Lifestyle Changes Imperative for Keeping off Weight

MAYWOOD, Ill. — Only 5 percent of dieters are successful in keeping off the weight they lost, according to the American Council on Exercise. In fact, one-third of the weight people initially lost is usually gained back within the first year. People who want to lose weight and keep it off have to not only change their ways but their way of thinking about food, exercise and lifestyle behaviors.

“Diet is only one component of leading a healthy life. To lose and keep weight off, a person needs to stop focusing on the scale and start focusing on becoming a healthier person,” said Valerie Walkowiak, medical integration coordinator at the Loyola Center for Fitness.

The Change Your Weigh program at the Loyola Center for Fitness emphasizes three components needed for a healthier lifestyle: nutrition, behavior modification and exercise. Each component is led by a licensed professional who has received extensive education and training.

Participants meet twice a week. One session is focused on teaching and providing the tools participants need to make healthy choices. The other is a hands-on exercise session.

A registered dietitian teaches participants to shop healthfully, read labels and understand portion control and nutrition labels.

“Many people have the misconception that they have to feel deprived in order to lose weight when that is untrue. People need to learn to eat well, not starve themselves,” said Cris Harder, a registered dietitian who heads the Change Your Weigh nutrition program. “Eating right is only one part of losing weight. Diet and exercise need to go hand-in-hand and lifestyle behaviors need to be addressed. Many of us have emotional ties to food and to make a real lifestyle change people need to start thinking about the reason why they eat.”

Licensed clinical social workers lead discussions on topics such as goal-setting, emotional attachment to food and how to overcome barriers.

“Behavior modification helps people to look at the issues that stand in the way of healthy eating and exercise,” said Terri Lee, a licensed clinical social worker. “We help people create personalized strategies for addressing these barriers and obtaining success in their weight loss and lifestyle goals.”

Exercise is the third component for making lifestyle changes. Often, people don’t exercise because they don’t know how or where to start. Each week a personal trainer meets with the group to help participants cross this hurdle. The personal trainer demonstrates different types of exercise, gives tips on incorporating exercise into daily living, explains exercise guidelines and helps participants learn how to get the most out of their exercise routine. Each week the personal trainer takes participants through a complete workout.

“This is not just a diet program, an exercise class or support group, it’s a combination of all three components. This program allows participants to gain control of their health because they are given the tools they need to be successful,” Walkowiak said.

Change Your Weigh meets Sept.1-Nov. 17. The cost is $109 for members, $134 for non-members. For more information about the program, contact Val Walkowiak at (708)327-3526.

For media inquiries, please contact Evie Polsley at [email protected] or call (708) 216- 5313 or (708) 417-5100.

Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, Loyola University Health System is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and 22 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 569-licensed-bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola’s Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus in Melrose Park includes the 264-bed community hospital, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness and the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Care Center.