A similar program, TOPS (Est. $32 per year, plus $5 chapter dues), pairs a wealth of educational material with group meetings in your community, also called "chapters." TOPS, which stands for Take Off Pounds Sensibly, uses The Food Exchange System, which users say is easy to understand and follow. It has categories of foods with similar serving sizes and caloric loads, and it's easy to swap one food for another. You can even purchase exchange cards that give you food options within categories at a glance, as well as a variety of other accessories, such as food prep tools scaled to accurate portion sizes.

Just wanted to say thanks for mentioning Sparkpeople! Last week, I came across your website after visiting Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn and reading a woman’s recipe about pumpkin pie oatmeal. She listed your Crockpot pumpkin oatmeal recipe as a recommended recipe. I’ve been having a hard time taking off ten pounds–I’m in my forties and I can’t eat like I used to! I joined Sparkpeople a week ago and have been really liking it. I don’t feel so isolated, and the tracking tools are really great (and it’s free, too!). Thanks for introducing me to Sparkpeople, Jennifer!
Calorie counting has long been ingrained in the prevailing nutrition and weight loss advice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, tells people who are trying to lose weight to “write down the foods you eat and the beverages you drink, plus the calories they have, each day,” while making an effort to restrict the amount of calories they eat and increasing the amount of calories they burn through physical activity.

The sad truth is that conventional ideas – eat less, run more – do not work long term. Counting calories, exercising for hours every day and trying to ignore your hunger? That’s needless suffering and it wastes your time and precious willpower. It’s weight loss for masochists. Eventually almost everyone gives up. That’s why we have an obesity epidemic. Fortunately there’s a better way.
TOPS also recommends that you get a diet recommendation from your doctor or follow the USDA's MyPlate tool, which focuses on filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables and the other half with lean meats and whole grains. TOPS is low-cost, nutritionally sound, provides plenty of support and is very affordable. However, it's not as structured as some other commercial weight loss programs, so those who prefer a diet that offers more specific meal guidelines may find it more difficult to follow.

Full Plate Living is a nonprofit dedicated to a simple mission: Encourage, educate, support, and inspire anyone who wants to live a healthier lifestyle. They don’t advocate for starving yourself, spending your life at the gym, or giving up the foods you love. They’re also not about fad diets or weight loss supplements. Instead, they offer practical, straightforward steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Visit the blog.
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