Sure, contestants on television shows like "The Biggest Loser" can lose weight. They have an entire team of people constantly coaching, instructing and motivating them to shed pounds and get in shape.
If the rest of us had our own team of experts, we, too, might have a fighting chance at losing weight, getting fit and staying that way.
Here's to a fighting chance.
We explain how to round up your own -- affordable -- team, most of it only a mouse click away.
The Doctor: If you don't have that much weight to lose, are relatively young, don't have a disability and are in overall good health, you can probably safely skip the doctor's visit. If you're severely overweight, have diabetes or a family history of heart disease, you should check in with a doctor before getting that heart rate too high.
Here's how to get the most out of a visit:
--Don't go overboard with every test under the sun. A doctor will likely start with the basics: screening for cholesterol and triglycerides, blood pressure, body fat and diabetes, giving a clearer picture of overall health. More serious tests, such as a cardiac stress test done on a treadmill, are usually prescribed if coronary artery disease is suspected.
--Plan for follow-up visits to assess progress and change treatment accordingly.
--Be upfront with your doctor about the reason for your visit, explaining your weight gain as best you can -- yo-yo dieting, stress, emotional eating, etc. If you can't account for the underlying cause, your physician may request additional tests for conditions such as low thyroid.
--When there's no end to the lose-gain-lose-gain roller coaster, consider seeking more intensive help elsewhere, such as a comprehensive obesity center.
The Nutritionist: Sound nutrition and menu-planning advice are out there -- much of it free and from registered dietitians. Some resources:
--Sites such as CalorieKing.com and TheCalorieCounter.com provide nutritional information on thousands of fresh and prepared foods.
--EatRight.org, sponsored by the American Dietetic Association, offers extensive resources, such as different eating plans for high blood pressure.
--MyPyramid.gov, created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offers a menu planner that allows you to calculate calories and fat.
--Rd411.com is geared toward registered dietitians but has a wealth of practical consumer information about nutrition, obesity and weight control. It even offers sample menus.
The Trainer: Weight loss is usually impossible without exercise, but -- where to start? Weights? Cardio? How many days a week? For how long? That's typically where a personal trainer enters the scene. Now there's training via Internet and over the phone.
--Make sure the trainer has current certification from a reputable organization such as the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise, the National Academy of Sports Medicine or the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
--Remember that you don't have license to cheat just because your trainer can't see you.
--Make sure you're comfortable with the trainer during the initial one-on-one sessions.
--Establish how often you want to interact with your trainer, and by what means -- e-mail, text messages, phone, snail mail, etc. Ask how progress will be measured, beyond shedding pounds. This will ultimately make it easier to stick to a plan.
--Here are a few established places to start that offer a variety of services, with prices starting at $16 a month: Workoutsforyou.com; Wellcoaches.com; Global Health & Fitness (global-fitness.com) and Plus One Active (plusoneactive.com).
The Support: Noshing rice cakes and trudging on the treadmill in solitude can be lonely. Loneliness leads to depression. And depression leads to a pint of Häagen-Dazs fleur de sel caramel.
Weight-loss confidants can talk you down before you inhale the doughnuts in the break room, maybe cajoling you into going for a walk instead. They can also rejoice with you in another 5 pounds shed.
Some guidelines for choosing a coterie that can make getting healthy less arduous:
--Don't assume family and existing friends are the best option. Major lifestyle changes require upheaval from normal routines such as going out for drinks or dinner -- and that can create resentment.
--Check out existing groups. Weight Watchers (weightwatchers.com), Overeaters Anonymous (oa.org) and even nearby gyms are usually filled with people who are making similar lifestyle changes. Online obesity and weight-loss forums are another option, but be aware that some are geared to those who have gone through, or are contemplating, gastric bypass surgery or medication. Some, like Pritikin (pritikin.com), may also charge a membership fee.
--Turn your regular friends and family into an adjunct support group. That might mean meeting for activities other than eating or asking family members to tuck chips out of sight.
--If, despite your efforts, you still aren't achieving your goals, counseling may be in order.