Life style management is a concept that applies equally to athletes and exercise participants alike we all need to manage our lifestyles. It can be the case that problems that we have in are performance domain stem from our general lifestyle or that we can make improvements in our performance domain through changes in our lifestyle. Many athletes go to Sport Psychologists expecting mental skills training, expecting to enhance their concentration to become super confident, when actually what happens in reality is that they are made effective lifestyle managers and the effective lifestyle management eventually enables them to engender the right mind set in a competitive situation.
So what do we mean about lifestyle management, we mean people get enough sleep, people have the right nutrition, people organise their activities so that their not stressed running from activity to activity, it has to do with scheduling your training it has to do with keeping appointments and having the right sort of support staff, it means getting the right dynamic with other people around you, all these issues come under the banner of lifestyle management.
For example if I discuss weight loss as an example in case.
Let’s say you’ve got a recent exercise participant who has just initiated a program of exercise let’s also imagine that they are obese and that their goal is to reduce their body fat by 5 or 6% over the next year and to reduce their weight by 5-6 KG which is a fairly typical goal for somebody coming in who is clinically obese. They may well engage in an exercise program that you prescribe to them three or four days a week but there will be a whole series of lifestyle issues that you would need to address in addition to the exercise program to ensure that they gained maximum benefit from the activities they engage in. So let’s just go through some of those to give you an idea to what lifestyle management is all about.
To begin with you need to schedule their exercise program and if you are working with somebody who is obese it’s most efficacious and advantageous to schedule the exercise early in the morning so that the metabolic rate is raised and the energy expenditure is greatest throughout the main part of the day because if you have it towards the end of the day they might have problems sleeping, binge eat towards the end of the day etc. So it’s probably best that they do most of their early activity early on. Ideally just before breakfast, first thing in the morning, do the training and then have a healthy breakfast. This maybe difficult in actuality particularly if people have families but it is really ideal to do it that way to raise the metabolic rate early in the morning. Their mood will not be optimal in the morning, the lowest stress main levels and the most optimal moods are often mid to late afternoon, however the effect of the exercise on the body’s metabolism of energy is positive and it will have a good long term effect on their health maintenance. It’s good habit to get into because you haven’t got other people around you also to impact on what you are doing.
In following this routine you have helped to manage their lifestyle by scheduling their activity and also making time for the activity with their daily routine, people who are obese and have weight problems often minimise their importance that they attach the physical activity, although they have every intension to do it, it gets squeezed out of their daily program of activities so to help them manage to create time especially for that and to make that time sacrifice so that other things can’t implement on it or can’t impact upon that or indent the time that they have available.. Therefore scheduling, you need to consider how they organise their meals around the exercise program. Moderating other lifestyle activities such as going out drinking at night, talking in a lot of empty calories, smoking, having a late night so you can’t train the next day. Organising so they have their kit with them at times they need to train, that’s another excuse, “oh I haven’t got my kit with me” or “have to go shopping”, you see everything needs to be scheduled to an extent in order to make time for exercise.
This process is greater enhanced if they schedule it for themselves. At the point where you really start to impose on them you take away ownership, you reduce their self determination and make it less likely that they adhere. If they come up with a solution, but they also write it down and have a set timetable they are more likely to adhere to that than what you may impose upon them. You need to get significant others involved as well. These people need a lot of social support they need to inform other people in their families that they are trying to loose weight so they are giving appropriate support and not giving cakes or sugaring drinks and so on and so forth and not comforted with food as a lot of parents do for their children. If children play up or want to reward them they give them sugaring foods.
The implementation of lifestyle management takes careful planning. For all of these things to work you need to have fairly frequent contact with these people, leaving them to their own devises for three or four months. They need regular stimulus to engage in positive lifestyle behaviours otherwise the negative lifestyle behaviours that they had before will creep in and there easy because everybody does and most people are unhealthy, most people drink in this country a lot of people don’t exercise, we have increasing rates of obesity, we have very stressful work lives, there are a lot of pressures for people not to exercise and the pressures not to exercise are often greater than the pressure to exercise. Therefore it is important to see improvements. Positive results can help habitual activity, on the same token when people don’t see big improvements immediately that can also be very off putting so you’ve got to get these people in for the long term and make them realise that to make big changes it’s a big long term commitment it won’t happen in a month or two months it can take two or three years.
Links to healthy eating books: