The lack of diet and exercise over the years will eventually take its toll on either your health, looks or both. Whatever motivation is forcing you into a lifestyle change, think before signing on the dotted line. If you want to lose the weight, be healthy, and look good, you need a program that will encourage you to stick with it over time. Finding a program that addresses both the weight loss and exercise as it pertains to you personally is the key to success. So, when shopping around for the best program, here are some questions to ask beforehand:
1. Besides the weight loss program, is there also an exercise program?
Weight loss without the exercise component is a big mistake - big! Increasing lean muscle tissue while using fat as an energy source (losing the excess body fat) makes for a healthy looking person instead of an unhealthy "skinny" person. Lean and skinny are not the same. Lean you develop muscle tissue where you need it, lose the body fat and look great. Losing body fat without the increase in lean muscle produces a skinny, unattractive, unhealthy looking individual.
2. Is counseling provided to help you change your eating habits and teach you stress management techniques?
Let's face it, it definitely is not easy to make changes and, as a matter of fact it can be quite stressful. Add to that daily situations that may exist in your life (work and family) and you have more stress. Unless you learn techniques to help overcome these situations, it may be very difficult to make the changes you need to make in your eating habits. Learning stress management techniques increases the chance for a successful and healthy weight loss by giving you long-term and short-term strategies.
3. Are the individuals on staff qualified counselors and health professionals?
If you have a health condition, your evaluation should be done by a physician on staff or your own personal physician. This evaluation is especially important if you are on medication. Any programs that are based on very low calorie, special formula liquid diet, for 1 - 4 months, must be supervised by a physician who can personally monitor you during the program. Are the counselors qualified to help you set a healthy weight loss goal? Are there registered dietitians, exercise physiologists, nutritionists or nurses available to help you?
4. Is there a program to keep the weight off after your goal is reached?
Many people can work on losing the weight during the initial program. That is not the problem. The problem is keeping it off. Is there a specific program that will be available to you after the weight loss? If so, is there an added cost? How long does this program last? Will you be able to continue with your individual counseling?
5. Is there flexibility in your weight loss program as far as the foods you eat?
Will a nutritionist work with you to determine your likes and dislikes and set your eating program up based on this information? Or, will you be encouraged to buy pre-packaged foods you would not normally eat. These types of programs are not bad and can help you to lose the weight; however, sustaining that weight loss after the program may prove to be difficult, since you will be back to eating regular food again. The premise of a long-term weight loss is to make lifestyle changes in the way you shop, foods you buy, your preparation of those foods and your eating habits.
6. How many people have taken part in this program and what is the success rate?
There should be records on all the participants and information available for anyone who would like to know the number of participants who have started the program and how many completed the program. There should also be data to show the average weight loss.
7. Are there additional fees for any portions of the program?
Are there supplements that are a part of this weight loss program? If so, is there an additional fee? Is there a separate fee for a physical assessment to determine your physical capabilities for an exercise program?
These are questions that will help to determine the proper weight loss program for you. Remember, you want long-term changes not short-term so be aware you will have to make those changes yourself, no one else can make those for you.