Wellness MD

Q&A with Health Coach Cecilia Lanier: Health benefits of having a coach.

April 08, 2022 Dr. Daniela Steyn Season 2 Episode 203
Wellness MD
Q&A with Health Coach Cecilia Lanier: Health benefits of having a coach.
Show Notes Transcript

Health and wellness coaches are the backbone of functional medicine!

We all know that just having a prescription or treatment plan does not necessarily mean you will consider the cause of your symptoms. It will also not force you to make any changes necessary to improve your overall wellness. 

In this podcast, Dr. Daniela Steyn talks with Cecilia Lanier, A professional Teacher and Health Coach with the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy. Cecilia explains what a health coach does and why we all need one. 

Health coaches are specialists in behaviour change. They help people change when change is hard. Coaching is a partnership between experts. Coaches’ expertise is in behaviour change, and they believe the clients are experts in themselves and their own experience. The relationship is formed within an atmosphere of compassion, unconditional acceptance, and empowerment. The sessions are client-led and coach-supported.

Health coaching is, however, not for everyone as:

  • Sometimes people aren’t ready to change in one area, so coaches support them wherever they are on this readiness spectrum. 
  • Some people are just thinking about it, sitting on the fence. 
  • Others might resist change and may only seek a coach because it’s been suggested by a doctor or a friend or loved one.
  • Others know they need to change, are sure they want to change, and yet are discouraged because they have tried so many times and cannot succeed or sustain the change. So, they remain stuck.
  • Or maybe they don’t know how to start the change or how to maintain it. It’s one thing to get a food plan or a directive for eliminating stress, but those plans, or directions don’t work if we don’t work them.

People seek coaches for many reasons, but burnout is one of the main reasons. Health and wellness coaches primarily meet people whose challenges are in one or more of these five areas:

  1. Food/nutrition
  2. Movement/exercise
  3. Sleep/rest, 
  4. Stress management
  5. Relationships 

However, coaches will also address a person’s emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual realities as it’s hard to separate the person into parts. A holistic view of the person is the best approach.

Listen to our podcast today to learn how Cecilia went through burnout and got her life back on track by implementing all the strategies she teaches as a health and wellness coach. 

*Legal Disclaimer: This podcast is intended for educational purposes only. For your medical advice, please get in touch with your own Health Care provider. Never ignore medical advice because of something you have heard on this podcast.

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Recover from Burnout today!

Welcome to this episode of your Wellness MD podcast.
Family Physician and Wellness Expert Dr. Daniela Steyn have meaningful conversations that will take your health to the next level.
She explores the connection between a healthy body, mind and soul.
Dr. Steyn has helped thousands of people have a better quality of life.
Join us today, empowering you to live your best life with optimal health!

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DS: Good Day and Welcome to today’s episode of  your Wellness MD’s podcast.

Today we are chatting with Cecilia Lanier. Cecilia has an impressive resume, 

She is a board-certified professional teacher. She has been a teacher for 25yrs. she is

Also was also an instructional coach for teachers.

She has completed her training as a Functional medicine certified health/wellness coach with Functional Medicine Coaching Academy.

She is a National board-certified health/wellness coach.

Course facilitator at Functional Medicine Coaching Academy.

I have worked with many health coaches, and this is by far the most impressive resume I have come across, so I felt Cecilia would be a great person to tell our podcast listeners more about health coaching

Welcome Cecilia.

CL: Good Day Daniela to you and good day to our listeners.

DS: Cecilia, I must admit, health coaching is a new field to me. I only learned about health coaching after I started my wellness clinic. Will you tell our listeners  What does a coach do?

CL: First, I should say what a coach does NOT do. We are not physicians or practitioners who diagnose or treat diseases. We do not treat mental disorders, nor are we counsellors, therapists, or nutritionists who give protocols and prescriptions.

DS: Okay, that’s fair,“Then what do you do?” 

CL:  We are specialists in behavior change.  We help people change when change is hard. And change is always hard. We all know the truth that just having a prescription, or a treatment plan does not necessarily mean that we will a make a change.

Coaching is a partnership between experts.  Coaches’ expertise is in behavior change and we believe the clients are experts in themselves and their own experience. The relationship is formed within an atmosphere of compassion, unconditional acceptance, and empowerment. The sessions are client-led, and coach supported.

 We help people develop a vision of their ideal selves as they explore and clarify their values, life’s purpose and meaning, and their own “why” for seeking any change.  We assist them in taking stock of their current reality and we help co-create goals and action plans to help them move toward change.  

Coaches assist clients to develop support systems and recognize and address beliefs and thinking patterns that might hinder progress. We emphasize autonomy and self-regulation, while also supporting the need for accountability.

 DS: Yes, so this is something I have noticed, when a patient comes to me and say they want to lose weight or go on an elimination diet, I would refer them to you. You would then assess if they are ready for change, this was tricky for me to understand in the beginning, because I used to assume, the fact that a patient has found my website and paid me money means they are ready for change. But I then saw how you would patiently wait and gauge whether they are ready for change before you implement their plan with them. I do believe that is a big part of your success.

CL: Yes, Sometimes people aren’t quite ready to change in one area, so coaches support them wherever they are on this spectrum of readiness. We don’t push or direct the clients, nor do we see them as broken people. We discover what stage of change they are in and skillfully guide them along this journey, being careful to honor their autonomy. 

I really believe that clients are experts in themselves. My job is to help them uncover their own motivation and their own inner genius.

Our goal is to minimize resistance by empowering clients to develop their own reasons and plans for change. Research shows that when people are told what to do, they will most likely resist.  

Conversely, when people feel safe and free to explore their own ideas, and when they feel supported in this type of environment, they begin to voice their own arguments for change. Coaching skillfully empowers this process of change.

We walk alongside as a guide and ally.  We emphasize clients’ past successes, their unique strengths and capabilities, and their own values and aspirations. 

We elicit and uncover their own ideas for how to make things happen. We know that when intrinsic motivation is high, change is more likely to last. 

We help clients develop a plan, and co-design strategies for change. 

We also help build accountability and self-regulation for making and sustaining changes.

This doesn’t mean we don’t provide information or even advice when needed. We do it in a way that is best for the client, always asking permission, and in a way that is most helpful for the client’s needs.

DS:  Who needs a coach? 

CL: Anyone who wants to make a change needs a coach. Some people are ready to change, while

some are just thinking about it, sitting on the fence. Others might have some resistance to change and may only seek a coach because it’s been suggested by a doctor or a friend or loved one.

Others know they need to change, are certain they want to change, and yet they are discouraged because they have tried so many times and not been able to succeed or sustain the change. So, they remain stuck.

Or maybe they just don’t know how to start the change, or how to maintain a change.  It’s one thing to get a food plan, or a directive for eliminating stress, but those plans or directions don’t work if we don’t work them. 

DR. STEYN - that’s a lot of words on my part. You might want to stop here and ask a question or make a comment. ??

For example: 

My husband (a chiropractor) likes to tell a story about this. He might give some patients a handout on exercises for their knee, or bad shoulder. After several weeks the patient comes back and says, “Doc, these exercises didn’t work.” 

My husband asks, “Did you do the exercises?” 

And when the answer is no, my husband says, “No, I found they don’t work unless you use them.”

 DS: hahaha, EXACTLY! While we are talking about your husband. He is a phenomenal chiropractor, I encourage our listeners to visit him, Dr William Lanier if you live in Madison, Alabama, or drive by, Dr William Lanier is an incredible chiropractor, you won’t regret stopping by his practice, it is called Bailey Chiropractic Clinic.  Dr. Lanier is also a certified functional medicine practitioner and his practice is called BeWellFor Life. I will add his contact information to my podcast description for our listeners.

DS:  Why do people need a coach?

CL: People seek coaches for many reasons. As health and wellness coaches we are primarily meeting people whose challenges are in one or more of these five areas.

Food/nutrition, movement/exercise, sleep/rest, stress management, and relationships. 

However, coaches will also address a person’s emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual realities.  It’s hard to separate the person into parts. A holistic view of the person is the best approach.

When people begin to attend to one area, other areas come into focus as they seek balance in their lives.

For example, I had a client who was referred by her FM doc. He ordered her to go on the Elimination Diet to improve her health and hopefully lower her A1c glucose levels.

But at our first visit, she insisted she felt too stressed and overwhelmed to begin working through the Elimination Diet. She even hyperventilated when we discussed it.  I gave her the choice to focus on some other change instead, something that she wanted.  She chose to get help with some relationships in her family. 


After she had success in that, she then felt empowered to tackle the diet. We worked through the details, and I walked with her every step of the way. She was very successful, lost extra pounds, lowered her A1c levels, got off her meds, balanced her hormones, regained her energy, and started living the life she felt she had lost due to poor health.

 Her energy and creativity returned. She said even her marriage relationship was kindled because she and her husband started planning, shopping, and cooking healthy meals together. This was something she used to love to do but had to give it up because of her fatigue.

You can see how growth in one area led to improvement in others. It’s also important to notice that this was a client-led process. She was allowed to choose where to focus her efforts. Ten months later she has maintained her progress and is still flourishing.

DS:   How does the process work?

The client/coach relationship begins first with an initial phone consult. After that, I like to discover more about the client by gathering some information. I send a welcome packet and ask clients to answer questions about themselves such as their likes, dislikes, dreams for the future, their current state, etc.  

I have clients take a character strength survey to find out their signature strengths. We like to focus on what is right about clients, not what is wrong.

We meet weekly, or every other week as the clients’ schedule allows.  We check in on last week’s wins, look at the progress toward goals, make adjustments or new action steps, explore ideas, options, and manage potential obstacles for the upcoming week.


The client is expected to be an active participant.  This is more than chatting, this is a conversation focused on clients’ needs, and their goals for change. I remind clients, “If you do the same things you’ve always done, you’ll have the same result you’ve always had.”


Our sessions are a judgment-free zone, where clients are supported, listened to, given choice, respected, and treated with empathy and compassion.


Setbacks are seen as opportunities and experiments for learning, vs. trial and error. We know that when people are given orders or unsolicited advice, this usually results in some form of resistance. Honouring clients’ autonomy is important to us as we help people change.   


Clients are given a summary of the session, along with the homework or action plan for the week.


 DS: So obviously one session won’t be as good as having a coach lifelong, but most of us don’t have the luxury of working with a coach lifelong. So if our listeners have a specific problem they would like to work on, what do you recommend, how long should they sign up for? How long does it take to learn and implement lifestyle changes to become part of your way of life?


CL: Its most effective if clients commit to a 12-week engagement. They have a choice of 3 or 6 months

DS:   How did you become a health coach? 

CL:  After struggling with my own health challenges, and retiring from being an instructional coach for teachers, I used functional medicine to heal.  Once I was better, my passion for helping other people led me to join the program at FMCA. That was a robust year long journey into the study of functional medicine principles as well as a rigorous coach training learning experience. I’m constantly reading and studying to become the most effective coach I can be. I’m deeply passionate about coaching and helping people. 

DS: Many of my clients come to me about burnout, you have experienced burnout in your career. Would like to share a little bit with our listeners, how did it manifest in your life (physical illness) and how did you heal from it? 

CL: (share as little or as much as you like)  

Yes Dr. Steyn, burnout as you call it showed up in my life after pushing past the signals my body was giving me.  At 32 years old I had health challenges that slowed me down for a little bit, but I patched things up and kept on working very, very hard at my high stress job, while being a wife and mother of 2 kids. 

But things just got worse with my health. It seemed like system after system broke down and before I knew it I was dealing with an autoimmune disease, a long list of symptoms, and extreme fatigue that left me just enough energy to get to work and come home to sleep. 

I kept working and pushing and never really stopping to even learn how to care for myself. I was told to deal with things such as adrenal fatigue but I just didn’t know how.  I think I just expected someone to give me a pill to fix it! 

I had to periodically take a year or two off of work because of these problems. I would get a little better, then jump back into work again. 

The talk about making lifestyle changes was a foreign concept to me.  I thought I lived a pretty good life, with a good diet.  And yet, I was oblivious to what constant stress was doing to my body. 

I sought out many specialists but just kept getting worse and worse.  Finally, in 2013, I had to give up my job and become disabled. I was given a diagnosis of another autoimmune disease.  I kept trying to get help but nothing offered was helping. 

Out of desperation I went on a journey to learn all I could about functional medicine. At the same time my husband began his FM program. 

I started applying what I could and made drastic lifestyle changes. I changed my diet completely, started a meditation practice, starting walking, doing yoga, practicing gratitude, and tended to my positive mindset. I realized I had never learned to deal with chronic stress. 

Within 1 year I was able to function and within 2 years I was flourishing so much that I wanted to get back to living and serving.   That’s when I started FMCA. (My husband was simultaneously completing his FM program.)  

Now, as a busy coach and a course facilitator at FMCA, I am very careful to keep the boundaries that help me stay balanced.  I make time for my own needs, for walking and eating a very healthy diet, and meditation and yoga, and investing in positive relationships with family and friends.  I am healthier and more vibrant at 66 than I have been in my whole life. 

Ds: Good for you Cecilia,

This is wonderful, and you are such a blessing to your family, your children, your grandchildren and and your clients. Working hard to get healthy and stay healthy didn't only benefit you, but also everyone around you.


DS: Thank you so much Cecilia for sharing with our listeners today. I know our listeners learned new things today that will help them in their wellness journey forwards.

CL: Thank you for having me Dr. Steyn


{Add to description:

BeWellForLife  (FM practice name)

Dr. William Lanier, D.C., FMCP

email: befmwell2021@gmail.com

Phone: 256-508-6744}