I received something completely awesome this morning – a question from a reader! I thought her question might be a topic of interest to others, so I’m posting my answer here too.
The question was: “I have a large amount of weight to lose. What should I look for in a medically supervised weight loss program? How can I find a good one? Any advice/direction would be appreciated.”
- Weekly and mid-week check ins. I was required to attend class every week, and if I didn’t I would be dropped from the program. I was also required to call or email in the middle of the week to report my progress so far and get coaching/guidance as needed. (This also means I was required to track my intake, a skill which has been invaluable ever since.) This kept me really accountable.
- Medical supervision. This is necessary for any VLCD (very low calorie diet) as the change you’re undertaking can be quite a shock to the system. You should be monitored by both a nurse and a doctor: regular blood draws, weigh-ins, blood pressure, temp, and EKGs for your heart health are part of this monitoring. Also this means any questions you have can be answered by a medical professional in a confidential setting.
- Qualified Nutritionists and Behaviorists. The people teaching the classes need to be registered, credentialed nutritionists and behaviorists using science-based methods and materials. None of this “I lost 30 pounds once so I’m an expert” bullcrap. Truly educated instructors, not just enthusiastic amateurs.
- A required maintenance phase. When I signed up for HMR I was told that the Maintenance Phase of the program would last 18 months, and I was required to sign a statement saying I agreed to participate throughout the entire course of the program (and I did). The maintenance classes met once a week for an hour with a midweek check in, and I took them just as seriously as I took the weight loss phase (honestly, they are probably more important in the long run).
- Bonus: Any program that promotes “positive thinking” as a weight loss tool should be shunned. Hard.