Lifestyle Strategies for Weight Management

  • Lifestyle Strategies for Weight Management
  • Obesity Medicine is the medical subspecialty of physicians trained in treating the chronic disease of excess weight. Two-thirds of Americans have an unhealthy weight, and only about 2% receive treatment for it from their physicians. Treating an unhealthy weight is extremely powerful as it leads to a plethora of downstream benefits. While each individual has unique circumstances and medical conditions, there are four proven strategies common to all successful long term weight management plans:

    Strategy 1: Self-Monitoring Self-monitoring is crucial for accountability and to reduce recall bias. In self-monitoring, there is some system of monitoring key habits, rituals, behaviors, or parameters that are related to health for you. For example, studies show that people who weigh themselves consistently four times a week or wear fitted clothes have better weight control. Another way to self-monitor is to keep a food diary or wear a step counter. You can say to yourself, “You can’t manage it if you aren’t measuring it.” Studies show that it takes about 21 minutes a day to complete a food diary and doing so is most important for the first year of weight control. Self-monitoring can also include holding yourself accountable to “how” you eat, such as no eating in front of a screen or in the car. eating in front of a screen or in the car.  

    Strategy 2: Engineering Food Environment It is thought that 80% of one’s weight is determined by genetics and environment. While you can not change your genetics, you can change your environment. We live in a very obesogenic environment, with a density of highly caloric, palatable foods that reinforce and reward a sedentary lifestyle. While you may not have much autonomy to affect your macroenvironment unless you can move to another city, focus on your microenvironment, or the space immediately around you, such as your kitchen and your workplace. Keep as few or none of the foods that are not on your nutrition plan available to you. If you do have them for other people or occasional consumption, keep them behind closed doors and not at eye level, such as in a low or high cabinet.

    Strategy 3: Follow a Nutrition Plan 99% of people who lose weight and keep it off have some nutrition plan that they are following. If you are wondering what the best “diet” is, unless you have a specific medical condition, it is probably whichever one you can follow most closely and consistently. In studies comparing low-fat to low-carbohydrate to Mediterranean diets, overall there is no difference in the amount of weight lost. Thus it may be a relief to know that you can focus on finding the plan you like best and following it rather than trying to wade through mixed messages you may receive. The important thing is to be consistent long enough to see how your body responds, monitor results, and use it as part of a comprehensive plan.

    Strategy 4: Achieve a Metabolic Advantage To lose weight and keep it off, there needs to be an increase in calories burned from baseline. Doing this by simply reducing calorie intake over the long term is extremely difficult. A metabolic advantage is something that is added to assist in the balance of calories in versus calories out. Examples of this include: improved quality and/or quantity of sleep, increased exercise, increased non-exercise activity thermogenesis, reduction in weight-positive medication, addition of anti-obesity medication, change in macronutrient composition of diet, or better alignment of food intake with circadian rhythms, to name a few. Ready for change? Have a plan in each category. If you or someone you love is overweight, may feel frustrated or hopeless, contact us to attend a seminar or consultation.

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