask a lot of questions.

"They should make sure they know the fees up front, they should know what the wellness coach is offering, communication, how many times they meet," says Benjamin.

Silva's been working with her coach for two years and is amazed at how her life has changed.

"I'm more relaxed almost on a almost daily basis," she says.

Wellness coaches can come from a variety of backgrounds:  fitness, psychology, physical therapy, nursing, and more. 

The National Consortium for Credentialing of Health & Wellness Coaches is currently working to develop a national certification for wellness coaches.  Wellcoaches and the American College of Sports Medicine are helping to lead this initiative.