Weight Loss Coaching, Does It Work?

Weight loss success is directly tied to one's willingness to stay focused on the goal and remain actively involved in the process. It's well established that personal weight loss coaching with a weight loss professional or service is one of the best ways to lose weight and keep it off. It's usually after this support ends that most efforts at weight loss go south.

What's not so well known is that according to the New England Journal of Medicine, in a study published on November 15, 2011, getting that coaching through a website based coach is just as effective as one-on-one coaching. The study was done to determine whether different methods of coaching, intervention and follow-up produced different results.

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Here's a summary of their research and their findings:

A controlled trial research study was conducted with 415 obese patients to examine the effects of two behavioral weight loss intervention methods. There were three intervention techniques analyzed. The first was one-on-one personal counseling involving direct contact with the patient. It used extensive phone and written communications, personal contact and routine follow-up.

The second group was provided with a web-based coaching alternative. The website provided educational resources and a format for patients to track their weight, calorie intake and activity levels. There were periodic emails to provide motivation and follow-up assessment. There was a third group that was allowed to monitor their own progress. All three groups were followed for two years and at the end of that time their progress was evaluated to determine what method was most effective.

The researchers found that there was no statistical difference in the weight loss success and long-term maintenance between the two groups that were provided support. The group getting one-on-one coaching maintained 40% of their original weight loss after two years. The group getting the website based coaching and support maintained a weight loss of about 38% of their original weight loss, a statistical dead heat in success. The group that got no coaching was only able to keep about 18% of their weight loss off, less than half that of those who had some kind of support.

This study was supported by grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the Prevention and Control Core of the Baltimore Diabetes Research and Training Center, and the National Center for Research Resources.

This study provides more evidence that having support to help you keep the weight off is extremely important and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. While one-on-one weight loss coaches may cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars, using a website based coaching system can be very inexpensive and as it turns out, just as effective.

If you really want to lose weight, get some outside support to help you stay on course. It will help you make the habit changes you must make to be successful at long-term weight loss.

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