Tighten the Ship! Making Changes to OptaVia After a Weight Loss Plateau

I am slowly slogging my way out of the second puberty that came with my early forties. This is an OptaVia update post but the reality is so much larger than that.

It would be unfair to claim my way out of the foggy forrest of mood swings, hot flashes, sloggy brain, involuntary weight gain and my body’s refusal to lose it, migraine and thyroid conditions, ETCETERA was due to any one thing. It’s taken a whole list of things. Trial and error. Blood, sweat, and tears. Excellent female doctors. An IUD and a uterine ablation. Time. Consistency. And yes, the best eating re-programming program I’ve ever seen for boosting a stalled metabolism.

The parallel to when I was a pimple faced, pudgy, pubescent pre-teen with permed hair and a rotation of Garfield T-shirts and jeans is unmistakable. By the time my first four years in my forties were done with me I didn’t know how to dress or do my hair. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. Make-up wasn’t enough…now we’re supposed to contour?! Just like I did when I went from a tree climbing, adventurous kid to a fleshy, confused slug gnoshing daily on french fries and The Guiding Light after school, I felt again that my body had betrayed me. It was a puzzle I couldn’t solve. I was not going to age gracefully and vibrantly as I’d planned; I was going glob-like into that dark night.

Time for an overhaul. I have my shit together on the inside; I want my outside to reflect the same.

For the first four weeks on OptaVia I blogged weekly. Then I hit a true test: a birthday party at a restaurant with NO lean and green options. I ended up with a double gin and tonic. A wood oven pizza covered in goat cheese and drunken figs. Lemon pound cake with marscapone cheese and champagne and raspberries. That’s all code for Humble Pie ala mode with a dwallop of creamy fear on top. Fear that I ruined it. Fear that I’d pay for it. Fear that nothing would happen at all.

I’ve got a long history with diets that didn’t work at all. I’ve also got a long history of throwing my back into whatever project I’m pursuing because progress is my drug of choice. When progress doesn’t result from intense effort, I really, really, really hit the skids.

I did pick myself back up from that splurge. My coach even said she would have done the same thing. We have to still live our lives! Celebrations happen! And a healthy body can handle that and bounce back. I didn’t even gain a pound from that deep dive into pizza perfection. In the weeks that followed I uncovered truths about myself– like how often I turn to food or a glass of something fermented whenever I’m stressed/tired/discouraged. My energy super-surged at the same time I learned some new strategies for my work flow (Deep Work and reverse engineered goals in Girl, Wash Your Face). I started running 20 miles a week. I lost inches. I bought a few new clothes and started the Get Your Pretty On capsule wardrobe training.

But I have not lost any more weight.

They say a true plateau is when you are stuck for 2 weeks or longer. It’s been 6 at the same number now. This is despite clean weeks of on-plan snacks and salads and weeks full of drafty cheating: bites from my kid’s fast food bags, sips of hubby’s beer, a love affair with bread that included clandestine meetings with brie. I’m doing ok when it comes to cravings and sugar. Not so much when it comes to salt and fat. Those, “It’s Just One Bites,” add up faster than impulse buying in a Target cart. And it’s TAILGATING season, people!

Another draft is portion size. The “lean and green” involves a 4 oz. serving of meat and the rest of the plate covered in veggies. No white carbs or starches. No sushi rice with that tuna. Not a 12 oz. ribeye. Definitely not the greek salad from Zoe’s that’s lies upon a bed of grilled potato salad and drizzled with 4 tablespoons of herbed olive oil.

The support from OptaVia is incredible. My coach has a group of our friends that are on it and the shared journey has been what’s kept me on track. Plus, I’m paying for it! It’s not cheap! It has totally meshed with my grocery budget though (without alcohol or my portion, we aren’t over budget). But darn it all if I’m not more than ready to see those numbers drop again.

It works if you work it, not if you don’t. I know what things I can tighten up. Hopefully, the size of my arse will follow. Tight is good, right? I mean, unless it’s like bad plastic surgery that results in a permanent expression of, “Help! My ponytail is too tight!”

The specific ropes I’m tightening:

  • Adhering to the 5 + 1 like a beginner
  • No alcohol
  • Measuring and weighing my lean and green
  • No exercise during the tightest phase

Last month I simplified my box to just bars, shakes, sticks, and brownies. There’s a ton of other things available, from mashed potatoes to breakfast cereals and a ton more hashtag hacks on Instagram. But all that variety was landing me back into the quagmire of, “Just tell me what to eat!” I don’t need too many choices. I need simplicity. Within those self-restrictions, I still have plenty of options for flavors.

My favorite benefit of OptaVia is that my insulin spikes are gone. So, no more bloated, swollen red face. No ten pound weight fluctuations due to fluid. My energy is still incredible and my sleep is too.

There are several other things I’ve used to pull out of the second puberty of the forties and I can finally see the other side. I’m thinking about a writing project to capture them all. If you’d be interested in reading that story, let me know. Oh, and if you’re interested in OptaVia, my favorite referral is my coach Donna, a science-teaching former Marine who guides with healthy love and wisdom. Comment and I’ll match you up.

In other news, I had my first podcast interview last week for the Not Nosy Podcast. Should be released in a few weeks! I’ll share here and on Instagram when it is.

My Enlightening Lightening First Week of Weight Loss with Optavia

One week into Optavia, I’m forced to realize this weight isn’t going to actually slide off.

I used to imagine that gelatinous cellulite could be metabolically heated into a biosilky oil that progressively liquified into sweaty salt secreted through the glands in all the sweaty crotchy spots. In other words, I’d sweat this shit off and wash it all down the shower drain. Since Florida’s humidity means we sweat just walking from the front door to the car, this should be pretty easy.

  • Speed bump #1: Fat loss doesn’t work that way.
  • Speed bump #2: Neither does my metabolism.
  • Speed bump #3: There are plenty of sweaty fat people in Florida. Climate doesn’t override lifestyle habits.

(Read about how my forties have become a second puberty and what led to me giving Optavia a try after every other diet failed here.)

Insights from my first week on Optavia:

Eating every 2.5 hours on a schedule is lot like being a newborn. Caring for your adult body as if it were an infant needing regular food and rest will get under your skin and into your brain and will confront every demon that’s talked you into shame and self-abuse. This isn’t “taking care of yourself” like scheduling a hair cut or a yoga class. I’m realizing it’s more like revolutionary self-awareness, a rebirthing into habits of worth and value apart from the emotional baggage I’d been medicating with food and booze. 

It’s been a rocky week of self-discovery. Turns out I’m still incredibly entrenched in the futile hope that a magic diet will change my life in quick order.

I also fell flat on my face and metaphorically skinned my knees and chin on the psychologically-heavy-laden phrase, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”

And, temptation haunts. Thanks to the habits I’ve modeled and then allowed, my teenagers bring golden hot salty waffle fries into the house every single day. Or when I take them out for fresh-fast-Mex (the easiest way to get teen boys to spill their thoughts and open up a little) there sits an entire basket of thin and crispy tortilla chips with salsa and guac. A few bites don’t hurt? Well, they do in week one when all those tiny bites add up and extend the march towards, “FAT BURN.”

Here’s a little glimpse of my week one journal:

  • Day 1: It’s hard to eat this many times a day. This is way too much food. The smoothies taste like pond slime. The crunch sticks taste like sawdust. How the hell am I going to make it through dinner at Carrabba’s? Italian? On a diet? Ask Donna. Grilled fish, grilled asparagus, salad, got it. Perrier with lime makes a decent substitute to avoid happy hour. (Donna is my coach, always just a text lifeline away.)
  • Day 2: WTF? Down a pound a half OVERNIGHT? After all that food and water? Okay Optavia, you officially have my attention. The scale hasn’t moved down in years, not even for “water weight” and believe-you-me, I’m very happy to look less bloated. By the way, the chocolate brownie in a waffle iron is the friggin’ bomb dot com.
  • Day 3: Down another pound. MIGRAINE. Mild headache was expected but since I’m migraine prone, of course I’m triggered into a paralyzing doozy. On top of this: a road trip to Orlando to pick up my son, driving in the pouring rain, remembering to pack one snack but not two, and bottomless chips and salsa on the table. A few fries here, several chips there, a stolen sip of beer… a missed fueling altogether = today has been the hardest so far.
  • Day 4: Back up a pound, thanks to the cheating and the salt. The migraine has spread to my stomach. I want to puke– not eat every 2.5 and count glasses of water. Soldier on, girlfriend. I wonder if they give you chits for so many days of food sobriety? Donna says that when going through hell, keep on going. I think most of these foods are doable with enough water to get them down.
  • Day 5: Listened to my body and slept in an hour. Newborn-Me appreciates screen free breaks too. Migraine gone mid-morning. Weight down two more pounds. The green shake is good with an extra shot of lemon juice and partially frozen. The Chocolate Cherry Chia bar is something I could eat every day. Made a bolognese sauce for dinner and put mine on top of roasted eggplant (lasagne for the family).
  • Day 6: Interesting how my sleep schedule regulated itself! Conk out at 10:30, wake up naturally at 6:45. Today’s challenge was the 4th of July cookout. I made fake potato salad with cauliflower instead of potatoes and had grilled chicken. Fell prey to hubby’s insanely good ribs and hoped they counted more like protein instead of cheats. Not even tempted to sneak beer or bread.
  • Day 7: Hungry for breakfast at 6:45?! Who am I even? And I feel like I could go running! Donna said a big energy boost was coming, she said Fat Burn stage was coming. I doubted her because I was afraid to hope for that. I had my bar set a lot lower– like, let’s have a day without a taste of the forbidden and let’s just get through this damn box of little pouches that are, admittedly, tasting better and better by the day.

This is way more than a diet.

I’ve been a consummate hypocrite when it comes to self-care. A more compassionate way to say it was that I’ve been doing as well as I could with self-care but had been approaching it all wrong. Self-care is not another something to fit into a jam-packed day. In teaching my body to eat a little something every 2.5 hours I’ve had to change a few things about how I live those jam-packed days. My human animal body is going to get ravenously hungry when it’s time to eat– so no more powering through the day, ignoring or overriding biological needs. Eating 6 times a day requires forethought– so no more addressing everything and everyone first so that I run out of time, energy, and attention to think about my needs. Just like I packed the diaper bag before leaving the house with an infant, so too must I now. My human animal body gets tired– a solid night of sleep is not indulgence, it’s essential. And if breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I’m worth the time, money, and energy it takes to experience the most important meal of the day.

I’ll say it again (because it almost feels silly to realize I ever doubted this): I’m worth it. I’m worth the effort of this. I’m worth the cost of this. It matters that I’m healthy and I’m worth whatever it takes to pursue that health.

At the end of week one, I feel like I’ve found the groove. I eat around 6:45, 10, 12:30, 3, 5:45 and 8:30. Five of those snack-meals come from the box and one I cook in my kitchen or eat out– the “lean and green” meal. In the first phase for weight loss, there’s a list of things to avoid, mostly everything that’s obvious– sugar, white carbs, alcohol, fried stuff. The composition of the packaged food helps with any feelings of deprivation (a key thing that has been missing from every other diet I’ve ever been on.) The focus is on what is going to help the metabolism reset and burn fat but there’s a lot that comes along for the ride.

  • regulated sleep cycle
  • hydration
  • energy
  • proper vitamin nutrition
  • psychological insights
  • a deep feeling of wellness

Last night while the fireworks were going on for the 4th of July, I noticed I was sweating in the humidity more than usual. I wondered if my fired up metabolism was actually liquifying and melting off fat. But then, I looked beyond the surface. I felt calm and was headed to bed on time. Newborn-Me wasn’t cranky or colicky, hungry, insecure or overwhelmed. Newborn-Me felt content. I showered her off and tucked her into bed and if she had sweet dreams, she slept too soundly to know.

If you’d like to follow my Optavia journey, click “Follow” at the bottom of this post. You’ll get an email with my weekly post. If you’d like to connect with my supercalifragilisticexpialidocious coach Donna, use my contact form to let me know and I’ll send you her email.