Weight Loss Support Is Critical
Losing weight is not rocket science. It requires no special diet, no special foods and no special exercise program. All we need to do is eat less calories than we burn. Despite this, as well as an ever growing number of diets and weight control plans, obesity continues to grow. And the vast majority of dieters find it almost impossible to lose weight without regaining everything within a matter of months. Why is this? Answer: because we don't get enough support.
Get Proper Help To Lose Weight
Our greatest need when dieting is encouragement. We need people to cheer our successes and help us overcome our disasters. Amazingly, most online weight loss programs fail to address this need. Instead, they focus on what we should eat, how many calories we should consume, and what exercise we should take. And while this advice is useful, it's not critical. Because most of us know this stuff already. What we have difficulty with, is motivation. We know what to do in order to lose weight, but we can't sustain it. Maybe we lack a strong incentive, or perhaps our family situation interferes with our weight loss plans, or maybe we hate cooking and eat out too often. Whatever difficulty we have, it's not likely to involve food or exercise. It's much more likely to be a motivational or lifestyle problem. Yet as I say, most online programs don't offer motivational or lifestyle support. And even when they do, their advice can often be expensive and quite uninspiring!
Survey Of Dieters
The value of proper support was highlighted in a recent survey of members of Anne Collins online weight loss program. The program includes a 24/7 community forum specializing in motivation and lifestyle support, with several thousand topics and approximately 100,000 posts. Subjects were asked to assess the personal benefit they had obtained from the forum. A total of 1,348 subjects responded, of whom 81 percent rated the program's community forum as "important" or "very important" in helping them to lose weight, while less than 5 percent said it "made no difference." While in no way conclusive, the results indicate the practical value of a "community" approach to weight management.
Weight Loss Meetings
For urban dieters, Weight Watchers is probably the best option. Their meetings are specially designed to help dieters overcome difficulties, but even Weight Watchers has its limitations. First, it's not cheap to join. Secondly, members typically attend only once a week. So if your diet-wagon loses a wheel on Saturday night, you may have to wait several days for the next meeting to help you out. Like eDiets, Weight Watchers now offers an online service, but again - at something like 0-300 a year - it's not cheap.
Not Easy To Change Habits
Changing our eating habits is no easy matter. Sure, it helps to know that a cup of fat-free milk contains 40 percent fewer calories and 16 times less fat than whole milk, or that lean ground steak contains half the calories and 4 times less fat than regular cheddar cheese, but how does this help us to say No to a second helping of pizza? How does it quench our desire for a double cheeseburger and fries? It doesn't. Because facing down temptation requires a change of attitude, a change of priorities. And in my experience, this takes time and as much encouragement as we can get. We need to hear from people like us who have managed to change their attitude and eating habits, and who can explain how to overcome the problems involved. Above all, we need a safety-net if we fail. We need shoulders to cry on and "tough love" to help us win through. In short, we need the support of a real community.
Join An Online Community Forum
In my experience, dieters who join a good online community forum can expect to lose 400-500 percent more weight than those who go solo. In addition, if they maintain their community membership after achieving their goals, they have an excellent chance of maintaining their weight loss indefinitely. This is because an online community can provide a number of specific benefits. First, as stated, it offers personal advice and encouragement. Secondly, it offers members the opportunity to help other people - something that typically works wonders for their self-esteem and understanding. Thirdly, most community forums are self-run. Members may progress to become moderators or resident experts. This too is a real confidence booster as well as a great incentive to maintain weight lost. But by far the major benefit is the fact that online forums are in action 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So support and human warmth is available whenever you need it. They are real 24/7 safety nets, especially Anne Collins forum which has members from all time zones of the world.
Features To Look For
The best forums are active, well-managed and provide quality advice and support. Activity is best judged by checking the number of "active" members, rather than total membership. And the greater the number of recent threads (topics) and posts (messages), the better. Assessing the management and quality of the forum is a bit more difficult. To do this, open a recent thread, scan the posts and look for the following. First, how quickly do members and/or moderators reply to questions asked? Second, are the questions and answers reasonably serious, or more frivolous? Generally, a well-managed forum will have a higher percentage of serious posts. Other questions to ask yourself include: how "personal" does the forum appear to be? Do you feel a sense of warmth and caring? What age-groups are most active? Take a good look around, and don't hurry. Finding the right forum for yourself is crucial to your weight loss success.
Summary: Focus On What Matters
The secret of successful weight loss is to focus on what matters. So don't waste too much time or money trying to find the "perfect" diet. I mean no disrespect to any dietitian or nutritionist but, for most people, a diet is a diet is a diet. As long as it's reasonably balanced and includes a reasonable number of calories, it'll do fine. What really matters is support - to help you cope with temptation and disruption during your journey. An excellent option is to join an online weight loss forum and be part of a real community. Because when you have tons of friendly people cheering you on, you can move mountains.
About the Author: Anne Collins, 54, is a qualified nutritionist and full time weight management consultant with over 24 years experience. Annecollins.com attracts 9 million unique visitors per annum, and her weight loss forum is one of the most active communities on the Internet.
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