Sit in front of your computer and start shedding the pounds. The pitch sounds like something from a late-night infomercial or junk e-mail...
Sit in front of your computer and start shedding the pounds.
The pitch sounds like something from a late-night infomercial or junk e-mail. In fact, it’s the idea behind a number of Web sites designed to help people lose weight.
Though the concept may be counterintuitive, it makes sense: If you already spend a lot of your time online, why not use the Web to help you achieve weight-loss goals?
And if the basic concept is the same, the approaches vary from one service to another. Some online weight-loss sites are geared toward a specific diet — WeightWatchers.com, for instance — while others let you follow whatever diet you like. Fees vary, too. You’ll be charged nothing for tracking what you eat at FitDay (www.fitday.com), but you’ll pay $15.95 per day to have fresh meals delivered weekly with the eDiets DeliciouslyYours plan (at www.deliciouslyyours.com).
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Leaving the differences aside, many of these sites follow a similar recipe:
• After you enter your weight, how many pounds you want to lose and other information, a customized weight-loss plan is generated for you.
• Online tools let you track what you’re eating and how much you’re exercising.
• You tap into a community of dieters for support.
But each site has its own take on what will help you lose weight.
Traineo (www.traineo.com) emphasizes motivation. When you sign up, you can choose up to four “motivators” — family members or friends — who will receive weekly e-mail updates about your progress.
Other spots don’t emphasize their tools as much as their community. Fatsecret (www.fatsecret.com) helps you create a personalized diet, but its real appeal stems from its community of members sharing their ideas.
These sites don’t appeal only to hard-core dieters. The Daily Plate (www.thedailyplate.com) balances an emphasis on dieting with tools to help you spot healthy alternatives to your current foods. If you want to eat a low-fat diet, the site will suggest substitutes for your burgers and fries, all the while tracking your intake of cholesterol, carbs, sugar and protein.
If these spots don’t seem personal or quirky enough for you, you can always strike out on your own by creating a blog about your dieting efforts. A number of weight-conscious bloggers have posted their stories at sites like Fatty Weight Loss (www.fattyweightloss.com), Half of Me (pastaqueen.com/halfofme) and One Cookie Too Many (onecookie2many.blogspot.com).
You can even display a weight-loss graph, skinnyr (www.skinnyr.com), on a Facebook page. The graph shows the downs — and, yes, the ups — of your dieting life, pound by pound. Sounds strange, but maybe only to people who haven’t seen the reality TV shows “Fat March” and “The Biggest Loser.”