PSY 5301 Week 8 Assignment: Signature Assignment: Plan Life Improvement Project

PSY 5301 Week 8 Assignment: Signature Assignment: Plan Life Improvement Project


Week 8 Assignment: Signature Assignment: Plan Life Improvement Project

A healthy lifestyle integrates healthy dietary habits, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and socialization. It reduces elements that have an adverse impact on health, such as physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco use, prolonged periods of screen time, and stress. A healthy lifestyle lowers the risk of developing chronic illnesses and prolongs life expectancy even in individuals with multi-morbidity (Li et al., 2018). The purpose of this paper is to discuss the areas I need to make improvements in my current lifestyle choice and describe a plan to improve these areas and approaches to remain motivated.

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Part I

Dietary Habits

“We are what we eat.” This phrase reminds me that our physical and mental health wellbeing is directly connected to what we consume. The nutritional content of the foods and drinks we consume determines what is composed in our cell membranes, blood, bone marrow, tissue, organs, skin, hair, and hormones (Cena & Calder, 2020). The human body replaces billions of cells each day and uses the food we consume as the source. I generally have poor dietary habits, evidenced by having inadequate healthy foods. It is high time that I make improvements to make them healthier, eventually impacting my physical and mental health.

My diet comprises foods and drinks high in fat, salt, and sugar and low in fiber.

The poor dietary habits can be attributed to the easy accessibility to fast food joints where I buy fries, chicken nuggets, burgers, pizza, tacos, ice cream, and soda. I previously had healthy eating patterns when I lived with my parents. However, when I moved out, I found it challenging to prepare healthy foods similar to my parents. I found cooking healthy meals at home tedious and time-consuming with my tight school and work schedules. I have to plan to purchase vegetables and cereals at the grocery store and do food preparation and cooking, which adds more tasks such as cleaning utensils. As a result, I started buying foods at the fast-food joints, which are relatively cheaper than vegetables and fruits and require no cooking. Besides, the fast foods are much tastier than the home-prepared foods, which drew me more and more to the food joints.

It is crucial that I improve my dietary habits since they determine my overall health and wellbeing. The unhealthy diet has significantly affected my nutrient intake, including energy, carbohydrates, protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fluid (Jayedi et al., 2020). As a result, my weight has skyrocketed from 127 pounds to 180 pounds over the past four years. My BMI has also changed from a healthy 21.8 to 30.9, classified as obesity. Obesity puts me at risk of various lifestyle chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia, atherosclerosis, heart diseases, hypertension, various cancers, obstructive sleep apnea, and musculoskeletal disorders (Jayedi et al., 2020). Furthermore, I have a positive family history of hypertension and diabetes, which increases my risk of developing these conditions, which have high morbidity and mortality rates and are associated with high health care costs.

Changing my dietary habits to healthier ones will significantly reduce my weight, thus reducing the health risks associated with obesity. Eating well-balanced meals and adequate water will also improve my mental wellbeing, which is crucial to function effectively at school and work. Besides, it will positively impact my financial wellbeing since it will save me the healthcare costs associated with medical expenses for chronic illnesses associated with obesity (Cena & Calder, 2020). It is better to start practicing healthy eating rather than wait till I am older or when I have been diagnosed with a lifestyle disease since prevention is better than cure. Besides, it will be too late for the dietary changes to have a major positive impact when I am already diagnosed with a chronic illness.

Physical Exercise

Physical exercise is the second area that I need to improve. I would describe myself as physically inactive since I rarely engage in other forms of physical exercises rather than walking and occasional swimming. Physical inactivity has significantly contributed to my obesity since physical exercise is a key factor in preventing excessive body mass. My energy intake is way higher than my energy expenditure, attributed to excess body weight. Due to prolonged periods of physical inactivity, my activity tolerance level has significantly decreased. The physical inactivity can be attributed to my busy schedule, which leaves me with no time for physical exercise. Besides, the availability of transportation options such as a private car has made me over-rely on it to move from one place to another, including short distances that I can walk or cycle.

Technology has also made me more physically inactive because I rely on deliveries rather than going to the shopping mall and using lifts/escalators instead of the stairs, making me physically active. Back in middle and high school, each student needed to be part of a sport. Besides, we were made to run every school day, which kept us active. School punishments were in the form of running, which made me hate running. Besides, my high school did not have my favorite sport (swimming), and I was forced to join the soccer team, which did not interest me. The dislike for sports in high school made me hate physical exercises, and therefore I did not engage in any sporting activities in college apart from swimming occasionally. Denford et al. (2019) establish that physical exercise should be an enjoyable activity that children and adolescents can enjoy with friends and family. I did not enjoy physical exercises in high school, which contributed to my physical inactivity in college, where I had the freedom to choose whether I wanted to be part of a sports team. Since joining college, my physical activity levels have declined progressively, and my swimming frequency has also declined.

“Exercise not only changes your body, it changes your mind, your attitude, and your mood.” Based on this quote, it is important that I address and improve the physical activity aspect to promote a healthier life. Lachman et al. (2018) assert that physical activity is beneficial for overall physical health, psychological wellbeing, and cognitive functioning. Besides, physical activity is among the most promising non-pharmacological, non-invasive, and cost-effective approaches to health promotion.

An active lifestyle is a strategy to postpone functional decline and reduce morbidity into a shorter period later in life. I need to be more physically active by engaging in at least 40 minutes of aerobic exercises per day and at least five days a week. According to Lachman et al. (2018), there is substantial evidence that people who are more physically active benefit from better physical, cognitive, and psychological health, are more productive, more socially engaged, and have an overall better quality of life. Improving physical activity will also reduce my risk of developing lifestyle diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, and cancers. Furthermore, the impact of physical activity on cognitive function and mood will reduce my risk of developing cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s as well as mood disorders such as depression. Being physically active and adhering to it will help me sustain an active lifestyle in middle and late adulthood when it takes more time for body changes to occur in response to physical activity.


Smoking is an area in my life that I urgently need to change by quitting the habit. I am aware that by smoking, I endanger my health and those of others around me, who inhale the smoke fumes through passive smoking. Although I am aware that smoking puts me at risk of diseases and disability by harming almost every body organ, I have persisted with the habit for five years now. I currently smoke 1-2 packets per day, and the habit has affected my productivity since I get an urge to put to hold my activities at work, to go and smoke.

According to the CDC, over 16 million Americans have a health condition associated with tobacco use. Tobacco smoking puts me at risk of numerous health conditions, including COPD, lung diseases, respiratory system, other cancers, heart diseases, hypertension, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. COPD is the greatest concern of these diseases due to the respiratory problems that arise due to tobacco smoke. Afolalu et al. (2021) explain that tobacco smoking is the primary cause of COPD, which develops when there is obstruction of airflow resulting in breathing difficulties. Besides, tobacco smoking puts individuals at risk of contracting tuberculosis and makes the immune system weaker, resulting in autoimmune diseases. Tobacco smokers also have a higher risk of impotence and infertility than non-smokers.

The smoking habit traces back to when I joined college and made friends who were tobacco smokers. I perceived smoking as “cool,” and my friends influenced the habit. I started with smoking 1-2 cigars per day 3-4 times a week, but I progressively became addicted to tobacco, and the number of cigars per day increased to 1-2 packets per day. It reached a point where I got restless and on the edge if I had not smoked and was forced to find ways to escape the situation to smoke. I spend a lot of money to buy cigarettes, which I could invest or use to purchase vegetables and fruits. There is a need to change the habit since it has denied me job opportunities in organizations that do not employ tobacco smokers. Furthermore, the many smoking restrictions in my community have limited my freedom, and I feel that I lack control in my life.

Quitting tobacco smoking will have numerous benefits on my physical health, social, and financial wellbeing. It will improve my respiratory and cardiovascular health by improving my heart rate, reducing blood nicotine levels, reducing carbon monoxide levels, and increasing blood oxygen levels. Besides, it will improve my lung function and reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, lung cancer, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cancer of the mouth, throat, and esophagus. In addition, tobacco cessation will have several personal benefits, such as improved fitness levels, physical appearance, immunity, and an increased perception of being in control.

Quitting tobacco will improve my financial wellbeing and thus improve my standards of living. Warner and Mendez (2019) confirm that people who quit tobacco report having decreased financial hardship and improved wellbeing. The money I will save after quitting smoking will be used to purchase essentials and investments, which will significantly help in the journey towards financial freedom. Furthermore, it will improve my economic productivity since I will not have to suspend my work to smoke. I will also not be left out in job opportunities, especially in organizations with policies against employing smokers. It will also improve my social interactions since I will easily interact with everyone without concerns about exposing non-smokers to tobacco smoke. Besides, quitting smoking will improve my anxiety levels since I will not feel restless when I am in a situation where I cannot escape to go smoke.


Part II: Behavioral Interventions

Dietary Habits

The behavioral interventions to improve dietary habits will be to change the foods consumed from unhealthy to healthy foods and the food preparation methods. The first step will be to stop buying foods from the fast-food joints and instead visit the greengrocery stores to buy cereals, vegetables, and fruits. Besides, I plan to stop buying processed and sugary foods, snacks, and beverages from the grocery store. I plan to adopt a vegetarian diet to promote weight loss and lower the consumption of saturated fats, sodium, and sugars. The vegetarian diet will be a plant-based diet with a limited quantity of eggs and dairy products (Hargreaves et al., 2021). My diet will include legumes, whole grains, nuts, green leafy vegetables, fruits, eggs, and dairy products. Red meat, poultry, fish, processed meats, carbonated drinks, and sweets will be eliminated from the diet. In addition, olive oil will be the primary source of added fat in the diet. Olive oil was selected because it is a monounsaturated fat containing omega-3 essential fatty acid, which has a cardio-protective benefit.

My diet plan will include six servings of whole grains, bread, and cereals per day. This will take about a third of the food consumed and be the primary energy source. Protein sources will include beans, nuts, legumes, and pulses. These are low-fat sources of protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins and will count as a portion of vegetables (Hargreaves et al., 2021). Eggs will be an additional non-dairy source of protein. In addition, I will have at least five portions of assorted fruits and green leafy vegetables per day. I will replace milk with unsweetened soy and oat drinks since they also contain calcium. Lastly, carbonated and sweetened drinks will be replaced with water, which I plan to increase intake to at least two liters per day.

Food preparation methods will include low-fat cooking techniques such as boiling, baking, steaming, shallow frying, roasting, and stewing. Deep-frying will be minimized to reduce the consumption of Transfats (Hargreaves et al., 2021). Furthermore, I will buy a healthy-recipe book to prepare various healthy meals. I will also be packing healthy snacks and lunch when going to school and work to avoid the temptation of going to a fast-food joint.

Physical Exercise

The behavioral interventions to improve physical exercise will include adopting a daily exercise plan to increase my physical activity levels and promote weight loss. I plan to engage in aerobic and muscle training exercises to achieve my fitness goal. Aerobic exercises will include moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for at least 40 minutes per day (Yang, 2019). Muscle-strengthening exercises will include moderate-intensity activities involving all major muscle groups at least two days a week. I will begin with moderately-intense exercises and advance to vigorous aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises as my fitness levels improve and as I gain more tolerance to physical activity (Yang, 2019). Besides, I will gradually increase the time spent in aerobic exercises as the tolerance to physical activity improves.

The moderate intense exercises to begin with include jogging, brisk walking, cycling, skipping, and swimming, whereas muscle strengthening exercises will include sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, squats, and lifting moderate weights. I will gradually proceed to exercises like running, burpees, planks, dumbbells, deadlifts, thrusters, and weight squats (Yang, 2019). Furthermore, I will incorporate physical activity in my daily routine by walking or cycling to work, school, and the mall and using stairs instead of lifts to reduce time spent being sedentary.


Smoking cessation is a major behavioral intervention to improve my overall health and prevent diseases. It is the best thing I can do for my health, personal wellbeing, and finances. I plan to seek professional help to quit smoking to be guided on the best approaches and lower the chances of relapse. Professional advice and counseling support increase the likelihood of tobacco cessation (Krist et al., 2021). The best approach will be to gradually cut down on the number of cigars I smoke per day by reducing four cigars per day until zero cigars per day. I would take the “cold turkey” approach by quitting abruptly without nicotine substitutes and medications. Still, I feel that it will cause high levels of psychological distress and eventually relapse.

Group therapy will be beneficial through Nicotine Anonymous groups, where I will interact with individuals who have successfully quit smoking and those in the quitting journey. Attending group therapy will help me learn new ways to successfully quit smoking and minimize the chances of relapse (Krist et al., 2021). When I have completely cut off tobacco smoking, I will avoid passing through smoke zones and interacting with my friends when they are smoking to avoid the temptation of lighting a cigar.

Strategies to Stay Motivated

The plans to adopt healthy dietary patterns, increase physical activity, and quit smoking are quite challenging and require lots of hard work, discipline, and motivation. Firstly, it will be hard to stop eating fast foods and start preparing home meals since it can be tedious and time-consuming. The first weeks might be hard since I was used to different dietary habits, but I believe things will get easier as I get accustomed to healthy eating patterns and start noticing changes in my body. Besides, I will be making various foods and using recipes to make delicious yet healthy meals, which will keep me motivated in the healthy eating journey. Alternatively, I will look for restaurants that offer healthy organic foods for days that I cannot prepare home meals.

Adhering to physical exercises is a major challenge, and most people tend to give up in the first weeks due to inadequate coping skills. Several factors might impede my fitness journey, such as lack of time to engage in physical exercises and go to the gym, low motivational levels, and inadequate social support (Lachman et al., 2018). The first weeks will be the most challenging due to my sedentary lifestyle and activity intolerance. However, I believe that my tolerance will increase with time as long as I am consistent with my exercise program. Going to the gym will help me get motivated since I will have a trainer who will guide me in the journey. Besides, I will meet other people on the weight loss journey, which will motivate me to push and be consistent. Furthermore, I plan to identify the exercises that I enjoy most and discuss them with my trainer to incorporate them into my gym classes. Engaging in exercises that I enjoy most will help me stay motivated and perceive exercise as fun rather than a form of torture. Lastly, I will take my weight measurements monthly and use mobile apps that monitor a person’s fat, muscle, visceral fat, BMI, bone density, and water levels.

Smoking cessation will be the most challenging behavior change since it has become an addiction. Relapse is common, and smokers often need several attempts to succeed. However, I believe attending individual, and group therapy will help lower the chances of relapse. I plan to remain motivated by writing down why I want to quit smoking and reviewing them often. I will also seek support from friends and family members who have successfully quit smoking to help me stay on track (Krist et al., 2021). In addition, I will use phone apps, such as the Smokefree app, which was designed to keep individuals wishing to quit to stay motivated and track their progress. Alternatively, I could use substitute the cigars with nicotine products like gum.

Plan That Might Appeal Others

The physical exercise plan might be appealing to others since most people wish they adopted active lifestyles, but they find it challenging to start. I would comfortably share the physical activity plan to encourage others to start their fitness journey and incorporate exercises as part of their lifestyle (Lachman et al., 2018). The plan would help individuals adopt active lifestyles by identifying exercises they can engage in at home without joining a gym. Adopting active lifestyles would help individuals maintain a healthy weight and lower the risks associated with sedentary lifestyles.


I need to improve my current lifestyle in dietary habits, physical activity, and smoking. An evaluation of my lifestyle revealed unhealthy dietary habits, physical inactivity, and nicotine addiction. The three lifestyle choices put me at risk of developing lifestyle chronic illness and premature mortality. I plan to adopt healthy eating habits by preparing healthy meals at home and avoiding fast food joints, and incorporating physical exercise in my lifestyle. Smoking cessation will be the most challenging behavioral intervention, but I plan to join therapy to remain motivated.



Afolalu, E. F., Spies, E., Bacso, A., Clerc, E., Abetz-Webb, L., Gallot, S., & Chrea, C. (2021). Impact of tobacco and/or nicotine products on health and functioning: a scoping review and findings from the preparatory phase of the development of a new self-report measure. Harm reduction journal18(1), 1-15.

Cena, H., & Calder, P. C. (2020). Defining a Healthy Diet: Evidence for The Role of Contemporary Dietary Patterns in Health and Disease. Nutrients12(2), 334.

Denford, S., Mackintosh, K. A., McNarry, M. A., Barker, A. R., Williams, C. A., & Youth Activity Unlimited – A Strategic Research Centre of the UK Cystic Fibrosis Trust (2019). Enhancing intrinsic motivation for physical activity among adolescents with cystic fibrosis: a qualitative study of the views of healthcare professionals. BMJ Open9(6), e028996.

Hargreaves, S. M., Raposo, A., Saraiva, A., & Zandonadi, R. P. (2021). Vegetarian diet: An overview through the perspective of quality of life domains. International journal of environmental research and public health18(8), 4067.

Jayedi, A., Soltani, S., Abdolshahi, A., & Shab-Bidar, S. (2020). Healthy and unhealthy dietary patterns and the risk of chronic disease: an umbrella review of meta-analyses of prospective cohort studies. The British journal of nutrition124(11), 1133–1144.

Krist, A. H., Davidson, K. W., Mangione, C. M., Barry, M. J., Cabana, M., Caughey, A. B., … & US Preventive Services Task Force. (2021). Interventions for tobacco smoking cessation in adults, including pregnant persons: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Jama325(3), 265-279.

Lachman, M. E., Lipsitz, L., Lubben, J., Castaneda-Sceppa, C., & Jette, A. M. (2018). When adults don’t exercise: Behavioral strategies to increase physical activity in sedentary middle-aged and older adults. Innovation in Aging2(1), igy007.

Li, Y., Pan, A., Wang, D. D., Liu, X., Dhana, K., Franco, O. H., Kaptoge, S., Di Angelantonio, E., Stampfer, M., Willett, W. C., & Hu, F. B. (2018). Impact of Healthy Lifestyle Factors on Life Expectancies in the US Population. Circulation138(4), 345–355.

Warner, K. E., & Mendez, D. (2019). E-cigarettes: comparing the possible risks of increasing smoking initiation with the potential benefits of increasing smoking cessation. Nicotine and Tobacco Research21(1), 41-47.

Yang, Y. J. (2019). An Overview of Current Physical Activity Recommendations in Primary Care. Korean Journal of family medicine40(3), 135–142.

Week 8 – Assignment: Signature Assignment: Plan Life Improvement Project

Part I: Using the information you learned in the last seven weeks, identify three areas to make improvements in your current lifestyle choices. Write about the three areas with insights such as why you consider them important for your health, how you strayed from a path of health, and other information from the course to demonstrate your understanding of the area and your motivation. Please include a persuasive argument (for yourself) about why it is important to address this area at this time. Tailor the information in the plan to your understanding of the area based on the course resources (readings, videos, websites, articles).

Part II: Using information you learned about behavioral interventions and health psychology in practice, please write about a plan for yourself (or a friend). Write about whether you think the plans will be difficult, and build in strategies to stay motivated—or even develop a Plan B if needed. Tailor the information in the plan to your understanding of the area’s treatment based on the course resources (readings, videos, websites, articles). Finally, focus on one of the three areas and treatment plans that might have appeal to others as well. Think about which of the areas/plans you would be most comfortable sharing about with another in a helping setting and provide insight on whether or not you think the information could be helpful to others.

Please include five scholarly resources in the paper. Use in-text citations for the resources in the paper and then include a reference page at the end of the assignment.

Length: 10-12 pages

Your work on your Signature Assignment should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and by providing new thoughts and insights relating directly to your efforts to lay a strong foundation for success. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

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Books and Resources for this Week

Health Psychology: An Introduction to Behavior and Health
External Learning Tool
Task: View this topic
Figueroa, L. R., Davis, B., Baker, S., & Bunch, J. B. (2006). The influence of spirituality on healthcare seeking behaviors among African Americans.
Task: View this topic
Nightline (Producer). (2003). World-class healthcare: Why isn’t the U.S. the best? [Video file].
Task: View this topic
Healthy Living. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Task: View this topic
Stay Healthy. American Cancer Society.
Task: View this topic
Week 8 Assignment Rubric
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