ASK THE COACH
She serves as health & wellness mentor By V I N C E REM BULAT 2 0 9 Health y L i vi ng
li Britschgi is a health and wellness coach. By that, she serves as an advocate and ally for her clients. “Since wellness involves many lifestyle factors, a health and wellness coach is a professional who stands with the client as he or she commits to making significant lifestyle changes,” Britschgi explained. It’s all about the big picture. She has served in the role of coach since 2009. “We create our health through our choices,” said Britschgi, who provided the training and education to help folks make better decisions whether it’s working one-on-one with clients or developing a customized wellness program for companies and other large groups. She teaches lifelong lessons. “There are no short-term goals here but a change in lifestyle,” said Britschgi, who developed nutrition and cooking classes at Joe Serna Charter School in Lodi a few years ago. “When it’s a lifestyle, you’re doing something that you not only look forward to doing but it’s also good for you.” She actually practices what she preaches, having once been in the same shoes as many of her clients. Ali – short for Alejandrina – came to grips with herself in 2008. She was overweight by 50 pounds with high blood pressure and facing diabetes, believing the weight issues were hereditary since her mother and sisters had the same problems. Britschgi initially focused on weight loss, reading books and trying every diet out there but to no avail. “I knew I needed more guidance and structure,” she said. That was enough for her to join a wellknown weight loss program and start counting calories. She also attended weekly weigh-in meetings and joined a gym, exercising three times a week. Still, Britschgi saw little changes to her weight and experienced knee and leg pain from the extra weight. She was nearly discouraged before coming across a nutrition program. And then it clicked. “The key was eating the right foods six times a day with only a little bit of measuring and no counting,” she said. Britschgi not only researched the program but got her mom involved with it not long after. 8
Health and wellness coach Ali Britschgi was once 50 pounds heavier with some health issues before turning her life around in 2008.
“She wasn’t diabetic but had health issues related to being overweight,” said Britschgi, who is bilingual having come from Puerto Rico. The latter is important since she’s able to adapt the coaching and education methods to accommodate the unique physical, psychosocial, cultural or age-specific needs to each individual in English or Spanish. Her mother, through hard work and dedication, is enjoying a better quality of life. Helping her mother gave Britschgi the motivation to become a certified coach. She earned her Health Coach Certification from the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education at Villanova University’s Health Institute and Wellness Council of America Wellness Certification at Well Workplace University in Omaha. Her role is important given the statistics. Unhealthy lifestyles from smoking, poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and alcohol consumption often lead to chronic disease, accounting for 800,000 deaths annually. About 108 million people in the U.S. have at least one chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, hyperextension, or osteoarthritis. Chronic diseases related to poor lifestyle
account for 70 percent of the nation’s medical costs. People usually take that first step towards a better quality of life when they place that initial call to her. “What are your goals?” is what Britschgi will usually ask. For some, it’s the otherwise simple things in life such as playing with their children. “They want better energy in their day,” Britschgi said. “Maybe they want off of prescription drugs? Wear a nice dress? Accomplish more at work or with the family?” Whatever the goals, she can provide the techniques to form the steps towards getting there. Part of the process is finding the crux of the problem. “People eat for different reasons – for some, it’s emotional (eating) while others it’s rational,” said Britschgi, who can build a strategy involving action rather than a to-do list. Incorporating action, she believes, could better serve her clients towards a change in their lifestyle. A to-do list, on the other hand, is often a one-and-done short-term solution. The same process she teaches her clients is what she still uses on herself. Included are reading labels and journaling, inputting everything from exercising to the types of foods consumed that day. “What you put into your body is like a bank account – you want to know what exactly is in there so you can avoid those extra charges,” said Britschgi. Reading labels mean knowing the contents of what’s in the food choices. For Britschgi, she looks at the nutritional facts as well as the serving size and calories, in particular, calories from fat. “Sugar turns into fat,” she said. In addition, she offers healthier options in preparing foods along with alternative choices. Take potatoes, for example. The red or sweet variety make for better choices, according to Britschgi, who just moved into her new place of business at 104 N. School St. suite 124 in downtown Lodi. Her goal is to create new healthy habits. “The key is repetition,” she said. “We act, we review, and we correct.” Britschgi likens the role of a health coach to that of a navigation system along the road to wellness. “Like a GPS, we can help them reach their destination in a fast and safe way,” she said. “As usual, obstacles will be present.” For more information, call 209.642.7084 or log on to www.alibritschgi.com.