Encouraging your patients to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle for weight management is a crucial wellness strategy, but these conversations can be challenging. Here are some practical suggestions on how you can frame healthy lifestyle conversations and offer easy-to-implement suggestions that patients can use immediately.
Have you experienced resistance when asking patients to increase their level of physical activity? Patients may become more motivated to make changes if you can help make what seems insurmountable to them into a simple and enjoyable experience.
Share with your patients that they don't need to join a gym or be on a sports team to make small, incremental steps toward increasing physical activity levels. Here are some tips you can share during a fitness dialog with your patients.
Once you've helped a patient develop a plan, schedule a follow-up visit in three to four weeks to evaluate progress and modify the plan to increase the level of activity, or change the type of activity.
Setting goals is a key part of improving health through better fitness. Unfortunately, most patients either haven't considered setting fitness goals, or have unrealistic goals with no action plan.
Chances are, your efforts to help patients improve their diets or increase their physical activity levels are sometimes met with resistance. Patients often feel that they can't change. They've tried to lose weight in the past and ended up frustrated and disappointed.
Some patients find they improve their fitness when they worked toward emotional well-being goals prior to setting nutrition and physical activity goals. Success in meeting an emotional well-being goal can boost patients' confidence and motivation to set and achieve fitness and healthier eating goals.
Permanent weight loss requires permanent lifestyle changes. Patients who have emotional issues, such as anxiety, depression, or stress may need to work on those problems before trying to lose weight. Patients who achieve success in emotional well-being goals may feel motivated to make changes in other areas of their life.
Many of your patients may be overwhelmed by the recommendations in thePhysical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which include at least one hour of physical activity each day for children and up to five hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week for adults. Remind your patients that any activity is better than none. Help them set realistic goals. A beginning goal might be as basic as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking for five to 10 minutes after dinner each night. Help patients select activities they are likely to keep doing.
Patients can track their activity level over time by recording in a journal what they do on a daily basis. Have your patients bring their journals to each visit, and celebrate small successes with them. Emphasize that the purpose of the journals is awareness, not judgment. Let your patients know that using a journal is a proven way to achieve success in changing behavior, losing weight, and cultivating a healthier lifestyle.
Keeping a food and activity journal can also be a way to address emotional well-being. In the journal, patients record what they eat each day and how they feel. This can help patients understand how their emotions affect what they eat. It can teach them not to reach for food in order to deal with stress or other emotions. Patients should also be encouraged to set small, achievable goals related to their emotional well-being, such as spending five minutes each morning in prayer or meditation, or having lunch with a friend once a week.
Quantity and quality of sleep can affect emotional well-being. Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. People tend to sleep more lightly and for shorter periods as they age. About half of all people over 65 years of age have frequent sleeping problems, such as insomnia. Inadequate sleep creates a "sleep debt" that eventually must be repaid. Signs of sleep deprivation include daytime drowsiness (including drowsiness during boring activities), or falling asleep within five minutes of lying down.
Too little sleep results in an inability to concentrate. It can also impair memory, physical performance, judgment and reaction time. People who chronically suffer from a lack of sleep -- either because they do not spend enough time in bed or because they have an untreated sleep disorder -- are at greater risk of developing depression.
During deep sleep, activity is drastically reduced in parts of the brain that control emotions, decision-making processes and social interactions. This suggests that adequate deep sleep may help maintain optimal emotional and social functioning.
Those who experience sleep deprivation have decreased levels of leptin and increased levels of ghrelin in their blood. Leptin signals to the brain that the body has enough to eat. Ghrelin stimulates hunger and food intake. It is hypothesized that decreased leptin levels and increased ghrelin levels stimulate overeating.
Help your patients improve their sleep and their emotional well-being by offering these tips: