The Best Weight Loss Program For You?

9 points to consider and 5 programs analyzed. How to choose the best weight loss program after 50.

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As a serial dieter, I’ve tried just about every popular program from Weight Watchers to Nutrisystems to the Beverly Hills diet, the pasta diet, the cookie diet, diet pills, hypnosis, visualization, mantras, injections, etc. over the past forty plus years. I’m not alone in this.

According to Business Week.com we spend 40 billion dollars a year on programs, supplements and other aids. Health and Fitness clubs love January because they see a spike in new members registering to carry out their resolutions. Often the day someone signs up is the first and last day they see the club.

Every year we are bombarded with information on the hot new miracle weight loss plan, “guaranteed” to work for you. But how do you choose which program actually will work best for you? Which program will you truly be able to commit to and follow? 

I believe the key is to know yourself and to be brutally honest about what you are willing and able to do before you choose any plan. Look at what is required to follow a particular plan. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I like the food choices?
2. Do I want to prepare the foods required?  Or do I prefer to buy a plan’s prepared items?
3. Will the time required fit with my work, home schedule and other responsibilities? 
4. Do I want to attend meetings with other dieters?
5. Do I want sessions with a counselor?
6. Would a dieter buddy work for me?
7. Do I want to follow specific daily menus?
8. What level of record keeping can I commit to?
9. Are the costs realistic for me?

Here is a list of the most popular or well-known programs. I offer some personal observations.  All the programs work. . . . for some people.
 
Weight watchers - (www.Weightwatchers.com) This program has been operating for over forty years and is the grandmother of weight loss programs.

Weekly weigh-in meetings with fellow dieters for encouragement, accountability and support are a key element. An on-line program is also available. The PointsPlus program assigns points to foods to help change eating habits to low calorie, portion controlled meals, while tracking daily consumption. Excellent tracking tools are provided both online and for the regular program.  “Eat anything as long as you stick to the points system.”  Buy your own food, including their branded grocery store items.  No one-on-one counseling; however, at meetings the leader addresses individual questions and concerns. No diabetic plan. Men and women’s programs are available.

Summary: Good for someone who likes the encouragement of the group. Detailed record keeping is required.

Nuitrisystem - (www.Nuitrisystem.com)  According to Smart Money, (Jan.2010), “ Nutrisystem is the best value among the six most popular weight loss programs.”

Choose between their basic plan of delivered food requiring no refrigeration or their Chef’s Table fresh frozen food. Their personalized plans consisting of 28 days of food, snacks and protein drinks augmented by fresh foods from the grocery.  The food is delivered to your home on a monthly schedule. They offer no meetings but do have online assistance, online planners and tools to track your daily consumption of low glycemic, balanced, high fiber foods low in fat and sodium, in a 1250 daily calorie count. Using their reformulated, controlled portions, you can eat many favorite foods such as French toast, ice cream, pasta, etc.  The goal is to lose 1-2 pounds a week. Support continues as you transition to maintenance. Men’s, Women and, Diabetic programs are offered.

Summary: No accountability reporting to a group or counselor. Question whether one learns to make better food choices. Less expensive program 

Jenny Craig - (www.JennyCraig.com).  You eat their branded food and buy some of your own.  Personalize the program to fit  your lifestyle.

There are two options - At-Home or In-Centre. At-Home has convenience, and privacy with weekly phone consultations. In-Centre has personal support and motivation at one of their 650 locations with one-on–one consultations with an employee, online tools, and 24/7 support. There three levels.  Jenny-Set-Go is for when you want to lose a little or want to try the program. Premium Success is for more to lose more and you want motivation and rewards.  The emphasis is on developing a healthy relationship with food and an active lifestyle. They use social media, Jenny online community, blogs, and forum. No diabetic plan.  No group meetings.

Summary: Many options of tools and plans available to meet personal preferences.

Healthy Management Systems - (www.HMRProgram.com)   This hospital affiliated program has structure, support and medical supervision particularly geared to people with 40 pounds or more to lose.

You purchase their prepared foods – nutrient balanced entrées, shakes and bars, with later addition of fruits and vegetables, to be eaten every 4 hours so that you’re never hungry. You are held accountable by keeping records of eating and physical activity using online tools, phone calls and weekly group meetings with counselor.  The plans are created to take into account BMI and health issues. Continuing access to their meals is available for later maintenance as needed. Diabetic plans, Men’s and Women’s programs.

Summary: Their own prepared foods. Accountability to a counselor.  Medically approved nutrition. Attracts those serious about weight loss.

Quick Weight Loss - (www. QuickWeightLoss.com) Individual programs are combined with supervision. 

The emphasis is on understanding and changing behavior and the relationship with food for the long term. A food is a combination of grocery bought food with nutritional weight loss aids, herbal diet pills, their puddings, shakes and bars which are nutritionally well-balanced.  It is designed to lose 3-7 pounds per week. Private counseling, written service guarantee and maintenance plans are used. An at-home program offers online support. Men’s, Women’s and Children’s plans.

Summary: Attracts those serious about weight loss. Counseling and accountability. Emphasis on changing the relationship to food.
 
The expense associated with each of the programs varies from modest to hefty. Ask for the total weekly, monthly outlay for their food, supplements, visits etc. for the expected time you will be on their program.

Additional Websites to Explore

Inexpensive-
Diet Watch, The Fresh Diet.com, MDPrevent.net/Lean weight Loss, Sonoma Diet, South Beach, The Biggest Loser Club
Personalized- Diet.com, eDiets.com, Bistro MD, Fat Loss for Idiots
Diabetic- Why Insulin.com, Nutri SystemD, Medifast
Delivery Plans-Nutri Systems, Bistro MD

For me, the number one issue is making the mental commitment to change my eating and exercising habits.   Until, I’m ready to let go of excuses for not following the particulars of the plan/program, I’m setting myself up for frustration and disappointment. I have to banish the ‘dieters’ mentality of, “It’s just one teeny bite”, “just today, tomorrow I’ll be good/perfect, stricter,” because once I start down that lane, I find it hard to get back on track.

As it is for many other women over 55, I've found it's about changing my relationship with food and lifestyle. After I passed through menopause, weight went on quicker and took longer to shed.  It’s a new stage of life. I want it to be a healthy, active one.

I wish you success in finding the key to the slimmer, healthier you in 2012!

Please make comments below on your thoughts and what worked for you or what didn’t.

Related Articles:
Eat More, Lose More?
Tips for Eating Right - and Enjoyably

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