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Tips for Selecting a Weight Loss Program
|You’ve seen the “before” and “after” pictures on television. Before the 250-pound woman went to XYZ Weight Loss program, she looked dowdy, depressed and huge. After she completes the program, the picture shows a slender woman (almost unrecognizable) smiling at her new wardrobe and her new slim life. You look at her and think, “I want to be thin. Now.”
Two things are true. The first is you can lose weight and keep it off. The second is there is no magic pill for losing a lot of weight fast and keeping it off. Weight loss requires a change of lifestyle. This means changing what you eat, how much you eat and how active you are. Permanent weight loss can be yours if you change your eating and exercise habits.
Sometimes it’s hard to make big changes on your own. Sometimes we all need some help. But with all the weight loss programs out there, how do you make a sensible decision about which one to choose? Here are some tips to consider.
See Your Doctor Before Plunging In
You should visit your health care provider if you plan to lose more than 15 to 20 pounds, you have health problems or take regular medication. Your doctor can tell you how your health might be affected by dieting and weight loss. A physician can also help you set a reasonable weight loss goal and assess a program that you might be considering. If you plan to use a liquid formula diet that replaces food for more than one month, you should be monitored by your doctor.
Are There Others?
When you visit a weight loss program, ask what percentage of all customers completed the program, how much weight they have lost and how successfully they’ve kept the weight off over a one-year period. Be wary if you get an unsatisfactory response or there are no records about program graduates and weight loss maintenance. Many people lose weight, but it’s keeping it off that’s important. Maintaining weight loss should be covered as part of weight loss. The program should:
- provide behavior modification help (this means keeping food diaries or other strategies to help you change your habits)
- educate about healthy eating habits
- contain an exercise component personalized for you
- have long-term plans to deal with weight problems
- use a step-by-step approach
Will Your Meal Plan Include Needed Nutrients?
Being on a reduced-calorie meal plan is fine, but you need to be sure you’re getting your vitamins, minerals and protein. Ask to see how the program will meet your Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) for these nutrients.
It’s the Money, Honey
If you are considering a commercial weight-loss program, ask to see a detailed statement of fees and costs of additional items such as dietary supplements or supplemental meals. You don’t want to pay a great deal of money and then find that supplements, vitamins, or meal packages all count as extra.
What About Old Habits?
Ask what long-term strategies are used to deal with weight problems you may have in the future. Is there a support system, for example?
Who Is On Staff?
Ask if there are qualified counselors such as registered dietitians, doctors, nurses, psychologists, personal trainers, exercise physiologists, or other professionals.
How Often Will You Be Monitored?
You should find out how your progress will be monitored and by whom.
It’s All About You
The program should consider your food likes and dislikes and your lifestyle when weight loss goals are planned. This goes for both your meal plan and your exercise regimen.
No Quick Fix, Just Slow n’ Steady
We can’t stress enough that the weight-loss program you choose should be directed toward a slow, steady weight loss unless your doctor feels you would benefit from a more rapid weight loss.
Remember, though, that you can expect a more dramatic weight loss during the first one to two weeks. This is mostly fluid loss. Don’t be discouraged if later weight loss isn’t as dramatic. It’s the long-term that you need to be thinking about, although it’s tempting to want to lose weight fast for swimsuit season, a class reunion or for some other immediate personal reason.
Does the weight loss plan include:
- group support
- lifestyle modification advice
- weight maintenance counseling
- food replacements. If so at what cost per month?
- vitamins and other dietary supplements. If so, at what cost per month?
- diagnostic tests. What kind and how much will you be charged?
- physical activity. Exercise needs to be a component of any healthy weight loss plan. If so, what kind?
- prescription weight loss drugs. If so, check with your doctor.
- keeping food diaries or other monitoring activities. These can be very helpful in helping you keep track of calorie intake.
- surgery. If so, check with your doctor.
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