Monday, November 17, 2008

Can Online Weight Loss Programs Work?

With everyone having such a hectic schedule nowadays, there isn't always time to devote to attending diet classes and meetings in person. There are a variety of programs to help you lose weight that are conducted online, ranging from a specific membership through Weight Watchers, to my own Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight six week email program. But do these programs work if you are basically doing it without meeting a sponsor or leader in person?
Research says, "Yes it does"! There are several advantages to online weight loss programs and it might be a system that works for you. Consider the following if you find yourself too busy for a weight loss program that includes face-to-face meetings:

1. The convenience. Users can access the information from home, work, or even while on vacation. If one travels frequently and scheduled meetings are missed, the in-person system will not work for long. If there aren't meetings in your area, or you work odd shifts, the online system is still available 24/7 for you.
2. The cost. Without having to pay for an instructor or a meeting room, online programs can be offered for less money. Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight packages start at under $60! Many sites, such as Spark People and The Daily Plate, help by offering free membership if what you want is a place to go and log your intake, exercise, and calories, and to chat with others who have things in common with you.

3. Easy to stay in touch. Since people email back and forth in these programs, you don't have to be available to meet at the same time as you do in person or on the phone. Some programs have instructors that can answer your questions or evaluate your meal intake: You send them your information, they send you back comments and suggestions later in the day.

4. Anonymity. For people who require privacy, no one ever needs to see you, or know who you are! All they have is an email address to send information to. This allows weight loss clients to be more open and honest.

Any disadvantages to the online way to lose weight? It's not for everyone, and complicated cases such as people who require prescribed modified diets for medical reasons still need more individualized attention.

If you are really ready to start a weight loss program--ready to commit to making the changes in your diet to lead to a healthier life--but do not have the time to schedule weekly appointments, drive to a destination, and weigh in each week, consider that online weight loss programs may be the answer for you!

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