I was in the middle of writing a post on self-confidence (which I promise to finish), when I got a comment from a new blogger over at My Big Fat Journey. It turns out that she’s been reading my blog and is just beginning her Optifast journey. I was very touched by her kind comment, as well as extremely excited about the new lifestyle that she’s embarking on.
Being in my 15th week of Optifast certainly doesn’t make me an old pro, by any means, but there are some bits of advice that I’d like to give to anyone reading that may be about to begin, or thinking of beginning, Optifast.
- Use Optifast as part of a medically monitored weight loss program: Before I began my plan, I did lots of internet research. One thing I found was that there are people selling the product on Amazon. While it may be pennies cheaper, it doesn’t feature the benefits of being medically supervised. Cutting down to 800 calories per day could exacerbate existing health problems. Regular blood work and EKGs are done throughout the program to assure that all blood chemistry and electrolytes are at safe levels. Please don’t do Optifast alone–a doctor’s supervision is critical to your health.
- Take full advantage of all that your doctor’s office has to offer: I’m fortunate to be completing my program through a bariatric office that offers weekly Lifestyle Education Classes, monthly support groups, and counseling through both a registered dietician and behavior modification therapist. The medical center where my program is located also features an integrated wellness and fitness center. I immerse myself in these programs. Even when classes seem to overlap, or repeat information, I recognize the reinforcing benefits of hearing positive weight management information again and again. So much of weight gain has to do with our head more than our hunger. Counseling can help you to get to the root of the reason that you use food as mental and emotional fortification rather than as an energy source for your body. Take all of the help from offered professionals that you can get.
- Getting through those first two weeks : I’m not going to lie, the first two weeks of nothing but shakes feels tough! However, every emotion and pang of hunger that you feel is necessary. Giving up something that comforts you is difficult, but it’s important to see that hunger isn’t going to kill you. It’s also important to take away the unhealthy habit of overeating that you’ve used to comfort yourself in order for you to explore new, beneficial ways to soothe yourself. I swear to you that after two weeks the huger pangs will pass and you’ll feel completely satisfied with your shakes. I sometimes need to remind myself to have my evening shake because I’m just not hungry.
- Set healthy goals beyond weight loss: Now that you’re drinking your meals and no longer using food as your source of comfort and entertainment, you need to find positive healthy ways to occupy your extra time. My goals were to: 1. Start a blog 2. Spend more time with friends 3. Learn a new hobby or craft. I’ve successfully master all three of my goals. I try to blog 4-5 times per week and I’ve made amazing friends here on WordPress. I now have set days that I spend with friends exercising, shopping, or just hanging out and having fun. I also learned to needle felt–something that I’d always wanted to do. Stay busy is so important, and you’ll find that your goals soon morph into healthy substitutions for overeating.
- Find someone else to do the cooking for a while: I realize that this tip is very dependent on your situation. I live with my adult children and husband, so I didn’t feel too badly in asking them to fend for themselves in the beginning of my journey. However, if you’re the chief cook in a single parent household or have a spouse too busy to cook, try to cook things that aren’t too tempting. I found that baking anything like homemade bread or pizza absolutely murderous to handle. It’s only natural for your body to respond to the smell of food cooking with an increase in salivation and digestive juices. Even though I’ve not transitioned to food, my husband and I are cooking only healthy, whole, properly portioned meals to form the habit for when I am eating with the family. Even though I’m not eating, I’m getting enjoyment from feeding my family foods that I know are good for them. And, nope, I never, ever take a taste–It’s shakes only for this girl!
- Ignore the number on the scale: While a big part of weight loss is watching the pounds vanish, don’t become scale obsessed. The first couple of weeks, depending on your starting weight, you’ll notice some rather decent weight drops. I lost 10 pounds in my first two weeks. After your initial loss, you can expect to lose 1-3 pounds per week on average. Don’t let “only” a one pound loss discourage you. Just think of what your weight loss would be if you weren’t doing anything to help yourself–chances are, it would be nil! Remember, if you’re exercising regularly you’re losing inches and building muscle. Though I’m one pound away from a 40 pound weight loss, I’ve lost a ton of inches. I’ve gone from a size 24 pant to a size 16–and the 16s are getting baggy!
- Treat yourself: When I first began losing weight, I was determined to not “waste” money on new clothing until all of the weight was off. I greatly underestimated how large my clothing would get as I disappeared! Go shopping every once in a while. You’ll be amazed at how fabulous you feel in pants that fit and in tops that show off your new figure! You deserve to look as gorgeous as you feel! BE PROUD OF YOURSELF!!
I hope these tidbits help, and please, please, please share your stories with me! I get so stoked when I read about the weight loss progress of others!