Health Coach Spotlight: Lorena

Our Coach Spotlight this month features outdoor-lover and international cooking-enthusiast, Lorena Counts, from Sacramento, CA.

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What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

I love hearing my participants say that they are feeling better and happier. That makes my day. While the number on the scale is important, hearing about the impact that the program has in people’s everyday lives is the most rewarding part of my job.

What is your advice to someone having a hard time taking the first step towards behavior change?

I believe in focusing on small steps, and that’s the first advice I give to my participants when they are struggling. That is true for many aspects of a healthy lifestyle, but especially for exercise. If 40 minutes at the gym is a daunting prospect, what about a 10-minute walk after lunch? I tell my participants that when you are getting started, the most important thing isn’t quantity but consistency. When you give yourself permission to start small, sentiments of guilt won’t stop you from trying.

What are the most relatable struggles you notice among your participants?

Emotional eating seems to be a challenge that many of my participants face. People’s lives are full of responsibilities and many find it hard to cope. Long working hours, long commutes, and family or social responsibilities create stress and leave little time for self-care. It’s easy to resort to food to deal with unpleasant emotions. I try to guide my participants to explore those emotions and find appropriate non-food responses. It’s also important to acknowledge that sentiments of shame and guilt can sabotage your chances of success. Acceptance and self-empathy are important areas to work on while dealing with emotional eating.  

How do you help folks who have a hard time affording healthy food?

When people have a restricted budget, I like to be flexible when it comes to the ideal meal components. People might not be able to afford salmon, but they can find healthy and less costly protein alternatives, such as eggs or lentils. They might not be able to afford almonds, but they can afford sunflower seeds. If fresh asparagus are out of the question, what about frozen peas?

There are also many other strategies, such as buying produce in season, taking advantage of store sales and cooking in batches. It’s all about being flexible and looking for the alternatives that will work with your particular budget and lifestyle.

What do you say to participants who want to give up?

I like to help my participants see that their journey is full of victories that are not reflected on the scale. A great way to stay motivated is seeing each healthy choice as a victory in itself. Drinking one soda instead of two is a victory, adding a veggie to a meal is a victory, going for a 15-minute walk is a victory. The accumulations of those small changes will have great impact on their health and will ultimately be reflected on the scale long-term.

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What participant experiences have stood out the most to you?

I have coached so many wonderful participants. I have great admiration for them and the way they have turned things around. A participant that is close to my heart is a young woman who was 18 when she joined Omada. Just thinking of how hard it is to deal with being overweight at any age, I felt for her knowing that she was dealing with it at such a young age and while being a high school student. She had never had the support she needed to overcome her weight challenges. I was so impressed with how seriously she took the program and how much dedication she put into getting healthier. She is in Focus now and maintaining significant weight loss! I am so proud of her.

Has becoming a coach changed your lifestyle in any way?

I think I am healthier now. I have always followed a healthy lifestyle in general, but working at Omada has definitely helped me make better choices. Something that I really appreciate about my experience at Omada is getting to know people and understanding better the struggles of being overweight and trying to change. I have renewed empathy for people facing health challenges, and a better understanding of the fact that change is very complex.

What two things motivate you to stay active?

First, knowing the great benefits that exercise has for your health long-term. While certain illness are unavoidable, I feel better knowing that I am doing all I can to reduce my chances of having them. Second, remembering that exercise also has wonderful immediate effects: more energy and a better mood!

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I grew up in the tropics and the beautiful colors of the tropical beach and the tropical forest are one of my favorite images for relaxation.  Here is a short guided meditation that I enjoy.