You keep promising yourself that you will get healthy for good. But when you are on your own, you’re more likely to lose your energy, your motivation and your ability to remember why donuts and ice cream were so bad in the first place. If you need a way to keep yourself on track find a good support system, this guide will help you figure out what kind of assistance will work best for you.
USE IF: You are new to exercise, you need help moving your workout to the next level, or you’re phobic about fitness.
WHY IT WORKS: Whether you want to lose weight, train for a marathon or get buff, “a true personal trainer will customize each session for that person,” says Susanne Wells, a Portland- based personal trainer and owner of Miss Fit Consulting. “This is not a manufactured workout.” In one or two half-hour sessions per week, your personal trainer can help you through an intense, efficient workout that builds strength and improves your cardiovascular fitness — even if you haven’t laced up a pair of tennis shoes in 20 years. And though Wells uses the dreaded body fat caliper during her initial consultation, personal trainers aren’t the no-pain-no-gain PE coaches you learned to fear in junior high. Think of them as cheerleaders, urging you to reach goals that are challenging for you, like doubling the number of sit-ups you can do in a minute.
INTIMIDATION FACTOR: HIGH. Clients may feel exposed during an initial consultation, but as long as you want to improve, a trainer will want to help you no matter what your body looks like. “I have a few people who say, `I’m going to come see you when I get in shape,” says Wells. “That cracks me up. That’s just another reason why I’m here, to help you get to that point where you feel like you’re in shape.”
Online Support Group
USE IF: You want good ideas, low-demand friendship and some anonymity.
WHY IT WORKS: Bonnie Fraser of Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts, wasn’t comfortable with Weight Watchers-style support group meetings — but when she started eating low-carb in 2002, she was frustrated that most of her friends and co-workers just didn’t get it. “I knew I needed to find someone who would support my choice,” she says. Being connected to people who understand and/or have experienced the same highs and lows helps to keep you motivated and on plan. Other side benefits: product recommendations, recipe swaps, even notices of great online bargains.
INTIMIDATION FACTOR: LOW TO NONE. The right site will yield an instant network of ultrasupportive friends, and you won’t even have to reveal your real name if you don’t want to. If you fall off the wagon, nobody gets on your case about it. You’ll find that you’ll receive excellent support and it will help to get you back on track.
USE IF: You’re too busy to eat right, have a lot of weight to lose or have a medical condition like diabetes.
WHY IT WORKS: Reading diet books can help you figure out the basics. But a book won’t tailor an eating plan for you, answer your questions or brainstorm alternatives for foods you hate the way a registered dietitian can. “The cookie-cutter formula doesn’t work for everybody,” says Peggy O’Shea, R.D., who works with clients in Brookline, Massachusetts. “A registered dietitian can help you pinpoint problems and provide specific suggestions for improvement that work with your lifestyle.” They can help you find your way in the food world by helping to rid your pantry of junk food and provide guided supermarket tours.
INTIMIDATION FACTOR: MODERATE. A dietitian’s credentials (like a degree in nutrition and years of practical experience) can be a tad daunting. But to make sure you and your dietitian click, it is recommended that you ask for a quick phone consultation before you sign on for regular sessions.
USE IF: You need help in setting goals, being accountable, or a listening ear.
WHY IT WORKS: “If you’re waiting to find a plan that just makes weight loss happen — and makes it easy and fun — you’re not going to. It’s much more fun to sit on the couch and eat,” say weight loss coaches Susan Abrahams and Jeffrey Morin. That down-to-earth attitude means the focus is less on perfecting your diet and more on replacing old habits. And Abrahams and Morin, who counsel clients long-distance through their coaching
service, Simple Not Easy, recognize that there are many ways to succeed. “We throw out a million suggestions,” they say. “There’s no right or wrong; it’s what works for you.” For instance, when a client relaxed after work by
eating her way through a bag of cookies, Abrahams and Morin created a long list of non- food destressors, like knitting or soaking in a hot tub, to help her replace her habit with a new one.
INTIMIDATION FACTOR: LOW TO MODERATE. Abrahams and Morin have struggled with their own weight problems, so they’re in the trenches with their clients, offering practical advice, real understanding and no dirty looks when you down three Dove bars for dinner. “Stumbling, failing and falling are all part of losing weight,” they say. “They’re great motivators.”
USE IF: You’re a social butterfly, a team player or an old hand at the diet approach who wants to perk things up.
WHY IT WORKS: Hooking up with a friend or family member when you’re trying to change lifelong habits provides built-in accountability: Shrugging off a 6 a.m. walk is harder when it also means bailing out on your best friend. Plus, you’re more likely to stick with changes simply because they’re more fun. Cindy Buchanan, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, started a diet plan the same day as her husband, Rick. Now they exercise together — they just bought bikes for after-dinner rides.
INTIMIDATION FACTOR: LOW. Admitting to your best friend about your late-night binge can be embarrassing. But remembering that your buddy loves you and wants you to succeed makes it easier to share failures — and celebrate successes.
Source: Diet and Fitness Special
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