The Weight Control Program

The Weight Control Program is designed to help you manage your weight long term and become more physically fit. The program teaches you to make reasonable and sustainable lifestyle changes.. This is the only professionally led program in Vermont that incorporates both behavioral and nutritional counseling.

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What is the Weight Control Program?

This program is for adults who are serious about wanting to lose weight and who are willing to make the changes in behavior and lifestyle that are required for lasting weight control. In addition to losing weight, other goals of the program include: self-management skills for healthy eating and exercise habits, not letting weight interfere with activities or self-esteem, not giving-up on weight control, learning more effective stress management skills, and dealing with issues that underlie being overweight. We acknowledge that most people have a lot of knowledge about changes they should be making, but struggle with implementing those changes consistently due to a variety of obstacles. Specific problems often associated with overweight can be addressed here, including emotional and binge-eating, body image problems, stress and overeating, negative attitudes about exercise, and hopelessness or anger about having to lose weight.

How does the program work?

The program is conducted with a group of about 15-17 members and a psychologist and dietician as group leaders. Meetings are an hour and a half weekly for 18 consecutive weeks. Not a drop-in program, participants stay with the same group of people throughout. During the meetings, the leaders lecture and work with the group as a whole, but also work individually with participants to help them solve their problems. In-between the meetings you keep a diary of all eating and physical activity. When you come to the meeting, you weigh yourself and keep a chart of your weight and exercise time. In the group you are expected to speak about your progress or any trouble you are having with changing eating or exercise. We understand that on occasion a person may need to miss a meeting for an important reason. However, we expect participants to commit themselves to their weight control by making their weekly meeting a top priority. People who succeed in our program regularly attend meetings and do their homework.

What is the philosophy of the program?

We do not prescribe a diet or specific exercise program. Participants are the ones in control to develop solutions that fit with their lifestyles, so long as those solutions produce weight loss and healthy behavior and are realistic to continue indefinitely. We have high expectations for eating healthy and exercise. We believe that eliminating poor food choices and increasing healthy ones reduces risk for serious illness. That being said, we also recognize that learning to moderate, as opposed to totally eliminating, certain foods is the most realistic approach. We will teach you how to incorporate “forbidden foods” into your diet in a controlled manner without compromising your health and/or your weight. We believe that long-term weight control is only possible if a person spends a lot of time being physically active. We believe that changing behavior is psychologically complex and that time is better spent learning how to control oneself in the present, rather than to dwell on experiences that might have created bad habits in the beginning.

We strongly emphasize that long term weight control is a focus of this program. We know that continued accountability is absolutely necessary in order for people to successfully manage their weight for the rest of their lives. Thus we offer free monthly follow-up meetings for anybody who has completed the program, as well as more focused “alumni” groups several times per year. Alumni are also invited to repeat the full eighteen week course at any time. We would like to encourage you to think of this as joining a program (not just a time limited group) that you can use more or less frequently depending on your needs. This approach allows you to access support at any time and catch those inevitable lapses before they threaten your weight control.

What is the learning process?

You learn up-to-date scientifically based information on food, exercise, and psychological issues. You learn to use techniques of behavior therapy and behavior modification to gradually change unwanted habits. You learn to stay motivated by developing helpful attitudes and self-management skills. Finally, one of the strongest points of this program is that you learn from other people in the group who typically offer a lot of ideas and emotional support and social pressure to do your best.

Many people in need of weight control have trouble taking care of their health, procrastinate on health behavior change, have mixed feelings about having to change, and have a history of giving-up after a short weight control attempt. If we accept you into this program, we assume you are serious about improving your health. We will hold you accountable for your behavior and will do anything we can to help you stay committed to change.

What happens after the program?

As mentioned previously, a follow-up program is offered free of charge to all graduates of our program. Meetings are the first Thursday of each month from 5:30 to 6:30 pm. Some graduates attend regularly and others appear months after finishing the program for some extra help when they’ve slipped. As continued support following weight management programs has been shown to be an important factor in maintaining weight loss, participation in the follow-up program is strongly encouraged.

How is this program different?

At present there is no other professional control program in Vermont that uses a group approach with a combination of psychology and nutrition. In general, regular weight loss programs and The Weight Control Program both help people to lose weight. But there are some important differences. This is not strictly a weight loss program. It’s a behavior change program. This is not a temporary “diet”. It’s a style of living that you can live with after the program ends. This is not a quick weight loss program. It’s designed to lose weight gradually, without unrealistic restrictions. The leaders of this program are health professionals with scientific expertise, not lay persons or business persons. When needed, the leaders of this program work together with your primary physician to help you overcome health problems. Other programs are businesses that are not integrated with your healthcare. Consistent with the research on weight control and exercise, we encourage a high level of physical activity. Other programs are weak on motivating people to engage in exercise and focus too much on “dieting”. This program starts and ends with the same group of participants, not a steady stream of different people who come in and out of the program. The meetings are in a group, but the leaders care about participants as individuals.

What are our results?

Compared to national trends in weight control, The Weight Control Program has excellent results, and with the exception of obesity surgery, it is the most effective approach to weight control. Research is ongoing and is used to measure treatment outcome and continually confirm the above statement.

Am I eligible?

To participate, you must have some weight to lose. This program is appropriate for people who have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more. (Your BMI can be calculated by taking your current weight in pounds, multiplying it by 700, dividing this number by your height in inches, and then dividing this number again by height in inches.) If your weight is below but close to this cutoff, we may be able to accept you if you have mental or physical health problems associated with your weight, if your current weight puts you at risk for these problems, and/or if you are regaining weight. Please call and we can discuss if this group would be appropriate for you. In addition, you would have to agree to the conditions listed under “Agreement” at the end of the application.

How much does it cost?

The full cost of this program is $880.00, which includes the $110 application fee. The monthly follow-up program is free once you have completed the 18 week program. Unfortunately, we can not bill insurance directly for behavioral weight loss. However, you can generally use HSA/HRA/Flex funds towards the program.

How do I apply?

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Complete the application, including the two-day eating/exercise record and the application fee of $110. Please note: Your application cannot be processed without this deposit. You can send your application with the provider form or have that sent separately. We don’t need the provider form to begin considering your application. The sooner you return the application materials, the sooner we can give you an answer and schedule you to begin a group. If you have any questions about The Weight Control Program or your application, I would be happy to speak with you. My phone number is (802) 651-8999 ext 2 or send me an e-mail.