FAQ

What is the Mount Sinai St Luke’s Weight Loss Program?
We are a 52-week, lifestyle-change, out-patient, self-pay, hospital-based weight loss program offering weekly closed-group sessions for people who have more than 50 pounds to lose. Group sessions are led by a team of weight loss experts: registered dietitians, behavior therapists, and exercise physiologists.

Where are we located?
We are located at Mount Sinai St Luke’s Hospital on West 114th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, adjacent to the campus of Columbia University, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City.

What if I’m not sure how much weight I have to lose?
We will help you determine that. We use Body Mass Index (BMI), a ratio of your weight to height, as a general guideline, and look for participants with a BMI greater than 30. However, these are only general guidelines; we will help you decide for sure if you’re not certain. You can check your BMI here: www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm

What will I learn in the group sessions?
Think of our program like weight loss school. We’ll teach you all the research-based nutrition, behavior change, motivation, and exercise strategies and information necessary for you to lose weight, and more important, keep it off. We also address the emotional issues related to weight control and that’s why we have a behavior therapist as part of the team. It’s not group therapy, but we do address the emotional issues and relationship that you have with food and eating otherwise you may never feel in control of food and eating.

What is a closed group?
Our weight loss groups are closed, which means you’re with the same people for the entire 52 weeks. No one coming and going, no distractions, consistent support for losing weight. We don’t know of any other program that offers this level of commitment to help you lose weight, especially for 52 weeks and beyond.

Can I switch groups during the year?
No, once you start the program you remain in the same group at the same day and time each week for the entire year, and you cannot attend another group as a make-up session even if you miss your own group during any particular week.

How long is a group session?
Group sessions are 75 minutes long and start at 4:30pm, 6:00pm, and 7:30pm Monday through Wednesday. Times are based on availability. We do not have groups in the morning or early afternoon.

What if I have a medical condition such as diabetes or heart disease. Can I still join?
Yes. There are virtually no medical conditions that would prevent you from joining. However, until we know more about pregnancy and weight loss, we will not permit you to join if you are pregnant.

Are there doctors involved?
Yes, we have a team of endocrinologists on our staff. An endocrinologist is a medical doctor and specialist trained to evaluate, diagnose, and treat disorders of glands, hormones, metabolism, thyroid, and other conditions that might make it difficult for you to lose weight. Physicians’ fees apply and are paid by you separately from the program. You are not required to see one of our endocrinologists to join the program.

What is the diet?
We won’t give you a strict diet plan. You no doubt have done that before, and if it worked you probably wouldn’t be thinking of joining us. Instead, we’ll teach you a variety of skills, techniques, and options for making the changes to your diet that are necessary to live in your world and still lose weight without feeling hungry, restricted, or deprived. The goal is to educate you on all of the facts about nutrition and health so that you no longer have to go on a diet. The food options will be the foods that you choose to eat.

Who leads the group sessions?
Our group leaders are trained professionals with advanced degrees. We use registered dietitians, exercise physiologists, and behavior therapists. All of our staff are experienced with weight loss.

How fast will I lose weight?
We recommend 1-2 pounds per week. We’re more interested in having you lose weight at a sensible rate that is sustainable in the long run rather than a quick-fix where you lose quickly but then regain quickly.

How much weight will I lose?
Our average weight loss is 9.1% of initial body weight (approximately 31 pounds) with a range up to 45% (more than 100 pounds). Our “biggest loser” was a woman in her 50’s who lost 112.5 pounds in 52 weeks. Attendance is one of our best predictors of who loses the most weight, so showing up is important. Your persistence, commitment, determination, hard work, resilience, and patience are other factors that will contribute to how much weight you lose.

Do we use meal replacements such as bars and shakes, or pre-packaged foods?
Yes, we offer meal replacement products such as bars and shakes, but not pre-packaged food. These products are not a mandatory part of the weight loss program but we recognize how effective they can be for weight loss for some people and so we offer them. Our Registered Dietitian will teach you how to use them if you are interested.

Will I have to stop eating out when I join the program?
Absolutely not. We want you to learn how to live and eat in your world. Our approach is practical. Eating out, and take-out, is part of many peoples’ lives and so we will teach you how to manage eating out and still lose weight. Again, our program is lifestyle change, which means you continue to do the things you like to do, but this time you’ll learn enough about your relationship with food to cope with all sorts of everyday high-risk situations. You’ll learn how to gain control over food and eating rather than have it control you. Imagine that.

How much exercise will I have to do?
You don’t lose very much weight with exercise and so we won’t overwhelm you with heart thumping exercise when you start. We won’t discourage you from exercising if you’re already working out, it’s just that we spend more time on the nutrition and behavior components of the program during the first weeks of the program to help you maximize weight loss, and then we’ll introduce exercise once you’ve lost some weight.

How old are our participants?
The average age of our participants is 47 years. You must be 25 years or older to join.

What percent of our participants are women and men?
Seventy-five percent of our participants are women and 25% are men.

I’d like to join with my spouse. Can I do that?
Spouses, friends, colleagues, and partners can join the program, it’s just that we do not permit people who know each other to participate in the same group.

Do we use weight loss medication?
No, it’s not a core feature of our lifestyle-change program, but we are not opposed to weight loss medication and will refer you to one of our endocrinologists if you would like to explore that option.

Is surgery a part of our program?
No, but we can refer you to one of our bariatric surgeons if you want to explore this option. We are not opposed to it, it’s just that it’s not a core feature of our lifestyle-change program.

Is there testing for metabolic rate and body composition?
Yes, you can have your resting and exercise metabolic rate measured in one of our metabolic chambers, and your percent body fat measured using our Bod Pod. These tests are conducted in our metabolic lab. Separate fees apply.

Is there follow-up after the Year-1 program?
Yes, that’s our Rainbow program, which runs continuously in 3-month modules at a time. Once you graduate from the Year-1 program you can join the Rainbow program and repeat the modules as many times and for as long as you like. You may continue into Rainbow right after you graduate or “fly on your own” for a while and then return if you ever feel the need for a tune-up.

Can I repeat the Year-1 program?
No, but you have the option of joining the Rainbow program described above once you complete Year-1.

What’s the difference between this program and all the others?
Closed groups, professional staff, and being with the same people for 52 weeks, all who have more than 50 pounds to lose and who really “get it”, who really understand the struggles of weight loss. Everyone in the room relates to each other the moment you start talking about weight loss. The support and camaraderie from each other, and guidance from trained and experienced health professionals, is invaluable.

How long have we been doing this?
We’ve been running our weight loss program for more than 25 years.

How do I join?
OrientationScreeningSign upBegin Group Sessions The first step is to attend one of our free-of- charge 75-minute orientations where we formally present the program and answer all of your questions. We work on a first-come, first-served basis, and recruit first from people who attend the orientation, so it’s important that you attend this meeting. If you’re still interested in joining after the orientation, then you make an appointment for an individual screening with one of our staff. All individuals must have a screening appointment. You sign up and then start group sessions after that.

How much does the program cost?
Our fee is $60 per week, payable out-of-pocket at the beginning of each month. Our one-time fee for the screening appointment is $90. We accept checks, credit cards (M/C, Visa), and cash. Flex spending may apply.

Do I pay for every session?
Yes, you pay for every session, including religious holidays, even if you miss a session for any reason, unless your group falls on Christmas, New Year’s, Memorial Day, Labor Day, July 4th, or Thanksgiving.

Do we accept insurance?
We do not accept insurance. Your insurance company must reimburse you directly if they cover weight loss.

Orientations and our Contact Information
To find out the date of our next orientation, or for more information about the program, contact Robyn Hersh at nyweightloss@chpnet.org, 212-523-8440, or visit our web site at www.nyweightloss.org.