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Program Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to common questions about how the CMWL program works.

To find a CMWL center, use our simple Find A Provider Directory tool. It’s organized by US state so you can easily find a licensed provider who is right for you.

No. The Center for Medical Weight Loss program is strictly a non-surgical approach to weight loss and weight maintenance. However, we encourage eligible patients who pursue weight loss surgery to leverage the CMWL program both before and after the procedure to maximize outcomes and increase the chances of surgery success.

All providers who participate in the CMWL Network practice with your safety as their top priority. They are trained to deliver the plan and experience designed to optimize your weight loss results as well as your overall health. 


Not only are CMWL programs safe for weight loss, but they are effective in controlling, reducing, and even eliminating complications related to obesity or being overweight, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. More than this, CMWL weight loss programs can help alleviate many of the other conditions that result from obesity, including arthritis, sleep apnea, persistent lymphedema (swelling in an arm or leg), and lower extremity edema (abnormal accumulation of fluids). 

The CMWL program is highly structured to help keep you on your path, yet designed with flexible points to help you successfully navigate the different phases of weight loss and long-term weight maintenance. 


It is also important to understand that there is no ‘one size fits all’ with the CMWL weight loss program. Because you are unique, your CMWL provider will create a personalized plan just for you based on your specific attributes and weight loss challenges. 


It all starts with your Initial Consultation appointment, which consists of learning your history and creating a baseline report, which acts as your starting point. Collaborating with your provider, you’ll choose the CMWL plan that is best for you. For those who are eligible, GLP-1 medications, such as semaglutide or tirzepatide, may be incorporated into the program. You can see all available CMWL plan options here. 

Following your Initial Consultation visit, you will meet with your provider weekly or bi-weekly – depending on your plan selection – to measure your weight loss progress and discuss your prescribed CMWL behavioral module. The CMWL system personalizes a behavioral counseling plan just for you. Behavioral counseling is core to all CMWL plans because behavioral change is key to both initial weight loss and keeping the weight off for good. 

Once you reach your goal, you’ll enter the SMART Maintenance plan, which mainly consists of monthly or quarterly visits with your provider to monitor outcomes and continue with maintenance-related behavioral counseling.  

There are two primary differences you will find with CMWL compared to most other weight loss programs. First, our weight loss program is provider-supervised. Our providers, who are extensively trained in the medical science of weight loss, can treat your weight within the context of your total health profile. Because of this, they have tools and resources that other programs do not, such as the ability to prescribe weight loss medication or adjust medications hindering your weight loss progress.  

Second, our program does not focus on just one aspect of weight loss. We take a comprehensive, holistic approach that includes food, exercise, and behavioral modification. Weight loss and weight maintenance is a way of life. CMWL providers understand this and will be there to support you every step of the way in achieving your goals. 

Each of our CMWL providers receives extensive clinical training in medical weight loss. All of our providers are board-certified and are continually assessed to make sure you are receiving the safest, most effective treatment and care.

Each phase of the program provides a food plan based on daily calories. It’s also very important to understand that the nutritional plan emphasizes the sufficient intake of muscle-building and muscle-maintaining protein. It also is valuable in maintaining the kind of muscle volume needed to maintain and even enhance your aesthetic appearance.  

To make each plan simple, CMWL offers a broad catalog of 160-calorie FDA-approved high-protein meal replacement products, including shakes, bars, snacks, pastas, and soups. Each item is vetted for nutrition and taste. Because if it doesn’t taste good, you’re not going to stick with it! 

As you lose weight and achieve key milestones, the program increasingly introduces everyday foods and beverages back into your nutritional plan. By the time this happens, your behavioral counseling visits will have taught you the best food choices to make going forward, so there won’t be too much guesswork as you navigate the world around you! 

We know creating and sticking with an exercise routine is one of the most challenging behavioral changes anyone can make. While exercise is not technically a requirement of the program, it is an invaluable habit to adopt to facilitate weight loss. It is especially crucial to keep weight off in the long term, so it’ll be to your benefit to start early (with your provider’s clearance). In addition to weight loss and maintenance, there are a host of additional benefits to a regular exercise routine, including improved mood, firmer skin, and better sleep. What’s not to love?!

Medication is not a requirement for the program, but recently many people are interested in seeing if GLP-1 medications can safely and effectively support their weight loss efforts. If you’re not interested in or eligible for the GLP-1 medications, CMWL offers an alternative plan that’s just as effective and easy to follow. You can discuss your options with your provider during the Initial Consultation visit.

Yes, behavioral counseling is essential and critical to achieving your weight loss goals. Without addressing your relationship with food, lifestyle habits, and the emotional barriers that may be preventing you from making progress, the program will be less effective in enabling you to reach your full potential. CMWL creates a personalized behavioral counseling plan just for you.

CMWL plans are not simply for people who are extremely overweight. They’re for anyone who is unhappy or feels unhealthy due to his or her weight. We will tell you if you don’t need to lose weight or if you don’t qualify for CMWL weight loss programs for any reason. Our first priority is your overall health and well-being.


I really only want to lose 15 pounds. What would be the best plan for me? How long will it take?
At your Initial Consultation visit, your provider will be able to let you know which plan is best suited for you and how long it will take you to lose weight on each of the programs. The decision on which program is right for you is made based on your age, medical condition(s), and motivation level. Your provider’s goal is to find the program and plan that will work the best and be the most effective based on your individual needs. 

Since every plan is holistic and truly personalized, costs vary depending on your specific needs. Some of the individual factors to take into account are your Body Mass Index, gender, age, and allergies. Also, your plan may or may not include medications.  

The best way to understand your plan options is to schedule an Initial Consultation visit with a CMWL participating network provider. You’ll get a full report that shows your baseline weight within the context of specific and general health risks. You’ll discuss these potential risks and other important aspects of your weight loss goals. Available CMWL plans and costs will be reviewed at the end of the visit, at which point you can decide to enroll.  

Since January 2012, Medicare covers obesity counseling and treatments for patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above if they see a primary care provider with specialized training in obesity. United Healthcare, Oxford Health, Aetna, Emblem, Empire BlueCross BlueShield, GHI, 1199 (hospital workers' union) and many other private insurers cover these services as well. Your HRA or FSA may even cover the cost of high-protein meal replacement items with a Letter of Medical Necessity. Check with your insurance plan to understand your weight loss plan benefits.

Though it depends on your specific circumstances and health concerns, most patients lose weight within the first two weeks and continue to reduce their weight as they continue with the CMWL eating plans and behavioral counseling. Adding exercise and/or GLP-1 medications to your routine can also help speed up your rate of weight loss. 

The length of time you may stay on any weight loss program depends on which program you are on, how much weight you need to lose and – most importantly – how motivated you are. As you know, weight loss is not about a "quick fix." When you move from the initial phase of any weight loss program to the maintenance phase, the goal is to establish healthy eating and lifestyle habits you can follow throughout your life. CMWL programs are comprehensive and include behavior modification counseling and exercise recommendations created to help you achieve lifelong success. 

Again, it depends on the requirements of your individual weight loss program. Initial programs usually require a visit every one to two weeks for progress measurements and behavioral counseling.

After you reach your goal weight on a CMWL plan, you’ll enter the Maintenance Phase of the program. CMWL’s SMART Maintenance plan consists of monthly or quarterly visits, depending on your long-term weight maintenance goals. Your provider will help you maintain your weight loss and ensure you have the best healthy eating, exercise, and behavioral strategies to keep off the weight – for good.

If your question was not answered above, email us at:
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