Readers share their diet plan experiences

Finding a Diet Plan That Works

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Finding a Diet Plan That Works

I've decided to lose some weight. I want to use one of the diet plans, but I'm not sure which one to try. There are so many (Medifast, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Sensa, etc.). And they're not cheap! Has anyone had success (or failure) with any of them? I'd rather hear from real people instead of just believing their ads.

Had Success with Nutrisystem

I have tried both Medifast and Nutrisystem. In both cases, I started when they were running a special and saved 40 to 50% off the normal cost. Otherwise I never would have considered a plan that cost that much. I thought the Medifast choices were too limited and I did not stick with it. But I did have success with Nutrisytem and liked the fact that I did not really have to plan meals, which is hard to do with my schedule. It was very easy which is why I think I was successful with it. And the pre-packaged foods were pretty tasty.

Eat Real Food with Weight Watchers

Check out this report on weight loss programs by It recommends Weight Watchers as the plan with highest overall satisfaction, but it also analyzes several others so you can choose the one that will work best for you. The nice thing about Weight Watchers is that you can eat real food instead of overpriced prepackaged foods with the calories all measured out for you. The downside is that you have to attend weekly meetings at $13 to $15 a pop (and you can't save by going less often; they make you pay for missed meetings if you want to stay in the group). The online version is cheaper at just $19 a month.

Get a Fitness Pal

There are many different plans and it partly depends on you and what you need.

If you want a group experience where you are accountable to your group every week, and you need to really re-learn what to eat, then Weight Watchers is a good fit. Overeaters Anonymous is also a good peer group experience.

I already know a lot about nutrition and what I need to eat, and I have a strong wish not to be told what to do. I just wanted a way to keep track of it.

I joined, a free website that my doctor also recommended. It helps me track my calories. I registered and put in my vital information, and it assessed how many calories I need to eat to lose weight in a healthy way. The database of foods is huge. Plus, I can plug my own recipes into a separate recipe database. The site tracks calories, protein, fat, weight loss, and various nutrients. I like that the homepage congratulates me on logging in. So far, in six weeks, I have lost 24 pounds. I like this method a lot, because I can eat anything, as long as I fit it into an overall healthy eating plan.

You can also track your exercise and it will add to your calorie allotment when you do more exercise.

Consider a Lifestyle Change, Not a Diet Plan

The best (and least expensive) diet plan is to eat the same food you regularly eat but less of it. Make some minor changes such as reducing fat in recipes, frying less often, and eating fewer and smaller desserts. Fruit for dessert is an especially good idea to increase valuable nutrition with a sweet tasting food.

Add some easy walking or other exercise that fits into minutes. Examples include parking further from the door and using stairs. This really works. I lost over 60 pounds and kept it off for years.

The key is to use a "diet" that you can keep using after the weight is lost. Crash diets may help you lose weight, but they don't teach you how to eat to keep it off.

If you absolutely must use a program to lose weight, then choose between Overeaters Anonymous and Weight Watchers. Both provide support, easy ways to keep the weight off, and meal plans.
Barbara in CT

Free Weight Loss Community

I use It works well and doesn't advocate a fancy impossible-to-follow-for-life diet plan. It is just real people doing logical things to lose weight! And best of all, it is free! There is a ton of support, motivation, and friends to make besides the wonderful nutrition advice, exercise videos, and advice. Come on over and join us!

Consider South Beach

I have tried Medifast and it worked well for a while, but then I got sick of the shakes, irritated at not being able to eat with my friends, etc. I'm a serious foodie though, so perhaps it works better for other people. I also hated spending so much money for such a small amount of food.

I have found success with a South Beach Diet plan. It's quite strict for the first two weeks, but after that, it's fairly easy to stick to. Also, you can find the books pretty cheap and there's no special food to buy.

If you're not familiar with the diet, it's basically the elimination of refined sugar, enriched grains, and other highly processed foods. You fill up on veggies, lean proteins, fruits, low fat dairy, and whole grains. The rest of your household can eat the same as you. I highly recommend you check into it.

Lost 50 Pounds with Nutrisystem

After being on sick leave for six months and gaining weight as I all I did was eat, take meds and sleep, I lost weight with Nutrisystem. There is even the option to buy in one week packages to try out some of the foods before you buy a full month's worth or sign up for multiple month shipping. I would not suggest buying what you see in a retail store unless you see the same things on the Nutrisystem website.

I still had to buy fresh fruits and vegetables along with dairy, but it was far cheaper and easier to maintain than I expected.

In four months, I lost 50 pounds and weighed less than when I went on sick leave. Due to another medical issue, I've gained 20 pounds in two months and will be using Nutrisystem again. I just won't have to use it for as long this time.

Save Your Money and Do It Yourself!

My husband and I have lost about 125 pounds in a year and have kept it off. For us, the key was portion control, sugar reduction, and regular exercise. It is a lot of hard work, but the results are worth it. We actually saved money in the process since we were eating less food and a lot less junk. Real food costs less and is so much healthier.

Eat Healthy and Walk

I have recently lost 22 pounds by eating healthy and walking. I have a friend who uses Medifast and loses weight quickly, but puts it back on as soon as she goes off of the diet.

I eat lots of fruits, yogurt, vegetables, salads, whole wheat pasta, chicken, tuna, and not much red meat. I drink diet tea and skim milk. I eat nuts and trail mix for a snack. I try not to eat in the evening. I walk an hour a day and do all of my own yard work.

This has really worked for me, and I now have no desire for chips, French fries, and fried foods. I feel great!

Experienced Success with Sensa

I tried Sensa from November to June and lost 30 pounds. I might have lost more if I had exercised while using Sensa, but I did lose without exercising. Sensa helped me to not eat as much as I used to eat.

I asked my doctor if he had heard anything negative on Sensa, and he said he hadn't. If you do decide to go with Sensa, ask your doctor if he/she has any information on it.

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