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Evaluating Weight-Loss Programs

Before you join weight-loss centers or programs, call and ask the following questions to determine whether you should even consider visiting. The sales reps will often urge you to come in and talk because they know how to sell you when you are there in person. It's hard to ask analytical questions after the box of Kleenex comes out, and you're in the throes of emotion. So resist the sales rep's urging and try to get answers to these questions over the phone before you visit:

Question Preferred Answer
Do you offer prepackaged foods, and do I need to eat them? No, we want you to eat your own food.
Do I have to weigh my food? No.
Does the plan encourage or discourage me from skipping meals or not eating for periods of time? We discourage any kind of starvation mode. We make sure you get adequate food on a day-to-day basis to keep your metabolism and every high.
Do you recommend low-glycemic eating? Yes, we do.
What percentage of fat intake do you recommend? Between 25-30% of your daily calories should come from fat.
Do you recommend that I take essential fatty acids? Yes, EFAs will help you burn excess fat.
Do you recommend I use a hunger scale? Yes, we want you to learn how to know your body and honor its hunger needs.
Is there a maintenance plan? The plan you'll use to get to your ideal size is basically the same one you'll use to stay there.
Do you suggest I use any products containing ephedra, bitter orange, ma huang, or country mallow? No, for health reasons, we don't promote their use.
Do you suggest I use bulking agents so that I feel full? No, we don't use them.
Does your program include soy shakes or protein drinks? No, our program doesn't. You can use them occasionally if you want.
Do you recommend an exercise program? Yes, we'll help you design one that suits you and your lifestyle.
How fast can I lose my weight? We don't encourage fast weight loss but rather genuine, slow loss that stays off. We know the dangers of yo-yo dieting and want you to avoid it.
Do you recommend that I use artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, weak saccharine, or Splenda? No.
Can you give me the names of several people who have used your system? I would like to call them. I want to talk with a couple of people who were successful, and some who were not. We don't give out client names, but we can ask several to phone you.

Only after a weight-loss program answers these questions to your satisfaction should you consider setting up a meeting. When you do go, stay alert. Consider other alternatives and don't sign anything on your first visit.

Make note: before you visit a weight-loss program or diet center, pause and ask yourself why you're going. Is it for motivational support? If so, maybe the program will help. Or is it because you can't control your own eating and need to be forced into a rigid plan? If so, the weight-loss system might not be adequate to help you stay at your ideal size for life. You might be setting yourself up for one more yo-yo dieting failure.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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