The Life Doctor Eleanor Bailey

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Indy Lifestyle Online
A HUNDRED years ago, if you wanted to sort your life out you hired a servant and told them what to do. For some masochistic reason it doesn't work like that anymore. Now we hire someone to tell us how to do the work. First it was personal trainers, then life coaches. Now I am meeting a "lifestyle manager". Joanna Hall will analyse everything I eat, the exercise I do, my energy levels, my stress and my sleep and then explain why I feel so rough.

"When you're tired and when you need to look after yourself more, is when you are least able to do so", she says. "It is hard for busy people to keep track of everything." When you seek refuge in the biscuit barrel is when having someone to tell you how to whip up a saintly soya milk smoothie is most useful.

From 17 December this service will be available in the high street. Hall is teaming up with specialist sports retailer Sweat Shop to open The Vitality Room in North Finchley. Fortunately Lifestyle Management is not about turning you into the kind of glowingly healthy person who could set up their own lifestyle management company. It's more a healthy tweaking of your current lifestyle. It's not radical Thatcherism - it's Blairism, where life is compromise. School children won't be expelled just for taking drugs and you won't be thrown off your programme for eating chocolate.

"People often want to know what is the least they have to do or eat to maintain the kind of healthy lifestyle they want, and protect them for the future," says Hall. "The absolute bare minimum of exercise you need, for example, is 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise." When she tells me this includes my 10-minute walk from the station, I begin to feel quite cheery.

People who enjoyed learning the calories of all their favourite vegetables off by heart will enjoy knowing the exact fat content of that curry they had last week. In Lifestyle Management the Body is the temple and the fat analysis is the confessional box. The downer is (as always) that it is still you who has to instigate the changes. And motivation scientists disagree as to whether the approach is useful. Expert adjustments are less haphazard than DIY, but they might also encourage perceived dependency on your manager's help.

When Joanna Hall sees me, I tell her, frankly, there isn't much room for compromise. I'm not going to start making smoothies in the morning because I only clean the blender at weekends. She wants me to cut down on cheese and start buying tofu since I'm a vegetarian. I tell her I already buy it, I just don't eat it. I pray its nutrients will pass into me via non-contact osmosis. She agrees I haven't got much time for the gym and recommends I stretch at my desk and in the evening to tide my lower back over until I can be fit again.

Obviously it would be easier still to get my five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and get to the gym if someone else was cooking and driving me around. But you can't get a housekeeper for pounds 65 a week.

Minimum effort to a healthier life

1. Make a healthy smoothie in the morning - a frozen banana and soya milk blended. Very nutritious "and it doesn't taste too bad either".

2. Think Seventies and throw away the remote control. "Assuming you change channel eight times an evening," says Hall "that can account for as much as 13,300 calories in a year - more than 4lbs."

3. Drink a glass of water in the morning, try drinking a big bottle during the day - most people are dehydrated which makes them tired.

4. Eat protein for lunch if you feel tired in the afternoon and have a carbohydrate meal in the evening if you have trouble sleeping.

5. Get at least five minutes "me" time a day, in between meetings, travelling and socialising. Sit down and breathe deeply.

Joanna Hall Lifestyle Management 0171 736 5551

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