This blog began as a journal of a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Award visit to the USA to study how Lifestyle Redesign could be used in Occupational Therapy to improve the hospital/home interface for older people. It has continued to record developments and inspiration gained from that experience since returning from Los Angeles early in 2012.

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Friday, 3 February 2012

Weight Management- Physical Activity

Week 4 of 16 sessions. Chantelle, the OT leading the session, does not usually mention anything about the weigh-in that is done privately as people arrive. It is usually used as a chance to have a quick 'check in' with each participant and the print out slip is given to them for their own information with a copy retained by Chantelle for records. On this occasion every single person had lost weight and Chantelle congratulated them as a group for their efforts.
The topic this week moved away from food and food choices and habits to the subject of physical activity. In weeks 1-3, when discussing food choices, eating habits etc, the group had lots of ideas and came up with some very creative suggestions; it seemed that they could relate easily to the subject. My inpression was that talking about physical activity was much more difficult for many participants. Chantelle explained that physical activity does not only mean things like going to the gym but can include choosing things to make everyday life more active, such as using the stairs, doing a little light housework at a time you would usually lie on the couch watching TV. Barriers to physical activity included long commutes to work, fatigue, getting breathless and lack of time to fit exercise into daily routine.
The group brain stormed to try to think of things they had dome previously that they had enjoyed. It was striking that a number of people did not seem to have had any point in life when they had been physically active and it was difficult for them to see themselves becoming more active. Chantelle remained encouraging and focussed on individuals finding something that worked for them. Some had enjoyed dance exercise videos or the Wii Fit, some were staring to do a lunch time walk. Those who had already begun some form of exercise were mostly ready to increase it a little as their goal for this week, those who had not mostly chose to make a small start or to look into options that might work for them.
I felt that this session illustrated the concept in Lifestyle Redesign that occupation can create new visions of possible future selves. At present it seems that many of the group have no 'vision' of themselves as a person who had been enjoyably physically active in the past and are struggling to envision themselves in this role in future. This makes it difficult for them to make occupational choices that could promote health, and in this group, promote weight management. The process that the group sessions will take them through will help them to begin to envision new possible future selves and hopefully to feel able to make some sustainable changes.

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