Wellness Coaching Helping Members Lose Weight
Michelle Soo Hoo (pictured above) was ready to make lifestyle changes; a Kaiser Permanente wellness coach helped her take steps toward achieving a healthier weight.
by Lynn Mundell
September 24, 2015, was the day Michelle Soo Hoo’s motivation to improve her health really kicked in.
The Kaiser Permanente marketing manager visited her doctor for a check-up and learned that she was the same weight she had been at 8 months pregnant with son Edric, now 5 years old (daughter Waverly is 7).
“There were tears involved,” Soo Hoo said. “I decided then and there to treat my weight like an illness. The nurse practitioner handed me a brochure on Kaiser Permanente’s wellness coaching program, and I made an appointment for the next day.”
Soo Hoo talked to her wellness coach over the phone and shared her plan: changing her diet, joining a gym, and scheduling follow-up coaching appointments every 2 to 4 weeks to get help with staying on track.
Wellness Coaching Works
Kaiser Permanente offers wellness coaching by phone to all its members nationwide for no additional fee, specifically targeting weight management, healthy eating, physical activity, tobacco cessation, and stress reduction. The coaching is provided by masters-level health professionals who are trained in evidence-based methods, including motivational interviewing.
“In the first coaching session, we elicit members’ own reasons to achieve a healthy weight, assess their readiness to make lifestyle changes, and help them focus on a realistic step forward,” said Mindy Boccio, MPH, senior consultant for Regional Health Education in Kaiser Permanente Northern California. “We then schedule follow-up sessions to provide guidance and support to help maintain lifestyle changes.”
New research now shows that this approach is working for Kaiser Permanente members. According to a recent study published in the journal Obesity, nearly 1,000 members who participated in individual wellness coaching by telephone for weight management lost an average of 10 pounds each and changed their weight trajectories from upward to downward, compared with more than 19,000 people with similar characteristics who did not participate in wellness coaching.
“We found that these patients lost clinically significant amounts of weight,” said Julie A. Schmittdiel, PhD, research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and the study’s lead author. “Even a small amount of weight loss can really help patients to see significant health benefits over time.”
Motivated to Change
With the support of her coach, Soo Hoo lost 30 pounds in 5 months, and she has maintained the weight loss for a year.
“It was nice having a coach to track to,” Soo Hoo said. “She helped me to think through my objectives and recognize and celebrate milestones as I achieved them. I felt like I had a confidante — someone who was really an advocate in my corner.”
She now highly recommends the program for Kaiser Permanente members who are motivated to make positive lifestyle changes. “More members should take advantage of this benefit,” Soo Hoo said. “For me, it was amazing.”
Kaiser Permanente members can call (866) 862-4295 to schedule a wellness coaching session; Northern California members can also schedule sessions online.