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Questions to Ask When Choosing a Diet
How to choose the right diet for YOU.

How to choose the right diet for YOU.
What diet will work for you?

There is no shortage of advice for people going on a diet. There are tens of thousands of books, magazines, newspaper articles and websites that all claim to have the ultimate program that will help you lose weight and keep it off.

Unfortunately, for the majority of people, the first diet they choose won't work. That's also true for the second, third and even fourth diet people try.

The high failure rate of weight loss programs leads to some pretty strange behavior. People repeat programs that worked short term, only to put back all the original weight plus more once they stop. Some try more extreme diets, eliminating entire food groups or undergoing drastic medical procedures.

There is a better way. Rather than embracing the fad of the moment, take a few minutes and evaluate the options. Believe it or not, there is no single “perfect” diet that will work for everyone. To give yourself a better chance of success, ask yourself the following questions to find a program that you can stick with.

Do you like the foods the program suggests? If you love eating meat, you're probably going to find it difficult to stay on a vegetarian diet. The foods your diet allows should include enough variety to prevent boredom and provide enough pleasure you'll want to keep eating them. Check out what's acceptable and what's not before you commit.

Is it a structured or flexible food program? Some structured programs send you packaged meals and snacks for every occasion. Many flexible programs expect you to cook their menus from scratch. You have to see what your budget and time can afford.

If it's all packaged foods, you should see if they offer guidance on what you can do when they're not available, when you dine out or when you're visiting friends. If it's all cooked from scratch, do you have the time to prepare everything? Something that requires a lot of extra work every day isn't likely to be continued.

Do you like support or prefer going it alone? Some people do best when they've got a counselor, support group or friends that help. Others succeed by taking care of the details on their own. Make sure the level of outside support available matches your needs.

Does your plan work for other people in your household? If you live alone, it's not that difficult to change out the foods you keep available. But what are your plans if you live with children, roommates or a significant other? Are you prepared to make one thing for yourself and something completely different for everyone else?

Is the diet designed with specific start and end dates? That can be a problem if you haven't planned what you should do when it's over. The goal is to figure out a strategy that can last a lifetime. Avoid extreme diets that last 60 or 90 days then end, without an ongoing maintenance program.

How much (and what type) of exercise can you commit to? For any diet program to succeed, it has to include exercise. As you lose weight, your metabolism drops and you have to eat even less to stay at that reduced weight. The only way around that is to increase your metabolism. You can do that short-term through cardio and long-term through muscle building programs. You must be sure you can commit to what the program requires.

Remember, you don't have to stick with a plan that isn't working. If you find things just aren't going the way you had hoped, re-evaluate your choices and try something else. Don't look at it as a failure, it's simply a method for determining what will ultimately work for you.

The best diet for you is the one that works long-term. Your goal should be to drop the weight and keep it off for years; not just a few days, weeks or months. The decision is yours. What will you try?

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.