The Future of Healthcare Is Health Coaching

Talking to patientI’ve been spreading the word about the primal lifestyle for over a decade now, and while the information on this blog and in my books has reached millions, I wonder how many of these millions have actually been able to live some version of a primal life consistently and confidently. My guess is, not as many as I’d like.

Of course not. Because changing the way we live, think, eat, move, is one of the greatest challenges of the human experience. Behavior change is TOUGH, my friends, but the future of the world’s health depends on it.

I’m watching more and more of my colleagues put out terrific, research-backed health information, and I’ve certainly been trying to do the same, but despite the growing wealth of knowledge available, Americans overall appear to be getting unhealthier.

I think it’s safe to say, it’s not because they don’t know better. It’s more likely because they don’t know HOW to apply the knowledge to their lives on a long-term basis. This is where health coaching comes in, and this is why I started the Primal Health Coach program.

How Healthy Are We?

You’re here for a reason. You’re interested in living a healthy lifestyle and are either looking deeper into the Primal Blueprint laws, or have been practicing them faithfully for while. You are an anomaly. You are a revolutionary. Congratulations!

If we look at America as a whole, however, we see a much different profile.

Eating habits: The typical American diet consists of way too much refined grains, added sugars, and trans fats. As of 2013, Americans ate fruit 1.1 times a day, and vegetables 1.6 times a day—far below standard dietary guidelines and Primal Blueprint recommendations. Do we know the importance of eating our veggies? Sure. But the average intake shows a gaping hole between knowing and doing. I’d love to blame it on the fact that there are twice as many fast food restaurants tempting us as there were in the 1970s, but we’re the ones pulling into the drive-thru and there’s accountability to be had.

Physical activity: We still aren’t moving as much as we should, even though fitness offers a new fad for exploration almost every day. Nearly 80% of adults aren’t meeting the Physical Activity Guidelines for both aerobic conditioning and strength training. And if we don’t move, we’re at a higher risk for life-threatening, chronic conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers.

Then there’s the obesity epidemic, which keeps rising steadily with each new estimate. A snapshot of fast facts from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2013–2014 says it best:

  • More than 1 in 3 adults were considered to be overweight.
  • More than 2 in 3 adults were considered to be overweight or have obesity.
  • More than 1 in 3 adults were considered to have obesity.
  • About 1 in 13 adults were considered to have extreme obesity.

We’ve been made well aware of the dangers of obesity-related conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. We also know the right lifestyle conditions can help stave off these preventable diseases. Still, the statistics climb unfavorably.

Unfortunately, much of America and the world aren’t following the Grok life and living in accordance with the 10 Primal Blueprint Laws. And education is just the first part of the solution.

Enter the Health Coach

To understand just how difficult behavior change is, as well as the necessity of health coaches, we merely need to look at the disastrous success rate of New Year’s resolutions, apropos for this time of year.

At the start of this year, Statistic Brain Research Institute surveyed 1,562 people to determine the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions of 2017. The #1 resolution was weight loss and healthy eating, with 21.4% of people surveyed making a rededication to their health.

It’s the end of the year, so let’s check in. How many of that 21% are still committed to their New Year’s resolutions as 2017 reaches an end? University of Scranton research suggests that just 8% of people stick to their New Year’s goals. So, that would be just 26 people out of 334, if Statistic Brain’s numbers are accurate. Either way, a very small number of people are successful when it comes to sticking with new eating, exercise, and lifestyle plans, even when they know what’s good for them, and even if they have a desire to change.

Health coaches have been trained to take that desire and turn it into value-based goals and corresponding actionable steps. They motivate, they inspire confidence, and they encourage self-awareness and accountability. Health coaches know how to actively listen, reflectively question, and build lasting behavior change that takes clients to the finish line of their goals and beyond. I’d bet that if more people had health coaches directing their desires, setting agendas, creating accountability, and fostering commitment, that 8% could easily become a solid 88%.

What’s especially exciting to me is that health coaching is a field fit for inspirers of all kinds, not just the scientifically inclined. You can pursue a career in wellness without having to go back to grad school and accrue debt. It helps people live healthier, and provides a prosperous living to those wanting more from a career.

Health Coaching in Action

phc_whiteonblue_simple_800x800Of all my professional endeavors, the Primal Health Coach program keeps me directly tapped into my global mission to transform the health of millions. I’m truly passionate about the work we’re doing. As the program continues to develop and grow, I’m getting an even clearer picture of how important health coaches are to the future of healthcare. I’d like to share this progress with you, my community of Primal enthusiasts—because it’s important information to have for personal edification and for those of you interested in sharing the Primal way of life with others. I think you’ll really appreciate how far we’ve come!

Let’s go back to the very beginning—2014. We’d made incredible strides in the ancestral health movement, but we were still on the outskirts and reaching only those who dared venture outside mainstream lines. We’ve woven a vast network of Primal devotees through Mark’s Daily Apple, changed hundreds of thousands of lives, but I didn’t want to plateau there. I wanted to help even more people take control of their health and well-being, especially in the face of a broken healthcare system and a cesspool of misinformation too readily available to the masses. Why not start a health coaching program centered on the Primal philosophy? And so I did.

The Primal Health Coach program kills several birds with one stone. By training a network of health coaches, I’m reaching far more people than I could alone, and I’m also helping others build the careers of their dreams. The growth of the network since 2014 has been amazing. Thousands of folks who are passionate about health and wellness have joined the program, and are embarking on careers that make a real difference in the world.


Our health coaches are going deep into the belly of the Primal Blueprint, learning the guts of evolutionary biology. It has been so incredibly rewarding to watch them take all they have learned and help others regain control of their health, circumventing the broken healthcare system and getting tremendous results.

Like Carolyn Coffin, physical therapist turned health coach:

The Primal Health Coach program is exactly what I needed to take my health coaching business to the next level. For the past 5 years, I’ve been health coaching without even realizing it’s a “thing,” but simply because I’ve felt a calling to do so. I’ve gone from feeling like an imposter to feeling like I belong in this amazing community of like-minded people who are on a similar mission. But most of all, I’m far more confident in my ability to create lasting change for my clients and finally enjoy a fulfilling and profitable career doing exactly what I love.

And Dana Leigh Lyons, Doctor of Oriental Medicine:

The Primal Health Coach program expanded my access to and credibility with people who embrace primal principles but who may not have considered holistic medicine, enhancing my practice and extending my professional reach. The modules offer a wealth of knowledge…plus expert guidance for turning that knowledge into a livelihood.

Then there are aspiring health professionals like Jeff Dougherty, who are launching into an entirely new field!

I started this adventure to simply further my education on this way of life. As a result I have become extremely passionate about helping people in their wellness journey. There is a massive amount of information online, and being able to help clients filter through the noise and focus on relevant steps toward achieving optimal wellness has been rewarding. This is not a fad! I am not a trainer, degreed nutritionist or gym manager. I am just a guy who loves helping people and this course has allowed me to pursue that dream.

We’re keeping close tabs on all our graduates. You can check out some of their success stories here.

While the course is self-paced and online, we’ve been very focused on community building and outreach, encouraging connections between students and graduates through our lively private Facebook groups and special events.

This year we took Primal Health Coach to Paleo f(x) and the CrossFit Games, co-hosted a Los Angeles Meetup, and held our Inaugural Masterclass, where a small select group of students and graduates joined me and Christine Hassler for a weekend retreat. We met at my house in Malibu and brainstormed the most effective ways to break down barriers and confidently move forward to the career of their dreams. I love being able to meet our students and grads in person. We had a blast, and I can’t wait to do it again in 2018.


The Inaugural Primal Health Coach Masterclass. Held at my home in Malibu, CA in July, 2017.

Speaking of 2018, we have big plans for next year, so if you’ve been thinking of exploring a career in health coaching, I recommend getting in now before the year’s end to lock in the existing rate.

I can’t unveil what’s coming in 2018 (yet) but I can tell you we’ve made significant investments to the program throughout 2017. We implemented a brand new learning center platform to improve the overall learning experience. We updated and expanded coaching coursework, so our grads not only have all the Primal knowledge they need, but also have the coaching expertise to communicate effectively with clients and inspire lasting transformation.

We also developed a brand new Business Resource Center to give our coaches all the tools required to build a successful business upon graduation.

Health Professional Michael Kaye summed his experience with the program up nicely:

The Primal Health Coaching program has been extremely helpful to me, my family and to my patients. The PHC program is an excellent gateway to those who want to begin their path in the health coaching field and the program is also a wonderful adjunct for the professional who would like to enhance their education as Mark provides excellent resource material and references to support his recommendations and concepts. I am currently enjoying their new business coaching module(s) as they provide you with forms, recommendations and guidance to building your coaching business. Since people have different learning styles (auditory, visual, etc.) Mark provides you with the ability to learn through recordings, video, and/or reading text material. Most importantly, I enjoy their Facebook community as everyone is willing to share their knowledge and experience. I look forward to growing my relationship with the Primal Health Coaching community and I am sure they will continue to provide additional guidance and new products to help not only ourselves but our clients as well.

Yes, Michael…we most certainly will! There’s a lot more on the horizon.

In the meantime, check out my webinar with Christine Hassler that’s all about how to make a lucrative living as a health coach. Just click here to sign up. If you think it’s a good fit, give us a ring at 844-307-7662 (or 310-579-6596) and join our community.

And if you need a coach of your own, don’t hesitate to contact one of ours. You can find the best of the best here to support you with your personal health and wellness goals—whatever they are. As always, thanks so much for your support and for a terrific year, everybody!


About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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10 thoughts on “The Future of Healthcare Is Health Coaching”

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  1. Great post! I am a full-time nurse practitioner doing traditional medicine (at the present time) and completed the Primal Health Coaching program almost a year ago. I do health coaching on the side and I love seeing the amazing transformations that are taking place in my clients. I have coached a variety of patients including moms, grandmas, fit Crossfit athletes, traveling business men and women, and others with a host of chronic and autoimmune diseases. Each of them have greatly benefited in some way by adapting a Primal lifestyle. Some have completely or almost completely resolved conditions such as IBS and arthritis. Health coaching allows you to work with them on a personal and individual level. The Primal Health Coaching program is very well structured and has ample resources to ensure success. There is a Primal Health Coach graduate Facebook page where we provide support and bounce ideas off of each other. I highly recommend considering becoming a Primal Health Coach if you want a rewarding career where lives are truly changed!

    1. Wow, Ryan sounds like you have a great background for this area. I am seriously contemplating pursuing this program myself. Thank you for the inspiration.

  2. A few thoughts after studying applied nutrition the last several years:

    1) Mainstream physicians neither study nutrition nor practice it on themselves.

    Most medical schools teach less than 25 hours of nutrition, which was the minimum standard adopted in the 1950s by the AMA. Many readers of this web site, and certainly its key contributor, study more than that in a month. Because nutrition is the causal factor in diseases of civilization such as obesity and diabetes — and their second-order effects such as psychiatric and endocrine disorders — physicians provide inappropriate solutions such as drugs and surgery. Consulting with a physician for anything other than trauma or acute infectious disease is a bit like taking a car to a bicycle repair shop.

    When we examine ancestral nutrition and traditional cuisine, it becomes apparent that these evolved not from biochemical theory, but by observing cause and effect in an environment of extreme survival challenges. Our ancestors learned what foods enabled them to travel the greatest distances, hunt the most dangerous animals, and recover from the most severe illnesses and injuries because they observed the effects of different foods on real-world performance while facing real-world consequences. Anyone who does not incorporate a similar level of feedback is unable to understand nutrition to the same extent as our ancestors.

    2) The key barrier to healthy behavior is time preference.

    Instincts get a bad rap for “forcing” us to overindulge, but the real determining factor is time preference: who prefers a small reward right now, and who prefers a much larger reward later? We observe that modern people have a real problem with high time preference in fields as diverse as debt, mate selection, exercise selection, drug abuse and housekeeping.

    Time preference is persistent and established very early in life, as the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment demonstrated, and reversing a lifetime of high time preference requires changing habits far beyond the gym and the kitchen.

    3) Economic incentives create a conflict of interest.

    When we sell products and services, we introduce incentives separate from the well-being of our clients.

    Weight Watchers, for example, is a $3 billion dollar enterprise precisely because it sets its clients up to fail. The medical, pharmaceutical, and agricultural industries are even more obvious in profiting from harm. This economic incentive to harm occurs at the individual level as well.

    We observe the best results from coaches who are incentivized not by money, but by a sincere desire to develop and test applications of nutrition and exercise in solving health problems.

  3. A few months ago, I changed doctors and medical groups. My old doc and medical group had saved my life several times. I’m thankful for that but they only seemed to want to keep me alive, not well.

    The new med group claims to stress wellness. The new doc claims to be into integrative medicine. I have not seen that. I asked the doc in a message about one wellness issue and he did not respond. I asked him in person and he brushed it off and changed the subject.

    At this point, I consider my chiropractor, who is studying to be a naturopath, to be my primary care physician.

    1. Harry, I feel your pain. I had gone to my “Integrative” MD for almost 10 years. He was brought on board by the health group, and paid a hefty salary, to cater to patients who wanted a more holistic approach. I watched and eventually suffered as conventional medical constraints grew ever tighter on his practice. He was frustrated, burned out, and frankly, not very good anymore. It got to the point where he was relying only on lab results, and brushing off concerns…even quantifiable ones like weight and girth…to my clear detriment. (I have long experience in medical lab, and prehospital critical care. It’s not like I am medically naive.)

      So I gave him the boot and found a functional medicine MD who was actually close by. Which was lucky, because my thyroid condition is complicated by pituitary under-function, and a conventional doc would have just screwed me up all over again. The new doc has made a careful investigation, found some problems which have been addressed, and I am finally back to feeling good.

      Long story short, “wellness” is very often a cash cow for docs and health groups who don’t really believe in it, or practice it. Patients get sucked into conventional medical practice under the guise of “wellness,” spend lots of money NOT getting well, and then blame integrative or complimentary treatments as bunk when they never received them all along.

      1. “Wellness is very often a cash cow for docs and health groups who don’t really believe in it, or practice it.”

        How true! More than ever, the bottom line in conventional medicine is profit, not wellness and good health. .

  4. I think the gap between knowledge a nd application is more likely to be lack of motivation and desire. True, the information is out there, and most people are smart enough to absorb it–but the skepticism is out there too. (I’ve seen it firsthand.) It’s human nature to think we can go our merry, unhealthy way and nothing bad will ever happen to us–until disaster strikes. Only then do we panic and reach out for help, even though the skepticism is still there..

    People need to realize that many if not most chronic issues can be halted and/or reversed, although probably not via most conventional care. (This, of course, is not what their doctor tells them.) Maybe the PHC program covers all this, but it seems to me that the real value of health coaching would be in finding ways to light that motivational fire and fan the flames vigorously, in whatever way is necessary, well before hints of impending disease become actual fact.

  5. LOVED checking in on MDA this evening and seeing this post…and then seeing myself quoted! Such an important message. Most of my clients already know what to do…but need support doing it. I so get it. And I love walking with them, along this path.

  6. Just curious about thoughts on the future of self employed health coaches trying to compete with companies offering DNA testing + individual food plans + coaching …

  7. This is dead on. I’m a semi-retired chiropractor with 17 years of experience. Though technically an alternative health care provider I was pretty mainstream. About 2 years ago my mind was opened and I began a new path. I’m finishing my primal health coach certification. It’s been both in depth and practical. More than anything it’s a practical gateway into a new understanding. There is so much really good research being done and being rediscovered. Coaching though, I think taps into a very primal tribal need. We need wisdom and accountability. We need someone activity in our lives helping us see the pitfalls and guiding us to greater and greater depth of understanding. Most physicians don’t do this. In years past I could be in and out of a consultation in 15 minutes, have you diagnosed and treated and on your way to pay your copay. Coaching is more intimate, personalized and relational.