People are often aware of the places in their lives needing improvement. Maybe it's a need to quit smoking, eat healthier, reduce stress or start exercising.

But it's not always easy and there isn't one straight answer to fix everyone's issues. Life gets in the way, school, work, family -- it can all make it difficult to take on a life-changing journey said Kendra Seat, lead health educator at Fort Riley's Wellness Center.

"Health coaching is a very important part of what we do," she said. "It's one-on-one, we're going to say, 'what are your goals? What are you hoping to achieve?'"

They sit down and look at what is realistic for that individual, which may be very different than the next person. Two people, each wanting to lose 15 pounds, may need to approach their goal from two different angles, she said.

"While we recommend doing that body composition and metabolic assessment, some people aren't ready to change their nutrition habits," she said. "Maybe they want to focus in on stress management, because stress is one of the things that is leading to not being able to lose weight. Or maybe, they don't have the best sleep habits and that's what's impacting their weight at this point in time."

With coaching, people can have help in evaluating exactly what is causing them to not meet their health goals.

"It allows us to really see that person as a whole and take into mind that holistic point of view of how do we help this individual sitting in front of us, because it's not a cookie cutter world," Seat said.

On first visit

Making a lifestyle change is not easy, which is why Seat said people should start by going to the Wellness Center and check out what they can offer. Some people might be ready to hit their goal running, while others are just dipping their toes in.

If they want to just come in and get some information, that's fine, they don't have to sign up for anything until they are ready.

"For some people, they're not ready to change yet," she said. "But they gather the information. They want to learn more. We have all of our education classes; we have healthy sleep habits, we have stress education, we have a couple of nutrition classes."

When someone walks in for their first appointment, they can expect to talk with a health educator.
"We're going to talk about what their goals are -- from there we're going to expand that goal into something that's realistic for them," she said.

Based off the stated goal, the health coach will make recommendations. Those might include taking some of the classes the center offers to learn about healthy changes. It might include visiting with a nutritionist at Irwin Army Community Hospital or starting an exercise routine.

All of the health educators at the Wellness Center have their personal training certificates so they can put together an exercise program; but they might also recommend taking one of the classes offered on post -- it's all going to depend on the individual.

Armed with recommendations, the individual will work on their goals and return for one-on-one help in keeping focused and moving forward. As the pieces of a larger goal are met, the road to get to the finish line might change. Having a coach there to be accountable to and to keep a person focused, might be just what some people need, Seat said.

"We don't intend it to be a one-time visit to the Wellness Center," she said. "We want it to be a reoccurring thing where it's a program, it's something they come into and we're a part of their journey."

Weight-loss goals

Losing a few pounds is a common goal they see at the Wellness Center. For weight loss, Seat said the usual approach is to conduct a body composition assessment. The process includes a metabolic assessment and the Bod Pod.

"The metabolic assessment is going to help them better understand their body's metabolism -- how their bodies burn calories on a regular basis," Seat said.

The person is put through a test to check their resting metabolic rate to determine how many calories they burn in a rested state. This information helps determine how many calories a person requires and how many they should have to lose weight.

The Bod Pod gives a breakdown of a person's body composition. This is helpful to give the person a good starting point and allows them to see their progress at they try to lose fat. If needed, they'll conduct fitness, strength and flexibility evaluations as well.

When the information is gathered the health coaches can help the person fine tune a plan to help them meet their goals.

"Everything we do rotates around that lifestyle change," she said. "We can talk about 'what are your barriers right now to healthy sleep, stress, nutrition, fitness? How do we help you overcome those barriers?' Because at the end of the day, we have the knowledge; but I can tell you all day long what to do. But until you're ready to do it and you're willing to do it right -- it's not going to happen."

She said their goal is to help people take ownership of their lives and help them move forward with their plans.

"We're going to give them the tools and help them," she said.