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FirstHealth Dietitian Earns Wellness Coaching Certification

| Date Posted: 2/5/2015


Ashley Carpenter, R.D.

PINEHURST – It’s not uncommon for Ashley Carpenter, R.D., to hear the same comment from prospective clients at FirstHealth Fitness-Pinehurst.


“I know what I need to do,” they will say. “I just need to DO it.”


Carpenter is a registered dietitian who works with people who want to be fitter, lose weight, exercise more and eat healthier.  But, she says, actually getting started on those goals can be the most difficult part of their journey toward improved health.


Newly certified in wellness coaching by Wellcoaches School of Coaching, Carpenter has the tools, educational background and experience to assist them. Since becoming a FirstHealth employee in 2007, she worked in inpatient acute care and numerous outpatient programs (including bariatrics, cardiac rehab, pulmonary rehab and diabetes self-management) before joining FirstHealth Fitness.


“The knowledge and information about being healthy is all around us,” Carpenter says, “yet achieving good health is much easier said than done. This is where wellness coaching can make a difference.”


Kari Garbark, program manager for FirstHealth Fitness-Pinehurst, agrees.


“We can show people what to do to improve their health with specific exercises or meal plans, but there’s often a gap between knowing the right thing to do and actually doing it,” she says. “Wellness coaching bridges that gap and helps people focus on the tools they need to truly make the lifestyle changes they need – recognizing barriers, obstacles and habits, and using tools to create new habits or patterns to realize a new normal.”


Organized in collaboration with the American College of Sports Medicine, Wellcoaches is acknowledged as the first coaching school for health and wellness professionals in the United States. Since its founding in 2002, it has defined the “gold standard” for high-impact, evidence-based, and innovative health and wellness education and now trains more than 1,200 coaches per year.


Carpenter describes wellness coaching as both a partnership and a process to set goals, prioritize what matters most and help with follow-through. “The wellness coaching professional will build confidence in the individual’s ability to make changes and create new healthy habits,” she says. “A partnership with a coach provides structure, accountability, expertise and inspiration that enables the client to learn, grow and develop beyond what he or she can do alone.”


Many wellness coaches are dietitians, personal trainers or therapists, but not all dietitians, trainers or therapists are wellness coaches, Carpenter points out. “The biggest difference is in the approach that they take toward helping you achieve your goals,” she says. “Unlike a personal trainer or dietitian, a wellness coach does not lead you through exercises or give you a specific diet to follow. Unlike therapy, a wellness coach will not focus on your past, but will look toward your future. A wellness coach will help you develop goals that are meaningful and self-motivating for you and help you integrate them into your life in sustainable ways.”


According to Garbark, Carpenter presents information in a way clients can understand, simplifying what at first can seem overwhelming. “Wellness coaching really complements Ashley’s role as a dietitian, because it embraces personal small, lasting changes,” Garbark says. “She’s great at breaking things down and making people feel comfortable.”


Wellness coaching can be done either in person or by telephone. An entire program begins with an initial appointment (of about 60 minutes) and can usually be completed in 12 weeks. It is not uncommon for coaching relationships to last longer, however.


“Telephone coaching gives flexibility as it is not restricted by geography or office hours, and it is very effective,” says Garbark. “It’s a great tool to help busy people stay on track, because it allows people to ‘meet’ during their lunch hour at work or while the baby is taking a nap.” 


The wellness coaching program at FirstHealth Fitness-Pinehurst is available in two different packages:

  •          Starter Package (for those new to wellness coaching): $150 for an initial 60-minute and four ongoing weekly 30-minute sessions
  •          Momentum Package (for those who have completed the starter package): $120 for six ongoing 30-minute sessions

In addition, ongoing individual sessions can be purchased after completion of the starter package. For more information, call (910) 715-2674.

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