While paid programs like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers are extremely popular, not everybody can afford the weekly fees and the high prices for packaged food. For those on a tight budget, finding free and reliable sources of information regarding weight loss can be a challenge. The truth, however, is that there is plenty available, both online and off, to help you lose weight without spending a penny.
If you want to lose weight on your own, with complete privacy, the best option is to look for free programs (freeware) that can be downloaded to your computer and will help you track calories, design an eating plan, pick a healthy meal and modify recipes. Weight loss trackers are especially popular and will help you account for the calories consumed and burned (through exercise) on a specific day. Other programs help with setting up a fitness plan or teach you about nutrition, so you can start making more informed decisions about your diet.
Online Programs and Sites
The most popular options are sites that allow you to track your weight loss program through charts and databases available on their own server. That means there's nothing to download and all the information is stored by the website. Your information is kept private. Sites are especially useful for people who need help in losing weight, as many feature forums where users can interact and exchange tips, or where questions can be posted to be answered later by professionals who frequent the site.
An excellent free online program is Spark People, which allows you to track your goals, calorie intake, exercise and weight loss. You can see the information as charts, pie charts or comparison tables, so you always work the way that's best for you. The weight loss journal included allows you to track daily calorie counts (goals and consumed), while a large database offers nutritional information for thousands of common foods, including restaurant dishes. There's also meal planning, diet calendars, expert coaching and the chance to find a diet buddy for private interaction, all for free.
Sometimes, the Internet just won't cut it. If you need more direct interaction to ensure you're meeting your goals and keeping up your end of the bargain, real-life meetings may be the best thing for you. Local groups are formed through community centers, hospital information offices or even churches. Start your local search by visiting those places and asking whether they have a free program available. If not, Overeaters Anonymous has more than 6,500 organized groups in the U.S. and around the world. They can direct you to a local group, give you information on attending an inter-city group or help you set up your own. If you can't find a group near your home, try logging in to Weight Circles, where people come together to create groups (both online and off) to help each other lose weight. You may be able to find locals who are on the same path and organize your own group.
Overeaters Anonymous Main Office PO Box 44020 Rio Rancho, New Mexico 87174 (505) 891-2664 www.oa.org