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A guide to the 3 stages of the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic plan

It all starts with that "aha" moment, when you decide you're going to lose weight -- and this time, it will be for good. Gone are the days of yo-yo dieting, when you'd watch your weight go up, then down, then back up again. What it comes down to is that you are finally ready to make permanent changes in your lifestyle. And so begins the first day of the rest of your life.

But once you've made your commitment to a healthier life by joining the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic (WLC), what can you expect along the way? Our members and staff have noted that there are three basic stages to the WLC program -- starting out, getting comfortable with your new lifestyle, and, finally, switching to weight-maintenance mode.

Here's a step-by-step guide to each stage:

Welcome to the Weight Loss Clinic

First of all, we're delighted that you found the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic. All of us look forward to helping you begin your lifelong journey of weight management.

One important point before you get going: If you have any medical concerns, print out our "For Your Doctor" letter and get your physician's approval before embarking on the program.

When you joined, you should have completed the questionnaire on your eating habits and created your own unique eating plan. It's a good idea to always keep a printed copy of your plan handy so you can refer to it anytime, anywhere.

While this eating plan will be your guideline throughout the program, it's not set in stone. Feel free to create a new one whenever you need a change. Just follow the instructions under "Create New Plan." Keep in mind that our expert system strives to honor your food preferences. So, for example, if you want a plan with more fruit, select fruit more often on the questionnaire.

Stage One: Orientation

The first thing you should do after joining the Weight Loss Clinic is read the New Member Guide, a primer on the main points of the program. (But it's not just for beginners; revisit it anytime you need a refresher course.)

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