Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lifestyle Modifications and Behavior Change

As a Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant I must wear many hats. Not just as a coach, cheerleader and friend, but a guide. Changing ones behaviors is not simple. If it were, there would not be overweight and obesity issues today! If all a person needed to do was modify their behaviors to promote weight loss, they should lose weight, right? It's the old adage, "I know what I'm supposed to do....but I just can't seem to do it."

Our lifestyles have evolved over many years, and those behaviors work for us. It's comfortable to get up every morning make bacon, eggs and biscuits for breakfast if you've been eating that for the last 20 years. Going out with your friends for drinks and pizza every Friday may have been your thing since college. Your family expects you to make the best macaroni and cheese, homemade cakes and casseroles every year because that's just what you do. Lots of times we cannot make those changes very easily.

Lifestyle Coach to the rescue! It's my job to guide you through some lifestyle changes. To do that, I must try and understand you. If a client's cultural background is different from mine, I need to know about their diets and traditions, belief system and family structure. I cannot simply say, well eat less, if you come from a traditional family structure where everyone is overweight because the quantities of foods they eat (think of Filipe and Sione on Biggest Loser).

I liked this statement from my textbook: "For LWMC who have never had a weight problem, identifying with overweight or obese clients may be difficult. Clients do not want to be judged or criticized, especially by someone who just doesn't understand." It goes on the say LWMCs must learn more about the experiences of overweight people through a listing of books in that chapter. While I have been overweight, even 2-3 pounds from being obese, I think it's important for me to really study this dynamic. I want to be able to truly help each and every client. I don't want my clients to think just because I am thin now I don't get it. Trust me I get it!!

As a guide, it's my job to guide clients through their own lifestyle changes. You must set weight loss as well as lifestyle/behavior goals. Most people want to just focus on the weight loss. Not me! I try and stress that behavior changes are most important at the beginning. Behavior change: walk 10 minutes a day. Behavior change: take the stairs instead of the elevator. Behavior change: stop drinking soda. Small things in the whole scheme of things. Little many goals. Start a streak with these things before you even look at the scale!

I knew a co-worker who drank 6 cans of Pepsi a day!!! Wow! I asked her if she even considered diet Pepsi. Of course not. But even if she was to switch to Diet Pepsi, 6 cans a day, that would be an improvement. Then I would get her down to 3 a day, even 1, and of course none. Clients must be able to stick to these behavior changes, so many times they have to be gradual. And new behaviors they are adopting should require as little self-control as possible so that they can become habits as quickly as possible.

Sometimes our environment dictates whether or not we overeat or exercise. I was explaining to my kids last night on our walk, that in college, you can go to the cafeteria and it's like an all-you-can-eat-buffet. You can eat as many hamburgers and fries, pizza, soda, chips, cookies, whatever that you want. I didn't explain the "freshman 15" to them, that also includes limited or no physical activity, quick access to fast food, little or none of the good foods, vending machine junk food, late night study sessions with junk food, eating at irregular times, and I'm not even going to touch the major alcohol consumption (not me!). I lived next to a pizza place on one side and Taco bell on the other when I moved off campus. It didn't get any better! (I should note that I never gained in college, I lost--being a picky eater pays off!)

Or you may not have access to any gym near you and stay in a small apartment were there is no room to get much exercise in. EXCUSES!! I mean, I understand, but still excuses. Leslie's Sansones WATP does not require much space at all. Stretching and lifting some hand weights takes no space. And the vast outdoors--come on! One of the first steps to take in changing your lifestyle in "cleaning up" your immediate environments at home AND at work. Get rid of all high-calories, low-nutrition, fattening foods and purchase fresh fruits and veggies, low cal snacks, bottled or flavored water and proper cooking utensils so that you cook more and eat out less. Keep healthy foods at work as well to avoid going to a vending machine or eating those cookies from the break room (this note is to myself!) Invest in a couple of workout DVDs, some exercise clothes, small hand weights, good tennis shoes and get to moving!

So now you know what to do...why can't most of us just do it!! That's a whole other issue I may have to blog about real soon. Key words though: emotions, stress, habit, self-control, lack of support, challenge, and fear. Did I hit them all? Probably not. I'll have to come back and blog on why we don't do what we're supposed to do (I'm still learning). And I fall into one of those categories as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment