Maya Nahra, RD and I recently sat down to discuss the dynamics of health coaching and changing habits. You can watch the discussion and read the transcript below.
Dr. Emily Parke: Maya Nahra is a Registered Dietitian and Health Coach, founder of Nuuaria. And Maya is here with us today because we are talking about the difference between habit and behavior change and health coaching. General health coaching is an add-on to my patients at Arizona Wellness Medicine as part of their functional medicine plan. So thank you so much, Maya, for coming. This is great.
Maya Nahra, RD: Of course. Thanks for having me, Dr. Parke. Appreciate it.
Dr. Emily Parke: And you have a bunch of different … well first I want to let the audience know, just in general, things about health coaching. So just kind of tell the audience what is health coaching and what are some of just the general benefits of health coaching?
Maya Nahra, RD: Absolutely. And just health coaching in general … So our health coaches are Registered Dietitians, so there’s a level up there that says that we are trained for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, all the habit-driven diseases and so much more, for example digestive diseases, thyroid diseases and whatnot. So we can certainly, when it comes to Registered Dietitian, health coaching, we can approach the medical nutrition therapy standpoint that simply says we’ve been trained to prescribe food to help whatever it is that you’re going through.
Maya Nahra, RD: Having said that, and after 12 years, there’s so much more importance to the support and accountability and the high touch. There’s a huge partnership, of course, between you and I, I think between a physician and a Registered Dietitian health coach that can increase the patient results and just get better results because you have more of a collaborative team on your side.
Maya Nahra, RD: Oftentimes when we see your patients for health coaching in general, just basic health coaching with Kristen, the dietitian in your office, you have prescribed them to follow a 30-day paleo reset or take certain things out of the diet. for health reasons. And when we go from eating this way to having to eat this way, sometimes our world gets flipped upside down.
Dr. Emily Parke: Yeah.
Maya Nahra, RD: And so now you have someone on your side that says, “No, no, it’s easier than your brain is telling you. Let’s do this, this, and this.” And so we’re just another team member on your side who’s been trained to do this right alongside and frankly just make it simpler and easier and much more enjoyable on the road back to health.
Dr. Emily Parke: Perfect, that’s awesome. So couple key things that Maya said, just for you guys if you didn’t pick up on it. Because there’s lots of different health coaches out there and there’s lots of different certification programs that will give someone the ability to be a health coach. And that person does not necessarily have to have a medical degree of any kind. Just so everyone out there is aware.
Dr. Emily Parke: So what Maya said about being a Registered Dietitian is actually super important. What she said about being able to do medical nutrition is extremely important. So that qualifies her very much on being able to handle the nutrition part extremely well.
Dr. Emily Parke: And for some patients, there’s a lot of interesting challenges that come up with nutrition. And not just even food allergies or food sensitivities, but certain diseases we’re treating, like SIBO, for example. After SIBO treatment’s over with, we have to go low FODMAP and what is that and how do you do that and how do you fit it into your other food plan, and all of that stuff. And paleo autoimmune protocol for patients that have severe autoimmune disease.
Dr. Emily Parke: All kinds of different food plans that I provide them with an actual plan, here’s what to do, and then you’re really able to help them with the nitty gritty details on follow-through because you’re also actually a cook too, which is hugely helpful. Which you guys might not know that about Maya, but she’s actually hosted cooking classes in the past. So literally as far as getting down to the details on what do I make and how do I make it, she is able to help you out with that too.
Dr. Emily Parke: So I just wanna make sure that everyone knows it’s not just health coaching. You’re actually getting an expert Registered Dietitian and a chef. And the founder and creator of an entire habit and behavior change curriculum.
Dr. Emily Parke: And so Maya, tell us a little bit about the upgraded habit and behavior change health coaching curriculum, how it’s different than just adding on health coaching to functional medicine. Tell us the difference.
Maya Nahra, RD: Absolutely. We’ll make it really clear. You can get basic health coaching with our dietitian, of course, inside Arizona Wellness. And that’s for two types, really. So there’s one type of person who we get the plan, I need to know if this is paleo, I need to know how to cook this. And we can give you advice, create those small little stepping stones and goals and intentions with you where you go out, we come back. I very much say that basic health coaching is we have where you’re at now, we know where you want to go, this is not a one-size-fits-all, it’s very individualized. We strategize, you go implement, we come back together, we measure, we course correct, and we keep going until you get to where you need to go.
Maya Nahra, RD: Now, the second piece of course is the habit and behavior change program. There’s health coaching and then the habit and behavior change program. It’s different in this single way is that most of us, after 12 years of doing this, we know what to do, we just don’t do it. And so I want you to think of habits and behaviors as they’re automatic, autopilot ways and states of living and existing in our world. We do them, we don’t think about them.
Maya Nahra, RD: And the 10,000 foot overview to the habit and behavior change program, as Dr. Parke mentioned, it’s this upgraded for … program for the people who know what to do, they just don’t do it. And we get thrown off by stress and anxiety, Friday nights, Saturday nights, vacations, holidays. What happens is we start with your physical habits and behaviors. Likely there is always a list of things that if I were to say you know what to do, what are those things that you know what to do, you’re just not doing it or you know you should be, could be, ought to be, wanna be doing it, but you’re not doing it. We start with this-
Dr. Emily Parke: And that-
Maya Nahra, RD: Go ahead.
Dr. Emily Parke: I just wanted to kinda say that’s a great point because as part of … Even as part of health coaching, regular health coaching, every patient actually gets for … Every patient of mine gets an entire healthcare plan. We focussed on nutrition with the first part, which is great. But the plans include nutrition, sleep, exercise and movement, and stress management. So health coaching involves all of those. And then exactly what you’re getting to right now, with the habit and behavior change, not only do people know what to do and they’re just not doing it, but I’m actually giving them the roadmap. Here is what you do.
Maya Nahra, RD: Yeah.
Dr. Emily Parke: This is where I think the habit and behavior change entire curriculum, which you’re about to tell us exactly what it is, is hugely helpful. I just wanna make sure people understood that health coaching’s not just about the nutrition and the cooking and things like that. It certainly is because that’s an area of expertise for you, but you are also a health coach and so you are gonna be helping people plan a roadmap for nutrition, sleep, exercise and movement, and stress management. So I just wanna make sure we got that out there.
Maya Nahra, RD: Absolutely. And that’s huge. And that’s a distinction between say doing the habit and behavior change program just with us in Nuuaria on your own, versus this is why we’re partnering with Dr. Parke as a functional medicine practitioner. You don’t have to guess on what should I be doing. You have a roadmap back to health that she’s giving you.
Maya Nahra, RD: So we take that roadmap on the physical behaviors and we implement it via stepping stones. Stepping stones are instead of changing 998 things about your life on Monday and falling into chocolate cake or a six-pack of beer by Friday, we implement small strategies and changes.
Maya Nahra, RD: Now, there will be a time when you fall off the wagon. There’s no wagon in habit and behavior change. That simply opens the door to two other kinds of habits that have not been addressed in your life. It’s the emotional habits of stress, anxiety, frustration, overwhelm, et cetera, and the thought habits of perfectionism, all or nothing thinking, catastrophic thinking, obsessive thinking, overthinking, trying to control things you can’t control. It is when we learn how to think differently that we change the physical behavior permanently. That’s habit and behavior change.
Maya Nahra, RD: Now what Dr. Parke was alluding to, the last thing I’ll say is there’s three main pieces to this program. There’s lots of inclusions, but three main pieces. It’s very high touch. You have, quite frankly, a three-part team on your side here. You have visits with the Registered Dietitian, that’s one.
Dr. Emily Parke: And I just wanna make sure people know those Registered Dietitian visits, those are actual Registered Dietitian health coaching visits, that they are meeting with you one-to-one, in person or virtually, because you do have the ability to do this, right .
Maya Nahra, RD: Yup, yup, we do a lot of telehealth as well as in person visits.
Dr. Emily Parke: Right, and those are like strategizing, planning sessions, very personalized, though, okay.
Maya Nahra, RD: Yes. Absolutely. They’re the health coaching sessions, you know, if you were to just this on the side, the first thing we talked about. So they’re the basic health coaching sessions with the dietitian, but she also is … All of our dietitians, they’re trained in habit and behavior change too. So they know-
Dr. Emily Parke: Perfect.
Maya Nahra, RD: … what we’re doing with the stepping stones. They help you set those. Then the online component. There’s a whole … You go back to school. Now, don’t be scared. There’s not … You’re not gonna sit in front of a computer for two hours. They’re small snippets of how to … of videos of how to change a habit, how to think, there’s something online called office hours, where you get me or a dietitian every single week where we’re helping you. There’s additional online support, master classes. There’s a whole bunch of online pieces.
Maya Nahra, RD: And then the last piece of course is our mentor program in the habit and behavior change program. The mentor is … They’re not doctors or dietitians, but they are men and women who have been on the journey with much success. They’ve been through habit and behavior change and now they wanna give back. They’re there for text message support, phone call support, and they run our support group meetings, which we actually run out of Arizona Wellness Medicine as well.
Maya Nahra, RD: So it’s very comprehensive, very high touch. Everything you need .
Dr. Emily Parke: Yes
Dr. Emily Parke: So to summarize, the habit and behavior change health coaching comprehensive curriculum, they get in-person health coaching visits, then they also get, you just mentioned the online curriculum, which is an entire online curriculum just like you mentioned. They also get the office visits that are virtual, that are group office visits, and I believe you offer those four times a week, right?
Maya Nahra, RD: Every week. So four times a month.
Dr. Emily Parke: Four times a month, I’m sorry.
Dr. Emily Parke: Got it. So that’s every week?
Maya Nahra, RD: Yup.
Dr. Emily Parke: Then there’s also … I know there’s a private Facebook that you guys have-
Maya Nahra, RD: Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Emily Parke: … daily check-ins there, right?
Maya Nahra, RD: Yup.
Dr. Emily Parke: And then twice monthly in-person group support sessions in addition to be assigned an actual journey mentor that they can connect with one-to-one. Is that right?
Maya Nahra, RD: Yeah, absolutely. This is the last thing I’ll mention is this is not … People think that oftentimes, “This is difficult, this is hard, I’ve been through this before.” This is not hard work. This simply requires a heightened state of awareness for our long-term success.
Maya Nahra, RD: So this is why you have so much support and accountability. Oftentimes I hear people say, “I’ve been through so much and how do I know.” Habit and behavior change is unlike anything that you’ve ever experienced before. I think actually Dr. Parke, we were just gonna mention some of the … We did a six-month study with a 12-month follow-up-
Dr. Emily Parke: Your statistics.
Maya Nahra, RD: Yeah, yeah. The results are staggering, but I don’t … I never see staggering all over my face because this is the result of true, lasting, permanent change in the same way that you mention to your patients that this is the last time I ever wanna see you again. You come here and that’s it. You’re coming for weight loss, you’re coming for whatever it is. This is the last time you’re ever gonna have to do this. We don’t wanna see you again.
Dr. Emily Parke: Right, yeah, yeah. The actual therapeutic visits end and then patients are coming in once or twice a year for us to review plan, check their blood work, make sure they’re staying in an optimal range. But the actual treatment treatment stuff I do want it to end. This is unlike any other medical practice where as awesome as it is to see and connect with my patients, I wanna get to a point where I’m only seeing you once or twice a year. And same for you, right?
Maya Nahra, RD: Yes.
Dr. Emily Parke: You wanna get your clients all to a point where it’s like they’re doing so well … Both of our goals is that people are doing so well that they really don’t need us that much, right?
Maya Nahra, RD: Yes, yes.
Dr. Emily Parke: To give them the tools for their toolbox so they know what to do on their own in between doctor’s visits.
Maya Nahra, RD: I didn’t mean never. That was the wrong terminology.
Dr. Emily Parke: No, I know, I know what you meant.
Maya Nahra, RD: For that reason, we do have quite literally a next level of habit and behavior change as well. So a lot of people, a lot of our clients and patients over the years end up in that next level of habit and behavior change. Because once you start and once you start on a path to changing things in your life.
Dr. Emily Parke: Yeah, tell us a little bit about the next level that you have created.
Maya Nahra, RD: You’re funny. So I didn’t expect to mention that. But essentially it’s … Next level habit and behavior change is called heart training.
Dr. Emily Parke: Awesome.
Maya Nahra, RD: And so it basically goes to … It addresses the back end of the formula. Our behaviors are driven by our emotions, which are driven by our thoughts. And what drives our thoughts is belief, which is a repeated thought, fears and insecurities. So the next level addresses the next level.
Dr. Emily Parke: Awesome. Okay, very cool. So there is something on the back end for everybody too.
Dr. Emily Parke: So I wanna talk a little bit about the actual study that you’ve done beause you did an actual … a long-term study. And this was a year study, right? Or, sorry, a six-month period and then you did a 12-month follow-up.
Maya Nahra, RD: Correct, correct.
Maya Nahra, RD: So our six-month … Most patients go into the six month habit and behavior change.
Dr. Emily Parke: Yup.
Maya Nahra, RD: And then we follow it up with those same at 12 months.
Dr. Emily Parke: Perfect.
Maya Nahra, RD: Yes.
Dr. Emily Parke: So some of the statistics, you guys, on here, are quite staggering.
Maya Nahra, RD: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Dr. Emily Parke: I just wanna read a couple of them and get your comments, Maya. If I look at … And there’s several categories. They’re not even just health statistics that improve. General health, though, look at this statistic. 93.5% report an increase in their overall fruit and vegetable consumption. That’s huge. That’s one of the things that I talk about all the time, increasing the numbers of plant foods in the diet everyday. Getting eight to 10 servings a day, ideally. 93.5%. That’s amazing. The same percentage saw a reduction in sugar consumption. Basically it sounds like those were trade-outs there.
Maya Nahra, RD: Yeah, absolutely. That’s the white processed sugar stuff, yeah.
Dr. Emily Parke: Yeah, exactly. So that’s amazing. And then another great statistic, just on happiness and quality of life.
Dr. Emily Parke: So in functional medicine the roots, the foundations to health are nutrition, sleep, exercise, stress management, and actually relationships are in there too. So the goal is really to get you to have a good quality of life, right? And so look at this. Over 90% of people reported an increase in the satisfaction … in actual appreciation. So that’s like gratitude, it’s the thought of appreciation, which really is satisfaction. So that’s amazing.
Maya Nahra, RD: Yeah, yeah.
Maya Nahra, RD: It’s once you … So right, we address not the physical behavior is off less importance when we address stress and anxiety directly. It’s typically … if we are always trying to control things in the future and people or occurrences, dealing with difficult people, or things, occurrences we cannot control, it will produce stress or anxiety. If we’re continuously over thinking things in our life, that will produce stress and anxiety, of course, or depression or despair or hopelessness.
Maya Nahra, RD: But the cool thing is in habit and behavior change, because we address, say, over thinking, you’re not just gonna ever stop over thinking only in health in your life. It’s a thought pattern-
Dr. Emily Parke: Right.
Maya Nahra, RD: … that you change everywhere in your life.
Dr. Emily Parke: Right, exactly. And other things to go over that I thought were pretty amazing. 71% of people found it easier to focus on the task at hand. So talk about things like ADHD and symptoms like that, 71% found it easier to focus. That’s amazing, right? Because there’s so many prescriptions being given out for attention deficit, which, by the way, there were 30% … One of the statistics is related to medications. 30% of people that went through the six-month program reported a decrease or complete elimination in the numbers of medications being taken. That’s huge.
Maya Nahra, RD: Yeah.
Dr. Emily Parke: That is huge. Other really medical things that were on here that I want to definitely make sure you mention. A reduction in fasting blood glucose by an average of 27 points, and same for blood pressure. A decrease in body weight by an average of 16 pounds and a decrease in waist circumference of an average of 5 inches. So habit and behavior change is not just about weight loss and health. These are just great side effects that happen from going through the curriculum.
Maya Nahra, RD: Yeah, yeah. And not all of these … with the statistics, not everyone was in here for weight loss. It was just a byproduct of it. So some were, some weren’t. But it addresses everything, so.
Dr. Emily Parke: Exactly. And then it spills over into your work life too from what I’m seeing here. You’ve got an 80% of people reported having less stress at work and being more productive. I mean, that’s amazing.
Dr. Emily Parke: You guys, I’m only actually touching on a few of these statistics. There’s an entire page of things that she collected that are all very interesting and staggering. How it spills over into the rest of your life. So you might get engaged with a habit and behavior change curriculum as part of getting healthier, but you’re also gonna get some other amazing benefits that actually don’t really have anything to do with health but that are gonna be just life benefits as well.
Maya Nahra, RD: Yes. I will … This whole outcomes and results page that you’re going through, Dr. Parke, I will put it all … I’ll have a link and I’ll put it in the down low … a link to download that you can just click and download-
Dr. Emily Parke: Perfect.
Maya Nahra, RD: … in the comment section. Remember to.
Dr. Emily Parke: That’s amazing. No, that’s really good. I think it’d be great for people to actually look over the entire statistics page. That’s awesome. So is there anything else you want to share with us about the specifics on the habit and behavior change curriculum?
Maya Nahra, RD: Not specifics other than I’m very if … You know me, but I certainly … People that don’t know us yet, Nuuaria yet, and it’s … We’re very positive in nature and that is by design.
Maya Nahra, RD: And if there’s only one thing I have to say to you is that if you have been feeling bad or not as optimal as you can your whole life, I just need you to know and need you to hear that your habits are not your destiny. That whatever you do now in behavior, thought, and emotion is not … It just has made up a current story of today and it does not need to be your tomorrow. You can change your health by changing your habits in all areas today. It is real and possible as much as your brain tells you it’s a lie and it’s not possible. I’ve watched it for years and I’m sure you’ve seen the same thing.
Dr. Emily Parke: Yeah, absolutely. So in summary, because I wanna make sure people understand the different offerings. The habit and behavior change curriculum that includes health coaching, there’s three different packages that you have. There’s a three-month, a six-month, and a 12-month. And I will say, you guys, from lots of experience with patients, that six months is probably about the minimum, I would say, for habit and behavior change, really, truly. You can make it somewhere in three months, but six months is probably the minimum of true change. So those are labeled in three-, six- and 12-month packages.
Dr. Emily Parke: And then there’s the basic or standard health coaching, which you’re not getting all the habit and behavior change curriculum, all of the things outside of the one-to-ones, but Maya and Kristen are trained in habit and behavior change so they’re gonna share some of those strategies with you in your basic health coaching. You’re just not going to get all the extras, like the online curriculum, the office hours that are weekly support sessions, the journey mentor program and the online curriculum. Those are things that are just specific to the habit and behavior change curriculum.
Dr. Emily Parke: But the basic health coaching, adding that on to functional medicine, we have that available in three-visit, five-visit, and seven-visit packages. And those mirror exactly the functional medicine packages that I have. There are three-, five- and seven-visits, and the three-visit is for someone who requires about three months of care. The five-visit package is for someone who requires about six months of care, and the seven-visit is for someone who requires about 12 months of care.
Dr. Emily Parke: Now, the reason the numbers of visits in that aren’t like three, six, and twelve is because there are treatment programs that we’re going through and, for example, I might need to treat someone with a … for a program that for something, a disease process, an illness, for eight to 12 weeks, so nothing’s going to change as far as my treatment plan. I might not need to see them back for two or three months. Well that’s a big chunk of time and so that’s why you might not necessarily fit into exactly six months.
Dr. Emily Parke: But people have up to a year, 12 months from time of purchase of either one of our packages, to actually use all the visits. But that’s why with the health coaching packages and with the functional medicine packages why I don’t cookie cutter people into having to use all those visits in a certain time frame. Because if there’s something we’re gonna treat for two or three months, cool. I’m gonna send them on their way, but they might use more health coaching during that time. Right? Like they might need you guys to really help with follow-through on the specific nutrition plan, on the specific strategies so that they are meditating on a daily basis, they’re exercising, they’re … you know?
Dr. Emily Parke: So I like to leave some variation, some openness so that both of us can … And same thing for you. If you find a client’s doing really well and they’re rocking their plan, you might give them some extra space. Right? Like you might let them check it out and see how they do and then follow up with them later. So our programs are very flexible and I will determine when I need to see my patients back and you’ll determine when you need to see your patients back, and it’s a team effort. We decide those things together with the patient.
Maya Nahra, RD: Absolutely. It’s highly individualized. So it’s … yeah, it’s nice to have … It’s a collaboration, you have a team in your corner. And it’s obviously unlike any medical approach that most of us are used to.
Dr. Emily Parke: Right? Yeah, I know. The traditional medicine approach does not have habit and behavior change anything. The visits are so short and they send people out the door and there’s no thinking of the root causes or the why, how did they get there in the first place, and they are certainly not giving patients tools for their toolbox so that they can succeed with the limited time.
Maya Nahra, RD: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Emily Parke: … like you are with health coaching.
Maya Nahra, RD: Absolutely. Yeah, can I mention the 15s?
Dr. Emily Parke: Yeah, please.
Maya Nahra, RD: Would that be helpful? Cool. So if anyone is interested, of course, as Dr. Parke mentioned, we have the health coaching, the basic health coaching, integrated into Arizona Wellness Medicine functional medicine packages so that’s helpful.
Maya Nahra, RD: If you wanna learn more about the habit and behavior change program, that’s something that you’re interested in, I’ll put in the comment section below too. I am available for … they’re 15-minute consults. They’re all via phone. You can go … You can call, email, or text me to get that scheduled. You can actually go online to schedule that as well, so I’ll make sure that I put that link for you below.
Maya Nahra, RD: So if you want to learn more about the program, if you wanna speak with me directly, this is your opportunity to do it. So just go online, book a 15 with me, and we’ll get on and chat about it more.
Dr. Emily Parke: Perfect. Awesome. Well, Maya, thank you so much for joining me this afternoon to kind of go over all the details on the differences of the health coaching packages that we have. And health coaching generally, you guys, is gonna make your healthcare plan way more effective. So it brings tremendous value to your health for long-term follow-through.
Maya Nahra, RD: Absolutely. Yeah, thank you for your time, Dr. Parke. Appreciate it. Have a good rest of your afternoon.
Dr. Emily Parke: Thank you, you too.
Maya Nahra, RD: All right. Bye guys.
Dr. Emily Parke: Bye.