How I’m Learning to Be SMARTer About Managing My Health

How I’m Learning to Be SMARTer About Managing My Health

I’ve never before considered contacting a health coach. I’m fortunate to have a robust support network and as an experienced patient, it seemed to me that perhaps a health coach wouldn’t have much to offer me. My mind was changed, however, when I got in contact with Pack Health.

Pack Health is a health coaching platform that serves people in the chronic illness community. The program matches patients with a dedicated Health Advisor who is trained to help in managing their illness. Health Advisors keep in touch with patients in a variety of ways, including by text, email and phone. What’s more, the service is free, which is a boon for patients who are already experiencing so many health-related costs.

Even Long-Term Patients Need Support

I signed up for Pack Health and in no time received my welcome pack in the mail. I was really excited to have access to the tools in the pack, which include a dry-erase magnet to track health goals, a motivational guide, a serving size example magnet, and a day tracker. The best, though, was the resistance band, which is perfect for me as I travel for work so much and I hate missing workouts when I’m pressed for time.

I got in contact with my Health Advisor and we talked about what some of my goals might be over the next several weeks. I sometimes think of change with an “all-or-nothing” approach and my Advisor helped me to think about breaking things down in smaller and more measurable goals. In particular, my Advisor asked me to think about my goals as being SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

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Choosing Where to Begin

For our first few weeks in our three month journey, we focused on drinking more water and paying more attention to sleep hygiene. It is the colon where most water is absorbed by our bodies. It’s easy to become dehydrated after having surgery to remove the colon, such as for those who live with an ileostomy or a j-pouch (like I do). I do not drink enough water, I never have, and I know it affects my mental state, how often I get headaches, and probably other health concerns I’m not even noticing anymore.

My sleep is fragmented for various reasons, both IBD and non-IBD related and as I get older, the situation has become more of a problem. I talked over my concerns about sleep with my Health Advisor and he made concrete suggestions and also answered my many questions about what might work for me and what is actually achievable. In the next few weeks we’ll begin thinking about how to make those SMART changes that can get me towards more restful sleep.

Staying Motivated

The best part of having a Health Advisor for me, so far, is the constant touch points. I actually thought that might not be something that would be helpful for me, but it turns out that it is. Getting reminders to get up from my desk and pour a drink of water are helpful. I will ignore an app and I regularly ignore notifications from my Apple Watch, but when my Health Advisor, who is a real person, reminds me to do something, that seems to work better for me.

What Can You Achieve In Three Months?

Three months doesn’t seem like a long time but I know that when it comes to making small changes every week and keeping them up; three months can make a huge difference in one’s health. Rather than using the “go big or go home” approach which hasn’t worked for me in the past, I’m eager to keep making these incremental changes. This time, however, I know my Health Advisor is there to inspire, to guide, to keep me accountable, and to have my back.

This post was sponsored by Pack Health. The opinions expressed are completely my own and based on my experience.

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