What is the best way to lose weight after forty? While maintaining optimal health? And then keeping it off? It has now been 4 months since I committed to the Take Shape for Life (TSFL) plan. Let’s bring you up to date!
Take Shape for Life
In 2003, Dr. Wayne Scott Anderson teamed up with Medifast to create Take Shape for Life, a coaching division of Medifast. Medifast (now branded Optavia) makes meal replacements—supplied through a health coach.
If Medifast sounds familiar, you might remember the Medifast meal replacement program that was available through a doctor’s prescription. It’s been around since the 1980’s. I remember hearing about it as a product used only by people with a lot of weight to lose, under a doctor’s supervision.
The weight loss phase of TSFL is called the “5 & 1” plan. You eat 6 daily meals—1 that is “fresh” and prepared by you, 5 that are prepackaged foods in envelopes. These prepackaged, interchangeable foods are called “fuelings.”
The low glycemic, low carb, and low-fat eating plan is nutritionally balanced. The program produces a quick loss of 3 to 5 pounds in the first week. Then, after the first week, a healthy 1- to a 2-pound loss per week. (Note: this varies depending on your starting weight.)
My starting weight was 147.5 (I am 5’3”). By the end of the first month, I had lost 8 pounds. The weight loss was AWESOME! It felt great to be in control of at least one part of my life!
But that wasn’t my only victory. I went an entire month without alcohol. No small feat!
Except for one premenstrual day at the beginning of the diet, I didn’t feel overly hungry. And the prepackaged food was easy and quick to pack. Eventually, I adjusted to the food and looked forward to eating it.
Warning: the food packs a 100% daily recommended amount of vitamin K. For most people this is great! And your daily vegetables will add more.
Because I take Coumadin, this was a big negative! I had to greatly increase my dosage.
Also, I noticed some “brain fog” and fatigue in the first week. But those diminished over time.
And then there is a cost. This program is not cheap. The food for the weight loss part of the program is around $400/month.
(Note: I had stated in previous posts that this was a sugar-free diet. IT IS NOT. I have been reading the ingredient lists and, while there are artificial sweeteners, there is also fructose—sugar.)
I weigh myself daily. And because of this, the second month was rewarding as well. I lost an additional 5 pounds, and this through Thanksgiving. The program was more and more just a habit with less struggle than the first month.
This third month covered the holidays and my last day of employment at my employer of 24 years. I lost only 2 additional pounds. However, I had made the conscious choice that I was going to add some alcohol back in for the holidays—even if it meant less weight loss. After all, this is a lifetime habit I am forming.
My total loss at the end of the 3rd month: 15 pounds.
So far I have lost an additional 4 pounds this month—with a week remaining. After sleeping much of the Christmas week due to illness, I got refocused and am now only 3 pounds from my goal weight.
In total, I have lost 19 pounds in less than 4 months. I feel great!
It is almost time for me to enter the “transition” phase of the program—3 Optavia meals a day and 3 meals that I prepare.
Fears and Concerns
I still have fear about this diet. Will I be able to maintain this loss? On this diet, I hardly ever felt full. Will I be able to stick with the habit of not eating until satiety?
Will I fall back into old patterns? Will the taste of real food be so good that I just can’t stop eating it?
And my biggest fear: did I slow down my metabolism in this weight loss cycle?
For weight loss, the Take Shape for Life program definitely works. I am thrilled with my weight loss in this first 4 months with the 5-and-1 phase!
And I LOVE the ease of the prepackaged meals. After I got used to them—I look forward to eating them every day! (For anyone considering trying this diet, I recommend you read about my first week in detail here. )
With the support of a health coach and the subsequent phases of TSFL, can I make this a way of life? I am optimistic!