5 Bad Strategies for Losing Weight | News | Loyola Medicine
Thursday, January 8, 2015

5 bad strategies to avoid if losing weight was your New Year's resolution

MAYWOOD, Ill. – Was your New Year’s resolution to lose weight? Here are five bad strategies to avoid, according to Aaron Michelfelder, MD, professor in the Department of Family Medicine of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine

Bad Strategy No. 1: I’ll lose weight at the gym. Working out is good for your health and can help to maintain your weight. But exercise alone is not very effective in shedding pounds. To lose weight, you will need to eat fewer calories.

Bad Strategy No. 2: I’ll have to dramatically change my diet. A radical change is not necessary. A more effective strategy is to simply cut back a few hundred calories a day. When going to a restaurant, for example, eat an apple before dinner to dull your appetite, then skip the bread before the main dish arrives. Eat smaller portions and ask for a to-go container.

Bad Strategy No. 3: Weight-loss supplements will make it easier. Supplements burn more muscle than fat. And when you stop taking them, you will gain back more fat than muscle, making you worse off than if you had never taken them in the first place.

Bad Strategy No. 4: I want to be like contestants on “The Biggest Loser” and shed pounds quickly. A more realistic – and healthy – strategy is to try to lose 1-2 pounds per week. If you cut back 500 calories a day (such as a bagel and cream cheese), you will lose a pound a week. If you cut back just 250 calories a day (one candy bar) you will lose 2 pounds a month. “This will provide the slow-and-steady type of weight loss that will be long-lasting,” Dr. Michelfelder said.

Bad Strategy No. 5: I give up. I’ll never get down to a normal weight, so why even try? Do not despair if you do not get down to a trim, normal weight (defined as a body mass index of between 18.5 and 24.9). If you are overweight or obese, losing 10 percent of your body weight will improve your appearance and have significant health benefits, such as lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of diabetes. Even losing as little as 5 pounds will be good for your joints.

As a family physician, Dr. Michelfelder fields a lot of questions every January from patients who have resolved to lose weight. He advises them not to try to go it alone.

“When you tell other people you are trying to lose weight, they will give you their support, and stop shoving cake and candy your way,” Dr. Michelfelder said.

Loyola Medicine's Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care offers expert medical and surgical options for weight loss. Other structured programs, such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, also can be effective. And attending such programs in person tends to be more effective than participating only online, Dr. Michelfelder said.

“For the New Year, most of us should add some weight loss to our resolutions,” Dr. Michelfelder said. “Obesity is now so common in the United States that it causes more disease and years of life lost than smoking."

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.