I started my weight loss journey on July 1, 2019. I knew for health reasons and just because I wanted to look better and feel better, I needed to lose 30 pounds. As you will see through this journey, I have extended my goal now. As of September 28, 2019, I have lost exactly 34.2 pounds, even after a trip to Italy (where I ate anything I wanted) and a trip to Nashville (where again, I ate anything I wanted). With those two blips on the screen, I am happy that I am down almost 35 pounds and am looking forward to dropping another 20 or so.
HOW DID I DO IT?
I knew that I needed a turnkey approach to weight loss to be successful, but I wasn’t interested in meetings, paying someone to create a menu for me, meal prepping (time to do it properly was a concern), etc. I knew that if it wasn’t easy, I’d just grab fast food or eat out and I would not be successful. Having it all layed out for me and easy to access (in my pantry) was the way to go. A friend of my wife’s used the program (that I had never heard of) and lost 100 pounds! I was introduced to OPTAVIA (I have no relationship to OPTAVIA other than being a satisfied customer).
In my research about the company (before I decided to jump in), I learned that it is the direct sales subsidiary of Medifast, a well-known and long established weight loss company. I had heard about Medifast but always thought it was an all liquid fasting and weekly doctor appointment approach to weight loss. OPTAVIA offered the same meals (or what they call “fuelings”) at the same price that you would get at a Medifast Clinic, without having to go to the office and with the added benefit (if you choose to participate) of a certified coach. (I still recommend talking to your doctor before and during any weight loss program). I decided to give it a try. I choose the 5&1 plan, which means I would eat five (5) of their “fuelings” per day and one (1) meal of “lean and green” (protein and green vegetables) that I would prepare on my own each day. Their “fuelings” are packed seven (7) fuelings to a box and they have a good selection of foods which are totally interchangeable. If you want, you could eat pancakes and brownies for every meal, however that would get pretty boring. I will list the recommended foods below and those that I’d recommend staying away from.
The good news is that they don’t recommend exercising for the first 2-3 weeks. Check with your coach to see what works for you. What worked for me was spending 30 minutes each work day doing the treadmill during my lunch break. Since you’re not going out to eat, you’ll have plenty of time. If that doesn’t work for you, just walk around the block and build up to 30 minutes. I started after the 2nd week. As you build your endurance with walking or whatever cardio work you want to do, start slowly introducing light weight workouts 1-2 times per week and then build from there. The good news is that this plan doesn’t rely on lots of exercise for it to work. If you simply can’t workout at your current weight, that’s fine. Work with your doctor and coach to create a plan that works for you and that you are willing to do.
THE IMPORTANT STUFF (and details)!
I stuck to the plan strictly for six (6) weeks before I took my first trip out to a Chipotle and then ate a bowl with all protein and vegetables. I strongly suggest giving it a full six (6) weeks to see actual weight loss. The first couple of weeks I saw rapid weight loss and then there were some weeks I saw zero, but at the end it all paid off.
Your first order: I would recommend getting 28 days of fuelings, which means you will need a variety of 20 boxes of fuelings. Fuelings run on average about $20 per box, but they have a program that gives you a 10% credit towards each monthly order and no shipping. My first month cost the most and it ran about $360 for a full month’s worth of food and some nutrition books. The second month was about $300. Keep in mind that other than one meal you make at home, there is no more eating out, etc. and includes whatever amount of coaching you are comfortable with. Overall the pricing is very acceptable when you figure lunch every day is about $10, so skipping that every day pays for almost your whole month of food. For me, I saved money on the plan.
To contact my coach and learn about the plan or just start – CLICK HERE!
For many people, the coaching is very important to keep them on the right track. I didn’t need it to stay committed, but everyone is different. The first call was important to get all the information on how the program works, how ordering works, etc. Also, there is a private Facebook page that has over 5,000 OPTAVIA users that is really helpful. It helps to see others having the same challenges as you, input from multiple people and coaches that have gone through what you are going through, hints and tips on the food, program and the general weight loss journey, etc. I highly recommend you take advantage of this group.
Remember, the whole key to this program is high protein, low sugar and the balanced amount of healthy fats. Each of these foods are interchangeable because they all contain those elements. Most of the fuelings that need to be cooked can be cooked in a microwave or cooked in advance at home.
Here is a list of my favorite fuelings:
Pancakes. You get two decent sized high protein pancakes per fueling. I make these ahead of time and take them to the office with me to eat as one of my four fuelings I eat while at work.
Creamy chocolate, dark chocolate and berry yogurt smoothie drinks. They also have other coffee flavored drinks (but I don’t do caffeine or coffee). You can simply mix these with water in a shaker or they are best if you put in a Ninja type blender and add ice. They make a great meal replacement or a great dessert if you are a milkshake fan like I am. Very tasty and filling.
Buttermilk Cheddar Herb Biscuit with Rosemary. Great flavor and pretty filling.
Drizzled Chocolate and Zesty Lemon Crisp bars. They have other flavors I believe as well. These are great for eating at the desk or taking with you when you’re out and about. One of these with a bottle of water is great throughout the day. I took these on my Italy and Nashville trips and they were great in-between meals!
Red Bean and Vegetable Chili. Not as thick as regular chili, but very tasty and filling. A hot dish if you want something hot.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Swirl Cake. Cooks perfectly in the microwave. Easy to prepare and great taste!
Ziti Marinara. Again, a little soupy but great flavor; hot and tasty.
Rustic Tomato Herb Penne: Same as the Ziti but very tasty.
Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie. Great prepared in the microwave. Think more snack cake and less cookie. I tried to cook in the oven like a cookie and it was better in the microwave. Stick to that. It comes with seven disposable bowls to prepare in and eat from.
Brownie Soft Bake. Cooks in the microwave and very light and tasty. Great as an end of the night dessert!
Chocolate Fudge Pudding. Pretty good when you want a taste of chocolate. You can make and eat right away, but I recommend making ahead of time and putting in the refrigerator like regular pudding. Taste better cold.
Wild Rice and Chicken Flavored Soup. Good flavor and a hearty soup.
Parmesan Garlic Poppers. Think cheese puffs but healthy. Another good snack to take when traveling or out doing errands. A bag of these and water is pretty filling.
Here is a list of what I definitely don’t recommend:
The oatmeal. It’s runny and didn’t taste anything like oatmeal to me. If you really want oatmeal, I’d recommend getting instant cups of Quaker Oats from Wal-Mart or a grocery store.
Any of the macaroni and cheese. It is all very watery, no matter how I cooked it or let it sit in a thermos. The flavored versions don’t taste great. There are better choices if you want a traditional meal, like chili, soups, etc.
Here are a few supplies I’d recommend buying from Amazon or wherever you want to purchase. I’ve listed the links below for easy shopping. None are expensive, but very handy.
Ninja Blender (this is the best one because it has two cups you can drink right from) or similar.
Travel USB rechargeable blender for your smoothies.
Dash Mini single waffle maker. Great for cooking pancakes, chocolate chip cookie, etc. Easy to use, clean and only $10. Or if you prefer, they have a Panini style press too!
The baking pan I use for the biscuits.
An extra blender bottle. You’ll get one with your first order, but I like having one at home and one at the office or one to travel with.
If you don’t have an ice maker for your smoothies, this is a pretty cool small cube maker and tray – all in one.
CAN YOU ACCOMPLISH THE SAME GOALS WITHOUT THE PLAN?
Maybe, but again I would recommend sticking to the OPTAVIA plan for at least 60-90 days and then transition to “real” food. Here is a list of some of the foods I have found that fit in well with the program and have helped me still lose weight. I can’t guarantee they will work for everyone, but they work for me.
Premier Protein shake – best price is at Costco!
Power Crunch protein bars – best price is at Walmart!
Kodiak Protein waffles or pancakes (you can buy waffles frozen or mix to make your own) – available at Costco!
Quaker Oats Oatmeal cup – Best price is at Walmart or you can order through Amazon!
I’VE LOST WEIGHT, NOW WHAT?
First, commit to keeping it off!
Second, you may start to notice your facial skin is a little saggy or wrinkles start to appear after weight loss. This is a natural part of weight loss, especially if you’re over 30. Our bodies don’t bounce back as quickly as we start to age. I recommend reaching out to my wife for the #1 skincare product line in North America – Rodan+Fields!
Check out her page here and feel free to ask any questions.
Great job on starting the journey and enjoy better health, a better appearance and a new wardrobe. 😊