Being Well. There’s an app for that!

Apps can even track your run at the seashore.

There are over 10,000 fitness apps for Blackberry’s, iPhones, iPads, etc. and more being created daily. The fitness app “Loseit” has had over six million downloads! People use these apps to do calorie counting the easy way, track their workouts, look up health information and restaurant menus, and communicate with online friends who are helping them with a type of social networking accountability. The vast majority are either free or cost just ninety-nine cents!

Wellness coaches know that the people who track their efforts at behavioral change become the success stories. Bringing some real objectivity into your wellness plan helps you beat the self-deception of a subjective estimate of how well you are doing at exercising, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and eating well.

The great thing about these apps is their ease of use. One of the major barriers to success in calorie counting is how tedious and laborious it can be. Apps can make it easy to not only look up nutritional content of the food we eat, they also allow you to easily log the information into a daily dietary record. You can avoid that anxious time at the restaurant table trying to make a healthy choice on an unfamiliar menu by looking it up ahead of time and having your healthy order already chosen. You can use apps to plan meals as well, another key to healthy eating.

Fitness apps also can help you track your workouts, or even give you a limited amount of advice through digital “trainer” apps. Though never as good as the real live trainer, they can help with suggested workouts, tips and record keeping. Using GPS technology the apps can help you map your route on your walk, run or bike ride. As fascinated as I am with maps, I enjoy creating new ones when I go out on a run either at home or when I’m on the road. The workouts you do can be part of a greater overall plan towards a specific goal, like running a 10K race.

Apps are the tip of an online iceberg, of course. There are entire websites behind each that give you even more information and features. One of the most helpful features for staying in shape or losing weight is making use of the social support available. Sure, 99% of the world does not care what you had for breakfast. Do us all a favor and don’t pollute your Facebook page with that news. However, fellow app users with the same type of weight loss goal as you, do, in fact care to hear about it!

The founders of the “MyFitnessPal” app studied 500,000 of their own users and compared their recorded weights against how many “friends” they had on the service. People who added friends on MyFitnessPal and shared their calorie counts with them lost 50% more weight than the typical user. People with at least 10 friends lost an average of 20.5 pounds.

There's a app for everything! Even being well.

The downside of fitness apps
• An app is only as good as the degree to which people will use it, and continue to use it (adherence).
• Without an ally, like a wellness coach, trainer, etc., and an overall wellness plan, the user may lose the motivation and let the app collect digital dust.
• Some apps are way too complicated. One of the biggest names in health information out there has an app for calorie counting that is so laborious that most folks quickly abandon it.
• Some data-bases are better than others. If you’re having to enter many of the foods you eat manually it becomes another barrier to use.
• Let’s face it. Tracking can become really tedious, especially when it’s all we are doing.
• Not everyone is tech-savvy, or so inclined. For some good old paper and pen, or a wall calendar is preferable.
• Bottom line…it’s just a tool.

While fitness apps can be a great tools, they are just that. Anything that makes tracking easier is a great idea. When combined with the alliance and services of real, live coach, the possibility for change can be greatly improved. Lifestyle change is not just behavior modification. We still have to overcome barriers, both internal and external, and work with the WHOLE person.

Going solo with fitness apps may be great for the person with fairly high levels of self-directedness and readiness for change. For most folks who have struggled with lasting lifestyle change, however, the support, accountability and connection with a wellness coach is irreplaceable. Fitness apps can be terrific as a supplement to the coaching process. They are easily overrated, but the reality is that our clients are already using them. Wellness coaches needs to get on board and be app savvy too.

A recorded webinar that I did on this topic is not archived and available for free at our website, www.realbalance.com. Just look in the resources section.

How are you using fitness apps?  Please leave a comment here.

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Compassionate Detachment: The Being and Doing of Coaching Part One

We practice compassionate detachment for the benefit of our client and for our own benefit as well.

Over six thousand wellness coaches have been trained by The Real Balance Global Wellness Services that I founded. In the process of teaching these people how to become effective wellness coaches I have benefited, as all teachers do, by learning from my students. In reading over a thousand case studies, listening to hundreds of recordings, interacting in classes and hearing their stories about clients and their own lives, my conclusions that all human helpers need to give as much attention to how to be as to what to do, has been reinforced again and again. In this series of posts I will be exploring both the Being (mindset, consciousness, awareness, conveying the facilitative conditions of coaching, etc.) and Doing (methodologies, techniques, tools, etc.) of the effective wellness coach.

Compassionate Detachment

Twenty-seven years or so of doing psychotherapy with a wide variety of clients had its joys and challenges. Upon hearing the detailed recount of a young man or woman (yes, both) who had been abused sexually by a parent, I couldn’t just go home saying “It’s only a movie.” Clients come needing to tell their stories to a therapist who is not afraid to go absolutely anywhere with them. A really good therapist learns to be a true warrior/warrioress of the heart who is completely fearless. Yet, the only way they can go into battle again, side by side with their client is by learning something about compassionate detachment.

We practice compassionate detachment for the benefit of our client and for our own benefit as well.

Compassionate detachment is respecting our client’s power enough to not rescue them while extending loving compassion to them in the present moment. Simultaneously compassionate detachment is also respecting ourselves enough to not take the client’s challenges on as our own and realizing that to do so serves good purpose for no one. (Michael Arloski)

Compassionate detachment is an honoring of our client’s abilities, resourcefulness and creativity. We remain as an ally at their side helping them to find their own path, their own solutions. We may provide structure, an opportunity to process, a methodology of change and tools to help with planning and accountability, but we don’t rescue. As tempting as it is to offer our suggestions, to correct their “errant” ways, to steer them toward a program that we know “works”, we avoid throwing them a rope and allow them to grow as a swimmer. Sure, we are there to back them up if they go under, or are heading toward a waterfall. We are ethically bound to do what we can to monitor their safe passage, but we allow them to take every step, to swim every stroke to the best of their ability.

To be compassionate with a client we have to clear our own consciousness and bring forth our nonjudgmental, open and accepting self. We have to honor their experience.

“Only in an open, nonjudgmental space can we acknowledge what we are feeling. Only in an open space where we’re not all caught up in our own version of reality can we see and hear and feel who others really are, which allows us to be with them and communicate with them properly.” Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart

Compassionate detachment is also about giving ourselves permission to protect ourselves. Being in proximity to the pain of others is risky work. There are theories about the high rates of suicide among dentists based on this. Compassionate detachment is also about being detached from outcome. We want the very best for our clients and will give our best toward that goal, but we give up ownership of where and how our client chooses to travel in the process of pursuing a better life. Their outcome is their outcome, not ours.

Compassionate detachment is not about distancing ourselves from our client. It is not about numbing ourselves out mentally, emotionally or physically. It is not about treating our clients impersonally. That is mere detachment alone and more a symptom of burnout than of good work as a coach, therapist or any kind of human helper.

Intimacy is what allows compassion. When we fear closeness we will hold back. We will be less empathic because we fear connecting with our own feelings. Compassionate detachment is being centered enough in ourselves, at peace enough in our own hearts, to be profoundly present with our clients in their pain and in their joy as well.

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” Thich Nhat Hanh