Skip to content

A weight-loss win with wellness coaching

Kaiser Permanente wellness coaching helps individuals meet goals on weight, tobacco cessation, stress management, healthy eating, and physical activity. Pictured, Linda Harkins, before her weight loss and then after losing 60 pounds.

A year ago, when Linda Harkins from Lodi looked in the mirror, she didn’t recognize herself. She knew she didn’t want to be at her current weight in 5 years when she would turn 80.

In the last few years since her husband Jack died, Harkins had been carrying 280 pounds on her 5-foot-8-inch-frame.

“I remember thinking that after Jack passed, I would probably lose weight,” Harkins said. “Instead, it went the other way. “

When she reached out to her primary care physician about her health concerns, including possible diabetes, he prescribed medication and referred Harkins to the Kaiser Permanente wellness coaches for support.

Losing 60 pounds in 6 months

In August 2023, she met Christina Yang, a Kaiser Permanente wellness coach, and met with her regularly over 6 months.

With the help of wellness coaching, Harkins lost 60 pounds by the time her session concluded in January of this year. She wants to lose another 25.

“I had a real connection with my coach. In a nonjudgemental way, Christina encouraged me to talk about my feelings,” Harkins said. “She has been a very important part of my journey.”

Kaiser Permanente wellness coaching is a no-cost membership benefit that helps individuals meet wellness goals. Goals can include healthy weight, quitting tobacco, stress management, healthy eating, and physical activity.

A total of 44,365 Kaiser Permanente members in Northern California met with wellness coaches in 2023. Smoking and weight are the top reasons people, such as Harkins, seek out coaches.

Wellness Coaching Co-Lead Nicole Curiel noted, “Many patients attempt to meet their New Year resolutions without a plan or support, then in the spring when the humble acknowledgment comes, the coaches see an uptick in people reaching out for help.”

A small-step approach

Each member enrolled in the program gets 6 sessions over the phone. The coaches hold master’s degrees in a variety of disciplines, such as psychology, nutrition, and health education.

“We recognize that each patient is unique and has individual needs. No 2 people are identical, and with our small-step approach, members feel incredibly supported and can achieve their goals,” Curiel said.

Nicole Curiel, wellness coaching co-lead

Coaches use various techniques to explore the thoughts and feelings that may have kept members from achieving their goals. “This supportive partnership between members and coaches empowers people to create a plan, set achievable goals, and build on steps for long-term success,“ Curiel said.

Yang added: “Wellness coaching is a highly collaborative process that can involve relearning and releasing old habits that no longer serve us. Motivational interviewing is a therapeutic technique that strengthens motivation and commitment to change through partnership, absolute worth, compassion, and empowerment.”

Harkins started wellness coaching at the beginning of her weight-loss journey. She scheduled a session every 3 weeks, paying attention to events that may be triggering, like family gatherings and other celebrations where food would be involved.

Yang helped Harkins build new skills to disrupt deeply rooted patterns that led to her weight gain. One strategy was, “just a few chips.” She used to buy a big chip bag and hope she didn’t eat them all. Now, Harkins buys the smallest bag, eats 4 or 5 chips, and throws the rest away.

She developed a new consciousness of her food habits. Harkins said she feels spiritually fed.

“It’s no longer about cookies and ice cream. It’s about apples, little, tiny apples. I’m taking care of myself. I like it!” 

To honor her success, Harkins had a ring made for herself.

“I see my ring, and it reminds me of my success and the team that helped me get here.  I’ve had many kinds of health insurance, and KP is the way to go. The program is fantastic.”

Members can schedule a wellness coaching phone appointment by going to or calling 866-251-4514. Appointments are available Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no additional cost to members.


exercisenutritionsmoking cessationTotal Healthweight loss

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Comments Disclaimer

Many articles and features on Look insideKP Northern California offer readers the opportunity to share their opinions about a specific topic by making comments. Please do not include any confidential information in your comments, such as personal, medical, or financial information. Comments should be respectful and on-topic. We reserve the right to edit comments as necessary, will only post comments meeting our criteria, and in some instances reserve the right to not post comments. Thank you.

Back To Top

Don't miss out on stories from Look InsideKP
Northern California

Opt in to receive story headlines weekly.