HEALTH

Choosing the Right Health Allies for You

Things to consider when you’re looking for assistance with your health and wellness goals

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By Aimée Suen, NTP

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You’ve made a big decision for yourself, it’s time to get some guidance from a health and/or movement practitioner, whether that’s a trainer, therapist, nutritionist, dietitian, doctor, naturopath, acupuncturist, chiropractor or other practitioner. Congratulations! That can be such a important step in your health and healing journey.

And with that decision comes looking for and finding the best health ally for you. Just like what works best for you and your body is unique, the health ally you chose should work well with you and supporting what you need. In order to do that, it’s helpful to get clear on a few things first.

Things to Get Clear On

It can be helpful to write all of these down in a list, whether that’s on a piece of paper or digitally so you have this in mind as you’re looking for the one you want to interview and work with.

Your Why: Why you’re doing what you’re doing for your health is very specific and unique to you, and changes as you grow and move through different seasons of your life. By getting clear on why you want to find someone to work with, you can make sure you’re finding the right person for you. The more specific your why is, the better.

Your Goals: Your goals can be an expansion of your why. They can break down your why into more actionable and tangible things. They can also help you sort out which health allies as well, by finding ones that clearly support goals similar to yours.

What You Need: In addition to your goals, there can be other things that you need in a health ally that can make the relationship work for you. This could look like several things: if you want/need to work with them in person, where the ally is located in your city, how hard it is to park/get there, when you could see them, how often you want to see them, their demeanor, how they communicate, what kind of clients they work with (pregnant women or new moms, men only, women only, older adults, couples, people recovering from injury, LGBTQIA+ friendly), if they’re covered by insurance, if payment plans are offered, if sliding scale is available, and much more.

What You Don’t Need: You can also have another list of things you don’t need or want that help narrow things down as well. This could look like certain services, tools or equipment you don’t need to approaches or demeanors. For example, if you’re looking for a fitness ally and you don’t want to weigh in and would rather measure your progress in other ways, make sure who you’re working with or where you’re training can respect that, either just with you or in the whole facility.

Other Considerations: Depending on what your health goals are, you may have some other considerations that are good to be clear on. If you have time limits on how often you can work with someone or you’re going through additional big life events that could have an impact on when or how you work with someone, or if you need to pause working with anyone soon for any other reasons.

Starting Your Search

Once you’ve gotten clear on what you need and what you’re looking for in a health ally, start your search. Ask friends and family if they have any referrals for the kind of health ally you need. You can do an internet search based on what’s in your area, what your insurance covers (if that’s applicable and important to you), and websites that have provider searches specific to the kind of health ally you want to work with.

Research the Health Ally

Once you have some potential health allies to evaluate, consider the following things to help you narrow your search, or continue your search if the initial search didn’t give you the results you were looking for.

Look around on the internet or ask around if someone’s worked with them that you trust. Using your lists, see if they could be a match to your requirements. Read up on their philosophy, personal story and passion (if they’re legally allowed to share that), and their overall approach.

Depending on what kind of health ally they are, they can also have more of a web presence that help give you a better idea of their approach and personality. Watch any videos they made or been featured in to get a better sense of who they are. If they’ve been on any podcasts or have a podcast of their own, give that a listen as well.

If they have any social media accounts, review those as well. Read what subject matter they’re talking about (with the lens of if it’s relevant to the goals you have). If they feature other clients they work with (this is usually more common with movement and some nutrition allies), see who they feature and if who they feature is relevant and speaks to you.

Certain health allies offer discovery calls or free consultations, if you find one you really jive with, take them up on that as a way to learn more about them. Think of the discovery call/consultation as an interview you’re conducting to see if they’re right for you.

Come prepared with a list of questions about:

-Their approach philosophy

-How their approach works in their client work

-How they can help you and your specific goals

-Additional questions you may have that weren’t answered by the research you’re already done.

When to Look For Another Health Ally

Finding the right health ally for you can be a lot like dating. They could seem great at first, and after seeing them a few times, you may not find that chemistry you want or need to get progress on your health goals. It can be very normal to try 2-3 health allies before you find the right one for your goals and what you need.

Work with a health ally for 3-5 sessions before deciding you don’t want to continue with them. You could need someone that challenges you a little bit, or maybe it takes several sessions to really see how things will unfold.

If, after those sessions, you still feel like something’s not clicking, get clear on what’s not working. Sometimes it could be many things about the health ally or it could be a communication issue what could be cleared up with one or two conversations. If having those conversations feel worth it to you, bring it up in your next session.

If, even after conversations or other things it’s just not working, that’s okay. Keep in mind what didn’t work with this health ally when reaching out to others and starting the interview process again.

Finding the right ally is worth the work, especially if it can result in achieving your health and wellness goals and getting a better understanding of how your body works and thrives.

Aimée Suen is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who shares nourishing, gluten-free recipes and nutrition wisdom at Small Eats. She is driven to help others enjoy whole foods and empower them to find their own healthy in all aspects of life, one small step at a time. When she’s not in the kitchen, she’s practicing yoga, in the gym, or learning something new. You can find Aimée on InstagramTwitter and Pinterest.

Main Photo Credit: Motortion Films/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Solis Images/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: rawpixel.com/shutterstock.com; Fourth Photo Credit: wavebreakmedia/shutterstock.com; Fifth Photo Credit: Mladen Zivkovic/shutterstock.com