July 29th, 2008
09:51 AM ET

Doctor's prescription for losing weight

Today, you will most likely read headlines telling you about newly proposed exercise guidelines. If you are like me, all these recommendations are probably driving you crazy. While 30 minutes a day, five to seven days a week is still good for those who want to maintain their current weight (unfortunately, a small percentage of us), 275 minutes a week is what is necessary to lose weight and keep it off. That’s 55 minutes a day. A lot. Too much, if you are busy.

Here’s the thing though: Something else must be happening in your body beyond the obvious. Even with that much moderate exercise, you are still burning around 1,800 calories. Doing the math, that translates to about half a pound. Not enough to explain the weight loss of 30 to 40 pounds that the women who successfully lost 10 percent of their initial body weight experienced on average within six months with the exercise program in the report. So, what gives?

Well, it could be that people who exercise tend to eat less because the exercise acts as some sort of appetite suppressant. I find that to be true, personally speaking. It could also be they want to engage in healthier behavior so as to not lose the benefit of the hard work they have been doing.

And, there is something else that has emerged as the characteristics of people who tend to have the most successful weight loss:

1. They tend to eat breakfast every day.
2. They eat often – every four to five hours
3. They eat consistently on weekdays and weekends. They don’t starve themselves on the weekdays and then splurge on weekends.
4. They do weigh themselves often – at least two to three times a week if not every day.
5. They exercise, exercise, exercise.

As far as exercise goes, don’t feel like you have to do it all at the same time. Maybe 30 min in the gym followed by a brisk 25-minute walk with your kids and dog in the evening. It beats being parked on the couch for sure.

People in the gym locker room are always giving me their own thoughts on how they lose weight. I am wondering if you have any of your own. What has worked for you and what should people stay away from?

Editor’s Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.