Skip to main content

Abbott Northwestern Hospital

Health coaching

Removing the barriers to better health

Molly Ellefson poses in front of gym equipment.

Molly Ellefson is one of the integrative health and wellness coaches at the Penny George Institute's LiveWell Fitness Center. "People often know what they need to do for better health, but they have trouble putting it into practice. My job is to help them put knowledge into action," said Ellefson.

Anita F. knew what it took to lose weight. After all, she had shed 90 pounds. But that was before her husband's job loss and related challenges.

Before long, Anita had regained 70 pounds. She kept trying to lose weight, "but I could not get the ground under my feet to make long-term changes," she said.

Last year, Anita refocused her efforts — with the help of a wellness coach at the Penny George™ Institute for Health and Healing's LiveWell® Fitness Center.

She worked with Molly Ellefson, one of four certified integrative health and wellness coaches at LiveWell, located on the Abbott Northwestern Hospital campus. The coaches all have advanced degrees in counseling or other health-related areas and have completed an evidence-based wellness coaching certification program.

Wellness coaches begin by having clients complete a comprehensive wellness inventory. They listen to gain a deep understanding of barriers to change and help clients develop achievable goals.

"One of the biggest mistakes is trying to make changes that are too big and too fast," said Ellefson. "Another one is all or nothing thinking — if I can't spend an hour in the gym, it's not worth going."

Anita started with drinking more water and eating more protein. "Instead of just focusing on removing the negatives, Molly helped me focus on adding the positives," said Anita. "As you add positive behaviors, the negatives drop off."

Having a regular phone call scheduled with Ellefson helped Anita stay on track. "I knew that call was coming, so that made me accountable."

A year later, Anita had lost 52 pounds. "I'm even back in college," she said. "I never would have had the confidence to handle that before."