How to Choose a Weight Loss Program

Dec 08, 2019
If you're looking to lose weight, you may find yourself overwhelmed by all the options on the market. There is no shortage of plans, programs, protocols and systems all claiming to be the "one." It's a shiny circus full of midway men and women calling out to you with giant promises and grand schemes to get your attention and your dollar. But you need a real solution to your very real weight problem. So how do you choose the perfect program within the noisy market? Easy, you put them to the test.
I have been working with women and weight loss for over a decade. Which is probably less time than most of you have been buying and trying various weight loss programs. So I know I'm preaching to the choir about how important it is to choose the right weight loss program/regime/book/protocol/system for you. Because if you don't, the stakes can be high: physically, mentally and financially.
By the time women come to me, they have tried it all:
Weight Watchers, Atkins, NutriSystem, South Beach Diet, Ideal Protein, The Zone, Noom, Whole 30, Jenny Craig, Nutritarian, Slim Fast, Biggest Loser, MediFast, HMR, Optavia, and of course, Keto, or some version of keto.
As a Registered Dietitian, I see all those diets for what they are: various manifestations of the same thing. Also, as a student of the industry and human behavior, I know there are key components to any weight loss program that have been shown to be more successful.
The criteria I want you to use to judge your next weight loss program can be applied to any weight loss program. If it's missing a key component, move on, sister. If the plan is missing one of the pieces you won't be able to:
1. lose the weight
2. keep it off past 6 months
3. be anything but lonely and miserable the whole time
Let's begin.
[ ] Criteria #1: Does the program have the right diet plan?
This is criteria is simple, but not easy. Does the program actually have you eating food that helps you burn your excess body fat? You'd assume that they all do... but they don't!
You see, there is debate about what the right diet plan is. That's why we have soooooo many different plans, systems, protocols, and regimens.
Here's the easiest way to tell if the diet plan is correct: does it count calories or does it address the root cause of your weight gain which is hormones?
If the diet plan has you counting calories, points, units, grams or servings, this is not the right diet plan for you. Counting calories is the wrong diet approach for weight loss for women over 40 and can actually do harm to your metabolism.
You want a diet plan that addresses the fact that the reason you are overweight is because of how food affects your hormones and not because you just eat too much.
You won't be eating the right foods if you think it's just about calories.
If the diet plan is based on eating less and moving more, that's the wrong diet plan.
Examples of programs that don't have you eating the right way:
Weight Watchers, Noom, NutriSystem, HMR, Jenny Craig, The Biggest Loser, & MediFast
They all have you barking up the wrong tree right from the beginning. They are rooted in the theory that your weight problem lies in too many calories in and too little calories out. They rely on counting calories, portion control, and counting grams of protein. These programs lead to rapid weight regain after difficult weight loss, many weight loss stalls and plateaus and certainly stress from counting and tracking all the calories.
[ ] Subcriteria #1: Does it use real food or do you have to buy pre-packaged food?
This is a question about sustainability and dependence. HMR, MediFast, Slim Fast, Ideal Protein, Jenny Craig, and NutriSystem all require you to buy their food/snacks/products to be on the program. That certainly creates a nice little revenue stream for them and leaves you dependent on them for your weight control.
Real weight loss is attainable for anyone using regular food from the perimeter of the grocery store. If the plan requires you to buy pre-packaged food, that is not the right diet plan. Processed foods are never good for you and are certainly determinantal to balancing your hormones for weight control.
[ ] Criteria #2: Does the program address your relationship with food or does it depend on willpower and shame to force you to eat differently?
This is a huge problem with most weight loss programs because it's complex and difficult to tackle. Most diets swoop in with their huge promises and upend your world with heavy restrictions and then it's a race to see how much weight you can lose until you crack.
Until you break.
Until you can't stand it anymore.
Because most diets, again, don't get to the root cause of the problem. They haven't addressed why you craved and grabbed the wrong food in the first place.
Why you use food for self-soothing.
So when it's 4 p.m. and your boss has just yelled at you for something you didn't do and your son is in money trouble again and your husband has checked out and won't help, you're not grabbing the carrot sticks and hummus that's written on your meal plan.
Nope, your grabbing fast food to eat by yourself in the car after work and then pouring a glass (or three) of wine when you get home before you decide you really just want someone to deliver pizza for dinner.
And how do you feel the next morning?
Shameful. Like you failed again.
But you didn't fail, your weight loss program failed you.
If you don't address your relationship with food, you will be forced to use shame and willpower to make you to eat what you know you should eat. And this is recipe for giving up and self-loathing due to another (inevitable) failed attempt.
[ ] Subcriteria #2: Does the system demand complicated adherence?
Complicated and hyper-strict rules for results are the elements of a bad weight loss program. Because restriction and rules can't be followed forever, no matter how desperate you are to lose the weight.
Examples of programs that don't address your relationship with food and are complicated:
Weight Watchers, Keto, Atkins, MediFast, SlimFast, Ideal Protein, HMR, & The Zone Diet are examples of weight loss programs that don't address your relationship with food and/or have hyper-strict rules to follow for results.
The minute you have a bad day... or have a good day... or have a feeling on any day.... you're forced to use willpower to not eat what you want to eat to make you feel better. Your willpower will fail you because you haven't addressed why you wanted and ate the stash of M&M's in your purse in the first place.
But here you are, stressed. And there they are, calling to you and you don't have the energy or bandwidth to find a hard-boiled egg. And a hard-boiled egg just isn't gonna cut it.
[ ] Criteria #3: Does the program support you personally with a community and an expert guide that you can reach when you need to?
Did you know that by joining a group of people to lose weight, you've increased your chances of success?
Researchers looked at over 60 separate group interventions for weight loss in over 47 trials with over 10,700 participants and found, if you are in a group you will lose on average about 7.7 more pounds than had you bought the book and done it on your own. [1]
This is where we can finally stop harping on Weight Watchers. They get this. The commercial diet is horrible, but they nailed the community support structure. This is why Weight Watchers gets any success at all. It's their meetings. It's their community.
But there is still one problem with the Weight Watchers model. There is no expert at the helm of the communities and small groups. The advice is pre-programmed one liners and platitudes by a well-intentioned volunteer that doesn't help anyone overcome mental blocks or problem solve.
Don't get me wrong, it's wonderful to volunteer and be a support person for another woman who needs it, it's just not as effective for weight loss as having a trained expert leading the group.
Soft-core self-acceptance vigils don't create a swimsuit ready body or transform our relationship with mac and cheese.
We need communities of supportive and sympathetic people that are trying to lose weight just like us. We need them right beside us, cheering us on, inspiring us, calling us on our crap, and reminding us how far we've come.
And we need a qualified guide to help us when we have questions or doubts. To help us stay focused and not get distracted by the shiny objects and noise around us.
You need a trusted coach and supportive teammates if you want to win the weight control game.
Examples of diets that leave you alone to figure it out:
South Beach Diet, Atkins, The Zone Diet, all the diet books...
If you are one of the 45 million people who plan to be on diet in the next year [2] please know two things:
1. You're worth it! Do it! Go for it!
Losing weight is important and needs to be addressed sooner than later for your health and quality of life.
2. You're worth it! You're a beautifully made human being with feelings that deserve respect. Find a program that doesn't shame you and respects your whole "humanness:" body, mind, and soul.
Find the program that says:
1. You're worth the effort of learning to eat well to balance your hormones so that you can naturally lose lose weight without starving yourself and being miserable.
2. You're worth the effort of digging deep into why you reach for food to self-soothe your emotions and what to do instead.
3. You're worth the effort of getting to know and showing up for so that you can be supported and encouraged throughout the process.
Yes, you absolutely join a weight loss program to lose weight. It's super important. And now you know what you should look for in a great weight loss program:
[ ] Criteria #1: Does the program have the right diet plan?
[ ] Subcriteria #1: Does it use real food or do you have to buy pre-packed food?
[ ] Criteria #2: Does the program address your relationship with food or does it depend on willpower and shame to force you to eat differently?
[ ] Subcriteria #2: Does the system demand complicated adherence?
[ ] Criteria #3: Does the program support you personally with a community and an expert guide that you can reach when you need to?
If you are ready for a weight loss program that meets all the criteria and has a proven method of success, then may I suggest learning more about the Freese Method Online Group Weight Loss Program.
It is a supportive and respectful community of women who are learning to eat normal, delicious, filling food that they cook at the right times so that they can control their hormones and lose weight and keep it off. The Freese Method spends four weeks diving into how to transform your relationship with food so you can break free from the shame and willpower struggle. It's principles are simple and the program is customizable to fit your life with the help of a trained weight loss expert.
It's the whole package.
Just like you.
[1.] Borek AJ, Abraham C, Greaves CJ, Tarrant M. Group-based diet and physical activity weight-loss interventions: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Appl Psychol Health Well Being. 2018;10(1):62-86.

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.