I took on a new client a few months ago. She had been doing well with her meds and I obtained a medical clearance from her Drs. before starting with her. She has been a great client and making great progress- 2# fatloss per wk on average. After loosing 15 lbs, I started noticing a change in her emotionally. I’m not sure what to expect from here. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to modify her program to keep her motivated to exercise as she goes through this downswing?
I have trained individuals in the field of mental illness and understand the many challenges that can occur. A positive and motivating attitude goes a long way. When a client experiences depression and has a decrease in motivation, I found that performing new and exciting workouts can help the client get out of his or her head. One idea is to go outside for your training session. The sunlight helps promote a good mood via light shinning on the retinas and increasing serotonin (a feel good chemical). In addition, a good time to train your client is in the morning, to set a positive tone for the day.
You may need to have a goal of maintaining his or her current fitness level, until your client’s mood levels off. Any exercise is positive and in some cases, just getting them to the gym is an accomplishment. Try highlighting each of his or her efforts and promote positive self-talk. Depression causes an individual to focus on every little negative aspect in his or her life.
Structure is crucial to combat depression and you may need to call your client an hour before the training session to make sure that he or she is coming to train. On days that the client is working out by his or herself, you might want to shoot your client an e-mail or text, in order motivate him or her to workout. In addition, to help your client get to the gym, you may suggest that your client plans on driving to the gym with a friend.
Be aware that sometimes a medication change is needed and many mood-stabilizing medications can cause significant weight gain. These medications can increase appetite and slow down the metabolism. It might be appropriate to have your client keep track of his or her weight and watch for any sudden increases. In this situation, nutrition should be re-evaluated and you may want to suggest a nutritionist. In addition, food and hydration can play a vital in mood. In times of stress, people tend to neglect the basics.
Lastly, it is important to be patient and listen to your client. Some days your client might need a friend, while on other days, you will be able to push your client fairly hard. Be aware that bipolar can cause manic-depressive states, which can cause a person to be agitated and have racing thoughts. In this situation, try not to take your clients response personal. It is crucial to be understanding and have an open mind.
On an additional note, consider yourself part of the treatment team and offer to call your client’s doctor or therapist to determine how you can be most helpful. I strongly believe that open communication between treaters is not utilized enough, which would allow for a higher rate of success.
I hope this information helps and feel free to e-mail me if you have any further questions.