Some people prefer to lose weight on their own while others like the support of a structured group program. If you decide to participate in any kind of weight control program, here are some questions to ask before you begin.
Does the program provide counseling to help you change your eating activity and personal habits? The program should teach you how to change permanently those eating habits and lifestyle factors, such as lack of physical activity, that have contributed to your weight gain. Of all of the strategies you can use to successfully lose weight, this one concept is, perhaps, the most important.
Is the staff made up of a variety of qualified health professionals who have the necessary training and experience to help you reach your weight loss goals? The most successful programs have a personal coach to help you stay on track and be available to answer specific questions that will arise on your weight loss journey. In addition, you will need to be evaluated by a physician if you have any health problems or you are currently taking any medicine, or plan on taking any medicine. If you are in need of losing more than 15 to 20 pounds or if the weight loss plan you are considering uses a very low-calorie diet, an exam and follow up visits by your doctor is mandatory.
Will someone be available to you during times when you may feel stressed and slip back to old habits? The program should provide long-term strategies to deal with weight problems you may have in the future. These strategies might include things like setting up a support system and establishing a physical activity routine.
Is attention paid to keeping the weight off? This concept is the single biggest consideration when evaluating the efficacy of any healthy weight loss program. As you know, the vast majority of weight loss programs fail. In other words, of the people who initiate a weight loss program, 95% of them will gain all of their weight back plus add some within six to twelve months of getting off the program. Choose a program that teaches skills and techniques to make permanent changes in eating habits and levels of physical activity to prevent weight gain and the disappointment that comes with weight loss failure.
Are food choices flexible and suitable? Are weight goals set by the client and the health professional? The program should consider your food likes and dislikes and your lifestyle when your weight loss goals are planned.
There are other questions you can ask about how well a program works. Because many programs don't gather this information, you may not get answers. But it's still important to ask them:
- What percentage of people complete the program?
- What is the average weight loss among people who finish the program?
- What percentage of people have problems or side effects? What are they?
- Are there fees or costs for additional items, such as dietary supplements?
Remember, quick weight loss methods don't provide lasting results. Weight loss methods that rely on gimmicky diet aids, prepackaged foods, or diet pills don't work in the long run. Whether you lose weight on your own or with a group, remember that the most important changes are long term. No matter how much weight you have to lose, modest goals and a slow course will increase your chances of both losing the weight and keeping it off.