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Why you fail at weight control

As holiday temptations loom, new book offers personalized weight management, healthy habits for life

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With whipped cream-topped pumpkin pie and plates of holiday cookies looming, a new book by a Northwestern Medicine weight-management expert tells how to cruise through the holidays — and life — with your eating and weight under control.

Dr. Robert Kushner, a Northwestern Medicine lifestyle medicine physician, has a new book, “Six Factors to Fit: Weight Loss that Works for You!”  The book, which published Nov. 22, integrates his 40 years of insights and evidence-based research to create personalized weight-loss plans tailored to a person’s lifestyle, habits and mindset.

“Each person and situation is inherently unique, which is why one-size-fits-all diets consistently fail,” Kushner said. “Leveraging more than four decades of experience, I’ve learned that you need to address one’s lifestyle challenges, personalize a plan that reflects your specific and unique goals, and understand which of the many barriers — behavioral, psychological and physical — need to be overcome.” 

Kushner, a professor of medicine and medical education at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, is the medical director of Northwestern Medicine Center for Lifestyle Medicine, where he has treated thousands of patients.

He has designed a scientifically-validated Six Factor Quiz that helps people identify their factor-based roadblocks.

“These factors have to do with daily behaviors and thinking patterns that include not just what you eat but why you eat, how you may eat on the run and handle food temptations, your emotional connection to food, how you handle stress and make time for self-care, how active you are and how flexible you are in setting goals.”

The first three factors reflect challenges related to eating and physical activity patterns:

  • Convenient Diner: Challenged by eating healthfully while on the go.
  • Easily Enticed Eater: Struggles with food temptations and an emotional connection to and love of food.
  • Exercise Struggler: Has trouble beginning and sustaining an exercise program, an important component of any weight-loss plan.

The other three factors target mindset and coping style, which can determine long-term success:

  • Fast Pacer: Someone with a hectic lifestyle who often puts their health last.
  • Self-Critic: A person affected by negative self-talk and poor body image, which can negatively affect self-esteem and the ability to lose weight.
  • All-or-Nothing Doer: An individual challenged by behaviors and thoughts that may conspire against making practical and moderate changes needed for long-term weight management. 

The book offers tailored plans — based on a person’s six factor quiz results — to aid weight loss, improve nutrition and eating habits, boost activity, gain energy and improve mood.

“Contrary to promises you’ve probably read for losing a large amount of weight over a short period of time on highly restrictive diets, consistent weight loss that fits your lifestyle is the best approach for long-lasting change,” Kushner said. “This is not a diet you go on and then off of,” he said. “Rather, it’s a lifelong weight management and healthy lifestyle program all in one, personalized for the individual.”

Kushner is author or editor of 12 books, 58 book chapters and more than 200 scientific articles on weight management, obesity and nutrition. He continues to treat patients, educate students and teach health-care professionals on the science and art of weight management.

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