Success stories

Strawberry

Small changes, lasting results

Looking for inspiration?

Wellness coaching works, and calling a wellness coach can be a small change that puts you on a pathway to lasting results.

According to Kaiser Permanente studies, those who participated in wellness coaching:

  • had a smoking quit rate of 31 percent 
  • lost and kept off an average of 10 pounds a year later

Numbers alone don’t convince you? Learn more about how wellness coaching can help you achieve your goals.

Achieve a healthy weight

Terri

Terri first heard about wellness coaching in an article on the Inside KP Northwest Newswire. “Knowing that it didn’t cost me anything was huge. I’d looked into private counseling and it was too cost-prohibitive.” She also knew that with the long hours she worked, trying to take time off to go to somewhere wasn’t realistic. Calling a wellness coach was a perfect fit.

And the time was right. Terri wanted to lose weight but had had trouble with weight loss programs in the past. “I would get started and do well, but I wouldn’t change my thinking, so I’d go right back to my old habits.” Her hope was that her wellness coach would help her look at things differently so she’d be able to fully incorporate healthy behaviors into her life. She discovered that the important part is working through the mental issues and understanding why she made certain choices. Even when Terri gets sidetracked, she knows that it’s okay. “I’m making a life change, not a start and end change.”

Wellness coaching has helped Terri manage her weight and stress. She was able to lose 40 pounds last year and has kept it off for a year now. “The coaching is very professional and confidential, and I can tell that my coach, Kimberli, cares about me—she remembers my circumstances and is interested in what’s happening in my life—and she’s there to help me through it.”

Besides weight and stress management, Terri has received some unexpected side benefits from wellness coaching. She learned to focus on her numbers—in particular, her cholesterol. It had always been extremely high, even when she was young and thin. Without medication, her normal level reached 440, when it should be under 200. Even with medication, she never really achieved a healthy cholesterol level. But after being on proper medication while having wellness coaching, that’s changed. “I’m excited to share that for the first time in my life I have good cholesterol—at 154!”

Another number she focused on was her blood sugar. She learned that she was at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Coaching helped guide her through some behavior changes, and today she’s brought her number down to a lower and safer level, just as she’d done with her cholesterol.

Wellness coaching has impacted Terri’s life in many different ways. “Having a professional available to counsel me on my specific needs was really helpful.” She now wants to make sure others enjoy the benefits of coaching. “I’ve told my friends who are Kaiser Permanente members about how wellness coaching is a wonderful program.”

Become more active

Bruce

Wellness coaches are often a source of inspiration for the members they work with, but in this case it's the other way around. Southern Colorado wellness coach Soraya says Bruce Edwards, 62, has been an inspiration to her since they started working together six months ago.

Bruce called wellness coaching after receiving an email to members about the service. He had been diagnosed with prediabetes and noticed that he had put on some weight. After deciding to work on increasing his physical activity, his coach helped him create an action plan to achieve his goals. Because Bruce has been in a wheelchair for the past 15 years, his coach helped him find unique ways to be active, like following a chair dancing DVD and using a stretch rope and a broomstick for arm exercises. "Together we talked about things that I would be able to do from my chair, and what I might enjoy doing long-term."

He consistently manages to work out four to five times a week, and is always upbeat during his follow-up calls with his coach, which are now scheduled quarterly. Bruce says he looks forward to those calls to let Soraya know he is sticking to his plan.

Since joining the program last January, he has lost a few pounds and can tell his clothes are fitting better.  Coach Soraya could not be prouder. "Bruce has done amazing work. He continues to keep his motivation level high and has been very successful in making significant lifestyle changes."

Mary

When Mary*, 78, was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), she signed up to take a class offered by the Respiratory Therapy Department at Kaiser Permanente. She went to the three-hour class three times a week for six weeks and felt like she was making real progress. But once the class ended, Mary failed to continue with the exercises at home because she felt it was too hard to do it on her own.

Months later at her son's 50th birthday party, she met a woman who happened to be a patient advocate for Kaiser Permanente in Irvine. The woman suggested that Wellness Coaching by Phone might be just the thing that Mary needed to get back on track. Mary was willing to give it a try, so she made an appointment with a coach.

Mary said her coach, Monica, gave her a lot of encouragement, and was just the boost that she needed. "She gave me strokes for even the smallest accomplishment. We talked every few weeks; she let me set the pace of how often."

Mary said that whenever she was having a bad day and did not feel like exercising, she would think about the next time Monica was going to call. She wanted to be able to tell her coach that she had accomplished her goal.

"The program was perfect for me. I knew what I needed to do, but that kind of encouragement and just knowing that someone was checking in with me was very motivating."

Eat healthier

Catherine

When Catherine, 47, came across the Wellness Coaching by Phone program description on kp.org, she thought, "This can't be as good as it sounds." Catherine has diabetes, and, wanting lower her A1C percentage (a number that shows average blood sugar level over several months), she was desperate to get help for what she believes are food addiction issues. "I know the nutrition stuff; what I needed was support to change my behavior."

When she called the toll-free number, she received a warm welcome from engagement specialist Damon. "He was extremely patient while I struggled to explain my problem. I felt an instant change and I knew everything was going to be OK. It was quite an impressive introduction to the program," she says. Damon enrolled Catherine in the Eat Healthy program and booked her first appointment with a coach.

On their first call, Catherine shared with her coach, Danielle, that she had been dieting since she was 9 years old. Danielle referred her to additional resources available on kp.org for food addiction. There, Catherine found an Intuitive Eating Support Group, which is a non-diet approach to overcoming emotional overeating and destructive dieting.

In between coaching calls, Catherine works on small goals like tracking carbs to help manage her diabetes. She reports feeling less tingling sensation in her feet and her clothes feel looser.

"Catherine continually meets the goals she sets for herself and is feeling much more hopeful about her future. I am so proud of her," says Danielle.

Catherine summed it up like this: "It just clicked with Danielle, and having her check up on me is phenomenal. I'm feeling stronger every day! I can't believe something so valuable is free for KP members."

Reduce stress

Gabriel

When Gabriel was reviewing paperwork from a medical visit, he saw something that would change his life: the toll-free number for Wellness Coaching by Phone.

Some recent stressful life events had left Gabriel feeling what he describes as “borderline depressed.” “I couldn’t stay focused on anything,” he recalls. It was unfamiliar territory and he wasn’t sure how to pull himself out. Gabriel called the toll-free number to learn about the program to reduce stress and scheduled an appointment.

“During my first coaching call with Julio, on a scale of 1 to 10 my stress level was about a 12! I was so tired and just wanted to feel like myself again.” He remembers Julio’s response exactly. “He said with such reassuring confidence, ‘we’re going to get you there’.” And that’s when the work started.

Over the next few months Gabriel spoke with Julio every two weeks. “He helped me identify the triggers of my stress,” says Gabriel, and one by one Gabriel implemented strategies to manage them. “Working with Julio taught me that stress never stops coming at you, and many times you can’t control the situation, but you can always control your reaction.”

Gabriel learned coping strategies that helped him reprogram his thinking. He also identified new outlets for his stress and started to surround himself with positive people. “It was all part of my process and I am so glad I made that call. Now every day I wake up and look forward to whatever the day might bring.”

Even though Gabriel finished the program months ago, he still sings the praises of wellness coaching and his coach, Julio. “I gained a lot of benefits, which continue to help me day to day. This is the best I have ever felt in my entire life.”

Gabriel credits Julio for changing his life, but Julio is quick to give Gabriel all the credit. “Gabriel did some very hard work during the program. He has truly been a great example of how changing behavior can change one’s outlook on life. I am so proud of Gabriel for his success.”

Claudia

Claudia is a social worker in a very stressful environment. "I know that when the level of my stress increases, my depression becomes intensified. So when I saw an ad for Wellness Coaching by Phone and read that it was free, I jumped on the opportunity to make an appointment." She appreciated the fact that it was easy to access the program. "All I had to do was call! The connection was seamless."

Claudia and her coach, Monica, worked together to create a plan. "Monica is able to pose questions that help me narrow down my goals to small steps," says Claudia, and these simple, attainable steps have a major impact on her mood. For example, she is taking a walk for 30 minutes every day at lunch. "I come back and my mood is lifted—I'm ready to face more challenges."

Armed with the tools to reduce stress, she has even begun working on her eating habits, and Claudia is now able to recognize and control emotional eating. "When I called, I was at the end of my rope. On a scale of 1 to 10, my stress level was a 10. Today I am happier and much more confident in identifying specific steps to reduce stress."

*Name changed to protect privacy.

Reviewed by: Wendy George, Lisa Zaragoza, and Rashel Sanna, MPH, February 2015

© 2015 Kaiser Permanente