MELROSE PARK, Ill. - Losing weight and saving money are perennially the top New Year’s resolutions made by many Americans. But both require behavioral changes and a certain amount of discipline.
“People need a motivation to lose weight and the new year is an opportunity to start fresh,” said Dr. Jessica Bartfield, internal medicine and medical weight loss specialist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of the Loyola University Health System.
“Maybe it was the shock of seeing oneself in recent holiday photos, or not being able to fit into desired party attire that causes a vow to lose weight, and for many more it is a medical event such as a heart attack, the threat of diabetes or high blood pressure,” she said.
Bartfield is part of the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care that offers nonsurgical and surgical weight loss programs for patients. Patients in both programs benefit from a dedicated team of medical professionals in psychology, nutrition, exercise physiology and more with an expertise in bariatrics.
“Behavior change is the cornerstone of healthy, successful weight loss and it takes about three months to establish a new behavior,” Bartfield said. “Just as you learn to play a musical instrument from a skilled teacher, you need to learn how to lose weight from professionals. You need to practice and make mistakes until you get it right. At Loyola, a team of tried-and-true medical experts can teach you the skills you need to achieve and maintain behavior change."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35.7 percent, or about one-third of American adults are obese. “We are a large nation,” Bartfield said. Despite a huge billion-dollar weight loss industry, it’s estimated only 20 percent of Americans who try to lose weight successfully keep it off after one year.
“Changing behavior is tough – it is actually a skill and needs to be approached that way,” Bartfield said. “When you learn to play the piano, you expect that you will hit the wrong notes a couple times and are prepared to try again and keep playing; you need to have the same expectation with weight loss and to plan accordingly."
The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) consists of about 4,000 Americans who have lost, on average, about 30 pounds and have maintained this loss for five years. “This registry provides a tremendous source of information about the behaviors associated with successful weight loss maintenance. I often help my patients identify and incorporate these same behaviors into their own lives,” Bartfield said.
What to do - Top weight-loss behaviors from Dr. Bartfield and the NWCR
What not to do
And for teens who want to lose weight? “Treating child and adolescent obesity needs to be a family effort; families need to change behaviors,” Bartfield said. “Research shows that families – and even couples – who change behavior together are the most successful.”