Slimming Clubs - weight loss is easier with support

Don't go it alone!
Don't go it alone!

If you know it's time you embarked upon (another) diet - to get a few pounds off for the summer, to be a bit healthier, to address that weight that's crept back up on you over the years, or even to make a life-altering change in your appearance, health and wellbeing... then you want to give yourself every chance of success.

Weight loss is indeed a very personal journey.  We all piled it on for different reasons in the first place, and our motivations for tackling the problem are incredibly diverse... some people hate what they see in the mirror, others have health concerns, want to be more active, want to start a family, can't fit in last year's summer clothes, are counting down to a wedding - there are more reasons than there are dieters, as most of us have several!  

However, all of us have a few things in common:

  • We want to commit to make a change in our lives, right now
  • We're probably surrounded by friends/partners/colleagues who haven't just reached the same point in their life and decided to lose weight
  • We want to talk about it!  About our food cravings, our targets, and our reasons for doing it, our good weeks and our bad weeks...
  • We all find most things easier with some kind of structure or programme.  Like weight loss - how many of us can honestly say we don't know why we're overweight and what we'd have to do to get rid of it?  But knowing the theory isn't the same as having a plan to follow
  • We all like motivation and encouragement.  Some of us are lucky enough to get that at home, at least some well-meaning if vague words...  But we might not even want to tell everyone around us at first, and who wants to turn into a 'diet bore' anyway?

So why go it alone?  There are hundreds of groups and clubs out there who can help you to achieve your goals.  Slimming clubs have a bad press as a butt of humorous jokes - long before Little Britain's Marjorie Dawes there were whole comedy sketches based around the horrors of public weigh-ins, the humiliation of unsuccessful weight losers, the draconian lists of 'bad' foods etc.  The reality is that this couldn't be further from the truth of most reputable slimming groups run by motivational and sensitive organisers - many of whom have specific training in counseling and support, and in a lot of programmes are required to have themselves lost weight by following the programmes personally.  

You need to research carefully as the exact structure of the group session varies - some have weigh-ins, some don't, some announce your weight-loss (not your weight!) to the group, whereas others undertake never to do so.  Some include exercise sessions, some motivational talks; others will help you set personal targets in a quick one-to-one session with the group facilitator.

Perhaps there's something deep inside of you that doesn’t want to associate with other overweight people, or simply doesn’t feel like getting to know new people right now and talking about your weight stuff with them.  Or you might simply be too busy and overcommitted to join a group.  Don't worry, because there are lots of different ways you can get that group support without having to go along to a community centre every Tuesday evening or whatever, unless you really want to.  All of the major group organisations like Weightwatchers and Slimming World now offer online versions of their clubs, which aim to replicate the supportive environment and informed encouragement that a meeting would offer.  Like the face to face versions the precise offers vary, and it's well worth shopping around to work out not just which actual diet programme would suit you best but also which is going to be the right fit in terms of how you get support.  Are you a forums person?  Or do you prefer one to one email responses, or are you good at digging through online resources and solving queries and problems for yourself?  

Many newer (and often cheaper) services have arisen that are purely online.  The tools for monitoring and motivating members are increasingly sophisticated and fun - most will encourage you to input your weight and measurements and then plot these for you, and some will send you 'awards' to commemorate milestones such as losing a stone, a BMI point, or a significant proportion of your body weight.  Many have lively and active user communities, where people on the same programme can buddy up, ask questions, motivate each other and celebrate their achievements.  Some have greater emphasis on exercise a combined exercise/diet approach for rapid weight loss.

There are programs which provide some degree of 'kit' to use at home, such as food measuring items, pocket reference books for when you're out and about, exercise equipment like pedometers...  You need to think about what will motivate you to stay with it when you are craving cake!  Some of them also provide a full 'offline at home' package, generally for a one-off fee, that includes workbooks and journals, perhaps with telephone support but generally designed for use alone at home.

Most of the online clubs have a monthly payment structure, some requiring an initial 3 month financial commitment (after all, you need to be ready to give it 3 months if you want to see a significant weight change).  Obviously any that are going to send you a nice parcel of at-home kit will charge for that, generally in the form of a joining fee.  Generally though online membership fees work out lower than the cost of joining a face-to-face club, as there are no room rental costs etc for the organisation concerned - you just need to be clear about whether what's included in the price is going to meet your needs, for the right combination of information, program structure, accessibility and support.

Researching and making this decision will help you to realize that YOU are in control, and whether or not you achieve your weight loss objectives is within your sole power.  Finding the right support maximizes your chances of success, and you owe it to yourself to invest in this and give yourself every opportunity of achieving your goals.  Good luck!

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