Last year I lost 25 pounds on the South Beach Diet, and I looked and felt the best I ever had in my life. Until, that is, I came down with a case of Lyme Disease that went undiagnosed for more than eight months. All that time I was convinced I was dying from some mysterious disease, which caused me to overeat from anxiety.
When I finally learned what the problem was, it was a huge relief, but both Lyme Disease and the medication required to treat it cause weight gain. Coupled with a reduction in activity due to the exhaustion that is one of the major symptoms of Lyme Disease, the South Beach Diet just wasn’t working for me anymore.
I next tried Nutrisystem, The French Don’t Get Fat plan, and the Carbohydrate Addict’s Lifespan Program, but none of them caused more than a pound or two to budge. I was beginning to give up on the idea of ever being fit and healthy when a chance encounter with a salesclerk at Walgreens led me to Medifast.
I’d seen the ads before, of course, in Women’s World Weekly, with Kristy Swanson and Genie Francis looking slim and elegant. I’d even checked out their website, www.medifastdiet.com, which explained their weight loss system and made it sound both easy and appealing. It also promised weight loss of up to 5 pounds a week, which was certainly attractive from my point of view. I know that the healthy and sustainable weight loss rate is supposed to be 1-2 pounds per week, but I needed fast results, at least in the beginning, in order to stay motivated.
The only thing that was holding me back was the fact that I’d failed so miserably at other diets. I didn’t feel like shelling out another couple hundred bucks for nothing, which would only make me feel worse.
Then one day I started chatting with the woman at Walgreens, who informed she was especially grumpy because she’d just started the Medifast diet. “It’s supposed to take a few days before you feel okay,” she told me. “But my doctor recommended it because she lost 50 pounds on it. It’s supposed to be great for people for whom nothing else works.”
I perked up at this because a few other people had told me similar things-that their doctors recommended it to them after losing 50 pounds, and that it was the diet for people who had failed on other diets. We discussed our various medical issuesI told her about my Lyme Disease and she told me she had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which had similar symptoms and weight loss challenges.
When I went back home I checked out the www.medifastdiet.com website again, and found that a starter pack with 2 weeks worth of Medifast food could be purchased for only $140.50. You could also get it at a significant discount if you signed up for Autoship, but I wasn’t ready to make that commitment yet. The truth is that I knew I was about 2 weeks away from seeing someone who had commented unfavorably on my weight the last time I’d seen him, and I was hoping to drop a quick 10 pounds before I saw him again. If I accomplished that much I’d consider the program a success.
The Medifast website said that it could take up to 10 days for my shipment to arrive, but it was there in less than 3 days, which thrilled me. When I received the package I was shocked at how small it looked compared to Nutrisystem, but I dove right in.
The Medifast program requires that you eat 5 meals a day of their prepackaged food, plus one “Lean and Green” meal of lean protein and vegetables or salad. Since their prepackaged food contains at most 150 calories per serving (and most items are lower than that, at 80-100 calories), depending upon what products you choose for a day, you’re eating 800-1000 calories maximum, which is very, very low (hence the fast weight loss). Eating your food slowly and eating very frequently (you are supposed to eat every two hours) are what is supposed to keep you from feeling ravenously hungry. All of the prepackaged food is fortified with fiber and vitamins so that you don’t develop a nutritional deficiency while on this weight-loss plan.
The two week variety package comes with 21 shakes (7 each in Dutch Chocolate, French Vanilla and Strawberry Crme flavors), 14 bars (Caramel Nut and Chocolate Mint), 14 Oatmeals (Apple Cinnamon and Peach), 14 soups (Creamy Tomato and Chicken Noodle), and 7 Banana Puddings. You are not supposed to eat more than one bar per day because those are the “high calorie” items (at 150 each). I tasted each category of item at least oncetaste was a huge issue for me because I found the Nutrisystem food to be inedible.
The shakes did not do it for meI tried one or two in the Dutch Chocolate flavor, which should be my favorite out of the three available flavors, and I couldn’t stand them. Both flavors of bars were actually delicious, much better than any other meal replacement bars I’ve ever tried, and there is an ingredient in them with a bulkty texture (I’m assuming it’s added fiber) that really does make them taste filling. The oatmeal was disgusting, and while I didn’t much like the Creamy Tomato soup, the Chicken Noodle soup and the Banana Pudding were both fine.
After two weeks staying more or less strictly on the diet (in mid-afternoon I would sometimes become ravenous, and have a piece of string cheese or two as a snack), I did in fact lose 10 pounds, which was miraculous to me. I saw my friend who’d made a negative comment about my weight, and he told me I was “looking much better,” which cheered me up. So I decided to give Medifast another try. This time I used the “shop by category” menu on the www.medifastdiet.com website, which allowed you to pick your own items in any amount. I ordered more bars, including some new flavors for me, Fruit and Nut Granola and Peanut Butter, more pudding, including Chocolate this time, Scrambled Eggs for breakfast since I didn’t like the shakes, and several different flavors of soup, including Chicken Rice and Chili. Ordering this way was more economical, as nearly 4 weeks of food cost me about $200.
All of the new items were tasty, I’m happy to report. I have been unable to hold strictly to the diet’s recommended calorie count of 800-1000 calories, but I’m okay with that. After the first two weeks, I’ve been taking in about 1200-1400 calories per day, and I’ve been losing at a rate of 2 pounds a week, which is more than enough. Apart from needing those extra couple of hundred calories, which is understandable considering I’d like to lose 50 pounds total, the diet is very easy to follow and I do not feel hungry or deprived.
I actually got through Thanksgiving this past week and lost another pound, which is amazing. At this rate I’ll be back to the weight I was last year shortly after New Year’s, and by springtime I’ll be in excellent shape, just in time to be matron of honor for my sister’s wedding, which is the primary motivating factor for my weight loss. As someone who’s tried nearly every diet out there, I can’t recommend Medifast enough.