In my clinical experience, unintended and unwanted weight changes are often a side effect of injury and/or the development of a chronic illness. This may be due to decreased activity levels, increased stress, poor sleep, changes in mood, medication side effects, and/or a change in eating habits as a coping response to a change in health. The resulting weight gain (or loss) usually adds stress to an already difficult change in health and function.
Pain, injury, and illness can also develop as a result of excess weight. And often, the two factors continue to encourage each other in a cycle (i.e. increased pain leads to decreased activity, which leads to weight gain and increased pain). I provide Lifestyle OT for Weight Management services for those with a medical diagnosis where weight management will improve the client’s ability to function and manage their condition.
As an occupational therapist, I have a unique approach to weight management with my clients. I address the lifestyle factors that are contributing to a client’s difficulty with weight management. By focusing on the client’s goals and learning what activities and life roles are meaningful to that client, we work together to develop a plan to incorporate more healthy behaviors so the client can participate fully in the areas of their life that have been impacted by the changes in their health.
Following a comprehensive evaluation, the client and I develop a treatment plan to address the lifestyle factors that are contributing to their struggle with weight management. These may include:
- Activity and exercise
- Eating habits and nutrition
- Stress management
- Time management
- Life balance
- Emotional barriers to making lifestyle changes
I have additional training and a special interest in working with clients who want to make changes to their eating habits to improve their health. This includes learning how to incorporate healthy eating in a practical and cost-effective way and making food choices that promote healing and encourage a healthy weight.
As an experienced health care provider, I stay grounded in the science of physiology and nutrition (not the latest diet fad) with a holistic approach that incorporates the physical, emotional, cultural, and practical aspects of eating. For clients who are working on weight management with their doctor or a dietician, I can assist in helping them to carry out the recommendations given by those professionals. I do not design meal plans or advise clients to follow a specific eating plan. But I can provide nutrition education and help clients to remove barriers to healthy eating and support them as they make changes to their diet.
My Health Coaching services can be utilized to explore healthy eating in more depth, but removing barriers to healthy eating through Lifestyle OT is a great place to start for many clients. So many aspects of our health start to shift when we change what, where, and how we eat.