You have tried losing weight on your own and you have even had some success. But life is hectic and stressful and in time, the pounds always creep back. Now you weigh more than you did a year ago.
This is discouraging and depressing and like many others you might be thinking that you just can’t face another diet alone. When you were at the end of your rope did you ever consider the support of a formal weight loss program?
For many, this is a good idea. By having professional guidance and an organization as your “buddy” you have a much better chance of success.
BUT BE CAREFUL! Not all programs are created equal. If you want to choose wisely, here are six questions you should ask.
1. DOES THE PROGRAM EMPHASIZE OVERALL FITNESS AND GOOD HEALTH? If the advertising emphasizes dramatic before and after photos with claims of the ease and speed of pounds lost per week, beware. Average weight loss during an extended program should not exceed two pounds per week. This is equal to fifty pounds in six months or one hundred pounds a year. Is the goal of the program to achieve a normal bodyweight as the natural result of a balanced lifestyle that promotes health and fitness?
2. IS THE MEAL PLAN PALATABLE AND NUTRITIOUS AND AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL GROCERY? Your first consideration is that the meals on a plan include a variety of tasty foods that supply all the nutrients necessary for long-term health. This eliminates menus that prohibit entire categories of food or limit portions to the point that you are always hungry. Some plans “do it for you” by providing prepared meals and snacks to manage what and how much you eat. This is easy and effective (and expensive) but your success is dependent upon the prepared meals. How long do you plan to buy prepackaged food? What happens when you start shopping and cooking for yourself and return to eating out? See number three below.
3. IS THE PROGRAM BASED ON LEARNING HOW TO CHANGE DIETARY AND LIFESTYLE HABITS? Lifestyle behaviors can be “relearned” and this should be the backbone of any good program. This is the only way that you will become permanently lean, fit and healthy. This is the only way that you can walk away, free of the oppressive burden of lifetime, yo-yo dieting.
4. WILL YOU LEARN HOW TO DEAL WITH SITUATIONS THAT CAUSE YOU TO BACKSLIDE? Will you have live support when the going gets tough? Will you learn strategies to deal with lifestyle saboteurs when they arrive to ruin your plans?
5. IS EXERCISE A PART OF THE PROGRAM? Exercise is an indispensable part of a balanced fitness plan. Exercise provides a big metabolic boost to losing weight and simultaneously reduces stress and elevates your mood. Equally important however, is that exercise prevents the loss of lean muscle mass during periods of reduced caloric intake and is also critical for long-term weight maintenance. See number six below.
6. ARE THERE FOLLOW-UP PLANS TO HELP YOU KEEP THE WEIGHT OFF PERMANENTLY? People experience different learning curves when it comes to changing their lifestyle. No matter how effective a plan is over the short-term, you have wasted your time, effort and money if you have to start from the beginning over and over again. Make sure that the plan you choose emphasizes permanent weight loss and has a system to support your efforts until you are comfortable going it alone.