Maybe one of your new year’s resolutions was to lose a little weight. And maybe it’s not the first year you’ve had that as a new year’s resolution. Well, How is it going?

Losing weight on your own can be confusing, difficult, and down-right impossible at times. Luckily, there are a number of weight loss programs, books, nutritionists and other aids available to help get you on the path to success. But where do you start when choosing one? Keep reading for the six definitive questions you need to ask when selecting a weight-loss approach.

Are you in the market for a diet program, book, or licensed nutritionist? Before you part with your hard-earned cash, ask these questions:

1. Does the program rely on specially purchased foods? A diet based on prepackaged meals requires little effort on your part—many are just heat-and-eat. But it doesn’t teach you how to eat in the real world, where you’ll be going out to restaurants on occasion and cooking for yourself or your family. For long-term success, you need to learn healthy eating skills, including label-reading, low-fat cooking, portion control, and navigating restaurant menus. If the plan doesn’t offer you tips and techniques that you can use long after you’ve finished the program, move on.

2. Does the program include exercise? A good program should encourage exercise and other lifestyle habits that will help you lose weight and keep it off—and improve your overall health and well-being. One that eliminates physical activity altogether won’t give you the best results, so look for a program that includes ideas for all kinds and types of exercise.

3. Does the program emphasize weight maintenance?
Will you learn strategies that help keep the weight off—how to deal with social pressures, momentary lapses, emotional eating, and so on? If the program is lacking in this information, you should instead look for one that encompasses ways to keep the weight off for the long-term.

4. Does the program exclude any food group?
If it does, you’re likely to be missing out on vital nutrients and may need to take supplements to make up the difference. Supplementation is a viable option; however, a sound weight-loss program should be well-balanced and include foods from the four major food groups.

5. How much does the program really cost?
$29 or $59 dollars a month may sound inexpensive—but there are usually hidden costs and added fees once you add in all the extras such as food, meal replacements, and vitamin supplements. Avoid surprises by asking up front what exactly your monthly fee does—and doesn’t—cover.

6. Can you stick to the program for the rest of your life?
A controlled weight-loss program will work only if you stick with it—today, next month, and next year. If your answer is no, don’t expect the program to pay off in the long run.

If you’re searching for help in your weight loss goals, don’t go on a blind search. Make sure you ask the above six questions to ensure you’re getting the most for your money, and even more importantly, a program that will work for you.

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