At Work

Starting off the New Year on the right foot with life coach Denise Lewis.

At Work

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By Polly Sparling


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‘Tis the season for making New Year’s resolutions. From losing weight to switching careers, certified coach and lifestyle specialist Denise Lewis of New You Coaching in LaGrangeville gives Valleyites a leg up in achieving those elusive personal objectives.

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Tell me about your qualifications.

I’m a certified wellness coach through a company affilitated with the American College of Sports and Medicine. I also have certifications in nutrition, in lifestyle and weight management, and from the American Cancer Society’s tobacco-free program.


What attracted you to this type of work?

I worked in the medical field on the administrative side, but I always wanted to help people. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up when someone actually suggested that I hire a life coach. In working with her, I realized “Wow, I would be a great coach, and I’d love to do that.”


What types of problems do you help your clients with?

We like to call them challenges. I work with clients on improving their business, losing weight, changing careers or transitioning into retirement, reducing stress, managing a chronic illness, or on how to feel better about themselves. In all of these situations, it always ends up being about wellness and balance — taking better care of yourself and living a healthier, happier life.


What happens when a potential client calls?

First we engage in a conversation, and decide if this is a good fit for both of us. The client then fills out a comprehensive questionnaire and sends it back to me. The first session is 90 minutes long and I help the client create a vision of what it is they want for themselves. We come up with a set of goals. Then we work on the specific obstacles that might prevent you from acheiving those goals, and strategize action steps to take to overcome them. We would speak by phone weekly for about 40 minutes. Change takes time; people generally benefit by engaging with a coach for at least three to six months.


What types of people need a life coach?

We don’t say that people need coaching, but that everyone can benefit from it. The people who get the results they’re looking for are committed to the coaching process, which means showing up every week for your appointment, being open to developing our relationship so we can create synergy together, being open to new ideas, and being flexible. “Coachable” is what we call it. Coachable people are willing to see things differently or try new things — or just keep trying.


Do you give people specific advice?

To some extent. Coaches are trained to ask questions that will bring out the answers that the client already has. Our belief is that we all have the answers inside of us, but there are certain things that may block us. The coach’s job is to help release those blocks.


What’s the most difficult part of your job?

I love working with all my clients, but people will always give us challenges — if it was easy, they wouldn’t need coaching!  At some point any one of my clients can go through a period when they are struggling. I had a client who hit rock bottom a few weeks ago. If I wasn’t experienced enough, I’d think, “Well, it’s over, she’s not going to be successful.” The following week, she was fine. She just needed to take a break, and she’s back on track.


How do you get your clients through the rough patches?

I help them recognize their past successes. We look for the positive, what they are grateful for, even if it has nothing to do with the goals that we’ve set. That is often what turns them around.


We all make New Year’s resolutions. Why do we have such a hard time keeping them?

It’s motivation as opposed to inspiration. People get revved up, but then the motivation wears off and you’re back to your old ways. They hit one obstacle and say, “Forget it, I can’t do this.”  We also set unrealistic goals for ourselves.


Do you have any tips on how to keep those resolutions?

Create a plan. Take baby steps. Get support — a friend, a coach, whatever — and make a commitment. Think about the worst thing that could happen if you make a change. Life is too short. What do you want people to say about you after you’re gone? “Wow, she worked really hard” or “She did what she wanted to do.”

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