What would you say if you were asked to share the most difficult challenge you have had with weight loss? Maybe you have a hard time giving up favorite foods, or maybe you find the task of counting calories to be tedious, or maybe you hate to exercise. No matter what you might say, I can guarantee you there is something more difficult.
After days, weeks, or months of dieting you reach your weight loss goal. What is it like? You look better, feel better, and life is great! How long does that last? If you are like most dieters, the answer is not very long. All too soon the weight comes back on.
The most difficult part about weight loss, by far, is keeping the weight off. And the ONLY way you will succeed in maintaining weight loss is to change your eating habits and lifestyle choices for the rest of your life.
So when you look for a weight loss program keep in mind the need to find a healthy strategy that you can see yourself continuing for a long time. These are some basic features to look for with any safe and healthy weight loss program:
1. The weight loss program must provide diet plans that are well-balanced and include a variety of foods from each of the different food groups. No food group should be left out.
2. The program promotes a safe and realistic weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week.
3. Diet plans should include a minimum of 1200 calories for women and 1600 calories for men.
4. Is there and exercise component? Don't kid yourself. Your best chance for success will include exercise.
5. Assess the credentials of the individuals who developed the program and of those who provide counseling or other support services.
6. What are the costs? Will the expense fit your budget?
7. Does the program offer any support for the long term?
In addition to the basic features, look for a program that most closely matches your lifestyle, preferences, and schedule. Here are some additional benefits and features to keep in mind:
1. Is there an offline program only, online program only or both?
2. If you like a group setting for encouragement and support, a traditional program such as Weight Watchers that offers an offline meeting is a good choice.
3. If you prefer anonymity or are too busy to attend meetings, online programs such as eDiets or the online version of Weight Watchers are available.
4. The features of online programs vary greatly. Listed here are some you might find with the better programs:
*Brochures (or downloadable PDF files) with tips
*More than one diet plan
*Direct access to health professionals (Nutritionist or Dietitian, Exercise Physiologist, Certified Personal Trainer)
*Tips and support for behavior modification and lifestyle changes
*Food diary or journal
Weight loss is never easy. But if you pick your program and diet plan wisely, the structure and support of a good program will reward you many times over!