How to Make Your Health Goals Stick


Our care teams including nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners, health coaches, behavioral health specialists and operations assistants start each day with a Huddle. A Huddle is a short meeting where they set the stage for the daily work as a practice. During this time they review the day’s patient list, address operational needs of the practice, share patient story highlights and collectively care for their patient population. In communicating and collaborating across care teams and different disciplines, teams share wisdom, best practices, issues, and plans so that patients are cared for in a concerted way.

Different members of the care team kick off Huddle and, sometimes, share an inspiring story or grounding quote. One day at our Iora Primary Care – Arvada, Colorado practice, I started Huddle by sharing an excerpt from a book “Wellness Coaching for Lasting Lifestyle Change” by Michael Arloski, PhD, PCC.

“Nothing is accomplished, really, if you hire me as your mountain guide and pay me merely to plant your flag on the summit while you sip hot chocolate and observe me through a telescope down at the lodge.

As your guide, I help you plan the climb. We assess your readiness for the climb, examine what you have and what you need in equipment and resources. Together we determine a route to take. We plan how long the journey will take and allow for elements we can’t control, be it the weather or a family crisis. We examine what your personal goals are. Are you a peak-bagger, or more into the sheer experience of the high country? We get clear on what a successful and fulfilling climb will be for you.

Mountain guides do not make people climb mountains. The motivation for the climb has to be within the climber. During times of discouragement I may lend support, or even challenge you to reach a little deeper for strength I know you have. I also know that your chances of success are far greater if your motivation is internal. You WANT to climb this mountain! You are excited about it, and you anticipate that the journey will in itself be a large part of the pleasure of the experience. It works best when it is not fear-based motivation. You are not climbing the mountain because you are afraid what will happen if you don’t!

Most importantly, your chances of success are far greater just because you aren’t doing it alone. Knowing that I am there with you on the journey shifts your entire mental approach. You push through the temptation to turn back prematurely (as you may have done so often in the past) as you look over at me climbing beside you. You know I will hold you accountable to yourself to do what you said you have come to do. You also know that you retain your freedom, and if you choose to turn back you will not be criticized for it. When we do summit, it is your flag that is planted, not mine, for this was your journey. It was you and the mountain. Your coach was like a good solid rope – a support.”

I couldn’t think of a better quote to describe the work of Health Coaches at Iora. For example, I had a patient, Suzette, who wanted to lose weight and improve her blood pressure.

Suzette had lost a significant amount of weight on her own but felt “stuck” and recently, her blood pressure had been steadily rising. Suzette didn’t want to have to take blood pressure medication, so instead she turned to me for help.

Suzette and I met for coaching visits, and she shared that she was feeling overwhelmed by the amount of clutter in her home and she was easily distracted by computer games. We discussed her life and what she valued about her health and discovered that computer games did not relate to any of them. To help manage her stress and blood pressure, Suzette decided she would work on time management and a plan for cleaning up her home and reducing her computer time.

Together, we created a cleaning schedule and came up with a goal of only spending 30 minutes on the computer twice a day or less.

After about four weeks of working on her time management, we rechecked Suzette’s blood pressure. It had dropped to 110/74 from 180/88.

She also found that she had more time to cook healthier meals which helped her to lose weight. Without ever talking about her blood pressure or weight, she was able to identify the barriers in her life that were keeping her from her goals. I simply listened and provided accountability.

I believe that our patients always have the answer. My role is simply to elicit these answers. I strive to support our patients in their health goals by building a relationship where the patient and I are partners in discovering what their motivations and values are. In this way, the patient can be empowered to making a lasting lifestyle change.

I became a Health Coach because I wanted to collaborate with patients to help them pursue and achieve their health goals. The foundation of this journey is trust and I am grateful to have the space at Iora to build this with patients.

Health Coaches are one of the many ways that Iora partners with patients to take care of the whole person. Have a health goal you are working on? We want to help!