By Jason Hagen,It’s true in nearly every household: Time is at a premium. Kids’ activities, work, and social obligations keep everyone busy from early morning until well after dinner. All this turmoil causes you to put off things you know are important – like signing up at your local weight-loss center or going to the gym.,Perhaps you live in a rural area and your choices are limited. Can you still benefit from a weight-loss program, even if you have to attend “virtually” via a computer? Yes, if you follow some basic guidelines.,Know Yourself First,Some people are self-starters and are comfortable in an online environment with little personal interaction, and some people simply are not. You know yourself best, so before choosing an online diet program, ask yourself if you’ll be successful without the support and encouragement of face-to-face meetings. Will you continue with the program, or lose interest without the motivation of a weekly meeting?,If you are concerned about staying motivated with an online program but don’t have a good weight-loss clinic nearby, one alternative is to look for a program that offers a hybrid approach. With webcams now the norm, you should be able to find a program that offers online meetings with a counselor rather than in person, so no matter how little time you have or how far you live from a major metropolitan area, you can still participate.,Choosing a Good Online Program,If you do decide an online weight-loss program is for you, there are a few things you need to know before signing up. You’ll want to be sure the program has adequate support, so you never feel as if you’re on your own. Ideally, you should have a coach assigned to you – someone you can count on to keep you motivated and on track. Trying to lose weight, work out, and say no to those bad habits that have developed over the years is tough enough. The last thing you want is to have to do it without someone to support your efforts.,In addition, seek out a program that is tailored to you and your needs, not just a generic “diet” program designed to fit the “average” person or lifestyle. You’ll be much more successful in your weight-loss efforts if your plan incorporates your unique tastes in food and exercise, rather than simply telling you how many calories to consume each day.,Finally, avoid plans that depend on prepackaged meals and unnecessarily restrictive food choices, or require you to purchase a lot of supplements. While they might work in the short term, these types of weight-loss programs almost always fail in the end. It doesn’t matter if you join online or off, they’re just not sustainable.,Keep in mind, too, that getting healthy isn’t just about what foods you eat. It involves making better food choices, learning to exercise properly and with the correct frequency, and staying motivated even when the scales don’t show any improvement. Your weight-loss program – whether online or in person – should help you in all three areas. Any plan that ignores one or more is not likely to help you achieve the success you are seeking.

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