Top 6 Questions for Choosing the Best Weight Loss Plan for YOU

lisa-snowby Lisa Snow

Part 1

Spring is here, and many of us are thinking about getting back in shape. If you know someone who lost a lot of weight, you’re probably inspired by their story and tempted to try the same diet or program they used. But will their plan really work for you? With so many options available today, why not choose a system that fits your personality and lifestyle? Answer the questions below to find your optimal weight loss plan.


  1. In your free time, do you usually take groups of friends to lunch or a movie? Or do you feel like your time off work is your only chance to have time to yourself?
    1. I hate exercising with other people, it’s embarrassing!
    2. I want some social support, but I also like time to myself.
    3. I am totally a people person, doing things by myself is boring.
    4. I want one-on-one attention and I’m willing to pay for it. My time is limited, so I want to make sure I’m getting the most out of the little time I have to workout.
  2. Do you check your email or Facebook more than once a day?
    1. I use the computer for work, but not much at home.
    2. My whole life is in my phone.
    3. I love hanging out with friends online, but being with people in person is even better.
    4. I’m on the computer all the time, but I’m uncomfortable with sites where you sign up as a member.
  3. Are you consistent about working out but need help getting your eating habits on track?
    1. I probably should change my diet, but I’m just not ready to do that right now. All I want is to learn how to exercise and get in the habit of working out.
    2. Yes, I work out regularly, but my diet is a mess.
    3. My diet is great. I just need someone to make me show up to workout.
    4. No, I haven’t worked out in months or years. So a program that teaches me what to eat but doesn’t teach how to exercise won’t work.
  4. Have you ever been taught how to lift weights properly, such as by a high school or college coach or a personal trainer?
    1. I kind of remember lifting technique, but that was a long time ago.
    2. Yes, I know how to do most exercises and I have good form. I learn new exercises fairly easily.
    3. I know the basics of lifting and I understand why strength training is important, but now I want to learn skills other than lifting.
    4. I have no idea how to lift weights. That sounds scary!



  1. How much can you realistically afford to spend per month?
    1. $10-30/month
    2. $100-150/month
    3. $200-250/month
    4. $400-800/month
  2. Do you have a space of at least 6’x6’ in your house or apartment where you could work out?
    1. Yes, I’ve got open space and quiet time at home. I just haven’t been able to get motivated to work out or didn’t know what exercises to do.
    2. I don’t have much time to spend at home, so the size of my place is irrelevant.
    3. There’s plenty of space in my house, but there’s too much commotion for me to focus on working out.
    4. Open floor space? Are you kidding? There’s barely space for my bed!


Score your results:

If you chose mostly A answers, you should start by purchasing some exercise DVDs (or renting them from Netflix, or checking them out of your local public library).

If you chose mostly B answers, your best bet is an online nutrition coaching plan that also includes an exercise program.

If you chose mostly C answers, it’s time to sign up for group fitness classes… anything from yoga to dance to boot camp.

If you chose mostly D answers, you would benefit most having a personal trainer.

In Part 2 of this article, you’ll learn the pros and cons of each of these approaches to weight loss.


Part 2

The pros and cons of 4 weight loss programs

In Part 1 of this article, you took a quiz to determine the best weight loss plan for your personality and lifestyle. Now you can learn more about the benefits of each approach to weight loss.

1. Buy/Rent Exercise DVDs


  • The quality of instruction has improved dramatically since workout videos first became popular in the 1960s
  • You can choose from a wide variety of types of classes, from dance to yoga—it’s not just step or aerobics anymore!
  • Once you become more consistent about working out at home, you can always add other activities, like group fitness classes at a gym or studio
  • If you want to learn to use cool equipment like gliding discs, medicine balls, and stability balls to tone your arms, legs, and abs, try the DVDs by Mindy Mylrae
  • For heart-pounding kickboxing workouts, try the DVDs by Patricia Moreno
  • To stretch and balance with fun but challenging yoga poses, try the DVDs by Baron Baptiste
  • P90X and other similar hardcore programs are entertaining and definitely do burn calories. But they are designed for very advanced exercisers, and don’t include a lot of progressions to help newbies work their way up


  • There is nobody to hold you accountable
  • There’s no coach to tell you if you’re doing the moves incorrectly
  • Not customized or appropriate for people with injuries or chronic illnesses
  • No opportunity to make friends with other exercisers


2. Group Fitness Classes


  • Make new friends
  • The atmosphere and music keep you motivated
  • An instructor is there to model correct moves
  • Other students encourage you to keep up the good work
  • A huge variety of classes are available: yoga, Pilates, dance, boot camp, etc
  • Small, locally owned studios may cost a little more, but the quality of instructors is often much higher than in commercial gyms, and class sizes are typically smaller


  • Not customized to your needs or goals
  • Rarely includes nutrition guidance
  • Because new people can join at any time, classes tend to include the same activities week after week, rather than progressively getting more challenging as you improve


3. Signup for an Online Nutrition Program, such as “Precision Nutrition”


  • The websites ask that you check in every single day to keep you on track
  • Real human coaches help you through the process and answer your questions
  • Even people with an 80 hour work week (or a full-time job plus kids) can handle changing one small, simple habit every week or two
  • Well-designed online programs don’t ask you to give up your favorite foods. Instead, they focus on adding exciting new healthy foods you may never have tried before
  • Nutrition is the most important component of weight loss. Real life experience and research studies both prove that exercise without diet changes improve strength and cardio endurance but do not result in weight loss


  • No face to face interaction with an instructor, so they can’t observe if you’re doing the exercises correctly or not
  • You need to join a gym or have space in your home to do the recommended workouts


4. Hire a Personal Trainer


  • You get an entire program customized to your needs and goals
  • Learn safe and effective exercise technique
  • Trainers attend continuing education classes and live seminars every year, so you benefit from the latest research
  • A trainer who is also certified as a nutritionist can give you individualized diet recommendations, and trainers without a nutrition background can refer you to a good nutritionist


  • Most expensive option
  • No peer pressure from other members of a class to stick to your diet and exercise goals


Missed last month’s column? Read it now:

This St. Patrick’s Day, Go Green for Real
Fall Prevention for Older Adults
3 Tips for Exercising with Multiple Sclerosis
Fitness for People with Parkinson’s
Customized Exercises for People with Back Pain
What Should People Look for When Hiring a Personal Trainer?
How do trainers know what program is right for their clients?
Who Benefits the Most from a Personal Trainer?
Motivate Yourself to Better Health
Three Dimensional Fitness