lifestyle management and personal improvement of diet, exercise, weight loss and more George Mason University



Self Improvement and Lifestyle Management


This page describes how to make lasting improvements in your lifestyle. For  example, it can help you exercise more, lose weight, keep to your low  carbohydrate or low fat diet, or make numerous other personal improvements.   You make the resolution and we help you get there in the short run and stay  there for the long run.  Interested? 

The techniques we use is based on continuous quality improvement, a well know  method of improving organizations.  We apply the concepts of continuous  quality improvement to personal improvement and lifestyle change. In the end, you not only get to make important improvements in your lifestyle, you also  get to learn more about  process improvement.

To get started, listen to "Restructuring Your Life" and read the introduction to Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program book.  Listen Read►

Does it Work

There are no guarantees.  Your success will depend on a number of  factors, including how difficult the task is and how willing you are to modify  your environment.  Success will also not happen overnight.  It will  take several weeks and you would need to keep at it for a while.  In  particular, you would need to actively engage in cycles of problem solving to improve your lifestyle.  But it is important to ask what has been the  experience of others with this approach.   You can see a summary of their experiences to date. More

Step by Step Guide to Self Improvement


To make lasting changes in your life, follow these steps:  


Enroll .   Before you proceed, you need to be aware of the information we collect about you (e.g. did you succeed in getting to your resolution) and the risks and benefits you face by participating in this activity.    Please print the form and physically sign and send it by facsimile to 703 993 1953.  Consent►
Make a resolution.    Decide what is it that you want to accomplish and why.  Some   examples include improving diet, weight loss, increasing exercise, improved fitness, more leisure time, and so on.  If you are thinking of a diet change, please consult a clinician. When you are ready, let us help you start your�storyboard More►

To think through your resolution, use Figure 1 in Chapter 1 in the book: Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program. Read►

Put together a team.  Even though the goal of   lifestyle management focuses on you and how you can make personal   improvements, the solution is likely to involve "process owners,"    people who live with you and who help you carry out daily living   activities.  You can start by reading about how to organize and  maintain an improvement team in Chapter 4 of the book Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program.   When you are ready, test if the person you have in mind is a process owner by completing Table 1 in Chapter 1 of the book Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program.  Read► 
Describe life processes.   Take a scientific approach to accomplishing your resolution.  Start   by understanding your habits and events that trigger them.  Make   sure you are aware of how you live and how various parts of your life   are interconnected.  You can learn how to use lists and flow charts to describe your life style by reading Chapter 5, and completing Table 3 and Figure 2 in Chapter 1 of the book Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program.  See examples of system changes introduced by others.  Read► Examples►
List possible changes & change your environment. Make sure that you come up with more than one solution.  Wait and do not rush into a decision.  Select several solutions at once and bring about multiple changes in your environment.  Keep in mind that we are   looking for system solutions and not a renewed or increased effort.  We want you to succeed by changing your environment and not your motivation.   Read about system change in chapter 3 and check if your solutions are system changes by completing Table 4 in the book Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program.   Make sure that you include the scores for system change in your personal improvement storyboard.  Read►
Monitor progress.   You need data to see if changes you have introduced have led to   improvement.  Learn about data collection and analysis in Chapters 6 of the book Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program.  If you relapse to old habits, keep asking yourself what led to it and what needs to change to reduce future relapses.  Make sure you include your control chart in the personal improvement storyboard.  Read►
 Engage in cycles of improvement. Plan for, do, check and act   again.  Go through cycles of changing your environment and checking to see if it has led to better lifestyle.  For more details see workbook in Chapter 1 of the book Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program.   Read►
Tell your story. As you go on, publicly report your progress to your improvement team.  Make storyboard about your progress.  At the end of the semester, hand in your narrated personal improvement storyboard to the instructor.  Storyboard►   
See guide on how to post narrated videos to the web.  Video►  SWF  You Tube► 

Once done with making the change and monitoring your progress, please tell us if it worked for you? More►

Workbook for Lifestyle Management

If your goal in personal improvement is to to lose weight and exercise more, you can find the workbook specially helpful in getting there.  It addresses lifestyle management step by step.  It tells what you need to do, when should you do it and why you should take specific steps.  It includes several forms and tools helpful in organizing your thoughts and actions.  Print out the book Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program or order it through the publisher.  Print► Buy►

The workbook has been around for a while now, as a consequence many different versions are on the web.  The latest version focuses on diet and exercise and is part of the above book.  If this is not helpful, check the original workbook .  You can read the workbook in other languages.  You can also read a published version.   Original Arabic Swedish Chinese Abstract  Full text

Examples of Lifestyle Changes

Elementary students learn more,
are more active and lose weight
if they stand in classes

A computer analyst
solves back problems
by working while standing

Before you set out to make your own journey, check some examples of how  others have gone through the same process:

See examples for increasing exercise and activity 

See examples in weight loss and diet 

See examples in other life style changes

  • Clean house faster   The frequency of accumulation of clutter was reduced.  Includes analysis of routines, purchase of new equipment, re-arrangement of shredder, changes in schedule and more. 

  • Save money and reduce ATM use  The frequency of ATM use was reduced.  Includes organization of improvement team, list of possible solutions, scoring of options (systemic change or personal effort), and a control chart. 

  • Get to work on time.  Number of occasions of delay in arriving to work was reduced.  The personal improvement includes a flow chart of current events that cause the delay, a list of motivation based options and environment change options, scoring of extent of systemic change, data collected over the course of the semester, and a control chart analysis of the data.

  • Stress reduction The workbook was used to develop a model of how stress occurs.  Regression analysis was used to link various factors leading to stress

  • Reduce television viewing by scheduling work. 

  • Better study habits  Includes use of control charts, flow charts & lists.  See an example with�rescheduling house work and vacation .   It includes a control chart showing impact of the interventions on study habits.  See another example in Norwegian.

  • Reducing obsessive compulsive behavior:  Includes moving average chart of data, detail process chart and system changes

  • Increasing flossing.  Includes time-in-between charts and changing the environment by putting reminders around

  • See an example in reducing the frequency of use of snooze button (example includes use of control charts as well as list of routines and scores for systemic change)

  • See an example of increasing water intake.  The example includes use of list of routines, scoring of systemic changes, data collection and analysis of data through control charts:

  • See an example of improving a high school student's grades by changing his home environment:

Presentations Related to Lifestyle Change

Use any of these to review the steps described in the workbook:

  1. Introduction to personal improvement (see slides or listen to "Restructuring your life" )

  2. How to analyze and display your data (see slides or listen to narration )

  3. Dr. Pawloski's lecture on weight loss strategies (see slides )

Narrated slides require Flash.

More Resources for Self Improvement

  1. See a tutorial on what is diabetes
  2. News about diabetes. 
  3. Diabetic diet
  4. Effect of Atkin's diet on patients with diabetes Short term use of the Atkins' diet resulted in weight loss and improvement in glycemic and lipid control in patients with DM and was well tolerated."  Library membership is required for downloading this article.
  5. For more information on treatment, diet and other aspect of diabetes, click here.
  6. This page on life style management is also available tailored to the needs of  diabetes patients.
  7. Roberts HV & Sergesketter "Quality is Personal" is an extraordinarily useful approach to improving everyday work (and life). Roberts is on the faculty of the University of Chicago School of Business, where for years he has used CQI to improve education. This book is a straightforward guide to using CQI to clear off your desk, keep your family happier, make your life easier.
  8. For abstracts of recent papers on continuous personal improvement click here
  9. Efficacy and safety of low carbohydrate diets  Authors reviewed the literature and found that no conclusive evidence for or against the safety of low-carbohydrate diets.  They found that weight loss while using low-carbohydrate diets was principally associated with decreased caloric intake and increased diet duration.
  10. Review of cardiovascular risk factors and what works in risk reduction (library membership required).
  11. Benefits of exercise for weight loss.  Randomized trials consistently show benefits of exercise for weight loss, but the effects are often modest.

Remember the link to this page as . This page describes how to improve your  lifestyle.  Improvement examples include but are not limited to: exercise, weight loss, diet, and other personal changes. This page is part of the course on quality.  For more information contact  Farrokh Alemi, Ph.D. Copyright © 1996. Created on Friday, September  20, 1996. Most recent revision09/09/2008.   To link back to this page please use these  HTML code.