How do you choose a weight loss diet that works for you?

Health - Reading time: 6 minutes

For whatever reason, you feel the need to lose weight. And there are thousands of weight loss diet guides available. Online alone, there are endless diet and weight loss programs, pills, supplements and theories.

How should you go about choosing one that will suit you? Here are some ideas to help you assess each plan or product.

Why you want to lose weight

Do you want to lose just a few pounds - for your wedding, a special event, or just to get rid of winter's residue? Or are you looking for long term sustained weight loss to help you overcome a weight problem you've had for a long time?

While most diets and weight loss programs advertise 'fast' or 'rapid' weight loss, you need to decide how fast you want to lose weight, and look at the potential weight loss and time period of the plan or program. For instance, if you have a month to a special event, and you want to lose 12 pounds, a program that can result in 9 pounds loss in 14 days will be perfect.

If you have a lot of weight to lose, a program that has more long-term benefits and is easier to maintain will give you better results. Remember that we're all different, and your success rate depends on various factors, so try to give yourself more time to lose the weight - the 'potential' weight loss is not always easy to achieve!

Your lifestyle. Are you single?

Dieting while catering for a family is difficult - especially if you're eating celery while cooking something delicious - and fattening - for everyone else to tuck into! Your lifestyle also dictates how much time you have on hand.

A pressurised career, busy social life, or the demands of children could mean you'd prefer a diet plan that does most of the work for you. Sitting working out menus and weighing and measuring each morsel of food is not for the busy, time-challenged amongst us!

And if a busy social life means a lot of going out for meals, you'll want to look for a diet that is more flexible in terms of the types of food you can eat.

Exercise

Most weight loss programs recommend some exercise - or at least they should. Part of a healthy lifestyle is exercise, in whatever shape and form you prefer. Again, the time you have available and your lifestyle will steer you in a certain direction.

If you walk the dogs on weekends at the moment, it may be easy to add two more walks mid-week. If you're an early riser and spend an hour in bed reading the newspaper, you can easily take half an hour of that for exercise. If you're rushing around from dawn to dusk and flop home exhausted, you may have to get clever with the exercise!

Not too many of us want a weight loss program that has us running marathons, but the plan you choose needs to be one that you can work with.

Discipline

If self-discipline was in our nature, we'd start talking with 'Please' and 'Thank you' in our vocabulary, and be tidying up after ourselves as soon as we could walk. Our parents had to teach us, nag us and drive us and themselves nuts to get those - and other - habits to BE habits.

Going on a diet requires the same self-discipline - and it's tough. Depending on which diet you choose, you may have to radically change your eating habits.

A Reward system can be a good motivator - just like mum and dad used, although self-inflicted time-outs may not work! Chart your progress - yep, the good old star chart - and put in place rewards to keep you going (not diet-breaking rewards, but a night at the movies, a new book, new lipstick!).

Dieting with a friend helps too - a little friendly competition and moral support will do wonders. Join a weight loss forum on-line for tips, motivation and support.

Basically, when you're choosing the best weight loss program for you, you need to look at all the areas of your life that dieting and exercise can affect. Assess each program or plan based on how you live your life now, because although the most radical change may provide quick results, it is going to be more difficult to stick to, and a lot more difficult to maintain.

If it's an uphill battle to follow the plan, your chances of not achieving your goal will be much higher. Once you've made the decision to lose weight, you're half way there.

Find a plan or program that works WITH you - and you'll achieve your weight loss goals.

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