We can all agree that losing weight is hard. What’s also hard is finding a weight loss plan that actually works. There unfortunately isn’t a “one size fits all” strategy for shedding those pesky pounds. After all, a young mother of three with a full-time job and a retiree suffering from heart disease probably have very different needs when it comes to the ideal diet.
With the hope of making your search for the perfect weight loss plan a little easier, health insights website Treato recently published its first annual list of the best websites for diet and weight loss. Here are some important questions to consider when choosing a weight loss plan:
What’s worked for you in the past? What hasn’t?
If this isn’t your first weight loss rodeo, then you’ve probably tried at least a few diet or workout fads. Did any of them work? How did they make you feel? Physically? Emotionally? If you think back to weight loss plans you’ve tried in the past, you should be able to come up with a few lessons, either positive or negative, that will help you make a better decision this time around.
One aspect of losing weight that you shouldn’t compromise on is the idea that slow and steady wins the race. Any plan that encourages you to drop more than .5-2 pounds a week is a sure loser.
How much support do you need?
Different weight loss sites offer varying degrees of support. Are you a lone wolf — or more of a “Kumbaya” type? Treato found that Weight Watchers, for example, is a very tight-knit community in which members can lean on each other for emotional support. My Fitness Pal, on the other hand, focuses on a simple “calories in, calories out” approach that does not necessarily call for much personal interaction between users.
There’s also the question of the type of support you’re seeking. If you and your significant other have teamed up for a weight loss challenge, then you probably won’t have much use for the daily weigh-ins that certain sites encourage. However, if you’re the only new mom in your group of friends, then you might want to check out a UK-based site called MumsNet, where moms vent to each other about the frustrations of losing the baby weight.
What do you eat now?
You might want to think twice about a diet that’s highly restrictive in terms of what you can eat. Diets often fail when people force themselves to stray too far from their established eating likes and dislikes. The ultimate goal should be striking a healthy balance between fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats and fish, and “good” fats like nuts and sunflower seeds. A low-carb diet? Not if you’re the type of person who craves bread morning, noon and night. If you don’t like to cook, then a meal plan requiring you to whip up elaborate dishes might be more trouble than it’s worth. Assuming that you have kids, you should also take into account the kinds of kid-friendly foods you’ll need to stock your pantry with to keep your little ones happy.
How do you like to get exercise?
Have you ever heard of people actually gaining weight while training for a marathon? Trust me, it happens. When it comes to weight loss, what you eat ultimately trumps how much you exercise. That said, every effective weight loss plan must include a fitness component.
How do you like to work up a sweat? Do you enjoy reclining in an elliptical machine while reading US Weekly or do you prefer going for a hike with your dog? Whatever activity gets you moving, try doing it 4-5 times a week. If you need some extra encouragement and want to tap into the kid inside you, look for a community that organizes kickball games and other fun meet-ups.
How much are you willing to spend?
Lastly, when choosing a new weight loss plan, decide whether cost is a factor. While sites like HealthUnlocked and SparkPeople are completely free to use, others require members to pay for meals, coaching and other services.