lifestyle management and personal improvement of diet, exercise, weight loss and more for diabetic patients 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. 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:

  1.  In randomized clinical trials, among sedentary Persons Living with HIV patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease, the system change intervention reduced daily carbohydrate intake and body weight, but did not increase physical activity. PubMed►
  2. In randomized trial, among adults with multiple sclerosis or stroke, system change improved emotional well-being and healthy behaviors, but not weight loss.  PubMed►
  3. System change and automated activity tracking increased daily steps in older kidney recipients. PubMed►
  4. System change improved medication adherence for kidney transplant patients PubMed►

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 to your instructor.  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 you storyboard More►
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►
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► 

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►

Examples of Lifestyle Changes

Elementary students lose weight,
learn more,  if they stand in class More►


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:

Examples in Exercise and Activity 

  • See how kids joining a day care center affected mom's exercise time Storyboard► 
  • See how a vacation trip changed exercise patterns Storyboard► 
  • See how changing work shifts changed weight and exercise pattern Storyboard►
  • Exercise more by changing office location. Includes before and after control charts, system change, and more. Storyboard►
  • Exercise by walking the dog. Good example of Fishbone diagram and time between missed exercise days Storyboard► Another►
  • Exercise more by moving the exercise room from basement to nearby Storyboard►
  • Run at work Storyboard►
  • Exercise more and lose weight by setting a morning appointment with your partner. Storyboard►
  • Exercise more through setting kids schedule. A good example of listing daily routines and searching for environmental changes, includes control chart. Storyboard►
  • Exercise more by scheduling activities. Use of control chart led to 10 lbs. weight loss. Storyboard►
  • Exercise more by moving the television. Good example of list of routines and control chart. Storyboard►
  • Exercise more through redoing lunch routine. Includes list of routines and control chart. Storyboard►
  • See an example of how to improve use of treadmill through various cycles of interventions including moving of television, moving of exercise equipment, change in eating out habits, and change in cooking patterns. YouTube Storyboard► 
  • See a narrated example that includes making several systemic changes and using a control chart to track the impact on weight loss and exercise. YouTube Storyboard►

Examples in Weight Loss and Diet

  • See how shopping better led to less junk food. Good example of engagement of process owners. Storyboard►
  • Shifting weekend routines to week days led to 6 Lbs. weight loss Storyboard►
  • See an example in how process owners reduced dining out Storyboard►
  • Diary of how Mary lost weight through running Read►
  • Look at this, joining a car pool reduced junk food Read►
  • Increasing calcium consumption Storyboard►
  • Reducing addiction to Pepsi Storyboard►
  • Reduce coffee and dessert consumption Storyboard►
  • Reducing junk food Storyboard►
  • Use of environment to maintain a low carbohydrate diet Storyboard►
  • Reorganizing commute time led to 10 Lbs. weight loss Storyboard►
  • Improvements in shopping and commute led to better body mass index Storyboard►
  • Aerobic class did not lead to weight loss Storyboard►
  • How to increase fruit and vegetable part of a diet through changing the environment Storyboard►
  • See an example in reducing junk food (includes list of routines, list of possible solutions, rating of extent of system change, data collection, control chart analysis of the data) YouTube Storyboard►
  • See how moving a treadmill affected exercise pattern (includes data on an unsuccessful attempt. YouTube Storyboard►
  • Changing sleep patterns helped one person gain weight. YouTube Storyboard►
  • See an excellent example that includes all the elements of personal improvement.  In this example process owner is engaged, a list of routines is prepared, several options for change are proposed and scored in terms of how much of a systemic change they are, one is implemented and data are collected to see if the change has led to improvement.  The example solves late night binge eating by changing the timing of various daily activities. YouTube Storyboard►

Examples in Other Life Style Changes

  • The workbook was used to develop a model of how stress occurs. PubMed Abstract►
  • Reduce television viewing by scheduling work Storyboard►
  • Better study habits Storyboard►
  • Reduce obsessive compulsive behavior Slides►
  • Floss more often by changing the environment Storyboard►
  • 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) YouTube Storyboard►
  • 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 YouTube Storyboard►
  • High school student's grades improved by changing his home environment. YouTube Storyboard►

Presentations Related to Lifestyle Change

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

  1. Introduction to personal improvement Slides►
  2. How to analyze and display your data Slides►

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 revision 01/19/2021.