"The number-one reason people regain weight is because they stop monitoring their behavior in the careful way they did while they were losing," Kimball says. "Most research on food diaries has found that they help people maintain their loss."
Weight-maintainers may record every day, once a week, or when they notice weight creep. A simple notebook is fine, but some online programs can calculate calories and nutrients. (Dietorganizer.com features software for PDA devices.) Just don't get lost in the details: Tracking what you ate, the portion size, and how you were feeling ("rushed," "bored") is sufficient.
The Skinny on Weight-Loss Coaching
Weight Watchers meetings were once the gold standard of diet support, but now you can seek virtual advice. Many Web sites claim to help members shed pounds. You need to investigate them with a discerning eye, and be wary of programs that peddle supplements. Some coaching services are free; others can cost hundreds of dollars a month. Here are some smart slim-down choices.
Internet support groups
Want to commiserate without climbing on a scale in public? WeightWatchers.com is based on the same program that you get in a traditional walk-in setting, with support from fellow dieters available via their online message boards ($29.95 sign-up fee; $16.95 a month). And eDiets.com, which Consumer Reports recently rated as one of the most effective online diet programs, provides a virtual community of 125 support groups (such as ones for forty-somethings and working moms). It can also partner you with someone who has similar fitness goals ($18 monthly).
Other sites go beyond the buddy system and offer advice from certified nutrition experts. Diet.com features customized weight-loss programs and has registered dietitians and other health professionals who monitor support-group chats and answer questions via e-mail ($2.29 to $4.99 per week). TrimTalk.com, the program Debbie Chabot used, has a board of medical experts, who train its counselors ($29.95 per 30-minute session).
If you can't find an online network you like, create your own. Recruit your own team of two to 10 people, and join the Live Healthy America 100-Day challenge. You'll go up against other teams to lose weight, eat healthy, and get fit. To sign up, go to livehealthyamerica.org. You can also invite friends to join a discussion group on Google or Yahoo.com, or find a diet buddy on the MORE.com message boards.
Originally published in MORE magazine, February 2008.
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