Many people start the new year resolving to lose weight. But often, that resolve fades within a few weeks as people struggle to figure out how to lose the weight and keep it off. One key to success is to help people sort through the reasons they are overweight and develop strategies they can stick with, according to experts at the University of Maryland Center for Weight Management and Wellness.
“There are emotional, behavioral, cultural and genetic factors that all contribute to obesity,” says Suzanne Sysko, M.D., medical director for the University of Maryland Center for Weight Management and Wellness.
“Just as there are many things that contribute to obesity, there are many variables that determine successful weight loss. That’s why a comprehensive approach for each individual is often very effective,” adds Dr. Sysko, who is also an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
The University of Maryland Center for Weight Management and Wellness focuses not just on losing weight, but also on regaining health. Patients learn about food labels, portion sizes and ways to get more exercise into their daily lives. They also work on behavior modification. The comprehensive team combines the expertise of a medical doctor, a gastric bypass surgeon, a nutritionist and an exercise physiologist to find the best solution for each person’s needs.
“Obesity is not just a body-image problem, it’s a major health concern,” says Mark Kligman, M.D., director of the Center for Weight Management and Wellness. Dr. Kligman is also an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
He adds, “Obesity increases the risk for heart attack, stroke and even sudden death. The excess weight also puts stress on the body and can lead to problems like arthritis and sleep apnea. There are even day-to-day inconveniences, such as not being able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting short of breath.”
Researchers say losing just five to 10 percent of your excess body weight can make a big difference in your health, including lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk for diabetes.
So where do you start? The experts at the University of Maryland Center for Weight Management and Wellness have the following suggestions:
Write it down: Writing down what you eat forces you to be aware of just how much you’re eating. Also, if you know you have to write down that piece of candy or pizza, you may not be so quick to eat it. Keeping a food journal may also cut down on impulsive eating. With your journal, you can also keep track of how much you exercise.
Know your risk factors: Check with your doctor to see if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Knowing where you are to start can also help you set realistic goals. Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). This measurement can help you figure out how much you need to lose. You can calculate your BMI at www.umm.edu/weightloss.
Walk more: Buy a pedometer and keep track of the number of steps you take each day. Once you see how much you walk, try adding 1,000 steps each day with an eventual goal of 10,000 steps or more.
“Walk ten minutes before work or at lunchtime,” says Dr. Sysko. “After a while those steps really add up. Many people may feel like they don’t have time for exercise, but incorporating more activity into your daily life can improve your health.”
“The health of our patients is our primary goal at the Center for Weight Management and Wellness,” says Dr. Kligman. “We are committed to helping people find ways to lose weight safely and keep it off. We know that will lead to lower risk for serious health problems and an improved quality of life.”
People who want more information about the University of Maryland Center for Weight Management and Wellness can go to http://www.umm.edu/weightloss or call 1-877-UMMS-FIT.
For patient inquiries, call 1-800-492-5538 or click here to make an appointment.