Weight loss is, indeed, a journey. For anyone like me who needs to lose 100+ lbs total, it MUST be a marathon, not a sprint.
Ask any marathon runner to describe how they do it and I’m sure you’ll hear words like “perseverance”, “training”, “start slow”, “find tools that work”. In order for me to finish my weight loss marathon, I too need these things. I’m on a mission to find what works for me and share it with anyone who is looking for ways to be successful in their own weight loss marathon.
Thus far, my blog has focused on tips and tricks that I have used for getting motivated, staying motivated, eating plans that have worked for me and a 10-step TAKE ACTION plan for success. Now, it’s time to go one step further with diet test-drives, research findings, interesting articles and success stories from others. All for the benefit of not only my own health and happiness, but yours as well.
I’m excited for this first Diet Test-Drive! As crazy as it sounds, starting a new eating plan is as thrilling to me as the first day of summer was when I was a kid. The slate is wiped clean; it’s a fresh, new start within a finite window of time.
And so…filled with hope and optimism, I set off on the next leg of my journey with Take Shape for Life.
What It Is:
Take Shape for Life (TSFL) is part of Medifast. You might remember Medifast as a “liquid diet” from the 80’s. No, not the one that Oprah did…that was Optifast. Medifast was started by Dr. William Vitale in 1980 as a prescription diet plan that you could only obtain through physicians. Fast forward to 2012, and Take Shape for Life is the all-encompassing program that includes nutritional products (produced by Medifast), coaching and counseling, and Dr. Wayne Scott Anderson’s Habits of Health. What began as a prescription diet of liquid shakes is now a nutritional product line of more than 70 items, with the backing of clinical studies for safety and success from some of America’s leading teaching universities (including Johns Hopkins) and recommended by more than 20,000 physicians. More than that, it is a support network and it is this support that many success stories tout as being the key to positive results and sustained weight loss.
In October 2010, Medifast was named the #1 Small Company in America by Forbes Magazine in the list of "America's 100 Best Small Companies." That was the third consecutive year that Forbes recognized Medifast, which advanced to number 16 on the list in 2009, compared to number 85 in 2008. In 2011, after one of the worst periods of economic growth our nation has seen in quite some time, they came in at #12. Those statistics say a lot I think.
Health coaches for TSFL are often success stories themselves. Many turned to the TSFL program to help them lose weight and they experienced such phenomenal success that they wanted to share it with others. When I sat down with my health coach, Jeffrey, for the first time, he told me his story. His mom had struggled with weight for as many years as he could remember. She had tried every diet and then, tried TSFL. Within a year, she had lost 152 lbs and became a coach herself. Jeffrey shared that a couple of years ago, he was 30 lbs overweight and very unhappy with many parts of his life. With his mom as his health coach, he lost the 30 lbs quickly and, along with his partner Chris, decided he couldn’t keep the success to himself. To quote Jeffrey, “I just can’t keep my mouth shut about this program!”
As if those success stories weren’t enough for me, I asked him what would happen to me if he ever decided to stop coaching. His answer left me dumb-struck. Here is what he said: “I will not stop sharing this program with people until obesity is eradicated in America.” WHAT? He said it with all sincerity, with the intensity of a thousand white hot suns. This is a man on a mission to help others get healthy. I felt like I had found a soul mate, a guru. That was it for me. I decided then and there to do my first Diet Test-Drive with a 2 week TSFL program. Jeffrey, if you’re reading this…I’ve known you for, like, two seconds, but I already adore you!
The infrastructure of the program amazes me daily. Whatever I want to know, I can find out through Jeffrey or at www.TSFL.com, by browsing through their FAQs, program guides and the like. There are many, many pdfs for condiment recommendations, lean proteins, green vegetable selections, recipes, and so much more. There is another site especially set up for nutrition support, where you can ask questions about products and food allergies, get nutritional info and exercise guidelines.
For those of us who like to join online chat and message boards, there is Support in Motion, an online community where you can connect with other TSFL clients to share progress, challenges, successes, etc.
There are three different support hotlines that you can access weekly for recorded playback information from health professionals. These include a Nurse’s Support Call, a Doctor’s Support call and a Habits of Health Support call.
What You Eat:
The Medifast 5 & 1 Plan consists of 5 replacement meals per day which can be chosen from among the 70 products available. If you’re a “savory” person, you might want to lean towards the more salty/crunchy options, like cheese puffs, pretzels and the like. If you’re a “sweet” person, you might like the sweeter things like the bars, brownie, soft-bake chocolate chip cookie, etc. You can pretty much choose ANY 5 things to have per day. Yes, you could even have 5 brownies as your 5 meals if you want to. Having tested the brownie last night, I can tell you that I will probably double order them next time so I can eat them twice a day…DELICIOUS!
In addition to your 5 replacement meals, you can have one “Lean and Green Meal” per day. You choose from a list of lean proteins and non-starchy veggies, plus up to two healthy fats per day (depending on your protein choice). You can also have up to 3 condiments per day. It is also recommended that you drink eight 8 oz glasses of water daily.
This program is a low-calorie, low-carb, high-protein plan. The replacement meals are based on soy protein, lots of vitamins and minerals and very limited carbs. Since I know that I lose weight more successfully and feel better without a lot of carbs, I know that this plan meets some of my own personal criteria. There are also gluten-free, diabetic and vegetarian options for the plan…love that!
What did I eat? Here is the list from my Day 1:
Southwest Eggs – Made better with some pepper and 1 Tbsp of salsa, but I’m going to try it with Tapatio hot pepper sauce next time.
Peanut Butter Crunch bar – YUM! Tasted like a delicious protein bar
Sloppy Joe – not my favorite, but with some pepper and a teeeeeny bit of salt, it was better. I enjoyed a 1 cup salad of mixed greens with 1 tbsp of low-carb dressing. I’m on the prowl for sugar-free bbq sauce because I bet that will make the sloppy joes MUCH better.
Parmesan Cheese Puffs – Initially, they tasted like eating Italian seasoning straight from the spice rack, but I have to say they grew on me
Lean and Green Meal: a 5-oz pork chop seasoned with garlic powder, pepper and a little bit of salt, cooked in olive oil cooking spray and a little chicken broth, 1 cup of steamed asparagus with a a bit of lemon juice
Brownie – Can you say DELICIOUS? Yes…DELICIOUS!
My precious boyfriend Pete wanted to sample what I was eating. He tasted the eggs and said “Hmm. They taste like eggs.” He also had a tiny bit of my Peanut Butter Crunch Bar (because I wasn’t willing to share more than that) and thought it was darn tasty.
I can’t help but also tell you that today, Day 2, I had Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Cereal with almond milk and it was so good I couldn’t believe it! Tasted like yummy Cheerios. Same goes for the Chocolate Crunch Bar. I’m very much looking forward to Chicken Noodle Soup, Honey Mustard Pretzels, my famous Lemon-Garlic-Rosemary chicken breast (plus green beans) as my Lean and Green meal, and of course…THE BROWNIE for dessert. That’s my 5&1 for today.
Jeffrey recommended that I wait a few days before starting to exercise again. I believe that the plan recommends you wait 2 weeks to start exercising, but Jeffrey knows I’ve been exercising for a year now and so his advice was to maybe give it a few days to see how I feel and if I feel amazing, to go ahead and start exercising. On day two, I feel amazing and so, I plan to get back to a regular exercise routine within the next couple of days.
I told you about Jeffrey’s success and the success of his mom. Let me tell you about my friend Karen. Karen has now lost more than 50 lbs. It took her approximately 4-5 months, compared to the almost-year it took me to lose 46 through a traditional calorie-in/calorie-out plan. She showed me her before and after pictures and I can honestly say, she looks at least 20 years younger now. Karen works for one of the top companies in Phoenix and travels the world. She managed to lose this weight while traveling, while working a stressful and busy job, while enjoying her 40-year wedding anniversary in Hawaii with her delightful husband, Mike. She is the reason I decided to meet with Jeffrey and she is an absolute inspiration to me.
Karen emailed me yesterday to see how I was doing on Day 1 and to also let me know that her son-in-law has lost 18 lbs in 2 weeks (darn those men…they always lose weight faster than us girls!) and that her daughter has lost 8 lbs in just over a week. When I whined about the sloppy joes not tasting so good, she reminded me that everything will taste great when I start to see results on the scale and knowing what I know about her, I trust that she is absolutely right!
I plan to include a full success story write up on Karen in a future blog post. She is an amazing lady. Karen, if you’re reading this…I’ve known you, like, 5 minutes and I already adore you!
Opportunities to Help Others:
As I mentioned previously, many clients of TSFL become Health Coaches because they just can’t keep the success of this program to themselves. Coaches become certified through TSFL and, as they take on clients, they begin to earn income based on their client’s purchases. But I can tell you this: I believe with my whole heart that making an income from TSFL is a side perk for Jeffrey. It is 100% clear to me that his mission really is to eradicate obesity in America and that he believes that TSFL is the way to do it. The fact that he also makes an income stream from commissions on what his clients purchase is only an added bonus.
If I enjoy this program as much as I think I will, I believe that, I too will become a health coach. Because there is nothing…NOTHING…more important to me than helping others achieve their best life through healthy mind, body and spirit.
I’m two days in and loving TSFL so far. It is easy to follow and I didn’t find myself hungry one time yesterday. I didn’t even find myself mentally hungry! There wasn’t one minute yesterday that I fixated on food and that is really pretty amazing. In the past, I have eaten out of boredom or sadness. Just seeing a Burger King commercial on tv could make me want to eat, even if I’d had a full meal already. Not even thinking about food other than “oh, I have to eat my next replacement meal now” was nothing short of a miracle. I’m down 2 lbs from yesterday and I feel amazing! Jeffrey has challenged me not to step on the scale again until Tuesday, which will be my one week mark, so I’m taking that challenge.
I’ll be back to report on my Take Shape for Life Diet Test-Drive then! Until then, I hope that you are living your best life, full of health and happiness!