Healthy AND Happy
“It won’t work for me.” “My schedule is too busy.” “My situation is unique.” “I don’t believe in using meal replacements to lose weight.” “I’d never do a program like that!” These are all things I said about Medical Weight Loss when I first started hearing about the program’s success.
I had struggled with my weight somewhat in my twenties, and then mightily in my thirties. I had tried a variety of weight loss methods, all of them reasonable, but none successfully. Most recently, I had been reading about healthful eating and the value of whole, fresh, non-processed, traditional foods. But no matter what I learned about how to eat, I wasn’t able to stop eating the way I always had, and my weight continued to rise. With my fortieth birthday looming, and with deep regret about more than a decade of failed weight-loss attempts, and about being held back from the life I wanted for myself and my family because of my weight, I decided I had nothing to lose by learning about Medical Weight Loss of NY. In March of 2013, I took a leap, set my objections aside and started the full meal replacement program. Little did I know, my “nothing to lose” would become 100 pounds in ten months.
The beginning was the hardest. Even though I believed that I would be able to lose weight, I didn’t believe that I could be thin and happy. I didn’t think that a small portion of a tasty food would ever be worth having, because surely it would only leave me craving more. I thought I would have to choose – health or happiness, but not both. But as the days progressed, my attachment to these foods dissipated, and I found myself easily thriving and losing weight on just OPTIFAST products. I wasn’t hungry, I had more energy than ever before, and I was losing at a steady pace. I learned that if the food I eat has the right nutrients, I don’t have to eat a lot of it to be satisfied. It’s not that I didn’t know that I was eating a lot of nutrient-poor food before this, but I didn’t know that my body could be sustained, and actually feel content with small amounts of the right food. I learned that my contentment does not have to depend on the pleasure of food.
Yes, my schedule is busy. And the life of a homeschooling mother of 4 presents some unique challenges to weight loss and health improvement. But the OPTIFAST products actually made my life easier. Never having to worry about what I was going to eat made it easy to get through busy days without having to compromise my goals. Being out of the house for long periods of time never required extra planning, other than throwing a bar and a water bottle into my purse. And while getting to the weekly appointments and groups required a sacrifice for me, my husband and children, it has been worth all the work it took to get there. From my previous weight loss attempts, I knew that being accountable to other people was important for my success. But the accountability at Medical Weight Loss is more personal, starting with the fact that my meal plans are tailored specifically to my needs by the nutritionist. The weekly visits allow me to ask all the questions that I have, and to make whatever adjustments are needed for my particular situation. The weekly group sessions range from educational to supportive to inspirational. Being able to learn about the latest research about weight loss, about the psychology of unhealthy attachments to food, and also share my successes and worries with people who are on the same journey as I am, makes me look forward to the groups, and helps me stay motivated from week to week.
Because the full meal replacement program worked so well for me, I stayed on it for about 7 months, until I lost about 80 pounds. When it was time to start adding real food back into my diet, I was nervous. I had a lot of questions, and needed a lot of support, and the staff was helpful and attentive to all of my worries. They helped me come up with a personalized plan to make the transition, and gradually, I returned to a diet of regular food. A year later, I am continuing to lose weight, and am nearing my goal weight. So many things have changed for me in the last year: I am eating those whole, fresh, non-processed, traditional foods that I read about before I started the program, and I am eating with new habits and new knowledge of how to get the nutrients I need, keep from getting hungry, and still lose weight. I have a new set of healthful go-to foods that I enjoy, and new eating routines that help me through those busy-mom days. I am sleeping better, buying clothes because they look good instead of because they don’t look too bad, and I can do step aerobics again without joint pain. I can kneel if I need to, tie my shoes with ease, and best of all, my kids can hug me “all the way around.” While these may seem like little things, they are more meaningful and have provided me with more joy than even watching the numbers on the scale go down all those pounds.
I’m not finished with this venture. I still have a little more weight to lose, and there are times when eating right is hard. The truth is that I have related to food in an unhealthy way for most of my life. And like any unhealthy relationship, it takes time to make things completely right. The full meal replacement program gave me an unbeatable start, and now that I am back to regular food, I am learning how to apply what I have learned about myself and how I relate to food. If I stumble, I have the tools to pick myself up and get back on track. Not only do I have the knowledge, but I have a team of people at Medical Weight Loss supporting, encouraging, and helping me along the way, as I continue to make the transformation from overweight and overwhelmed to healthy and happy.