Is Dieting for You?

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Updated June 01, 2014.

Weight Loss 101

Dieting, like many other issues related to our well being, is a highly personal process. What works for everyone you know may not work for you. In fact, you may find your weight-loss efforts are more successful when you change your lifestyle rather than dieting at all. So, is dieting for you?
Before you make the decision about how you are going to lose weight, you need to have set a healthy weight, learned how to track your BMI, to understand how your metabolism and how calories work.

The choice you need to make now is: Will you follow a diet or "do it yourself" (DIY)?

Many people follow set diets to lose weight and some of them keep it off; quite a few others create their own "DIY" plan of cutting calories by using a Web site like's calorie Count, reducing portions, and making healthier choices.

Which way will work for you? You may not know for certain until you try for yourself, but the following may help you decide:

Who Should Diet or DIY?

Those who do best with DIY plans:
  • understand the concept of calorie counting
  • have a good knowledge of basic nutrition
  • are honest about their food intake
  • are careful about portion sizes
  • eat a variety of foods

Those who do best with diets:
  • need structure in their meal plans
  • may need to be willing to eliminate certain foods for good or for a period of time (e.g. two weeks of a particular "Phase" of the diet)
  • research diets until they find the best fit for them
  • stay on the diet for the duration of their weight loss and then adapt it to weight maintenance

    The Big Picture

    The reality is many people can't stick to a diet long enough to get to -- or stay at -- their goal weight. Diets that are too strict or that eliminate your favorite foods make it virtually impossible to do so.
    If you have a lot of weight to lose, say 100 pounds, are you willing to follow a set meal plan for the diet you are considering, or eat pre-packaged foods, for up to an entire year? Think about that before you choose a diet; weight loss programs with more flexibility (such as Weight Watchers) are easier to stick to for long-term success.

    Those dismal statistics you hear that practically everyone who loses weight gaining it back, do, unfortunately, have some truth to them. That's because many diets don't provide a plan for keeping the weight off. Once you're done, you're on your own ... and that's where trouble can start. The moment you return to your old eating habits, the weight will start to come back.

    If You are the "Dieting" Type

    Don't get me wrong, diets do work for some people. Some of us need structure in every aspect our lives and a diet plan provides that for your eating habits.
    If you know you are the type of person who not only can tolerate -- but actually prefers -- to be told what to eat (and even when), then you will probably be better off following a diet than creating your own plan.

    If you find a diet plan that you are willing to follow for the rest of your life (one that recommends lifestyle changes rather than temporary solutions), then you can be confident of long-term success.

    It may take a couple weeks on any given diet for you to find out if it is "doable" for you. (If you wake up every day dreading eating, that's a sure-fire sign that diet isn't for you.)

    Make the Choice

    If you find it easier to be given a meal plan to follow, it's time to give a diet a try. If you like the most flexibility possible and freedom to eat any food of your choosing, DIY is probably for you. If one method doesn't work for you, you can always switch at any time.
    My personal take on it? In my experience, I am more likely to lose weight and keep it off if I do it my way rather than the way someone else tells me to. But that's me. The key to weight loss is finding what works for you and then sticking to it.

    Continue: Before You Choose a Diet

    More Weight Loss 101

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