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Despite what infomercials claim, pills, shakes and vibrating belts will not melt the fat away. That takes a lifelong weight-loss and maintenance program. To some, though, logging on to lose weight sounds like cheating, but legitimate weight-loss programs exist on the net. You just need to know what to look for. Choosing the best program will require hard work and a little patience, but so will weight-loss. Both are worth it in the end.
Make an appointment with your doctor for a complete physical. Have your blood pressure and heart rate checked, and ask about any necessary blood work. Get his advice on an online weight-loss program. Ask about programs that will not interfere with possible medical conditions or medications, if that applies.
Look for a program run by certified professionals and preferably accredited by a dietary association. Look through each program's site for instructors, counselor and moderator licensing and education information. Contact companies that do not provide this information on their website.
Check a program's educational section for video or audio lessons. See whether they are included in the membership price, and how often they are available. Check into lesson content, too. Find a program that balances their education on diet and fitness. See who is writing, teaching or overseeing the production of the lessons before buying into the weight-loss program.
Know your budget before you search for an online program. Finding a free online program may encourage you to press "sign up now," but take time to read the fine print. Check into the hidden costs, such as specialized food products or fees for online support materials. Find a program that suits both your needs and budget, without hidden fees and false promises.
Look for a program with high-tech features, such as calories trackers that update to the online site for you smartphone or tablet. Check into whether private or public journaling is available, and the ability to communicate with staff through email or phone.
Check the program's accountability perks: chatrooms, meal planners and trackers, message boards and calorie counters. Look for bonuses, such as calorie lists for chain restaurants and even local meetup groups. Skip programs without at least a few perks, especially if they cost a fee.
Find an online weight-loss program that teaches making lifelong health changes. Sign up for a program that prescribes a healthy diet, exercise, instead of fad diets and quick fixes. Stay away from programs promising fast results and easy solution, or untested herbal supplements.
Email administrative staff and ask about past client's long-term weight loss success. Ask how teachers and counselors follow up with clients, both during the process and after. Check whether the program offers local in-person classes or support groups to accompany the online program, too.
Ask yourself whether it's a weight-loss program that fits into your lifestyle. Check whether a diet plan is rigid or allows room for your favorite guilty pleasure -- in moderation.
- Ask around -- log onto a weight-loss chat room and ask for suggestions. Take into consideration the user's past and present experiences when checking out online programs. Ask which sites offer free trials, and check those out first.