How can I control my weight?

Controlling your weight isn’t a short-term thing — you need to think long-term about ways to control your weight and make changes to your lifestyle. Weight loss should be gradual, and careful follow-up is needed to keep you from rebound weight gain. Changing your nutrition, behavior and lifestyle are the only ways to make long-lasting changes in your weight. These changes focus on changes to your eating and exercise habits.

A few ways you can change your behavior and lifestyle that will help you control your weight include:

  • Learning about nutrition.
  • Changing your eating habits.
  • Increasing your physical activity.
  • Changing your mindset about eating.
  • Joining a weight loss program.
  • Building up support systems.
  • Following any drug therapies ordered by your physician.

The keys to weight control include making lifestyle changes, such as increasing your exercise and activity level. Find a physical activity or kind of exercise that you enjoy. Whether this is a dance class or long walks, having fun will help you stay motivated over the long-haul.

Can prescription weight loss medications help me control my weight?

In some cases, your physician may recommend using a prescription drug to treat obesity. Medication isn’t a replacement for changing your diet and exercise routine, but should be used along with a program of diet and exercise to help you get to your goal weight.

The medications that may be recommended work by suppressing your appetite. They raise specific hormones, such as noradrenalin or serotonin in the nervous system, creating a feeling of fullness. But these medications will not work alone — you simultaneously need to change your lifestyle (diet and exercise).

Weight loss medications may be considered if you:

  • Have a BMI that’s greater than 30 with no obesity-related conditions.
  • Have a BMI that’s greater than 27 with two or more obesity-related conditions.

Most available weight-loss medications are approved by the FDA for short-term use, meaning a few weeks or months. Talk to your physician about whether or not weight-loss medications could be an option for controlling your weight.

Is weight loss surgery a good way to control my weight?

Weight loss (bariatric) surgery can also be an option for some people. Surgery should only be considered after other attempts to lose weight have been unsuccessful, or if you have an obesity-related disease.

There are two main types of weight-loss surgery. These include:

  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass: In this procedure, the size of the stomach is decreased, and part of your small intestine, where some foods are absorbed, is bypassed. This is done by creating a pouch at the top of the stomach and the bottom of the pouch is connected to a part of the small intestine. Limiting the physical space in your stomach is meant to make you feel full faster — limiting the amount you eat at each meal. By skipping part of the intestine, your body doesn’t absorb as many calories from the food.
  • Sleeve gastrectomy: This procedure simply limits the size of the stomach and makes it into the shape of a slender sleeve. This limits the quantity of food that can be eaten at one time, and the food that enters the sleeve-shaped stomach passes straight through to the small intestines.

Surgery should be done at centers committed to long-term follow-up in addition to patient education, monitoring of vitamin and mineral levels, and exercise and behavior modification programs. In most cases, candidates for these surgeries have to be:

  • Severely obese (a BMI greater than 35).
  • Well-informed and educated about the surgery; and committed to the lifestyle changes that will be needed.
  • Assessed by a dietitian, psychologist, endocrinologist and other specialists before being considered for the procedure.

These types of surgeries are typically successful, but the success can be lost and weight regain can occur over time if changes to nutrition and lifestyle are not maintained.

How much exercise should I do to control my weight?

Activity and movement can greatly help your health. By introducing exercise into your routine, you can gain significant health benefits. It’s recommended that you try to work in about 30 minutes of moderate to intensity aerobic (low to high-intensity activity where your breathing and heart rate increase) exercise daily.

Some types of aerobic exercises can include:

  • Jogging.
  • Walking.
  • Swimming.
  • Bicycling.
  • Rowing.
  • Aerobics (such as with an exercise class or video).

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/17/2020.

References

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Losing Weight. Accessed 4/29/2020.
  • US Department of Agriculture. Healthy Weight. Accessed 4/29/2020.
  • US Department Health and Human Services, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Aim for a healthy weight. Accessed 4/29/2020.
  • US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Types of Bariatric Surgery. Accessed 4/29/2020.

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