What is a lifestyle modification weight loss program?

Mercy Health doctors recommend lifestyle modifications such as eating healthy and gradually starting an exercise plan for all obese patients trying to lose weight. Small lifestyle changes that gradually lower your weight can drastically improve your health.

Symptoms from obesity-related conditions such as heart disease, musculoskeletal problems and diabetes can be reversed if the weight loss is maintained over a life span.

This non-surgical weight loss program is medically supervised and patients are closely monitored as they progress towards better health and emotional well-being.

Most patients will find a combination of treatments, including diet and exercise, is the most effective way to achieve weight loss.

What do lifestyle modifications entail?

Mercy Health doctors recommend a combination of eating nutritious foods, exercise and behavioral changes to help lose weight.

Dietary changes

Dietary changes have historically been the primary treatment for weight loss for most patients. Diets work when a person eats fewer calories than they consume on a regular, extended basis. To lose weight via a diet, some nutritional guidelines include:

  • Limit your consumption of juices and calorie-filled drinks such as sodas
  • If you drink juice, drink 100% fruit juices
  • Eat until you feel full and stop
  • Do not force children or teens to finish their plate — allow your child to stop eating when they are full
  • Prepare and serve foods that are high in nutrients such as whole grains, lower-fat dairy, and fruits and vegetables
  • Eliminate or reduce calories that have no nutritional value such as processed foods, sugar and sweets
  • Avoid fried foods as much as possible
  • Reduce portion sizes

Exercising regularly

Your Mercy Health weight loss team will work with you to develop an exercise plan that is manageable for your life. Most patients will need to exercise 30 minutes or more each day to effectively lose weight.

Activities can include walking your dog, taking a class at the gym, doing water aerobics. Find something fun you like to do and make it a habit to do it each day.

Finding a partner to exercise with makes it easier to do it each day and holds you accountable for showing up. Exercising early in the morning can also be effective for patients with hectic lifestyles. You will start the day feeling accomplished and avoid missing it later in the day if something comes up unexpectedly.

You can break your activity up into “mini” sessions. Take a 10-minute walking break at work instead of grabbing a snack. You will come back feeling rejuvenated and ready to jump back into work.

Behavioral changes

Behavioral changes in conjunction with diet and exercise are often recommended as a part of a long-term weight loss and management strategy. In some cases, a Mercy Health psychologist will analyze your eating, activity and thinking habits and give recommendations on how to develop healthier lifestyle habits. Strategies may include:

  • Self-monitor — identify risk behavior such as stress eating
  • Stimulus control — remove any factors that encourage an unhealthy lifestyle such as not purchasing any foods that are tempting like ice cream or chips
  • Problem solve — address problems that have led to obesity such as leading a sedative lifestyle
  • Reward yourself — instead of using food as a reward, use other motivators such as a trip to the salon
  • Develop a support network — encourage your friends and family to help you in the journey and/or join a support group with others who have similar eating or lifestyle challenges

Benefits of lifestyle modifications for weight loss

Obese patients who are able lose weight and maintain a healthy weight using diet, exercise and behavioral changes can avoid complications and risks associated with more advanced treatments such as medical management and surgery.

Disadvantages of lifestyle modifications for weight loss

Although, many people lose weight using diet and exercise alone, many are not successful in keeping the weight off in the long term. Studies reveal that less than 10 percent of patients maintain long-term weight loss.

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