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A Miami Moment with ... Melanie Lipps

09/27/2012

Melanie Lipps, left, celebrates with a friend she helped coach through a marathon run.
Melanie Lipps, left, celebrates with a friend she helped coach through a marathon run.
"A Miami Moment ... " is a Q-and-A column featuring Miami employees.

It's one of many successes, but Melanie Lipps remembers when Sara* called her with the beginning of a "healthy" story. Lipps, dietician, health coach and program coordinator in Miami University's employee wellness program, lives for those moments when lives change.

Q: What is a health coach?

A: I work through Miami’s employee benefits and wellness department providing nutrition information and coaching to Miami employees on topics like weight loss, stress, diabetes, hypertension and more. My coaching sessions are free to Miami employees as part of the employee wellness program. I am also certified through the American Lung Association to teach tobacco cessation classes. I also coordinate and plan wellness programming, including the fitness room at Phillips, which is free to employees. It’s important for Miami employees to know that health coaching and personal training sessions are completely confidential and any information shared during the sessions will be kept private.

Q: What is Sara’s story?

A: Weight loss for Sara had always been a struggle. Working with me she lost over 25 pounds in just a few months by incorporating exercise into her weekly regimen — at least three times a week, as well as recording her food on a weekly basis. She emailed me weekly to check in, sent me her weight and let me know how the week went. I kept her accountable for all she ate and her exercise regime. Having that accountability made it finally stick and she was, and still is, successful.

Q: What issue do you most discuss with employees?

A: Weight loss and weight management. Health coaching clients will tell me about when they were 18 years old and a size two. They want to get back to that size. We discuss reality and how we can change a few things to help make their lives healthier and fulfilling. We look at what they’re eating and whether it’s too much or not enough. I look at their habits, and we discuss obtainable goals. Clothes size or a number on the scale doesn’t matter as much as how you feel. Other top issues are diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure). I provide assistance to help individuals learn how to make healthy daily food choices. It is important to note that a health coach can assist with any health goal: We start with what you want to achieve and work from there.

Q: What’s the secret to success?

A: Accountability. That is what most people are looking for when it comes to following set plans. They want that scale in my office to hold them accountable. Most people also want to be reassured that they can talk to someone. Knowing that they are going through this step-by-step, but if they step over the line, they can talk to me about it. I always emphasize confidentiality and they know they can talk to me about their goals. The key is making small steps.

Q: You have some upcoming events to showcase the benefits of healthy nutrition. When and where are they? How did they evolve?

A: I get a lot of questions from employees about feeding children nutritious meals given the crazy, busy lives we all lead. I planned a special session on that topic. The family nutrition talk is scheduled for Oct. 11; Lunch Bunch sessions begin Oct. 18; and Healthy Holiday Nutrition Challenge runs from Oct. 31-Jan. 2. (See details below in the PDF attachment.)

Q: How do you incorporate exercise and nutrition into your day?

A: First, my mother raised me to be very health conscious. I’ve always been conscientious about what I eat and within moderation. I actually got sucked into becoming a runner. Most people think of running as a solitary sport. I became involved through social means; I began running for charity events. I met wonderful people, including my husband. I was hooked enough to not only run six marathons, but also to get certified and train others. It all goes back to my desire to help people change their lives.

*Fictional name to protect the privacy of the Miami employee.

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