Kofi is at risk for type 2 diabetes so he’s trying to live a healthier lifestyle. For two months, Kofi does great with his eating and fitness goals ands a result, he loses 15 pounds.
But on Friday, some of Kofi’s coworkers are laid off. He’s worried that he will be next so he decides to prove himself to his boss by working extra hard.
On Monday, Kofi comes into work early, which means he doesn’t have time to pack his lunch in the morning. So instead of having a healthy lunch, he just goes to the vending machine and gets a candy bar.
To impress his boss, Kofi sits at his desk and works through lunch. As a result, he skips his usual lunchtime walk so he doesn’t get in enough activity that day. Kofi does the same thing each day that week.
By the weekend, Kofi is mad at himself for getting off track with his eating and fitness goals. He has also gained two pounds and feels like a failure. He feels like giving up.
Kofi decides to take action to get back on track and prevent similar lapses in the future. He stays positive and he uses the five steps of problem solving.
Kofi uses the 5 Steps of Problem Solving
- Describe your problem(s)
- Come up with options
- Choose the best options
- Make an action plan
- Try it
First, Kofi clearly describes his problems and he tries to figure out what caused them. He realizes he has two problems:
Problem 1: He doesn’t have a healthy lunch each day.
Cause: Kofi is worried about losing his job so he comes to work early. That means he doesn’t have time to pack his lunch in the morning and instead just grabs a candy bar from the vending machine.
Problem 2: He doesn’t get enough activity each day.
Cause: Kofi is worried about losing his job. So he sits at his desk and works through lunch. As a result, he doesn’t take his usual lunchtime walk and doesn’t get in enough activity each day
Kofi realizes that both of these problems have the same root cause: He’s worried about losing his job. Instead of dealing with these worries by coming in early and working through lunch, he could:
- Ask his boss if his job is really in danger. He may be worrying for no reason.
- Ask his boss what he can do to protect his job instead of coming in early and working through lunch.
Next, Kofi brainstorms some ways to cope with his problems.
To make sure he eats a healthy lunch each day, he could:
- Pack his lunch the night before, or on the weekend
- Keep a stash of healthy snacks at work
- Ask a friend or family member to pack his lunch for him
- Shop for items that he can pack quickly, such as fruit and yogurt
To make sure he gets enough activity each day, he could:
- Walk outside or in his office while he works, instead of sitting at his desk (phone calls, meetings)
- Be more active during evenings and weekends
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work
- Ride his bike to work if he lives close to work and it’s safe
- Park in a distant part of the lot at work
- Use a stand-up desk
After Kofi comes up with these options, he chooses the best options, makes an action plan, and tries it.
Reviewed by Emily Matson, MS, RDN
on July 7, 2020. Emily is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Brook Experts.